Here's When Your Masturbation Habit Can Become An Actual Problem

In the arena of self-care, most of us don't consider self-pleasure a part of that routine, but it is. There is nothing embarrassing or shameful about it. Learning your own pleasure is a reward in itself. Like other acts of self care, is there a limit on how much is appropriate or healthy? You wouldn't get a facial every day, so should you masturbate that frequently? Let's be honest, since the dawn of time, everyone has wondered, can you masturbate too much?

Masturbation is a part of a normal, healthy sexual life, and is in general of no concern. It's only when you injure yourself from frequency, or when masturbation is acting as a substitute for healthy intimacy in your life, that it becomes a problem, according to the UK's National Health Services (NHS). What does it mean to have masturbation act as a substitute for healthy intimacy? It means that you're withdrawing from interaction with your partner or spouse, or that you're experiencing extreme guilt about it, but instead of seeking help, you continue to punish yourself by alternating periods of frequent masturbation and penitence.

It should be noted that not all people have a drive or need to be intimate with another person, and that's OK. For asexuals, unless they're doing it out of a misguided sense of obligation, as Psychology Today reported, or they're experiencing undue shame or embarrassment over the act, it's difficult to do it too much. If it takes time away from other other real obligations or causes injury, it's time to seek help and evaluate the deeper cause.

I grew up in an extremely religious community. You would think this meant we never discussed sex and masturbation, and you would be dead wrong. It seemed as though what happens behind closed doors was as important as what people did out in the open. Masturbation wasn't just taught to me as a taboo ritual that only leads to more sin, but it was also a dirty act in itself. Because of this, for many years I thought of masturbation as shameful, sinful, and to be avoided at all costs. It was the stepping stone to other terrible things like equal rights for women and voting for democrats. If I were to ask my old headmaster, "Can you masturbate too much?" He would probably have sent me to a boot camp for wayward girls. (I wish I was kidding.)

I understand why people could and do feel shame around the idea or act of masturbating, but there are numerous studies completed that show that masturbation that is done in a healthy way, without shame, without injury, where it doesn't take the place of intimacy with your partner, is healthy and beneficial, according to Planned Parenthood. It helps you sleep better (nature's Ambien), eases muscle aches, headaches, stress — the list is as long as the list of erotic fiction on my Kindle.

However, if you rely on porn for your daily masturbating, that could potentially cause harm. No, I'm not talking about malware, though I'm sure that's also a problem. I'm talking about how that porn is produced and with whom. According to a human trafficking watchdog, a substantial amount of pornography is produced using trafficked women in the starring roles. An article in Vice discussed the nature of this problem, and how it can be rectified. They posited that it's as easy as paying for your porn. Many of these websites are dedicated to producing quality content at affordable prices without the use of trafficked or exploited women, whose consent is freely given, and the stars aren't made to act in ways completely unnatural to them.

Consider your relationship with masturbation. If you're using it as a means to block off or replace another healthy or unhealthy aspect of your life, you probably need to consider seeking therapy. Otherwise, enjoy yourself. It's self-care after all.

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