In general sense, masturbation is the act of exciting the sexual organs by rubbing, stroking, or fondling, pressing or other forms of handling. It is part of the normal sexual development which occurs in adolescent and which everyone indulges in at some point in life. In a more restricted sense, masturbation goes beyond just exciting the sexual organs, that is, in men, not just handling the penis until erection is achieved. After the initial excitement, the handling of the sexual organ continues until the point of intense sexual pleasure and often times, until orgasm occurs. In other words, masturbation is an act by which one has “sexual intercourse” with oneself. This could be called auto-sexuality, although true auto-sexuality only occurs in an hermaphrodite. Hermaphrodite refers to an animal that possesses both male and female sexual organs.
Those who masturbate will agree with me that it gives physical pleasure similar to that experienced during sexual intercourse with the opposite sex. Masturbation to the point of orgasm gives relief from tension.
There are many unfounded false beliefs associated with masturbation and some of them are very absurd. For instance, some believe that masturbation can cause blindness, deafness, ill-health or sterility. None of these claims is true. Admittedly, masturbation causes a lot of distress, guilt and self-reproach in those who practice it very regularly.
Like most sexual behaviours, there is little information available about how common it is because of cultural taboo. However, information available suggest that masturbation is more common in men than in women. In one survey among adolescents, it was found that 98 of every 100 boys masturbate, and about 70 of every 100 girls do so before the age of 21years. It is also suggested that masturbation is more common in technologically advanced societies. In the following chapter, we shall look at why people masturbate.
WHY DO PEOPLE MASTURBATE?
Masturbation is a sexual behaviour developed in childhood. This behaviour is normally discarded as the individual grows up into adulthood. It becomes an abnormal situation when it is sustained to adulthood. The following are some of the reasons why masturbation is practiced.
(A) Lateness in Getting Married:
The men become fully sexually developed without a steady partner for relieving their sexual arousals. Those who cannot seek sexual relationship with prostitutes often continue the adolescent practice of masturbation.
(B) Boarding of Adolescents:
This encourages exchange of information about masturbation and allows room for adventures into it. When such boarding facilities are unisex and far away from where sexual intercourse with the other sex is possible, then masturbation becomes quite rampant.
(C) Sex Materials:
With technological advancement comes literature (books, magazines, pictures) and audio-visual materials (films, televisions and videos) which arouse sexual desires in adolescents. In the absence of a sexual partner to relieve such sexual tension generated from these materials, masturbation becomes a way out.
These materials, of course, do not exist in a technologically primitive societies but that does not mean that masturbation does not occur in these societies. As I mentioned earlier, masturbation is part of the normal sexual development in every human being. It only becomes a deviation from normal sexual behaviour when it is practiced more frequently and to the point of orgasm.
Let us critically look at the practice of masturbation in men and in women.
THE ACT IN MEN:
The hand is the most common object of masturbation. In men, the penis is stroked, massaged or squeezed with one or both hands until erection is achieved. Sometimes, erection is aroused by sight or by the thought of a woman. Men imagine all the actions and pleasures associated with sex and how wonderful an admired lady would be in bed. This causes them to feel excited. The erection is then maintained by handling the penis until the point of ejaculation. Some men use lubricants, such as soap, cream, etc to make the hand more slippery as it passes forwards and backwards over the penis. The lubricant reduces the chance of bruising the penis in the process.
Some men have been known to use other objects or method to achieve orgasm. Some use other devises made of soft rubber shaped like the female vagina while some have been known to create holes in their mattress for the same purpose.
Once orgasm is achieved, which is indicated by ejaculation, the person feels relaxed as if he had normal sexual intercourse. In some, who have formed a habit of masturbating regularly, this relief may be followed by a strong sense of GUILT and a RESOLUTION to STOP indulging in the habit; but like all habits, they would do it again and again.
THE ACT IN WOMEN:
In women, the hand is also the first instrument to try when masturbating. The clitoris is stroke, fondled or squeezed to arouse sexual response. This causes the clitoris to swell and the secretion of fluid in and around the vagina. This, of course, is associated with a pleasurable feeling. The lips of the vagina are also stroked with the fingers and as the vagina becomes wet with secretion, the fingers may be poked in and out of the vagina.
