Masturbation: 5 Things You Didn't Know
Experts talk about whether masturbation is safe, normal, or can lead to sexual dysfunction.
4. Certain forms of masturbation can lead to sexual dysfunction.
Experts warn that men who frequently stimulate themselves in ways that don't simulate sex with a partner -- for example, stroking very rapidly or with great pressure or friction -- can develop retarded ejaculation. That's a type of sexual dysfunction in which it is difficult or even impossible to climax during partnered sex. "Any man experiencing any sexual dysfunction should ask himself if he's masturbating in ways that produce sensations that differ from those he gets from his partner's hand, mouth, or vagina," says Michael A. Perelman, PhD, clinical associate professor of psychiatry, reproductive medicine, and urology at Weill Cornell Medical College in New York City and the president of the Society for Sex Therapy and Research "Then he should consider what he could say to her to make the stimulation more similar -- and how he could change the way he masturbates to make it feel more similar to what his partner does."
5. Masturbation may affect the risk for prostate cancer.
The relationship between masturbation and prostate cancer is a bit hazy.
A 2003 Australian study published in BJU International linked frequent ejaculation early in life with reduced risk for prostatecancer later on. But in a 2004 study published in The Journal of the American Medical Association, a researcher reported that "ejaculation frequency is not related to increased risk of prostate cancer." In both these studies, ejaculation frequency included sexual intercourse and masturbation.
In a later study published in BJU International, researchers found that frequent masturbation in young men raised the risk for prostate cancer but that frequent masturbation in older men lowered the risk. Sexual intercourse did not affect prostate cancer risk.
The researchers theorize that it may not be the masturbation itself which is increasing risk of prostate cancer in men who masturbate frequently in their 20s and 30s. Men who masturbate more may do so because they have high levels of male sex hormones -- and young men genetically predisposed to have hormone-sensitive prostate cancer will be at higher risk if they have more male hormones. In men over age 50, the researchers theorize, frequent masturbation helps drain the prostate of fluids that may contain cancer-causing substances.