Masturbation is defined as self-stimulation of the genitals for sexual pleasure.
It is a normal part of sexual development and it occurs in both sexes. Sometimes
worried parents may bring their young children to the doctor because of parental
concerns about masturbation. It is important that any sense of guilt surrounding
this activity be dispelled by the doctor.
Is it normal?
In the past there were many myths about masturbation including the belief that
it could result in blindness, baldness and could even lead to insanity. Today
we might be inclined to scoff at these ideas but it is worth noting that several
books were published in previous generations by respected doctors which outlined
the serious side effects from this practice.
One enduring myth is that female masturbation can lead to decreased sensitivity
of the clitoris resulting in a decrease in the frequency and intensity of female
orgasm. However, the evidence points the other way and suggests that women who
have engaged in masturbation have a better understanding of their own genital
anatomy and can guide their sexual partners in appreciating the specific sexual
acts that contribute to female orgasm. It has also been alleged that masturbation
can reduce sensitivity in the male penis. This statement is also false.
Is it ever abnormal?
In the vast majority of cases masturbation can be considered to be a normal
activity but the following scenarios may suggest that a problem exists.
- if a child masturbates frequently and appears to be relating to adults in
a sexually precocious manner.
- sometimes masturbation can become a compulsive activity and the person may
be driven to do it at certain times each day and it almost becomes a ritualistic
- if masturbation takes place in a public place.