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Masturbation in Wikipedia

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This article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia article "Masturbation". (Source - Retrieved 2006-10-03 10:04:14 from


Masturbation is the manual excitation of the sexual organs, most often to the point of orgasm. It can refer to excitation either by oneself or by another (see mutual masturbation). It is part of a larger set of activities known as autoeroticism (also. Autoerotic Response), which also includes the use of sex toys and non-genital stimulation. There are also masturbation machines used to simulate intercourse. Masturbation and sexual intercourse are the two most common sexual practices, but they are not mutually exclusive (for example, many people find the sight of their partner masturbating highly erotic). Some people are able to achieve orgasm only through masturbation and not sexual intercourse. In the animal kingdom, masturbation has been observed in many mammalian species, both in the wild and in captivity.


The word masturbation is believed to derive from the Greek word mezea (μεζεα, "penises") and the Latin turbare ("to disturb"). A competing etymology based on the Latin manu stuprare ("to defile with the hand") is said by the Oxford English Dictionary to be an "old conjecture". The esoteric and little-used synonym manustupration is similarly derived from manus stuprare.

Masturbation techniques

Ways of masturbating common to members of both sexes include pressing or rubbing the genital area, either with the fingers or against an object such as a pillow; inserting fingers or an object into the anus (see anal masturbation); and stimulating the penis or vulva/clitoris with electric vibrators, which may also be inserted into the vagina or anus. Members of both sexes may also enjoy touching, rubbing, or pinching the nipples or other erogenous zones while masturbating. Both sexes sometimes use lubricating substances to intensify sensation.

Reading or viewing pornography, or sexual fantasy, are often common adjuncts to masturbation. Masturbation activities are often ritualised. Various fetishes and paraphilias can also play a part in the masturbation ritual; potentially harmful or fatal activities include autoerotic asphyxiation and self-bondage.

Sometimes in order to achieve a larger, more pleasurable orgasm, people may masturbate to near climax, then hold off to reduce excitement for a short while and then continue again. This can be done numerous times and usually results in a more pronounced orgasm in the end.

It can be harmful, but some get sexual pleasure by inserting objects into the urethra, [1] such as urethral sounds. This practice is known as "sounding". [2] Sometimes other objects are used (e.g. ball point pens and thermometers). This is a potentially dangerous practice that can cause injury and infection. [3]


19th c. \$shunga\$ print by \$Kunisada\$

Female masturbation techniques are quite numerous and perhaps more varied than those of males. They are influenced by a number of factors and personal preferences. Techniques include stroking or rubbing of the vulva, especially the clitoris, with the index and/or middle fingers. Sometimes one or more fingers may be inserted into the vagina to repeatedly stroke the frontal wall of the vagina where the g-spot is located. [4] Masturbation aids such as a vibrator, dildo or Ben Wa balls can also be used to stimulate the vagina and clitoris. Most women caress their breasts or stimulate a nipple with the free hand, though for some the breasts are not a receptive area for sexual stimulation. Anal stimulation is also enjoyed by some because of the high density of nerve endings located there.

Lubrication is sometimes used during masturbation, especially when penetration is involved, but this is by no means universal and many women find their natural lubrication sufficient — some even produce more lubricant alone than with a partner, though the reasons for this seem to be primarily psychological.

Women may masturbate in the bathtub, shower and hot tub, sometimes including the use of warm running water to stimulate the clitoris. Common positions include lying on back or face down, sitting, squatting, or even standing. Lying face down, one may straddle a pillow, the corner or edge of the bed, a partner's leg or some scrunched-up clothing and "hump" the vulva and clitoris against it. Standing up, the corner of an item of furniture, or even a washing machine, can be used to stimulate the clitoris through the labia and clothing.

A vibrating duck. By de-dramatising the nature of a vibrator, this kind of toy has gained wider acceptance.

Some reach orgasm merely by crossing their legs tightly and clenching the muscles in their legs, which creates pressure on the genitals. This can potentially be done in public without observers noticing. Some prefer to use only pressure, applied to the clitoris without direct contact, for example by pressing the palm or ball of the hand against underwear or other clothing.

