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The biology of masturbation

  1. Dec 16, 2004 #1

    Les Sleeth

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    Why close Saint's thread without an explanation?

    At the very least it should have been moved over to General Discussion where it had the chance of qualifying for having the funniest responses of all time. Young guys in angst over or consumed by self-amorousness from wankin'???? :rofl:

    I am wondering if it was locked because of the risk to member's health. I've been laughing so hard I can barely breathe. Is that it?
     
  2. jcsd
  3. Dec 16, 2004 #2

    iansmith

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    Laughing is good for your health and it is quite entertaining, the way is was going, it was not a discussion about biology. I also did not want to send this in the general discussion. Saint has already receive several warning for it sexual oriented topics.
     
  4. Dec 16, 2004 #3

    Les Sleeth

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    Oops, sorry Ian. I was just kidding around and didn't mean to interfer. :redface: I tend to laugh at and joke about what sex does to otherwise intelligent human beings. You are right tho, this is a biology forum.
     
  5. Dec 17, 2004 #4

    Kerrie

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    :bugeye: i think it's spelled mastUrbation :bugeye:
     
  6. Dec 17, 2004 #5

    Math Is Hard

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    yes, there should definitely be a U in masturbation.. because, hey, it's all about U, right??

    :rofl:
     
  7. Dec 17, 2004 #6
    Toward a biological discussion,...

    I kind of jumped into that original thread with a wisecrack response right off the bat. But on a more serious note, from a purely biological point of view, I think that misogynisticfeminist's post really said it all. What's basically the difference between having sex with a partner or inflicting sex upon one's self? Biologically it shouldn't make a whole heck of a lot of difference.

    I have often wonder about the opposite question. Say that a person doesn't have a partner available for sexual relief. Then the question really comes down to more like, "Is it healthy not to masturbate?". Or to put it another way, is total celibacy really a healthy thing to do from a biological point of view?

    I've seen so many talk shows on PBS, and elsewhere, where psychologists have suggested that having a healthy sex life is important to a person's overall mental (or emotional) health. That kind of leaves people who don't have sexual partners stuck with the fate of becoming emotional sickies doesn't it? Would the mere act of biological masturbation help in this regard? Or is the actual intimacy of being with another person a necessary ingredient for the emotional health?

    This is kind of a fine line between biological needs, and psychological needs.

    Then there are people who become celibate for whatever reason. How does this affect them from a biological and/or emotional viewpoint? Also, I know for a fact, that many people who claim to be celibate do not consider the act of masturbation as a violation of their celibacy. (I'm not necessarily talking about people who become celibate for religious reasons). However, there are people who become what you might call "partner-celibate" where they consider themselves to be celibate because they don't engage in sex with any partner, but they still reserve the right to masturbate without considering that as a violation of their celibacy.

    I mean, even from a religious point of view, the very word celibacy really only means to refrain from intercourse and I don't think that masturbation qualifies as intercourse. So technically speaking a celibate person could partake in masturbation without breaking celibacy.

    I've heard some very positive biological truths about masturbation. For example, for someone who is prone to premature ejaculations (and whether that's a biological topic or a psychological topic is debatable), but for someone who is prone to this, it is a biological truth that performing masturbation prior to accompanying a partner for the act of sexual intercourse can reduce the tendency to have a premature ejaculations. I've heard many sex therapists highly recommend this as a method of control.

    Sex education is important. And masturbation really is something that should be included in that. I'm not sure how touchy the topic is with respect to morality, but it would be a shame if high-rolling moralists prevented young people from learning about the practical values of masturbation. This is especially true if the positive value of masturbation is psychological (or emotional), and that is overwhelmed by negative emotional feelings of guilt or low self-esteem in thinking that the act is improper or somehow perverted. I personally believe that it is a very natural and healthy act. Barring, of course, obsession which is always unhealthy no matter what the topic.
     
  8. Dec 17, 2004 #7

    cronxeh

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    do women do this or its more of a myth?

    and i do want to hear an answer from a female, thank u
     
  9. Dec 17, 2004 #8

    Moonbear

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    NeutronStar, from a biological perspective, unless you're having trouble with infertility, it really doesn't make any difference. Sperm are produced continuously, and take about 30 days to fully mature. Once they are mature, if not ejaculated, they just die off like other cells in the body that are continually growing and dying. The sperm don't get stored indefinitely. If someone has a low sperm count leading to infertility, then masturbation wouldn't be a good idea while trying to get a partner pregnant.

