HEALTH MERITS AND DEMERITS OF MASTURBATION

For millennia, high-horse
moralists have been dispensing
fear and loathing among
generations of impressionable
young boys by peddling
preposterous myths and outright
lies about masturbation. You've
heard them all before:
masturbation leads to blindness,
hairy palms, insanity and just
generally being a bad person.
What's perhaps most perplexing
is that these fairy tales have
persisted for such a long time.
After all, the majority of boys
discover that they are entirely
devoid of truth by the time
they're 14.
For children it's a normal and
natural part of growing up and
discovering their bodies,
sexuality and the joys of having
opposable thumbs. For adults it's
a pleasant, safe and healthy
sexual activity that, rather than
being vilified, should be
universally encouraged. Woody
Allen's oft-quoted quip bears
repeating: "Don't knock
masturbation - it's sex with
someone I love."
The ups
It may seem superfluous to
belabour the fact that it's good
for you - it feels really, really nice,
right? - but there are some
benefits to masturbation you
may not have thought of before:
Unlike sex with a partner, you
can't contract a sexually
transmitted disease and
nobody falls pregnant.
It's a great reliever of stress
and sexual tension and for
many a pleasurable cure for
insomnia.
It increases the flow of
testosterone through the body
which can help to strengthen
muscles and bones.
Testosterone also helps to
transport a hormone called
DHEA which is important in the
functioning of the immune
system.
It helps you to learn how your
body and penis respond to
various stimuli - what feels
good and what doesn't - a
basic requirement for a
fulfilling sex life. It also teaches
you to recognise that point-of-
no-return moment just before
orgasm and can teach you to
avoid premature ejaculation.
Since the body releases
endorphins - natural feel-good
chemicals - during
masturbation, it can improve
your mood and may help to
fight depression.
It can help you build stronger
pelvic floor muscles which lead
to better sex – women have
long know about this, of
course.
According to a pamphlet
aimed at teenagers and
distributed by the UK's
National Health Service in
2009: "Health promotion
experts advocate five portions
of fruit and veg a day and 30
minutes physical activity three
times a week. What about sex
or masturbation twice a
week?" The pamphlet's punch
line says it all: "An orgasm a
day keeps the doctor away."
…and the downs
Of course masturbation can be
dangerous, but so can using a
toaster:
Overly energetic and frequent
masturbation can lead to an
irritation of the skin of the
penis. Surprise, surprise!
Very, very rarely - when the
erect penis is forced
downward too far or hit
against a hard object -
masturbation can result in
penile fracture. This involves a
painful tear in the tunica
albuginae, the tissue around
the penis' spongy layers, and
is a medical emergency that
requires surgery.
Frequent masturbation while
lying face down can lead to
"urethral trauma" or
"traumatic masturbatory
syndrome" in which the
urethra is injured, resulting in
urine exiting the penis in a
haphazard shotgun spray
rather than an easily-
controlled narrow stream.
Experts warn that men who
frequently masturbate in a
way that's very different from
sex with a partner may find it
difficult to climax during sex
with a partner - a type of
sexual dysfunction called
retarded ejaculation.
Masturbation and prostate
health
In 2003, Australian researchers
found that frequent ejaculation
through sex and masturbation
may reduce a man's risk of
contracting prostate cancer, but
a 2009 study suggested that the
correlation between prostate
cancer and ejaculation may, in
fact, be age-dependent. Young
men who masturbate frequently
do so because of an enhanced
sex drive as a result of high levels
of testosterone. Their high
testosterone levels - not their
masturbation habits - may
actually raise their prostate
cancer risk. Among older men,
the same study found that
frequent masturbators lowered
their prostate cancer risk,
probably because masturbation
drains the prostate of fluids
containing carcinogenic toxins.
- Health24

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