A few women can orgasm spontaneously, after experiencing prior sexual arousal, due to intellectual stimulation alone, for instance listening to certain pieces of music. Often, these mental triggers have associations with previous instances of arousal and orgasm. Some women claim to be able to orgasm spontaneously by force of will alone, but that ability, if it exists at all, may not strictly qualify as masturbation as no physical stimulus is involved. [5]

Sometimes sex therapists will recommend that female patients take time to masturbate to orgasm, especially if they have not masturbated before. [6] [7]


Japanese man in the company of two \$adolescent male entertainers\$ Early \$ukiyo-e\$ print in the \$shunga\$ (erotic) style. \$Hishikawa Moronobu\$, ca. \$1680\$; Private collection.

Male masturbation techniques are also influenced by a number of factors and personal preferences. Techniques may also differ between circumcised and uncircumcised males, as some techniques which may work for one can often be quite painful for the other. According to Beaugé, uncircumcised males with an intact but non-retractile foreskin typically masturbate by pulling the foreskin forward and away from the body [1].

Likely the most common male masturbation technique is simply to hold the penis with a loose fist and then to move the hand up and down the shaft until orgasm and ejaculation is achieved. When uncircumcised, stimulation of the penis in this way comes from the "pumping" of the foreskin. This gliding motion of the foreskin reduces friction. When circumcised, the stimulation is from direct contact with the hand (or hands). Many men massage (with some using a personal lubricant to reduce friction) the glans, the rim of the glans, and the frenular delta.

Another technique is to place just the index finger and thumb around the penis about halfway along the shaft and move the skin up and down. A variation on this is to place the fingers and thumb on the penis as if playing a flute, and then shuttle them back and forth. A less common technique is to lie face down on a comfortable surface such as a mattress or pillow and rub the penis against it until orgasm is achieved. This technique may include the use of an artificial vagina or simulacrum to achieve orgasm.

There are many other variations on male masturbation techniques. Some men place both hands directly on their penis during masturbation, while others use their free hand to fondle their testicles, nipples, or other parts of their body. Some may also use vibrators and other sexual devices more commonly associated with female masturbation. A very few, extremely flexible males can reach and stimulate their penis with their tongue or lips, and so perform autofellatio.

The prostate gland is one of the organs that contributes fluid to semen. As the prostate is touch-sensitive, some directly stimulate it using a well-lubricated finger or dildo inserted through the anus into the rectum. Stimulating the prostate from outside, via pressure on the perineum, can be pleasurable as well.

Ejaculation of semen is sometimes controlled by wearing a condom or by ejaculating onto a tissue or some other item. A controversial ejaculation control technique is to put pressure on the perineum, about halfway between the scrotum and the anus, just before ejaculating. This can, however, redirect semen into the bladder. It may also cause long term damage due to the pressure put on the nerves and blood vessels in the perineum. A dry orgasm is one that is reached by withholding ejaculation. Proponents of tantric sex say that this is a learnable skill that can shorten the refractory period.

Masturbation frequency, age and sex

Renaissance art depicting two boys engaging in sex play (fresco, Museum of Villa Giulia, Rome).

Frequency of masturbation is determined by many factors, eg. one's resistance to transient sexual tension, hormone levels influencing sexual arousal (Physiology & Behavior, 2005 Oct 15; Vol. 86 (3), pp. 356-68), and one's attitude to masturbation formed by culture. (E. Heiby and J. Becker examined the latter[2]). "Forty-eight female college students were asked to complete a sexual attitudes questionnaire in which a frequency of masturbation scale was embedded. Twenty-four of the women (the experimental group) then individually viewed an explicit modeling film involving female masturbation. One month later, all subjects again completed the same questionnaire. Subjects in the experimental group also completed a questionnaire evaluating aspects of the film. Results indicated that the experimental group reported a significant increase in the average monthly frequency of masturbation, as compared to the control group. This same group, however, reported that the film had no effect on sexual attitudes or behavior."

It is thought that most people begin masturbating when reaching adolescence. Many scholarly and clinical studies have been done on the matter, and many informal surveys have asked the question. A 2004 survey by Toronto magazine $NOW$ was answered by an unspecified number of thousands. [3] The results show that an overwhelming majority of the males — 81% — began masturbating between the ages of 10 and 15. Among females, the same figure was a more modest majority of 55%. (Note that surveys on sexual practices are prone to self-selection bias.) It is not uncommon however to begin much earlier, and this is more frequent among females: 18% had begun by the time they turned 10, and 6% already by the time they turned 6. Being the main outlet of child sexuality, masturbation has been observed in very young children. In the book Human Sexuality: Diversity in Contemporary America, by Strong, Devault and Sayad, the authors point out, "A baby boy may laugh in his crib while playing with his erect penis (although he does not ejaculate). Baby girls sometimes move their bodies rhythmically, almost violently, appearing to experience orgasm."

