Let me state loudly and clearly that there is nothing wrong with masturbation. It is normal behavior that should not elicit any form of shame or embarrassment. Masturbation is not harmful and cannot be overdone. The only limiting factor is the possible irritation or abrasion of the skin of the penis. But, from my perspective, masturbation should be the “court of last resort” for most men.

Naturally, every man is alone at times without a partner available to relieve his sexual tension. Under such circumstances, masturbation is certainly better than no sexual activity at all. But men who cannot get through a day without servicing themselves or who are obsessed with watching pornography (especially in today’s world of cyberspace and cybersex) need to reexamine their view of sex. Not only does pornography present a completely unrealistic view of sex in general, it has the potential to instill unhealthy habits that can jeopardize future intimate relationships.

In short, masturbation will do in a pinch, but it is no substitute for the real thing. Given its negative connotations, too much masturbation can increase levels of self-doubt (even though, within limits, it causes no physical damage). A man cannot help feeling a bit inadequate if he has to resort to performing in mono when he would rather perform in stereo.

Mutual masturbation is another matter entirely. Couples who know how to use their hands and fingers with the artistry of a violinist can fill a bedroom with fantastically erotic music. It is fine to let your hands do the talking, but masturbation is much more satisfying if the conversation is between two people.

Dudley S. Danoff, MD, FACS is the attending urologic surgeon and founder/president of the Cedars-Sinai Medical Center Tower Urology Group in Los Angeles, California. He is the author of Penis Power: The Ultimate Guide To Male Sexual Health (Del Monaco Press, 2011) and Superpotency (Warner Books).

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