Erectile dysfunction can be a painful condition causing emotional distress and relationship issues. Finding out why erectile dysfunction is happening and looking for ways to overcome ED is the natural next step for many men.
Many factors tend to cause erectile dysfunction. This means that a simple yes or no answer will not suffice when exploring if masturbation causes erectile dysfunction.
ED is complex and it affects millions of men. Erectile dysfunction can happen at various stages of the erection process. This can vary from setting and situation. Some men will easily gain erections but struggle to maintain them. Others will have a hard time getting started with a partner but are fine once they get erect. Some struggle with both or loss of rigidity.
There is little evidence to support a theory that masturbation alone is a primary cause of erectile dysfunction. Masturbation is considered normal, natural, and healthy. If you enjoy masturbation, there is no reason to stop. It is likely that it would not improve erections if you did. In fact, masturbation may be a part of the solution toward better erections.
The History of Blaming Masturbation
There is a rich history of blaming masturbation for many physical and mental ailments. Misinformation about masturbation has run rampant. Take John Harvey Kellogg for example.
Kellogg was a famous anti-masturbation advocate. He founded the Kellogg company to produce “healthy” foods that, among other benefits, would supposedly prevent or decrease urges to masturbate. He believed that masturbation and sexual activity were the root cause of many physical and mental ailments. Kellogg was very outspoken and famous. He was far from alone.
The lasting love/hate relationship that our culture has with masturbation has led to a number of issues that can impact erections and sexuality overall. There is little data that supports the notion that masturbation is not healthy or damaging. The problem is that these old beliefs take a while to be removed from a culture and a collective thought.
Many of the world’s major religions have a history of shaming members who engage in masturbation. Religious guilt about masturbation is a common trend. It has led to men struggling to control their urges and feeling guilty when they are unsuccessful. A deep sense of shame and guilt is common after masturbating to ejaculation.
For people who did not grow up with direct religious messaging, masturbation can still be extremely taboo. Traditionally, parents do not speak with their children about masturbation. Peers may deny they masturbate when you talk about it with them. This can cause a young person to be anxious. It can foster a sense of shame and embarrassment.
Guilt about masturbation can lead to erectile dysfunction. These negative feelings that become associated with erections and sexual pleasure may harm the erection process. If a man feels that sexual pleasure is wrong and brings him guilt, his mind may disrupt the erection process to avoid these negative feelings. The guilt can lead to an even deeper sense of shame when he tries to engage in sex with a partner.
When a person believes that masturbation is wrong or a sign of character weakness, low self-esteem can result. Some men have negative views about themselves because they masturbate. Due to the private nature of masturbation, they fail to realize just how common and normal it is. Feeling like a sexual deviant can lead a man to struggle with erections.
Masturbation is common. The overwhelming majority of men masturbate. The exact percentages vary from study to study and, because it is driven by self-reporting, it is hard to truly know the numbers. A man is normal whether he masturbates or does not.
Many men worry that masturbation has contributed to erectile dysfunction. Masturbation comes in a variety of forms with different motions, sensations, and pressure and creates unique and diverse experiences.
No two men masturbate the exact same way. While there are no rules about what types of masturbation are better or worse, in general, more forceful forms of masturbation are linked to erection problems.
Too much pressure on the penis during masturbation can lead to situational erectile dysfunction. This can lead to needing specific types of stimulation to gain and maintain an erection. This form of stimulation is often difficult, if not impossible, to repeat with partnered sex.
In a similar vein, other types of masturbation can become unique in nature. This means that a man can become accustomed to needing a particular form of stimulation to trigger his arousal. This learned behavior can lead to the loss of erection in situations where the desired form of stimulation is not possible.
Masturbation and Porn
For many men, use of pornography goes hand in hand with masturbation. The impact of porn on erectile dysfunction is under debate. Do not conflate masturbation and pornography when it comes to erectile dysfunction.
Pornography delivers high grade stimulation and without it, some men struggle to gain or maintain an erection. This does not imply that the act of masturbation is a cause of the erectile dysfunction.
Excessive masturbation is tough to define. Whether you masturbate multiple times a day or for excessive periods of time, the act of masturbation in and of itself should not be a cause of erectile dysfunction.
Excessive masturbation may have other implications for a man’s mental health and relationships. If you are engaging in consistently excessive masturbation and it is distressing to you, it may be helpful to talk about why you do this with a professional.
Excessive or frequent masturbation can become a habit you cannot control. This can lead men to needing that specific type of stimulation and not being receptive to other forms. It can cause challenges with sexual stimulation during sex with a partner and lead to erectile dysfunction.
In exceedingly rare instances, a penile injury can result from intense masturbation or sexual activity. Injury is generally noticeable, and a man should seek medical attention right away to address the problem. Often, rapid medical intervention can prevent permanent damage.
Masturbation is generally safe, and a man does not need to worry that it will cause injury.
Peyronie’s disease is a condition where scar tissue forms and builds up in the penis. Over time, this can lead to blood flow issues and erectile dysfunction. While there is debate about how common the condition is, aggressive and frequent masturbation may play a role in worsening this for men who are predisposed to it.
Masturbation and Relationships
Some couples include masturbation into their relationship and sexual activity while others prefer it remains an individual activity. These differences can impact how a man feels about masturbating.
If your partner is against masturbation, it is important to be sensitive to his or her feelings when discussing the topic. If a man is struggling to gain and maintain an erection with a partner but can masturbate with little or no difficulty, it may be a tricky subject to talk about.
The Healthy Approach
A healthy approach to masturbation includes both physical and mental components. If you are comfortable with masturbation and utilize a non-aggressive approach, it is very unlikely that it will be a factor in erectile dysfunction.
Ready to Learn More?
To start your in-depth approach to resolving ED, try our online learning course called BEYOND THE LITTLE BLUE PILL, The Thinking Man’s Guide to Understanding and Addressing ED.
Ready to talk to an ED expert? Erection IQ founder Mark Goldberg helps men resolve erectile dysfunction. He 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 free consult with Mark.
Subscribe to our Podcast
Article Updated – March 2021