According to the Canadian survey of Now magazine readers cited above, the frequency of masturbation declines after the age of 17. However, most males masturbate daily or even more frequently well into their 20s and sometimes far beyond. This decline is more drastic among females, and more gradual among males. While females aged 13–17 masturbated almost once a day on average (and almost as often as their male peers), adult women only masturbated 8–9 times a month, compared to the 18–22 among men. It is also apparent that masturbation frequency declines with age. Adolescent youths report being able to masturbate to ejaculation six or more times per day, while men in middle age report being hard pressed to ejaculate even once per day. The survey does not give a full demographic breakdown of respondents, however, and the sexual history of respondents to this poll, who are readers of an urban Toronto lifestyle magazine, may not extend to the general population. This may be that females are less likely to masturbate while in a sexual relationship than men. Both sexes occasionally engage in this activity, however, even when in sexually active relationships. In general it is believed that individuals of either sex who are not in sexually active relationships tend to masturbate more frequently than those who are; however, much of the time this is not true as masturbation alone or with a partner is often a feature of a healthy relationship. For both males and females, masturbation is a way to relieve stress and anxiety.

The frequency of masturbation may be positively correlated with obesity. (Brody, 2004).

Health and psychological effects


It is held in many mental health circles that masturbation can relieve depression and lead to a higher sense of self-worth (Hurlbert & Whittaker, 1991). Masturbation can also be particularly useful in relationships where one partner wants more sex than the other — in which case masturbation provides a balancing effect and thus a more harmonious relationship.

On July 16, 2003, an Australian research team led by Graham Giles of The Cancer Council published a medical study [4] which concluded that frequent masturbation by males may help prevent the development of prostate cancer. The study also indicated that this would be more helpful than ejaculation through sexual intercourse because intercourse can transmit diseases that may increase the risk of cancer instead.

Masturbation is also seen as a sexual technique that protects individuals from the risk of contracting sexually transmitted diseases such as AIDS. Support for such a view, and for making it part of the sex education curriculum led to the dismissal of US Surgeon General Joycelyn Elders during the Clinton administration.

Some people actually consider masturbation as a cardiovascular workout.[8] And while doctors have no proof of this actually being true, those suffering from cardiovascular disorders (particularly those recovering from myocardial infarction, or heart attacks) should resume physical activity (including sexual intercourse and masturbation) gradually and with the frequency and rigor in which their physical status will allow. Some doctors will advise those recovering from heart attacks to resume sexual activity (solitary or with a partner) when one is able to climb two flights of stairs without experiencing shortness of breath or chest pain.


A study by Stuart Brody, a professor and medical psychology consultant, showed that a test group which only had intercourse had, as a whole, lower blood pressure in stressful situations than those who had intercourse but also had masturbated for one or more days (Brody, 2006).

Masturbation involving both a man and a woman can result in pregnancy only if semen contacts the vulva. Any masturbation with a partner can theoretically result in transmission of sexually transmitted disease by contact with bodily fluids, and such contact should be avoided with any partner whose disease status is uncertain. Objects inserted into the vagina or anus should be clean and of a kind that will not scratch or break. Care should be taken not to fully insert anything into the anus — any object used should have a flared or flanged base; otherwise retrieval can require a visit to the emergency room. Most modern dildos and anal plugs are designed with this feature.

A man whose penis has suffered "an invasive procedure, blunt trauma or injury during intercourse"[5] may suffer later in life from Peyronie's disease. There is the rare event of penile fracture[6] which may occur. Phimosis is "a contracted foreskin (that) may cause trouble by hurting when an attempt is made to pull the foreskin back"[7]. In these cases, overly aggressive manipulation of the penis can be problematic.

Lawrence I. Sank (1998) speculated that the habit of masturbating prone (i.e. lying face downward) was responsible for serious sexual problems, including anorgasmia and erectile dysfunction, as suffered by four men he examined. He coined the term traumatic masturbatory syndrome to describe the effect. As of 2006 there has been no follow-up research and the idea that prone masturbation causes male sexual dysfunction is not familiar or widely-held within the medical community, and thus should not be credited as such until further research.

