How Masturbation Impacts Your Sexual Health

Take a closer look at the benefits—and when it may be problem.

How Masturbation Impacts Your Sexual Health

Even though it may be a little embarrassing to discuss, masturbation can have a big influence on your sex life. Think about it for a moment: It's a great example of something nearly everyone does but rarely talks about, even though it can affect you in so many different ways. So let's break the silence, open up the dialogue and take a closer look at how masturbation impacts you.

It's totally normal
Over the years, you've probably become pretty good at it by now. And that's okay, because masturbation is a normal sexual outlet, according to most experts. "It's an important part of self-exploration and learning about your sexuality," says Beatrice “Bean” Robinson, PhD, medical director for the Program in Human Sexuality at the University of Minnesota Medical School. "And it's definitely a kind of basic sex tool therapists use to learn more about a person's sexual health."

It may help your relationship
Ever been so aroused during sex that you couldn't hold back your orgasm? Do you struggle with premature ejaculation? If so, masturbation may be a great way to help you last longer in the bedroom with your partner, according to Dr. Robinson. "It can help a man learn how to delay his ejaculation so that he can find out what kind of stimulation during sex works best," says Robinson. "It's also a nice avenue for couples to explore when their sex lives are out of sync." But Robinson also says that it's important to use discretion when you masturbate, especially if your partner is uncomfortable with it. Remember, it's personal—and private—for good reason.

It can become a problem
While some studies suggest that masturbation is good for your health—and get this, may even help you live longer—you don't want to do it so much that it turns into compulsive sexual behavior. "Like anything, it can cause problems for some people, especially those who are prone to addictions or compulsions," says Robinson. "Some people can get so caught up in it that it's destructive to them and their relationships with other people." If you ever find that masturbation is interfering with your personal or professional life (like, if you're satisfying yourself so much that you're not as interested in your partner), talk to your doctor about what you can do to regain control so it's less of a problem.

Overall, the benefits of masturbation far outweigh any disadvantages. Just remember that it's one area of your life you can use to better understand your own sexuality and even build a stronger connection with your partner.

Medically reviewed in November 2018.

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