Masturbation, often cloaked in euphemisms like “shaking the curtains” or “polishing the gem,” has been a part of human culture since time immemorial. It’s a topic wrapped in controversy and taboo, with opinions ranging from celebration to condemnation. Let’s unravel these layers and examine the historical context and beliefs surrounding this solitary pleasure.
In ancient civilizations, self-pleasure was not only accepted but often celebrated. The Sumerians, for instance, linked it to increased sexual potency. They even had myths like the god Enki creating rivers through ejaculation, symbolizing fertility. However, public displays, like those of Greek philosopher Diogenes, were frowned upon. His acts on Athenian streets, while brazen, were not socially embraced.
The story of Onan in Genesis 38 is frequently misinterpreted as a condemnation of masturbation. However, Onan’s act was actually coitus interruptus during his duty to father a child with his deceased brother’s wife. This was his transgression, not masturbation. Nevertheless, this story has been wrongly used to propagate a view that sees any non-procreative sexual act as sinful.
As Christianity developed, its stance on sexual pleasure, including masturbation, became more stringent. Early Christians, contrasting themselves with the hedonistic Romans, emphasized virtues like chastity and purity. Saint Paul, while acknowledging marriage as an outlet for those unable to maintain chastity, promoted virginity as the ideal state. Saint Jerome even considered marriage as a lesser state, associated with the fall of man, and believed in abstaining from spiritual practices after sexual activity.
Saint Augustine, in his extreme views, argued for the possibility of procreation without pleasure. He believed in the control over bodily functions to an extent that paralleled the ability to wiggle one’s ears or control other involuntary body parts.
The Medical and Moral Panic
Throughout history, masturbation was often blamed for a plethora of personal and societal issues. Claims ranged from causing impotence and infertility to madness and criminal behavior. These assertions, however, lack scientific support. The myths of physical deformities like hairy palms or loss of vision from masturbation are exactly that – myths without any medical basis.
A study conducted by the National Survey of Sexual Health and Behavior (NSSHB) reveals that masturbation is a common behavior among adults. It states that around 80% of men and 60% of women aged 18 and above report having masturbated at some point in their lives. This statistic underscores the prevalence of masturbation as a normal sexual activity in adult life.
Frequency of Masturbation Among Different Age Groups
According to the same NSSHB study, the frequency of masturbation varies significantly across different age groups. For instance, about 63% of men aged 18-24 and 23% of women in the same age group report masturbating several times a month to daily. This frequency tends to decrease with age, with lower percentages reported in older age groups.
Impact of Masturbation on Sexual Health
Research published in the Journal of Sexual Medicine indicates that regular masturbation is linked to various positive sexual health outcomes. It suggests that individuals who masturbate regularly report higher levels of sexual satisfaction and have a better understanding of their own sexual desires and preferences.
A study from the University of Sydney found that masturbation has positive psychological effects. It shows that about 78% of individuals who masturbate regularly reported improved mood and a reduction in stress levels, contributing to overall mental well-being.
A notable study published in the journal European Urology found a correlation between frequent masturbation and reduced risk of prostate cancer. Men who ejaculated more frequently, about 21 times per month, were found to have a 33% lower risk of developing prostate cancer compared to those with lower frequencies of ejaculation.
Your journey towards sexual well-being is grounded in the understanding that self-exploration, as revealed by numerous studies, is not just safe but beneficial. Recall the National Survey of Sexual Health and Behavior’s findings, highlighting that a significant majority of adults engage in masturbation. This fact alone should assure you that understanding your body through self-pleasure is a normal, healthy part of adult life, backed by extensive sexual health research.
The advice to maintain a balance with masturbation isn’t just practical wisdom; it’s a recommendation supported by health professionals. Studies, such as those published in the Journal of Sexual Medicine, underscore the importance of a healthy sexual routine that includes masturbation, without letting it overshadow other aspects of your life. This equilibrium is crucial for both your physical and mental health, as established by research on sexual behavior and satisfaction.
Enhancing Relationships with Shared Knowledge
When we talk about communication with partners regarding masturbation, it’s more than just relationship advice. It’s a strategy supported by psychological studies that have shown how open discussions about sexual preferences, including masturbation habits, can deepen intimacy and understanding in a relationship. This dialogue is rooted in the principle of mutual respect and knowledge-sharing, which modern sexual health research continually advocates for.