Written by Tunde Ajaja
~Punch, Nigeria. Saturday, June 18, 2016
Apart from penetrative sex between heterosexual beings, it is no longer hidden that people have devised several other means to satisfy themselves sexually, and prominent among them is masturbation.
Defined simply as the sexual stimulation of one's own genitals for sexual arousal or other sexual pleasure, usually to the point of orgasm, masturbation, which of course is usually done in the secret, is practised by both singles and married.
While people perceive men to be guiltier of this act, findings have shown that women indu lge in it as well, more so with the use of sex toys.
According to Kinsey Institute, an organisation that promotes interdisciplinary research and scholarship in the field of human sexuality and related aspects of gender, relationship and reproduction, about 92 per cent of men and 62 per cent of women engage in masturbation in their lifetime.
A study by Christin Bowman of the Department of Social-Personality Psychology, University of New York, United States, found that women's reasons for masturbating could be any of sexual pleasure, to learn about or better understand their bodies, as a release, to substitute for sex from their partner and general sexual dissatisfaction.
He found that even though women's feelings when they masturbate could lead to shame or fear that they are acting selfishly, mainly, most women feel sexually empowered when they do it.
The question as to whether this act is good for the human system or not has been tossed back and forth, without a unanimous outcome. While some experts say it is good for the body, some others say its side effect is best described as detrimental.
However, findings have shown that beyond the instant pleasure such people claim to derive from the act, there are some ugly sides to it that may hunt such persons later in life. It was also found that the inadequate understanding of how strongly addictive masturbation is, coupled with its affordability, makes people see it as an option.
But according to Medical Daily, an organisation renowned for health and science issues, masturbation, which is highly addictive, could lead to fatigue, memory loss, hair loss, blurred vision, pains in the penis and impaired sexual function like erectile dysfunction, low sex drive and premature ejaculation.
Notably, it is not the act itself that causes some of these effects; they are a product of the overproduction of sex hormones and neurotransmitters occasioned by frequent masturbation.
In other words, masturbation tends to be excessive because it is accessible and cheap to practise, thus, when people engage in too much of it, sex hormones are over-secreted in the system, which results in these negative effects like hair loss, blurred vision and acne, among others. It added that because it is an act that is generally deemed unacceptable or one that falls below acceptable standard, it could cause low self esteem.
It said, "Masturbation can also lead to sexual exhaustion, which is exhibited in the form of impotence or erectile dysfunction - weak erection. And just like any other obsessive compulsive, such as alcohol abuse or gambling, extreme masturbating can interfere with an individual's personal relationship and professional life.
"The National Health Service, which is the largest publicly funded health care system in the world, suggests that taking a break from the act may serve as a good thing."
That's not all. Excessive masturbation, like doing it daily, has been found to cause seminal leakage, in which case, semen would be leaking or flowing out freely from the penis. This is usually caused by the weakening of the parasympathetic nerves because the ejaculatory valve that opens and closes during sex stays open for a longer time.
Thus, it is not uncommon for people who masturbate to see some stains on their inner wear, especially moments after doing it, and if personal hygiene is inadequate, it has been found to cause odour in that region. It could also deplete the amount of semen in their seminal vesicle.
Other reports revealed that masturbation ruins the sex life of those who indulge in it, leads to premature ejaculation because it tends to make sex uninteresting and difficult.
For women who masturbate, it was also revealed that orgasm gives women an incentive to have more sex, and since most women do not reach orgasm through penile penetration, some resort to masturbation since it is self pleasing and then they become addicted to it.
According to some experts, the pleasure of masturbation does not last for a long time, unlike that of actual sex, thus, people who do it, having been used to it, tend to keep doing it till it impairs their ability to derive maximum pleasure during sexual intercourse. In the same vein, the act has been found to reduce the sensitivity on the penis due to the constant rubbing all in a bid to reach orgasm.
Like sexual intercourse, it has been found that masturbation tends to make people weak and fall asleep, because when they ejaculate (for men) or reach orgasm (for women), their system releases a number of brain chemicals including oxytocin, norepinephrine, serotonin, vasopressin and prolactin, all of which cause them to feel relaxed and sleepy. The effect is said to be more profound in men.
It is also interesting to know that beyond these identified effects, masturbation could on the long run cause men to have acne, because male arousal results in the surge of male hormones, the same hormones that are also known to be responsible for the formation of acne.
In his view, a medical practitioner, Dr. Rotimi Adesanya, affirms that there is a negative side to masturbation. He explained that since it is not an act that is acceptable in the environment and most of those who do it do so secretly, those who masturbate tend to suffer from low self esteem because it is not something they might be proud of.
He noted that apart from the fact that it could lead to memory loss, the pleasure derivable from masturbation does not last for a long time, unlike that of sex, hence, it could be a mere waste of time. "In fact, in some cultures, it is seen as a psychological issue," he added.
He continued, "On the long run, masturbation may reduce sperm count, and that is why men who want to make their wife pregnant should not engage in masturbation, because when they ejaculate during the act, it would reduce their sperm count during actual intercourse. That is in addition to the fact that men who engage in it could have erectile dysfunction, because if the man has satisfied himself earlier, when it is time to meet the wife, he may not have erection.
"It also creates dissatisfaction between the man and the woman. If one of the parties masturbates, because of the initial pleasure, the person could climax on time, leaving the partner unsatisfied. Also, it can make them feel drowsy; they tend to get tired easily. So it is not advisable."
Adesanya advised that people who do it should seek medical counsel. "The truth is that you don't see people going to the hospital to seek medical help about it, but basically it can be treated with psychotherapy. Clinical psychology is involved most times and if the case is bad, a psychiatrist could be involved," he added.
In the view of a psychologist, Prof. Oni Fagboungbe, people engage in masturbation for different reasons; including pleasure or because it has become a compulsive disorder in their system.
"It is not something one should do and persistent engagement in it could cause low self esteem," he said.