10 Myths About Male Masturbation

Male Masturbation
Medically approved by
Dr Earim Chaudry
Last updated
30th July 2020

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Masturbation is a perfectly normal and healthy activity that can bring both physical and psychological benefits to men.
However, as something quite personal and private, it is not surprising that myths about masturbation are everywhere. From the old rumour that masturbating causes blindness to the suggestion that men in relationships don’t do it, these myths differ wildly.
But whilst there should be no shame in pleasuring yourself, it is possible to masturbate to excess. If you feel like masturbation is affecting other parts of your life, it might be worth reflecting on just how much you do it.

It should be no surprise that there are many myths surrounding masturbation. It’s one of the most private things we do. It’s one of the most personal. And it’s something that we don’t talk so often about – even among our closest friends.

Yet, from reduced fertility to hairy palms, the rumours about the impacts of masturbating range from the quasi-scientific to the downright ridiculous. And, given this, it is sometimes difficult to tell the facts from the fiction.

In this article, we are going to bust some of the major myths about male masturbation. Let’s take a look.

1. Does Masturbation Make You Blind?

One of the most widespread myths about masturbation is probably one of the oldest, too. That’s that playing with yourself can make you go blind. However, simply enough, it cannot.

This belief is probably the result of a by-gone time when masturbation was something frowned upon or even thought to be morally wrong. It could have been a technique to stop children from exploring something that they should be exploring naturally.

You might have guessed, but this myth is not based on science at all. You won’t go blind if you masturbate.

2. Does Masturbating Give You Hairy Palms?

Another myth that has gained widespread fame is that masturbating makes hair grow on your palms.

It is unclear where this originated. However, it’s possible that, like the blindness myth above, it was used as a warning against masturbation, as having hairy palms would be a clear sign of your “vicious private habits”. Another interpretation suggests that masturbating would make you into something like an animal if you had hair where no humans should have it.

Regardless of the theory, it simply isn’t true. Humans don’t have hair follicles on their palms, and masturbating won’t create them.

3. Can Masturbation Cause Hair Loss?

A myth that claims scientific legitimacy, it’s often said that jerking off can cause you to lose your hair. That’s because – or so the story goes – you release protein in your semen that would otherwise be used by your hair follicles.

Another theory suggests that, in masturbating, you increase your testosterone – and therefore increase the hormone, dihydrotestosterone (DHT), that is responsible for male pattern baldness.

Neither of these theories are true. Testosterone levels actually decrease very slightly as a result of masturbation, whilst the amount of protein lost in self-pleasure is negligible.

4. Can it Shrink My Penis?

Testosterone is responsible for another masturbation myth, too…

Whilst some believe that masturbating increases testosterone, others think that the decrease in the male hormone after ejaculation causes your penis to shrink.

However, testosterone levels simply have no bearing on your penis size. If this were true, your penis would diminish if you had a lot of sex too. Rather, your size is a genetic thing, whilst the size of your erection is dependent upon your lifestyle, health, and state of mind too.

5. Can Masturbation Make Me Infertile?

Masturbating noramlly does not lower your sex drive, “use up” your orgasms, or have any significant effect on your sperm count. Your testicles are continually producing sperm – and you will be topped up again soon after ejaculating. Pleasuring yourself doesn’t affect the health of your sperm, either.

Whilst masturbation has no relation to sperm count, there are things that you can do that will affect the health of your seed. Smoking, heavy alcohol use, and eating too much processed meat can all harm your sperm.

6. Is There a Right Way to Masturbate?

There is no right or wrong way to masturbate. One of the beauties of pleasuring yourself sexually is that you can decide what works best for you – and what you enjoy the most. So, follow the urge and see what you like.

A related myth is that masturbation can interfere with your sexual development. In this case, precisely the opposite is true. Masturbating whilst a teenager is a great opportunity for you to explore how your body works – and to discover the things you can enjoy with a partner. 

7. Can Masturbation Cause Erectile Dysfunction?

One of the more strongly held myths about masturbation is that it can cause erectile dysfunction (ED). That’s often thought to be because, after ejaculating, it takes a little time before men are able to achieve an erection again.

However, this has nothing to do with your long-term ability to get it up. Rather, the recovery time after ejaculation is something that is completely normal. You’ll be able to get an erection again soon afterwards – usually within twenty minutes.

Something that can cause a type of ED, however, is excessive use of pornography. Sometimes, pornography can give men false expectations of what sex is – and so they struggle during a normal sexual encounter. This is sometimes known as porn-induced erectile dysfunction.

8. Should Men in Relationships Stop Masturbating?

Masturbation is something that we usually imagine as an activity for single people. Moreover, masturbating within a relationship is often seen as a sign that there is something wrong.

This, however, is in fact a myth. It is common – and perfectly healthy – for men in relationships to masturbate, and it’s perfectly okay for women to do the same. There is no “should” when it comes to your sexual preferences and practices.

Masturbation isn’t the same as sex, and it is not “cheating” on your partner to pleasure yourself. However, you may want to ask yourself why you are masturbating in a relationship – and if you are choosing masturbation over sex.

9. Are There No Benefits to Masturbating?

To masturbate is not to indulge some useless vice. It is far from true that masturbation does nothing good for you at all. Rather, studies show that masturbation can reduce your stress levels and help you to sleep. Meanwhile, it can improve your sperm health and even help the functioning of your circulatory and respiratory systems too. Masturbation can have some very real health benefits.

10. Can You Masturbate Too Much?

This last one isn’t a myth: it is possible to masturbate too much. It’s rare – but it is possible to become addicted to masturbation – or to masturbate so much that it gets in the way of the rest of your life.

If you are missing social engagements or you are skipping work or school in favour of masturbation, you are certainly masturbating too much. The same applies if it is causing problems in your relationships. In these cases, you really should talk to someone about it. Contact your GP for more information, because you may need a referral to a psychologist in order to bring the issue under control. 

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Key Takeaways

Masturbation is something still shrouded in myth and misunderstanding – although the number of people who still believe in hairy palms is probably fairly small. Regardless, any misconception is a shame, as it can stop people from enjoying masturbation’s benefits.

Honesty, in sexual matters, is always the best policy – and masturbation is something we need to feel comfortable talking about more. Only this way can we reduce the continued spread of misinformation.

References

  1. M S ExtonT H KrügerN BurschP HaakeW KnappM SchedlowskiU Hartmann (2001). Endocrine response to masturbation-induced orgasm in healthy men following a 3-week sexual abstinence: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/11760788 

     

  2. BBC – Can an orgasm a day keep my stress away?: https://www.bbc.co.uk/bbcthree/article/66e32f0e-c734-4818-bcae-4ecb7b122ead

  3. Roy J. Levin (2007). Sexual activity, health and well-being – the beneficial roles of coitus and masturbation: https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/14681990601149197

While we've ensured that everything you read on the Health Centre is medically reviewed and approved, information presented here is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. It should never be relied upon for specific medical advice. If you have any questions or concerns, please talk to your doctor.

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