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Medical About Masturbation

  1. Jan 28, 2010 #1
    I was just curious, what are the effects of masturbation and what are the effects of abstaining from it?

    I've heard claims that it improves your attractiveness to the opposite sex or that it makes you more focused but of course I was skeptical since so many religious folks seem to say anything to push their own agenda. Based on the studies I've read about it seems like masturbation is more beneficial to the body than sexual abstinence.

    So, PFers...

    What would the difference be between, say, masturbating daily or abstaining for days or weeks at a time? Let's assume we're talking about healthy men that are between 18 and 25 years old.
     
  2. jcsd
  3. Jan 28, 2010 #2
    why wont you just try it? masturbate often and see what happens
     
  4. Jan 28, 2010 #3

    DaveC426913

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    It is a great tension-reliever and sleep-aid.

    Other effects, whether positive or negative, are likely exaggerated.
     
  5. Jan 28, 2010 #4
    Your body comes with a natural release mechanism that automatically releases tension (and excess semen) roughly once every two or three weeks while you're asleep, even if you're sexually abstinent. So, if you choose to do this manually from time to time, there's not much difference from abstaining altogether.

    If you do it more often than once a week, one side effect is that your semen contains fewer sperm cells, and therefore you're less likely to impregnate anyone if you engage in unprotected sex.

    There exists a controversial theory, which essentially poses that, if you masturbate in a certain way too often, it leads to sexual dysfunction (basically, you'll be unable to enjoy sex with a real person to the same extent). Google Traumatic Masturbatory Syndrome for more details.
     
  6. Jan 28, 2010 #5

    DaveC426913

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    I have doubts about this. Do you have a source?

    According to the Mayo clinic:
    http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/male-masturbation/AN01189

    This is kind of fear-mongering. You mention "in a certain way", as if it's a detail. In fact, that detail is critical to the Syndrome.

    It's kind of llke saying "in a certain way (such as with a power sander) you could injure yourself".
     
    Last edited: Jan 28, 2010
  7. Jan 28, 2010 #6
    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/2054949

    There are two effects in play.

    One is that frequent ejaculations deplete sperm storage in testicles. Ejaculating every 24 hours can reduce the number of sperm cells by as much as 30%.

    The other is that long periods between orgasms mean that sperm has to spend more time "in storage". Even though sperm cells are stored in a relatively cool environment, several degrees below body temperature, excessive length of storage means that sperm cells are less motile.
     
  8. Jan 28, 2010 #7

    Char. Limit

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    So what's the ideal time, then? Three days?
     
  9. Jan 29, 2010 #8
    ideal for what?

     
  10. Jan 31, 2010 #9

    Moonbear

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    Both of those statements are inaccurate. First, sperm are continuously produced. You would need to have an ejaculation several times a day to see a meaningful decrease in sperm count. Though, unless one is actively attempting to achieve pregnancy with their partner, this is rather irrelevant. And, if the ejaculations multiple times a day are in an attempt to achieve pregnancy, the frequency of attempts is going to override any small decrease in sperm count by the last attempt.

    (Edit: "Meaningful" above refers to effects on fertility. A statistically significant change does not necessarily equate to a change in functional fertility. Men are not considered "subfertile" until their sperm count drops below 20 million/ml; in the study cited above, the change was only from about 65 million/ml to 50 million/ml, which is still fully within the normal range of fertility.)

    Second, any unused sperm just get resorbed by the body. They don't sit around forever just waiting for a chance to be used, and don't need to be ejaculated to get rid of the old ones. In fact, this is WHY they are continually produced, because they are also continually resorbed.

    The ONLY time when there would be an issue of masturbation reducing fertility would be if someone were already subfertile and unable to produce sperm at a normal rate and then masturbated between sessions of intercourse for some reason in spite of attempting to achieve pregnancy with his partner.

    So, there is no harm and no benefit to it beyond the psychological/mental outcomes. As a potential benefit are the release of sexual tensions or urges, and the short-term pleasure of the act. As a potential harm, if it becomes too frequent and the urges are too uncontrolled (i.e., an addiction type scenario) that it interferes with other normal activities (but then there is already probably an underlying disorder to consider). There is also no harm of NOT masturbating, other than again on a psychological level of frustration perhaps.

