Masturbation and solo sex

Masturbation: Can You Get Too Much of a Good Thing?

Published: JANUARY 8, 2016 | Updated: MAY 30, 2024
Can you masturbate too much? The answer is both yes and no.

Turns out, people like living their lives by the numbers. How often should you eat? How many hours should you sleep? How much exercise should you get in a week? So, it makes sense that we'd apply those same principles to our sexual lives and ask: "How often should you masturbate?"


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Like everything related to sex, it's a complicated question with a complicated answer.

So, let's dig into the big questions — is masturbation healthy, how often you should masturbate, the benefits of masturbation, and healthy masturbation habits — and find some answers!

Is masturbation healthy?

Since you're on the sex-positive mecca that is Kinkly, you should already know the answer: Yes, masturbation is healthy. Sexual pleasure is one of your body's natural functions, and your body doesn't know whether you or someone else is providing that pleasure. As long as you're having a good time and masturbation isn't interfering with other aspects of your life, go to town with solo pleasure!


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In fact, there are a ton of benefits to masturbation, which we'll get to in a minute.

However, masturbation can become unhealthy, if it's interfering with other aspects of your life.

Signs of an unhealthy masturbation routine include:


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  • Feeling out of control about your desire to masturbate. Thoughts and plans to masturbate take up a lot of mental space, and if you're finding it hard to plan or think about other aspects of your life, you may need to reevaluate.
  • Regular bleeding or soreness in the genitals. While all of us have had some pleasure sessions that leave us a bit sore, regularly masturbating to the point of losing skin, bleeding, or experiencing soreness can be a symptom of unhealthy masturbation.
  • Regularly turning down other social engagements in pursuit of more solo time to masturbate. This may look like last-minute canceling on friends or other obligations in order to masturbate.
  • Regularly straining interpersonal relationships in an effort to get more time to masturbate. This may look like faking sick for a date night and encouraging your spouse to go out with friends instead in order to gain solo time to masturbate.
  • Regularly experiencing problems during partnered sex because sensations aren't intense enough. There's nothing wrong with needing to masturbate during partnered intercourse in order to orgasm; we all have our preferences! However, if it's causing fights or enough stress that you're avoiding sex with your partner, this can become a problem.
  • Masturbating in places that are dangerous or risky because it feels like an uncontrollable need. You may regret what you've done after you've achieved orgasm.
  • Engaging in risky or non-consensual activity in order to gain new masturbation material. This may look like pressuring someone to send you photos or trying to gain access to private areas — Like gym showers — because you're trying to find something to masturbate to in that place.

You'll note that you'll need to regularly experience some of these symptoms. Almost everyone has turned down a social request in order to stay home and recharge their social batteries; there's nothing wrong with that. However, if you're doing it often enough that it's impacting your friendships and you feel guilt about that, your masturbation may have reached unhealthy levels.

While it doesn't make masturbation unhealthy, some people may also hold religious or personal beliefs that masturbation is wrong or sinful. It's important to stress that this does not make masturbation physically or biologically unhealthy.

It does, however, often leave the person feeling stressed or guilty about engaging in masturbation, and they may find these emotions about masturbation to be unhealthy. In this case, therapy may help reframe some of those negative viewpoints to reduce the negative impact of masturbation on someone's life.


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Read More: Healing from Purity Culture

What are the benefits of masturbating?

Masturbating doesn't just feel good. It turns out it has a lot of benefits too. (Feels great and good for us? How often does THAT happen?)

Those awesome benefits of masturbating include:

Stress Relief

If you've ever come home from a stressful day and found yourself forgetting about it by the time you finished masturbating, you've enjoyed one of masturbation's biggest benefits: stress relief. As pleasure courses through your body and you start to focus on your erotic material (fantasy, erotica, video, or otherwise!), it can be easy to forget about the crappy parts of the day. It's essentially the same premise as eating your feelings via a tub of chocolate ice cream; you're so focused on the overwhelmingly good flavors that it distracts from the day.


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Plus, if you get really active in your masturbation, you're essentially giving yourself a low-level workout, another activity known for its stress relief benefits.

If you take your masturbation all the way to orgasm, orgasm itself releases endorphins act as a lovely, natural relaxant.

Better Sleep

If you take your masturbation to an orgasm, you're enjoying a whole host of amazing neurochemicals that are related to better sleep. In fact, your body naturally releases many of those chemicals on its own at night; you're simply adding even more of them right on top of it. From oxytocin to prolactin to dropped cortisol levels, an orgasm can double up on your body's natural sleep chemicals.