Some sources, however, continue to give credence to the idea. One sex therapist (Margolies, 1994) has condemned masturbation by rubbing against a pillow or mattress and Lipsith et al (2003) suggest that masturbation could play a part in male psychogenic sexual dysfunction (MPSD), citing Sank as their authority.

Compulsive masturbation

Masturbating frequently presents no physical, mental or emotional risk in itself[8], but if such a frequency, e.g. several times a day, seems to have a "compulsive" quality to it, it may be that masturbation is being used either to relieve either boredom or stress. In either case, as with any "nervous habit" at any age, it is more useful to consider the causes of the boredom or of the stress, rather than try to repress the masturbation itself.[9]

As with other addictions, there are lists of warning signs as to when sexual activity is reducing a person's ability to function well in the real world, or is placing them at risk for example of pursuing illegal or destructive activities. Very frequent and compulsive masturbation can be one of the signs of a sexual addiction, for which professional help may be advisable.[10]

Masturbation in history and society


Comical scene with masturbating satyrs. 6th c. black-figure Athenian vase, Amasis painter

There are depictions of male masturbation in prehistoric rock paintings around the world, though these are all entirely matters of interpretation. Most early people seem to have connected human sexuality with abundance in nature. A clay figurine of the 4th millennium BC from a temple site on the island of Malta, depicts a woman masturbating. However, in the ancient world depictions of male masturbation are far more common.

Male masturbation became an even more important image in ancient Egypt: when performed by a god it could be considered a creative or magical act: the god Atum was believed to have created the universe by masturbating to ejaculation, and the ebb and flow of the Nile was attributed to the frequency of his ejaculations.

The ancient Greeks had a more relaxed attitude toward masturbation than the Egyptians did, regarding the act as a normal and healthy substitute for other forms of sexual pleasure. The god Hermes was credited with its invention, and allegedly taught it to his son, Pan who then taught it to his beloved shepherds, to relieve their sexual longings.[9] In a related custom, the erect phalloi of the ubiquitous hermae were ritually rubbed with olive oil for good luck. The Greeks considered masturbation a safety valve against destructive sexual frustration. The Greeks also dealt with female masturbation in both their art and writings.


Religious attitudes towards masturbation are varied. In some, such as Catholicism, the Eastern Orthodox Church, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Mormons), Judaism, some forms of conservative Protestantism and Islam, masturbation is regarded as an impure practice, and carries indications that it is taboo. In others such as Wicca and Vajrayana, it is encouraged as a healthy, normal practice that can lead to higher spirituality.

It has been reported by Rolling Stone [11] that a small Christian- right group in America is encouraging people to wear a masturband to indicate a commitment to abstinence from masturbation.


In the Buddhist tradition, under the Five Precepts and the Eightfold Path, one should neither be attached to nor crave sensual pleasure[12]. The third of the Five Precepts is "To refrain from sexual misconduct". For most Buddhist laypeople, masturbation is not "sexual misconduct", especially when compared to, say, adultery or any sexual activity which can bring suffering to another human being. Each may need to consider whether, for them, masturbation is a distraction or means of avoidance of their own spiritual practice or development. To provide a complete focus onto spiritual practice, fully ordained Buddhist monks may, depending on the tradition, be bound by hundreds of further detailed rules or vows that may include a ban on sexual relations including masturbation. Vajrayana or Tantric Buddhism, on the other hand, teaches that masturbation can be actively used to approach higher spiritual development.


In the Hebrew Bible, masturbation is not explicitly prohibited. The Talmud however forbids masturbation, as it leads to unnecessary spilling of semen, or the impure thoughts of another. This prohibition is derived from the Biblical narrative of Onan (Talmud Niddah 13a). The Talmud (ibid) likens the act to murder and idolatry. There are those that argue, however, that the wrath displayed by God toward Onan was invoked not through the act of spilling semen, but through disobedience to God's command for Onan to impregnate his brother's widow.