    You won't grow hair on your palms, you won't go blind, nothing is going to turn blue or fall off one way or another.
     
    Last edited: Jan 31, 2010
  11. Jan 31, 2010 #10
    It's resorbed _eventually_, but it can stay in storage for up to a month after production. Month-old sperm is less motile than fresh sperm.
     
  12. Jan 31, 2010 #11

    mgb_phys

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  13. Jan 31, 2010 #12

    DaveC426913

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    I understood that there is one effect on pregnancy: it can indirectly have an affect on the gender of the baby.

    Any type of frequent ejaculation causes the testes to produce sperm faster, which changes the ratio of male to female sperm.

    I can't find any references for it.
     
  14. Jan 31, 2010 #13

    Moonbear

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    It does not matter, because there is always new sperm produced. I think it's also very likely safe to assume that if someone is questioning the benefits and drawbacks of masturbation, they are not presently concerned with fertility. If they become concerned about fertility, it's not going to take much effort to clear out any malingering old sperm.
     
  15. Jan 31, 2010 #14
    It only does not matter if the storage system is last-in, first-out.
     
  16. Jan 31, 2010 #15

    Moonbear

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    Generally, it is. The epididymis is a long coiled tube. Even if they all come out mixed together, it's not going to take long to reach a new steady state...a full cycle of sperm production from start to finish is about 30 days. So, take a worst case scenario that someone has chosen to never have any form of ejaculation until they meet someone they wish to impregnate (and we all know this isn't realistic) and who has consented to being impregnated. At worst, you're unsuccessful the first month because of a slight reduction in male fertility. But, even then, there are still going to be plenty of live, healthy, fully motile sperm ejaculated along with the duds, that it's not really that likely that this is going to contribute much to fertility.

    It may seem odd, but often the first thing a couple having difficulty conceiving needs to be told is to have intercourse more often. Too often, they are trying to time things on some schedule and just keep missing. Successfully achieving conception is not about trying to optimize having a single ejaculation during a single round of intercourse on just the right day of a female's ovulatory cycle. The practicality of it is that simply going for maximal frequency is a much better strategy for ensuring sperm are present at the right time to find an ovum ready for them.

    This is a question we really have to address in biology and medicine...just because something has a significant difference on some outcome, is it a meaningful difference? For most men, you could reduce their normal sperm count by half and they would still be considered fully fertile, whether that is a reduction in production or a reduction by mixing with abnormal/non-motile sperm.

    When there are real issues of male subfertility or infertility, frequency of masturbation has nothing to do with it. The exception being when ONE sample of ejaculate is going to be collected for assisted reproduction, and then the male is asked to abstain for 2 to 3 days prior to increase the amount of sperm in the ejaculate. But, that's because you're already dealing with someone who is subfertile and trying to get every sperm you can get in that ejaculate. They can sort out the defective and non-motile ones and concentrate the healthy ones in those procedures.
     
  17. Feb 1, 2010 #16

    Chronos

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    Head and Shoulders helps, I rub it in my eyes in the shower. The blinding effect is only temporary. Masturbation has little more effect on fertility than a fire hydrant. The boys are ready for another fire call the next day.
     
  18. Feb 1, 2010 #17
    Does it affect your eyesight?
     
  19. Feb 1, 2010 #18

    rhody

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    I want to know if after 7 days of abstinence as suggested by the quote that having a peak level of 145.7% of testosterone levels would help one who was planning some difficult physical challenge, say climbing a mountain on a bicycle for instance ?

    Has anyone had an experience that tends to prove this ?

    I am sure they would have to have been aware of this study to even consider it, so I am guessing at remote possibility at best, but this is a physics forum full of geeks so you never know.

    Rhody...
     
  20. Feb 1, 2010 #19
    there was that guy who got busted for testosterone doping in the tour not long ago. so, yes, it does seem they believe it helps their performance.
     
  21. Feb 1, 2010 #20

    rhody

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    You use the word, "believe", but is there any real before and after the fact evidence to support it. The placebo effect may have an influence, but it would be nice to know if there was real data out there somewhere.
     
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