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(It's worth nothing, though, a study by Carlotta Florentine Oesterling et. all found that not having an orgasm after sexual activity before bed can actually be associated with worse sleep latency and sleep quality! If you plan on doing some long-term orgasm denial play, right before bed may not be the right time!)

Pain Relief (Maybe)

Not only does masturbating distract you from any pain your body may currently be experiencing, but an orgasm offers an amazing cocktail of hormones that act as natural pain relievers.

This can help "cure" a headache and offer pain relief in other spots on the body.

However, that isn't necessarily the case for everyone. The intense squeezing of orgasmic contractions can go a little too hard sometimes. This can cause cramping and pain in the pelvic floor muscles, the anal entrance, the vaginal entrance, or even in the penis (especially if there was a very strong ejaculation).

It's entirely normal if you occasionally experience pain after orgasm. Sometimes our bodies go a little too hard in their journey to please us. Your body may also be prone to cramping or pain after orgasm. For vulva owners, a tilted uterus, IUDs, endometriosis, fibroids, cysts, or your menstrual cycle can all be causes of pain at orgasm. For penis owners, prostatitis may be to blame. In anyone, a tight pelvic floor, yeast infection, UTI, STI, or hernia can all become culprits.

If you regularly experience pain after masturbation or orgasm, you may want to speak with a health professional to rule out any concerning underlying causes.

Menstrual Pain Relief

In May 2020, Womanizer and Lunette teamed up on a global clinical study to determine whether masturbation could ease period pain and if so, how well. Over 450 people participated from countries all over the world, and the overwhelming verdict? Ninety percent would recommend masturbation to combat period pain.

All of the same reasons that masturbation can help you the rest of the month — it distracts you from period pain, relieves pain, and leads to better sleep — also apply during your period.

Healthy Sex Drive

If you go a full year without tasting the addictive deliciousness of a cookie, you'll probably stop craving it; your brain simply doesn't have a recent reference point to remember how good it is.

The same goes for your sex drive. If you don't remember how it feels, you'll simply stop thinking about it. If you stop thinking about it, you won't have much of a desire to do it.

Plus, there's a physical component of it too. As one Finnish study in the American Journal of Medicine showed, men who had sex once a week were half as likely to develop erectile dysfunction as men who had sex less frequently.

Experts expect that the same thing happens to those with a vulva. Frequent sex stimulates circulation to the genitals. Not only does this can enhance lubrication and the elasticity of vaginal tissues, but it can help with arousal. (Why do you think many arousal serums simply increase blood flow to the area? Circulation alone can help tremendously with feeling turned on!)

Masturbation as Personal Exploration

Masturbating gives you a lot of ways to explore your body and fantasies without worrying about another person. You don't need to work around anyone else's schedule, and you can spend all day thinking about anything you want without feeling guilty that someone else may not like it.

Masturbation also gives you an opportunity to overcome the learning curve that often comes with exploring new toys or erogenous zones. There's nothing wrong with exploring your G-spot or P-spot or a brand new toy for the first time with a partner, but the experience can be loaded with a lot of extra emotions. Your partner may be expecting a certain response, and you may feel guilty that you don't seem to be having the response they're expecting.

But when you masturbate you're by yourself, so there are no external expectations. You can spend hours just experimenting on your body.

This also means you can try new toys without worrying about how you'll react. You can spend hours trying that new panty vibrator on multiple pairs of panties to find what fits best. You can enjoy undisturbed time laying on your bed to determine if your newest hands-free prostate massager is as orgasmic as you wanted it to be.

With masturbation, you're free to experiment for as long as you want without feeling bad. This can help you unlock more information about yourself (or your toys!) that you can choose to share later with a partner if you want or not.

There's no safer sex than solo sex

Masturbation is the safest sex you can get. While there is a risk, however small, with most partnered activities, solo masturbation comes with virtually no warning labels. You can't give yourself a new STI, and you can't get yourself pregnant.

Like Dr. Martha Tara Lee from Eros Coaching says, "It can be a safe way to explore one's sexuality and preferences without the risks associated with sexual activity with a partner."

The only risk? Make sure you've thoroughly washed your sex toys and hands before using them. It's possible to introduce bacteria to your body with unclean toys and fingers.

How often should you masturbate?

The sky's the limit! As long as you're not experiencing any negative physical or mental effects, you can masturbate as much (or as little!) as you want.