According to the Kitzur Shulchan Aruch, "It is forbidden to discharge semen in vain. This is a graver sin than any other in the Torah" [10]. However, Beis Shmuel expounds that this is not literal, but rather serves to frighten man into avoiding the sin. [11]

There is disagreement among the poskim, decisors of Jewish law, whether masturbation is an acceptable way of procuring semen for artificial insemination or in vitro fertilisation. [13]


The Catechism of the Catholic Church [14] lists masturbation as one of the "Offenses Against Chastity" and calls it "an intrinsically and gravely disordered action" because "use of the sexual faculty, for whatever reason, outside of marriage is essentially contrary to its purpose."[12]


Though most Protestants simply disapproved of masturbation as a sin, in a law code for the Puritan colony of New Haven, Connecticut in the $17th century$ blasphemers, homosexuals and masturbators were eligible for the death penalty. [13] Protestant theologians only began revising previous teachings toward the middle of the $20th century$ with some today even taking pro-masturbation viewpoints. Masturbation, however, is still viewed by some denominations as an act of self-indulgence and a sin of the flesh, making it a contentious issue to this day. In this as in many other areas there is more variation in the teachings of different Protestants than among different Roman Catholics.


Main article: Sexuality in Islam

Istimna (استمناء) is the Arabic term for masturbation. Masturbation may only be done in fear of committing adultery, nor is it preferred (either getting married and fasting is suggested as alternatives from hadith). It is totally forbidden in the Shi'a sect, but the four Sunni schools of jurisprudence (known as Madhaahib - the Hanafi, Shafi'i, Maliki and Hambali schools of Fiqh) have differing stances on the issue. Some consider it forbidden in all cases. Some see it forbidden in certain cases but obligatory in others. Another view is that it is Makruh but not expressly forbidden. Scholars of Islam do not approve of masturbation, except in extenuating circumstances. There is a statement in Quran "And those who guard their chastity, Except from their wives (or the slaves that their right hands possess),- for then, they are free from blame; But whoever seeks beyond that, then those are transgressors. (23:5-7)

In Islam, sexual engagement outside of marriage (and outside of slaves the right-hand possesses) is a major sin, which cause the doer to be punished in this life and the Qiyama. Yet if one's desire is so overwhelming one might perform a greater wrong by having sex outside marriage, masturbation becomes permissible as a necessity but in that case it will be like eating the flesh of pig when no other food is available. So Quran says "And those who are not married should try to live in chastity, until God enriches them with His Grace" (Qur'an, 24:33)

Masturbation, like any form of sex in which seminal or vaginal fluids have been released, breaks one's fast if performed during the daylight hours and requires a major ablution if any seminal or vaginal fluids were released.

According to Sheikh Hamed Al-Ali: "Masturbation during the daytime of Ramadan breaks the fast, based on the Hadith that a fasting Muslim gives up eating, drinking, and sexual desire for the sake of Allah. Since masturbation is a kind of sexual desire, a fasting Muslim must avoid it. Therefore, masturbation invalidates the fast as does food and as it is one of the sins that if someone does it he or she would be violating the sanctity of this month."


Masturbation is not specifically mentioned in any of the religious scriptures; however, many conservative Hindus see it as impure and addictive, while seeing it as a distraction from prayer and the pursuit of a sattvic and pure lifestyle. Many also see it as overindulgence, which is not permitted to brahmacharyas who are in the pursuit of God and live morally and physically pure lifestyles. Only once they reach the grihastya or "householder" stage can they seek kama (physical pleasure) in the strict context of marriage and artha (worldly achievement, material prosperity) through their vocations. Brahmacharya, and grihastya being two of four successive phases of mans developmental pattern.

Sculpture from a temple at Khajuraho

Alternative liberal schools of thought such as the Tantric branches of Hinduism, the Hindu practices native to India that predates centuries of conservative Islamic influence, is markedly less reserved, teaching that enlightenment can be approached through divine sex. Divine sex is one path whereby one can approach Moksha (Nirvana), a oneness with a higher spiritual level. As such, the Tantric practices, through writings such as the Kama Sutra seek not to repress sexuality, but to perfect it. By perfecting the act of divine sex, including masturbation, as seen depicted at the 10th century Hindu temple of Khajuraho, one clears the mind of earthly desires, leaving the soul on a higher level devoid of such worries, filled with bliss, and relaxed.

Both the ascetic branches, and tantric branches of Hinduism concur that the practices are about the ego (Ahamkara) controlling sex, rather than sex controlling the ego. The tantric branches go into great depths on methodology of that control, teaching detail of how to control sex when engaged, as well as practices for when abstaining, the focus of the ascetics. The Hindu Tantric practices crossed geographical boundaries, and merged with the practices of Buddhism, and gave rise to Tantric Buddhism, Vajrayana, which has a similar approach to sexuality, in general, viewing it as normal, natural and essential for obtaining enlightenment.