The stroking of the clitoris, lips of the vagina and poking of the vagina are alternated at random and at will until orgasm is achieved. Of course in women, orgasm is less easy to recognize as there is no ejaculation of semen. It is usually associated with an intense emotional feeling of loss of control of oneself for a brief period. This may be accompanied by rhythmic contraction of the muscles around the vagina and the anus, in a fashion similar to that felt by men during ejaculation. As masturbation becomes a habit in women, other objects apart from the hand are used. The candle is an object that is used by many girls, while some use dido which is an object shaped like the male penis. Other women use vibrator which is also an object shaped like the male penis and which has a battery that causes it to vibrate when switched on.
Recent research has revealed that in addition to the reasons listed earlier in this work, most people decide to masturbate because of:
* their decision not to be unfaithful to their partners,
* their fear of contracting HIV/AIDS and other sexually transmitted diseases,
* their fear of unwanted pregnancies,
* their bitterness and disappointment of past or recent experience in relationships with men or women, and lack of confidence and courage in reaching out to people of the opposite sex.
THE EFFECTS OF MASTURBATION
As I mentioned earlier, there are many unfounded false beliefs about the effects of masturbation. It is unthinkable how these beliefs started but most have been perpetuated by ignorance, some of which stem from the cultural taboo on sexual discussions. For example, how can one explain the belief that masturbation which is only an alternative way of achieving sexual release can cause blindness, deafness, insanity or stupidity when the real sexual intercourse does not? There are also those who believe that masturbation causes ill-health and mental degradation, while some people believe that masturbation in women causes swelling of the internal sexual organs due to accumulation of blood. Some also believe that the enlargement of the inner lips of the vagina can result from masturbation. All these are totally false! There is no truth in the belief that frequent masturbation is harmful to health.
The effect of masturbation on maturity and sexual behaviour has been an area of interest to psychiatrist and psychologists since Sigmund Freud propounded his theories of how the mind works earlier in the century. He identified three stages of the development of the mind:
(1) The Oral Stage: When the child experiences
everything through the mouth.
(2) The Genital Stage: When the child enjoys
playing with the genital organs, and
(3) Full Maturity: When the person is able to adjust
and interact effectively with others around him or her.
Sigmund Freud’s theory recognizes that everyone masturbates before achieving full maturity, though most people are always shy to confess this clear fact. However, those who advocate this theory also say that persons who masturbate have failed to develop beyond the genital stage. Hence, they say that masturbation is an expression of immaturity of the mind. This, of course, is not true as most people who masturbate have been able to live and function as mature adults in every way. Most of them go on to have full and normal heterosexual relationship (that is, sexual relationship with someone of the opposite sex; usually after edifying contacts as contained in http://nigerlove.wetpaint.com). Such persons cease to masturbate after they settle down in life (get married) and only masturbate if their spouse is away and they do not wish to indulge in extra marital sex.
ADVANTAGES OF MASTURBATION
Undoubtedly, there are a few persons who masturbate and who are of immature mind, but so are there persons who do not masturbate have less sexual desire or have hang-ups about sex.
* There is no basis for the belief that people who masturbate have less sexual desires or have hang-ups about sex. A recent survey in fact, showed that people who masturbate have increased sexual desire and have more sexual drive than those who do not. There are people who because of previous experience, are afraid of sexual intercourse. Such people find solace in masturbation for the release of their sexual desires but they are in the minority.
* Masturbation provides an alternate sexual intercourse – free of the need and complications or cost of finding a consenting partner, free from the risk of sexually transmitted diseases, free from HIV/AIDS and free from the risk of unwanted pregnancy. Masturbation provides a chance for the girl or woman to explore her sexual response and for the man, to release his tensions when aroused at a time he is alone or not bold enough to have a regular girl friend.
* Masturbation develops self love and familiarizes oneself with one’s own sexual response. One can relieve sexual tension without imposing on any body else. These are advantages.
DISADVANTAGES OF MASTURBATION
* Most people who masturbate have a feeling of guilt of doing something they have been made to believe is bad. Most of these feelings arose from religious or cultural taboo and traditional beliefs on sexual behaviour and practices.
