So what is it about this topic that freaks people out? Why is it the topic of so many jokes, locker room and otherwise, and why is it guaranteed to get a giggle out of the audience in cinemas and theatres?
Masturbation has received rather bad press over the centuries. It’s still one of the conversational taboos in our society, and has been viewed as sinful and bad in many religions. Many teenagers, who masturbate frequently to get rid of pent up sexual frustrations have been wracked with guilt - and all for nothing.
But religion isn’t the only thing to give masturbation a bad rap. All the scare stories dished out, often by older family members, warning about horrors such as getting hairy hands, going blind, getting permanent erections (in the case of boys), going insane and so forth, only underline their discomfort with sexuality in general and the emerging sexuality of a child or sibling. None of these stories have a smattering of truth in them.
So what’s the lowdown on masturbation?
Masturbation is a normal and healthy part of sexual development and both girls and boys masturbate.
Don’t believe any of the scare stories. You will not go blind, insane, turn into a pervert or get a sexually transmitted disease if you masturbate. You will also not become sterile or get pregnant. Masturbation is not evil, dirty or harmful. So chill out.
Masturbation is personal and private and should not be done in public places or around people who are not willing participants. Group masturbation is quite common, especially among teenage boys.
Masturbation does alleviate stress and releases endorphins (pleasure hormones) into your system, making you feel a lot more relaxed.
One of the good things about masturbation is that it brings sexual relief without any of the dangers of having real sex, such as unwanted pregnancies and sexually transmitted diseases.
Both masturbating and not masturbating is normal. Don’t worry if you do and don’t worry if you don’t.
Masturbation is a good way of finding out what pleases you sexually. For this reason, it sometimes makes later sexual relationships easier.
Fluctuating hormones make masturbation more likely during the teens. Masturbation relieves the strain of this, as few people have regular sex partners at such as young age.
Masturbation is a way of exploring the body and even young children do it.
Sometimes guilt induced as a result of masturbation can cause psychological problems. But the only real problem with it, is when people masturbate in public and do not heed the privacy rules attached to this practice.
(Susan Erasmus, Health24, updated June 2010)