Some teachers and practitioners of Traditional Chinese medicine, Taoist meditative and martial arts say that masturbation can cause a lowered energy level in men. They say that ejaculation in this way reduces "origin qi" from dantian, the energy center located in the lower abdomen. Some maintain that sex with a partner does not do this because the partners replenish each other's qi. Some practitioners therefore say that males should not practice martial arts for at least 48 hours after masturbation while others prescribe up to six months, because the loss of Origin Qi does not allow new qi to be created for this kind of time.


The "Charge of the Goddess" is an instruction of unknown antiquity that is recognized by many Neopagans. One part of it reads: "All acts of pleasure are my rituals." As such, the Wiccans consider such activity not only normal, and healthy, but also sacred, as well as charged magically. Sex magic is considered one of the more potent branches of thelema, with sex being key to the Great Rite, itself. The Council of American Witches issued a statement about their religion during their Spring Witchmeet of 1974, held in Minneapolis, MN. It says, in part:

"We value sexuality as pleasure, as the symbol and embodiment of Life, and as one of the sources of energies used in magickal practices and religious worship."

Secular humanism

Most secular humanists believe that, in the overwhelming majority of cases, masturbation does no harm in this world. Secular humanism therefore considers masturbation morally irrelevant and up to the individual. It should be done in private or in the company of consenting adults.

Philosophical arguments

Immanuel Kant regarded masturbation as a violation of the moral law. In the Metaphysics of Morals (1797) he made the a posteriori argument that 'such an unnatural use of one’s sexual attributes' strikes 'everyone upon his thinking of it' as 'a violation of one’s duty to himself', and suggested that it was regarded as immoral even to give it its proper name (unlike the case of the similarly undutiful act of suicide). He went on, however, to acknowledge that 'it is not so easy to produce a rational demonstration of the inadmissibility of that unnatural use', but ultimately concluded that its immorality lay in the fact that 'a man gives up his personality... when he uses himself merely as a means for the gratification of an animal drive'.

Subsequent critics of masturbation tended to argue against it on more physiological grounds, however (see medical attitudes).

Medical attitudes

Excerpt from United States \$patent\$ number 745264, filed on May 29, 1903 by Albert V. Todd. It describes a device designed to prevent masturbation by inflicting electric shocks upon the perpetrator, by ringing an alarm bell, and through spikes at the inner edge of the tube into which the penis is inserted. The entire patent document: Page 1, 2, 3, 4.
Excerpt from \$United States\$ \$patent\$ number 995600, filed on January 19, 1910 by Jonas E. Heyser. The entire patent document: \$Page 1\$, \$2\$, \$3\$, \$4\$, \$5\$, \$6\$

The first use of onanism to consistently and specifically refer to masturbation appears to be Onania, an anonymous pamphlet first distributed in London in 1716. In it was a bombastic but novel tirade, drawing on familiar themes of sin and vice, this time in particular against the "heinous sin" of "self-pollution". After dire warnings that those who so indulged would suffer impotence, gonorrhea, epilepsy and a wasting of the faculties (included were letters and testimonials supposedly from young men ill and dying from the effects of compulsive masturbation) the pamphlet then goes on to recommend as an effective remedy a "Strengthening Tincture" at 10 shillings a bottle and a "Prolific Powder" at 12 shillings a bag, available from a certain shop in London.

One of the many horrified by the descriptions of malady in Onania was the notable Swiss physician Samuel-Auguste Tissot. In 1760, he published L'Onanisme, his own comprehensive medical treatise on the purported ill-effects of masturbation. Citing case studies of young male masturbators amongst his patients in Lausanne, Switzerland as basis for his reasoning, Tissot argued that semen was an "essential oil" and "stimulus" that, when lost from the body in great amounts, would cause "a perceptible reduction of strength, of memory and even of reason; blurred vision, all the nervous disorders, all types of gout and rheumatism, weakening of the organs of generation, blood in the urine, disturbance of the appetite, headaches and a great number of other disorders."

Though Tissot's ideas are now considered conjectural at best, his treatise was presented as a scholarly, scientific work in a time when experimental physiology was practically nonexistent. The authority with which the work was subsequently treated — Tissot's arguments were even acknowledged and echoed by luminaries such as Kant and Voltaire — arguably turned the perception of masturbation in Western medicine over the next two centuries into that of a debilitating illness.