* Bruising of the genital organs can occur during masturbation, particularly if they are handled roughly during the act or if there is not enough lubrication. These can cause a lot of pain and can lead to serious infection if contaminated by germs.
* Like all habits, it may be difficult to break for some people. The tendency is also there for adolescents to do nothing else but masturbate whenever they have some free time. This is bad as it does not allow them to develop other aspects of their talent and broaden their horizon for the world ahead.
* There is the danger that masturbation may be preferred to normal sexual intercourse, and this may affect sexual relationship after marriage.
* In men, masturbation has been known to be associated with premature ejaculation, that is, having ejaculation before or just after sexual intercourse has begun.
* If a person thinks of masturbation and nothing else or if his or her whole existence revolves around masturbation then there is something harmful but if one enjoys masturbation with full control, it is not harmful.
However, the dangers of masturbation have been exaggerated. It may not lead to any physical injury unless one is addicted to it. Any ill effects which masturbation may result are feeling of anxiety, guilt, or self condemnation which it brings. Masturbation is looked upon as wicked, sinful and abnormal by elders and it results in sexual anxieties among children.
In spite of the religious and cultural disapproval, masturbation is widely practiced especially by adolescents (As from 20 to 35 years old). As part of healthy development, it is acceptable but however, it can become a habit that may affect future normal sexual relationship.
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS ON MASTURBATION
(1) Does a girl lose her virginity if she masturbates?
No. because for losing virginity, one should have heterosexual intercourse or engage in vigorous sporting activities. Masturbation is not sexual intercourse. It is also not necessary that during masturbation hymen will rupture too.
(2) Can masturbation become a habit?
Yes. Once the habit is formed, it is difficult to break. Sometimes, a person at a particular hour or under same circumstances starts suddenly to masturbate. An example is when the person masturbates before having his or her bath in the bathroom. The person does it whether he or she is sexually excited or not.
(3) Is masturbation common among married persons too?
Yes. Some people overlook or ignore the sexual desires and needs of their wives or husbands after marriage (see our articles at http://globalinterchange.wetpaint.com) . This leads to sexual frustration. Because the African society condemns infidelity and extra marital affairs, most people compensate themselves with masturbation which is often done in secret. Some women may find having sex with men unsatisfying. They therefore resort to masturbation.
(4) In what other way is masturbation harmful to men?
When masturbation becomes a habit, men may start doing it even without sexual desire and tension. This becomes a routine phenomenon for them and after the act, they may feel a strong sense of guilt and low self esteem.
Biologically speaking, there is a continuous production of seminal fluid and sperm which takes about three months to mature in men. Generally, a man can cope with one ejaculation every two to three days. But if a man masturbates more frequently, sperm count may fall for some time but later on after a gap of three to four days, the sperm count may return to normal. Sperm count refers to the quantity and quality of active sperm produced by the male sexual organs at a given period. What this means is that any man who masturbates on a daily basis out of habit, may not be sexually very healthy. Naturally, the body reacts as a way of passing signal that the reproductive organs are being overstressed. This message is transmitted by the body through the occasional pains experienced in the scrotum.
(5) Can masturbation take place withoutthinking of sex?
Generally, it is not possible. Most commonly, those who practice it evoke past memories. In one survey about 55% of the people indicated that exposure of erotic literature, pictures, movies, blue films and similar materials increased their desire to masturbate. Reading erotic literature is very common among young college students. Females have their fantasies of the people they love from their hearts while men think of those girls who are beyond their reach and imagine having sex with them.
Many people masturbate in order to combat the feelings of loneliness. Not frequently, people also resort to the practice to release tension generated by occupational or personal stress or simply to induce sleep.
(6) How can masturbation be stopped?
Once a habit is formed, it takes time, determination, discipline and above all, God’s help to overcome it. Let us look at the possible ways we can break the habit of masturbation.
* By sincerely confessing the habit to God in prayer and asking for his divine help to break the habit.
* If the habit is practiced before during or after having your bath pray before entering your bathroom to have your bath.
* If the urge to masturbate comes when you are alone, practice the habit of reading books or doing anything that will remove your mind from it.
* Avoid contact with blue films and any pornographic materials.
* In case you have friends who delight in doing it, break away from their friendship. Avoid being in friendship with those who share the same weakness with you. Ensure that you mix up with good friends