Masturbation: the Facts and Myths!

Will I go blind? Will I go stupid? Are my genitals going to deform? Will I be infertile? So many questions and myths arise when we talk about masturbation! In Arabic, it is referred to as “the secret habit” which alone adds so much mystery and shame.

The Stigma Around Masturbation

Being raised in Amsterdam, I got a brief couple of sentences on masturbation during a biology lesson. It was mainly about where babies come from and how to practice safe sex.
At 13, I didn’t quite get it, I asked my teacher to explain this 2-sentence graph that stated that the best way to explore your likes and dislikes in sex is to masturbate. Her face got tomato red, and she excused herself just like that.

The dictionary gave a vague explanation that I did not understand. It just so happened that both my Dutch and Egyptian grandmothers were coming over for lunch that day. So, after lunch when I got the chance to speak to them alone, I asked them. My Egyptian grandmother genuinely had no idea what I was talking about. My Dutch grandmother just looked at me and said “if you do, you will go blind and dumb so don’t!”

30 years later, the subject is still covered in an air of secrecy and myths. It still makes people uncomfortable. So, let’s scientifically clear the air!

What is Masturbation?

Masturbation is a form of self-care where genitals and other erogenous spots on the body are touched to reach sexual arousal and/or orgasm. For centuries, people believed that masturbation leads to an array of negative physical and mental consequences; “It could lead to erectile dysfunction, you could go blind, your brain can get affected, you would be infertile, or your genitals would rot off!” Another misconception was that it was not a part of normal sexual development. People believed that those who masturbated were mentally disturbed and unfit to take part in “normal” society! Also, masturbation was just practiced by single people and could not be done with a partner! Overall, pretty intense stuff.

Evidence-Based Talk

Research however showed that masturbation has no physical or mental consequences at all. Masturbation is a healthy form of stress relief and a great way for one to get to know their body and their likes and dislikes. It is also a good way for partners to enjoy one another.

Positive effects of masturbation:

  • Relieves stress
  • Elevates mood
  • Improves sexual pleasure with a partner and induces better communication about likes and dislikes
  • Reduces insomnia
  • Reduces depression
  • Boosts confidence
  • Research has also shown a correlation between milder lower back & abdominal pain during pregnancy due to masturbation.
  • Some research has shown that men who masturbate have a lower percentage of prostate cancer than those who do not however the exact reason as to why is not yet known.

Negative Effects of Masturbation

Masturbation does not have any harmful side effects physically or mentally. However, it can lead to extreme feelings of guilt due to religious or cultural beliefs that condemn masturbation.

It can be concluded that masturbation is a good way to get to know your own and your partner’s body. Masturbation is a way to discover pleasurable points and spots that for you personally are erogenous and contrary to what has been believed for centuries. It is a good form of stress relief and has other positive health effects.

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