Boots WebMD Partners in Health
Return To Boots

Sex & relationships health centre

Select a topic to explore more.
Select An Article

Masturbation

Masturbation usually describes sexual self-arousal and orgasm by touching, stroking or rubbing the penis or rubbing the vagina or clitoris. A couple can also masturbate each other.

Is masturbation 'normal'?

Yes - although people may not talk about it much, most people masturbate at some time at any age. This might be when they are younger before they have sex for the first time - or to relieve any sexual tension when they are not having sex - or as a means of having an orgasm without the risk of pregnancy.

Is masturbation harmful?

Not usually. Although there have been many myths about masturbation over the years, there's no evidence it causes blindness, mental health problems or hairy hands.

There is no evidence a man's sperm count is reduced by masturbating, though it takes most men some time to recover after ejaculating to be ready to ejaculate again.

There is a very small risk of a penis injury from violent handling or vaginal damage from using inappropriate objects.

Excessive masturbation could cause swelling of the penis if it is done too often in a short period of time.

If a partner prefers to masturbate than have sex and this is affecting the couple's usual sex life, then it may make sense to seek professional advice to see if there are any sex or relationships issues that could be helped. Medical advice may also be needed if the urge to masturbate is interfering with daily life, or there are urges to do it other than in private.

Are there benefits to masturbation?

In some ways it is less risky than having sex as there is a far lower risk of sexually transmitted infections (STIs) unless an infected person touches their own genitals and then the partner's. If sex toys are used during masturbation, sharing them may spread STIs.

Next Article:

WebMD Medical Reference

Medically Reviewed by Dr Rob Hicks on December 01, 2016

Mind, body & soul newsletter

Looking after your
health and wellbeing.
Sign Up Now!

Popular slideshows & tools on BootsWebMD

woman_holding_head_in_pain
How to help headache pain
rash on skin
Top eczema triggers to avoid
79x79_causes_of_fatigue_and_how_to_fight_it.jpg
Causes of fatigue & how to fight it
period_questions_answered
Tips to support digestive health
woman looking at pregnancy test
Is your body ready for pregnancy?
woman sleeping
Sleep better tonight
girl_sneezing_into_tissue
Treating your child's cold or fever
bucket with cleaning supplies in it
Cleaning and organising tips
adult man contemplating
When illness makes it hard to eat
woman holding stomach
Understand this common condition
cold sore
What you need to know