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An Introduction to Chronic Masturbation

Masturbating once a day is common for many men around the world. When the need to masturbate interferes with normal daily function or prevents someone from being able to complete basic tasks, it can be a problem.

Photo of Mark Goldberg, Certified Sex Therapist
By: Mark Goldberg, LCMFT, CST

Masturbation is a normal, natural activity. While exact information is hard to collect, it is safe to assume that most men masturbate or have masturbated in their past. Masturbation is mostly safe and harmless.

Your body is designed to handle basic amounts of sexual activity and it is primed to seek sexual pleasure. Most men will engage in masturbation without ever having an issue.

Can Masturbation Be a Problem?

As the old saying goes, “Everything in moderation” is a good rule of thumb. Like many things in life, masturbation itself is not a problem.

Masturbating once a day is common for many men around the world. When the need to masturbate interferes with normal daily function or prevents someone from being able to complete basic tasks, it can be a problem.

If a man is missing work or school, avoiding social engagements, or emotionally distressed because of masturbation it might be a problem.

Some men will feel guilty have masturbating and it can cause distress. Throughout history, the notion of masturbation being sinful and causing physical or spiritual harm was prevalent.

Many of those ideas continue to enter into the minds of men throughout the world. These beliefs can cause deep emotional distress and lead to sexual dysfunction. But this should not be conflated with chronic masturbation.

Can Masturbation Cause Physical Problems?

Any physical activity that a person engages in can result in an injury. Sports, exercise, and other daily activities all have risks of injury, but do not prevent people from engaging in them. Masturbation should not be viewed as any more risky than other forms of physical exertion.

It is generally understood that masturbating daily should not have negative physical effects on the body and is largely considered to be a healthy activity.

There are many uncommon issues that can result in pain, soreness, and other symptoms. These should not be ignored, and it is best to consult with a physician if they occur after masturbation, or other forms of sexual activity.

Is Chronic Masturbation a Real Thing?

There is no specific definition for chronic masturbation. Is it measured by the amount of time spent masturbating each day? The number of times one masturbates to orgasm? Intensity of friction? A lack of clear definition of chronic masturbation does not mean that it does not exist.

Many people mistakenly believe that masturbating daily is chronic. While this technically is a chronic experience it is not a chronic problem.

It is considered normal and healthy. If daily masturbation is not considered chronic… how much is too much? The answer is subjective and varies from person-to-person but there are some signs to look out for.

Signs of chronic masturbation, include:

  • Emotional distress.
  • Planning around masturbation.
  • Physical pain.
  • Masturbating in inappropriate settings.
  • Prioritizing masturbation over partnered sexual activity.
  • A sense or feeling of being “out of control.”

What Causes Chronic Masturbation?

The exact factors that lead to chronic masturbation are unclear. There is likely a combination of nature and nurture factors that lead to problematic masturbation. This means that some people are more predisposed to chronic, addictive, or compulsive behaviors.

At the same time, how people think and act has a significant impact as to whether this issue will develop.

There are many factors that drive someone to masturbate. Some of them are based in a drive toward pleasure, such as the use of highly-stimulating pornography. While other factors are driven towards seeking a mental escape. Often it is a combination of these drives that are present with problematic masturbation.

Chronic Masturbation Problems

Physical Health

Men who masturbate more often than they would like, report:

  • Genital pain, chafing, or raw skin on the shaft of the penis.
  • Pain with ejaculation (among other symptoms).

Increased sexual activity also increases the risk of injury, although this is rare. High rates of physical exertion can lead to other musculoskeletal injuries or pain.

Except for a penile fracture, which is rare, long-term physical health issues are not caused by masturbation.

Mental Health

Photo of small erection iq logoProblematic masturbation can cause mental health challenges. Masturbation, like other forms of sexual activity, can be used to avoid or dull mental health symptoms of depression and anxiety.

When masturbation brings relief, even if temporary, it can become an appealing alternative to negative feelings, leading to problematic masturbation habits.

Chronic, problematic masturbation can also lead to depression, anxiety and low self-esteem. Many people feel a deep sense of shame around behaviors that feel compulsive or out of control. They worry about the impact of the behaviors and feel bad about not being able to stop or gain control over the impulses.

For some people, the anxiety and depression that result lead to a compounding cycle where a person continues to masturbate to avoid the feelings that are created and sustained by the behavior itself.

Sexual Dysfunction

As a rule, masturbation in moderation does not lead to sexual dysfunction. Of course, rough, aggressive forms of masturbation can lead to injury, but this is rare. The body is primed for sexual function and if there is healthy blood flow to the penis erections should continue.

Chronic masturbation can lead to challenges with erections and ejaculation. The primary reason would stem from acclimation to stimulation and developing very specific and unique sexual routines that become a part of arousal and sexual activity.

Most men are not engaging in high frequency masturbation, so it is unlikely that this is the sole or primary cause of a sexual dysfunction.

Relationships can be negatively impacted by chronic masturbation. It is common that partners believe they must compete with masturbation and pornography.

When problematic chronic masturbation leads to decreased interest, vitality, and arousal for partnered sexual activity, it can lead to more pronounced relationship distress and conflict.

–Article Updated February 2022–

Want to Make a Change?

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Erection IQ founder Mark Goldberg helps men resolve erectile dysfunction and issues of sexual dysfunction, like problematic masturbation habits. His team offers individual, one-on-one services to men throughout the world through a secure, telehealth platform. It’s 100% confidential. You can visit the Center for Intimacy, Connection and Change website toSchedule A Consultationwith Mark’s team.

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