This continued well into the Victorian Era, where such medical censure of masturbation was in line with the widespread social conservatism and opposition to open sexual behavior common at the time. [15] There were recommendations to have boys' pants constructed so that the genitals could not be touched through the pockets, for schoolchildren to be seated at special desks to prevent their crossing their legs in class and for girls to be forbidden from riding horses and bicycles because the sensations these activities produce were considered too similar to masturbation. Boys and young men who nevertheless continued to indulge in the practice were branded as "weak-minded."[16] Many "remedies" were devised, including eating a bland, meatless diet. This approach was promoted by Dr. John Harvey Kellogg (inventor of corn flakes) and Rev. Sylvester Graham (inventor of Graham crackers). The medical literature of the times describes procedures for electric shock treatment, infibulation, restraining devices like chastity belts and straitjackets, cauterization or — as a last resort — wholesale surgical excision of the genitals. Routine neonatal circumcision was widely adopted in the United States and the UK at least partly because of its believed preventive effect against masturbation (see also History of male circumcision). In later decades, the more drastic of these measures were increasingly replaced with psychological techniques, such as warnings that masturbation led to blindness, hairy hands or stunted growth. Some of these persist as myths even today.

What might be a typical late 19th century professional's attitude to chronic masturbation is contained in Daniel Hack Tuke's 1892 A Dictionary of Psychological Medicine: "This habit, when long and often indulged in defiance of reason and conscience, seems more than any other to acquire a mastery over its victim, and the nervous exaustion which by its very nature it produces makes him less and less able to resist it. Gradually the appearance, manner, and character become altered, and the typical signs of habitual masturbation are developed. The face becomes pale and pasty, and the eye lusterless. The man loses all spontaneity and cheerfulness, all manliness and self-reliance. He cannot look you in the face because he is haunted by the consciousness of a dirty secret which he must always conceal and always dreads that you may discover. He shuns society, and has no intimate friends, does not dare to marry, and becomes a timid, hypersensitive, self-centered, hypochondriac."

Medical attitudes toward masturbation began to change at the beginning of the $20th century$ when H. Havelock Ellis, in his seminal 1897 work Studies in the Psychology of Sex, questioned Tissot's premises, cheerfully named famous men of the era who masturbated and then set out to disprove (with the work of more recent physicians) each of the claimed diseases of which masturbation was purportedly the cause. "We reach the conclusion," he wrote, "that in the case of moderate masturbation in healthy, well-born individuals, no seriously pernicious results necessarily follow."

Robert Baden-Powell, the founder of The Scout Association, incorporated a passage in the 1914 edition of Scouting for Boys warning against the dangers of masturbation. This passage stated that the individual should run away from the temptation by performing physical activity which was supposed to tire the individual so that masturbation could not be performed. By 1930, however, Dr. F. W. W. Griffin, editor of The Scouter, had written in a book for Rover Scouts that the temptation to masturbate was "a quite natural stage of development" and, citing Ellis's work, held that "the effort to achieve complete abstinence was a very serious error."

In 1994, when the Surgeon General of the United States, Dr. Joycelyn Elders, mentioned as an aside that it should be mentioned in school curricula that masturbation was safe and healthy, she was forced to resign, with opponents asserting that she was promoting the teaching of how to masturbate. Many believe this was the result of her long history of promoting controversial viewpoints and not due solely to her public mention of masturbation. Her case led to the coining of a new and humorous slang term for masturbation: Firing the surgeon general.


Main article: Masturbate-a-thon

Masturbate-a-thons are public, charity events that are "intended to encourage people to explore safer sex, talk about masturbation and lift the taboos that still surround the subject"[14].


Because masturbation is often an uncomfortable topic among peers, a huge variety of euphemisms and dysphemisms have been invented to describe it. For a complete list of terms, see: "Sexual slang".

Cultural references to masturbation

Main article: Cultural references to masturbation

Masturbation in other animal species

Main article: Animal sexuality

Masturbatory behavior has now been documented in a very wide range of other species. Individuals of some species have been known to create tools for masturbation purposes.

