Is It Possible To Masturbate Too Much? A Sex Therapist Explains

“Self-pleasure is a very low-risk sexual activity,” Francis says.

That said, it’s possible to do anything in excess, including masturbation. Just like you can exercise too much or wash your hands too much—even though those are generally great habits—you can also masturbate too much. 

“If your masturbation habits are causing you mental, emotional, relational, or physical distress, that is an indicator that you may be masturbating more than is currently healthy for you,” she explains.

She emphasizes that pleasure is healthy, and most people don’t have to worry about overdoing it—in fact, the guilt around masturbation is much more likely to negatively affect someone’s well-being than the actual masturbating. “Sexual health includes your awareness of your sexual needs and feeling empowered to act on them safely,” she explains.

Plenty of people masturbate quite often without any negative side effects (here’s how often men masturbate, FYI), and there are also a slew of benefits of masturbation, including relieving stress, easing pain and period cramps, improving sleep, and even potentially supporting your immune system.

But, as Francis points out, if you’re masturbating with a frequency that’s causing physical harm (that is, you’re noticing soreness or bruising) or negative impact on other parts of your life (like feeling consistently distracted by thoughts of masturbating at work such that you can’t accomplish anything), that’s a sign that it’s time to take a pause, evaluate the role masturbation is playing in your life, and potentially make some changes.

It’s also possible for your body to get used to a certain type of stimulation, Francis notes—for example, the feeling of a vibrator on your clitoris or the rhythm of your own hand on your shaft. “They may notice difficulty maintaining their [erection] or reaching orgasm in partnered sex if it doesn’t mirror what they do when they’re alone,” she says, but adds that this issue is easily solved by making sure to mix things up while masturbating or bringing some of your solo activities into partnered sex. (Don’t underestimate the thrill of mutual masturbation, people!) If you want, it may also help to pause on masturbation for a bit before a partnered sexual experience.

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