    As for psychological implications, I don't really know. I think that would be more related to whether someone is trying to avoid masturbation and intercourse to the point where they become obsessed with thinking about it.

    Cronxeh, yes, women masturbate. It's difficult to know how common it is though, because it's not something women discuss the way men discuss it.
     
  10. Dec 17, 2004 #9
    I understand this, but there must be a whole lot more biology to this than just sperm count. What about all the various hormones that are produced during different stages of the process? They certainly must have an affect on a person's emotions.

    I know for sure that I always feel refreshed after having an orgasm (whether induced by masturbation or by having sex with a partner). So there must be other hormonal processes associated with the whole experience. Something akin to how endorphins produce a mental high after having done aerobics.

    In fact, sometimes when I'm feeling extremely tired, lethargic, or even depressed, if I have an orgasm it refreshes me quite a lot and I can get back to work reenergized. I'm sure that his isn't true for everyone, but then again there are a lot of people who never experience good feelings from having done aerobics either, so it's all probably on a fairly personal biological level. Everyone doesn't have precisely the same chemistry. Evidently humans are biological machines that have a wide range of operating parameters.

    Of course, as I mentioned before, any natural positive chemistry that might be produced through masturbation could ultimately be drowned out by psychological feelings of guilt or shame if a person was taught that self-inflicted sexual release is somehow perverted or improper in any way. Fortunately for me I'm totally free of any guilt or shame. :approve:
     
  11. Dec 18, 2004 #10
    Celibacy vs abstinence

    Does it? The first definition for it in the M-W is the state of not being married. Perhaps you could use a term like abstinence.
     
  12. Dec 18, 2004 #11

    cronxeh

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  13. Dec 18, 2004 #12
    It would be nice to think that, but intelligence draws beuaty like a flame

    Marilyn Munro and Einstein, Crick and anything in a skirt to name a few.

    Beeing a geek means you don't get any; I'm not a geek honestly :rofl: but I'm not getting any? :cry:
     
  14. Dec 18, 2004 #13
    I don't know why sexual oriented topics are discouraged in PF.

    For one, PF is by no means a family-friendly site. Most people who comes here at least knows a think or two about say, calculus. And you won't find 5 year old kids knowing calculus or be remotely interested in it.

    I think almost everyone here in PF are mature adults and I think sexual topics can be and should be discussed freely in general discussion.

    imo.
     
  15. Dec 18, 2004 #14

    cronxeh

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    Ha you think sex is a taboo topic on PF. Wait till I mix it with religion!

    So you guys think Jesus wasnt married, EH?

    You sure he didnt masturbate?? HMM?

    That should do it. We've reached the critical mass :biggrin:
     
  16. Dec 18, 2004 #15
    Well it seems that I'm not alone with the stress-relief aspect of it all. In fact, for me, that's the real driving force behind it. A lot of times I'm much more interested in just getting it over with for the rejuvenating after-affects more so than for any short-lived euphoria that might accompany the actual orgasm.

    I've had days where I really just didn't feel like doing anything and had no energy. Then after having an orgasm I felt much more energetic and had a more positive outlook on things. There must be some kind of hormonal processes associated with the whole biological event. :approve:

    I wonder whether there has ever been any biological studies on this. I can't imagine biologists not studying this, yet I've never really heard about any research in this area. It might also be hard to study because it may be heavily dependent on personal chemistry. It may not have the same effect on everyone. There is also the psychological aspect that could interfere as well if a person feels guilty about it in any way. That could offset any positive hormonal benefits.

    Would this be a biological study, or a psychological study? Or do these two fields overlap quite a bit? I'm a hardcore physicist so I have no clue about biology or psychology other than a few courses I took years ago.
     
  17. Dec 18, 2004 #16

    Moonbear

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    There is a lot more biology to it, but that wouldn't be any different if ejaculation came about via intercourse or masturbation. This thread originated as a "rescue" of a locked thread that asked if masturbation or not masturbating were harmful. The replies in this thread indicate there are people here interested in discussing this from a biological perspective, not merely that of titillation and jokes (the direction the locked thread took). I didn't delve into the endocrine/neurobiological side of this topic because it's VERY complex and would be difficult to sythesize in a post that fits the character limit here.

    If you're interested in the neurobiological control of ejaculation, there is a recent review article that's a very good starting place. It doesn't go into great detail, but rather provides a general overview of knowledge of this area.