See also

  • List of songs about masturbation
  • Nocturnal emission
  • Handjob
  • Sex-positive feminism
  • J. Arthur Rank (re. well-known cockney rhyming slang of "'avin' a quick J Arthur")
  • Die große Nacht im Eimer (painting)
  • Fornication
  • Fleshlight


  1. ^ Go ask Alice!: Cock-stuffing (html). Columbia University, New York (2005-02-18). Retrieved on 2006-07-29.
  2. ^ Various authors (2006-04-21). Urethral Sound (html/wiki). Body Modification Ezine. Retrieved on 2006-07-29.
  3. ^ McPartlin, Daniel; Adam P. Klausner, MD; Tristan T. Berry, MD (2005-09-09). Case report: A foreign body in the urethra (html). Journal of the American Academy of Physician Assistants. Retrieved on 2006-07-29.
  4. ^ Keesling, Barbara (Nov/Dec 99 (Last Reviewed: 30 Aug 2004)). Beyond Orgasmatron (html). Psychology Today. Retrieved on 2006-07-29.
  5. ^ Koedt, Anne (1970). The Myth of the Vaginal Orgasm (html). Chicago Women's Liberation Union. Retrieved on 2006-07-29.
  6. ^ Shuman, Tracy (2006-02). Your Guide to Masturbation (html). WebMD, Inc./The Cleveland Clinic Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology. Retrieved on 2006-07-29.
  7. ^ Knowles, Jon (2002-11). Masturbation — From Stigma to Sexual Health (html). Katharine Dexter McCormick Library/Planned Parenthood Federation of America, Inc.. Retrieved on 2006-07-29.
  8. ^ (June, 1991)"Cardiovascular changes associated with sexual arousal and orgasm in men". Sexual Abuse: A Journal of Research and Treatment 4 (2): 151-165. DOI:10.1007/BF00851611. 1079-0632 (Print) 1573-286X (Online). Retrieved on December 28, 2004.
  9. ^ $Review of The Art of the Siesta in The Guardian$
  10. ^ Kitzur Shulchan Aruch, סימן קנא: א (Chapter 151: 1); Rabbi Shlomo Ganzfried, translation by Rabbi Avrohom Davis; Copyright © 1996 by Metsudah Publications
  11. ^ Zohar, Shulchan Aruch, Even Ha'Ezer 23:1
  12. ^ Persona Humana:Declaration on Certain Questions Concerning Sexual Ethics, Section IX. Sacred Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (December 29, 1975). Retrieved on 8/29/2006.
  13. ^ Lawrence James The rise and Fall of the British Empire p. 41
  14. ^ Masturbate-a-thon website (html). Masturbate-a-thon (2006/08/04). Retrieved on 2006-08-06.


  • Brody, Stuart. "Blood pressure reactivity to stress is better for people who recently had penile-vaginal intercourse than for people who had other or no sexual activity." Biological Psychology, Volume 71, Issue 2, February 2006, pages 214-222.
  • Brody, Stuart. "Slimness is associated with greater intercourse and lesser masturbation frequency" Journal Of Sex & Marital Therapy Volume 30, Issue 4, July - September 2004, Pages 251-261
  • DeMartino, Manfred F. Human Autoerotic Practices. New York: Human Sciences Press, 1979. ISBN 0877053731.
  • Joanides, Paul (2004) Guide to Getting It On, p. 396 (Possible issues with prone masturbation)
  • Josie Lipsith, Damian McCann, and David Goldmeier. Male Psychogenic Sexual Dysfunction: The Role of Masturbation. Sexual and Relationship Therapy 18: 448-471 (2003). (Possible issues with prone masturbation)
  • Marcus, Irwin M. Masturbation: From Infancy to Senescence. New York: International Universities Press, 1975. ISBN 0823631508.
  • Eva Margolies. Undressing the American Male: Men with Sexual Problems and What Women Can Do to Help Them. New York: Penguin, 1994. ( Possible issues with prone masturbation)
  • Stengers, Jean; van Neck, Anne. Masturbation: the history of a great terror. New York: Palgrave, 2001. ISBN 0312224435. (Discusses Victorian attitudes toward masturbation.)
  • Lawrence I. Sank. "Traumatic Masturbatory Syndrome." Journal of Sex and Marital Therapy 24(1): 37-42 (1998).
  • Hurlbert, David Farley & Karen Elizabeth Whittaker. (1991). “The Role of Masturbation in Marital and Sexual Satisfaction: A Comparative Study of Female Masturbators and Nonmasturbators.” Journal of Sex Education & Therapy, 17(4), 272–282.
  • Buddhist Sexual Ethics, by Winton Higgins

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