Sex experts agree. Todd Baratz, a psychotherapist, sex therapist, and member of the plusOne Wellness Collective, states, "The concept of too much masturbation is rooted in outdated, sex-negative values. It is considered too much only if it begins to interfere with daily responsibilities or causes physical discomfort."

You might be someone who masturbates once a month, or you might find yourself going for some personal playtime 3 or 4 times a day. You might even find that it varies based on how stressed you are at work or what time of the month it is.

There's no "right" or "wrong," so the ultimate answer is it just depends on your sex drive and how much time you have for self-pleasure.

Healthy Masturbation Habits

Now that we know the benefits of masturbation, let's talk about some healthy masturbation habits. Like all good things, as long as you're playing solo in moderation, you're already on the right path.

Consider some of these healthy masturbation habits as well:

Don't forget to take care of your body

Your body still has needs when you're masturbating. Especially in the age of internet porn, it can be very easy to zone out and forget to check in with your own body.

To make sure your masturbation habits aren't affecting the rest of your systems, I'd recommend:

  • Occasionally, take breaks to check in with your body. Do you need to pee? Is your leg asleep? Do you need to wrap this up because you're hungry?
  • Bring some water wherever you masturbate. This can make it easy to grab a sip of water without talking yourself out of it because your water bottle is "way over there".
  • Staring at something else other than a screen for a bit. Just because you're feeling no tension while touching between the thighs doesn't mean that your eyes aren't feeling the strain from the screens you're using for an assist. Use the 20/20/20 rule. Take a break every 20 minutes to look at something that's at least 20 feet away for at least 20 seconds. This can look like simply staring across your room while fantasizing about something in your head for 20 seconds. It helps protect your eyes!

This becomes especially important if you consider yourself a gooner or use masturbation as a form of meditation.

If you have a particularly "rough" session, taking care of your body may also look like taking a few days off from masturbating to give your body time to heal.

Ensure your adult material passes the 'unhorny brain check'

When our brains are deep in "horny land," it can be easier to go deeper and deeper into a kink or fetish and find it hot. However, when we orgasm, most of that arousal fades away, and we might find that we're looking at something that we find, intellectually and/or morally objectionable.

If you feel bad or guilty about your choice of adult material when you've finished, proceed with caution. While fantasies and masturbating to taboo things are normal, it can quickly get out of hand if you find yourself looking at things your unaroused brain feels uncomfortable with.

If you find that it's happening, consider taking a break from that niche of porn for a while to reset your expectations. If it continues, you may also want to talk to a therapist to determine whether your desires are putting you in harm's way and talk about ways to express them in a healthier manner.

Have open conversations about sexuality with a partner

If you're partnered, unless you and your partner have both agreed to hide your masturbation from one another, healthy masturbation habits include openness with one of the people you're supposed to be closest to in the world. While you don't have to set up a warning system or notify them every time you're masturbating, your partner should be aware that you masturbate.

While it's no one's business what you do with your body but your own, having this knowledge out there can reduce any guilt or shame you may feel around masturbation. It can also prevent you from having to "sneak around" to masturbate at times so your partner won't find out.

If you and your partner have chosen not to talk about your masturbation habits or porn to one another, that's totally fine! However, it should be a conscious decision that you both made to simply leave that aspect of your lives private from one another.

Bonus assignment: Pay attention to what you like

Paying attention to how you masturbate can give you some vital information about what makes you feel good, what doesn't work for you, and what guarantees an amazing orgasm.

Maybe you'll find out that you cum too quickly if all your attention is focused on the head of your penis. Or maybe you'll discover you only like back-and-forth rubs on the left side of your clitoral hood. This information can help you find more pleasure during solo sessions, and if you choose, you can share this information with a partner. Instead of fumbling around, trying to figure out what works, you can simply tell your partner what works for you because you know.

This information also can be extremely helpful when purchasing sex toys! If you know that touching the vaginal entrance while trying for clitoral pleasure is really distracting, you might opt for a vibrator that has a smaller head, allowing you to better pinpoint the stimulation!

The Bottom Line

Masturbation feels great and offers a whole host of benefits, as long as you don't do it so often that it negatively impacts other aspects of your life. Like with everything else in life, moderation is key.

So instead of going out, stay in this weekend, and do your own "research."

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Mistress Kay

Mistress Kay has a fondness for all things sexual. With a house that's quickly running out of room for all of her reading and vibrating pleasures, she spends her free time reading, writing, and learning about the sexual universe with her partners. She can be reached at Kinky World.

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