    Coolen LM, Allard J, Truitt WA, McKenna KE.Physiol Behav. 2004 Central regulation of ejaculation. 83:203-15.

    For those who are wondering if topics about sex are taboo, it really is the way the topic is addressed that makes a difference. Topics purely for the sake of titillation are not welcome, serious topics about reproductive biology are fine. This site is not aimed at young children, but does allows teens as young as 13 to join, so keep that audience in mind when discussing topics related to sex and sexuality.
     
  18. Dec 18, 2004 #17

    cronxeh

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    I'm willing to bet 100 bucks that masturbation-induced ejaculation triggers only a fraction of hormones and chemical reactions compared to that of an intercourse and to that of an intercourse with a person with whom there is a deep emotional attachment. If you could isolate the exact hormone that is turned on and the exact area of the brain that is being stimulated then perhaps oneday you could make wonder anti-depressant drugs
     
    Last edited: Dec 18, 2004
  19. Dec 18, 2004 #18

    Moonbear

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    Ah, but therein lies the catch! It's not one hormone or one brain area that's involved. It's a very complex system that involves both spinal reflexes and control at the level of the brain, with many neurotransmitters released at each level of that pathway.

    As for whether ejaculation associated with intercourse would be different than that associated with masturbation, this is a good example to demonstrate the importance of defining your terms clearly. The mechanism involved in ejaculation, per se, would not likely differ, although there may also be (quite likely actually) other neural pathways activated by the emotional and other tactile sensory cues associated with intercourse with another individual. In science, these would be considered confounds. Even with masturbation, it is difficult to dissociate the mechanical aspects from the neural activation due to the thoughts associated with it. The need to control for all of these aspects of what is happening during intercourse is what makes it challenging to study specific components of sexual functioning.
     
  20. Dec 18, 2004 #19
    Reality vs. Imagination

    Only 100 bucks? In today's financial climate that doesn't express a whole lot of confidence. :biggrin:

    I actually agree with you whole-heartedly. There are certainly additional emotions involved in a deeply intimate relationship. However, ultimately I'm not sure whether that could be reduced to masturbation vs. being with a partner. That could ultimately depend on what partner a person is with. A lot of partners tend to be nothing more than pseudo masturbation fodder for each other.

    It could also depend on how intense a person's imagination can be during masturbation. Sometimes I wonder whether the real world can ever match my sweet imagination? (see Paul Simon's Kodachrome, 1973 for details)

    Trying to do an official meaningful study on all of this would be quite difficult. I mean, trying to separate the effects of mere biological orgasms vs. highly emotional human interactions. Like I said above, a couple could be a couple of deadbeats just using each other for stimulation, while a lone masturbator might become highly emotionally stimulated via a vivid imagination. In this situation the highly emotional intimacy might actually favor the masturbator over the deadbeat couple.

    It would be very hard to separate these things in real-world experiments think.

    Ultimately though, I do believe that you are right. A couple who are genuinely hot for each other in addition to having strong feelings of affection toward one another will ultimately benefit the most from sharing a cosmic explosion of biological orgasmic of ecstasy.

    But would anything be taken away from that if they started having sex for the purely pragmatic purpose of periodic rejuvenation? I would tend to bet that even the individual partners of such a couple might still resort to private rejuvenation on the side from time to time. :wink:

    Then, also, there are the myriads of people who haven't been fortunate enough to have found such a charismatic partner. That takes us right back to the concept of deadbeat partners, and whether masturbation might ultimately suffice in lieu of that situation, at least from a biological point of view.

    As for the drug. Right now I don't need it. I just masturbate. :approve:

    But keep in mind that I have a very vivid imagination. :wink:
     
  21. Dec 18, 2004 #20

    cronxeh

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    Moonbear: I think this might be a good case study for systems biology. An example experiment would be to take couples that would rank themselves as 'trully in love' as well as couples with much lesser flame and at a later time ask these individuals to masturbate on individual basis without thinking about any other partner. This could pount out how much the pheromonal effects of their partner affected their brain chemistry and as a control compare to cold couples and to individual masturbation. Comparing data and finding exact brain area affected would become a linear algebra problem with 0 degrees of freedom if there is enough data for the number of unknowns

    This topic is very serious as it would definately lead to genetic anti-depressant drugs and essentially bio-matching of partners. You can almost see the economical benefits from this as more people would find their 'soulmates' through pheromonal matching and lesser divorces would take place. Is this anti-Darwinistic? Perhaps. Will this make us a happier race? You bet
     
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