No, hair won't grow on your hands. Those are just unfounded myths about self-love that we need to ditch ASAP.
From the scary hand hair growth to the so-dreaded E.D., throughout your life, especially if you’ve had a particularly conservative upbringing, you've heard different reasons for why masturbation is one practice to avoid at all costs. However, most of these unfounded stories (I mean, hair growing on your hands? Come on!) have made people believe that the natural practice of self-love is rather risky. This creates half-truths and urban legends that hinder openness about the topic, especially when it comes to female masturbation, but that’s another topic that would need a completely different discussion. Of course, you don’t have to tell everyone about your sex life, but it’s worth discussing it as a way to get rid of the taboos about it that are caused by misinformation. Here are some of the most common myths we should ditch, so that we stop thinking about it as a shameful or dangerous activity.
Children and teens who masturbate become hypersexual.
I don’t know where this myth came from, but according to a study by JAMA Pedriatrics, masturbation in teens is actually associated to a healthy sex life, and those who start from an early age are more likely to practice safe sex. Moreover, according to an article by sex therapist Laurie J. Watson, when children masturbate, most of the time they do it to relax and feel better, without any sexual connotations at all. However, if it becomes excessive, it might be a sign of anxiety or distress (which has to be treated), not that they’ll become hypersexual adults. The best thing for parents to do is to tell them that it’s completely normal, but it should be done in private.
Masturbation ruins sex.
This myth is based on the belief that if someone masturbates too much, they'll stop enjoying sex. While this can happen in extreme cases of addiction, most of the time it doesn’t affect sex in a negative way. On the contrary, getting to know yourself can help you be aware of what you like and don't like to do in bed. Moreover, according to Dr. Vanessa Cullins from Planned Parenthood, masturbating also helps some men last longer when they’re having sex.
You shouldn’t masturbate if you’re in a relationship.
The misconception behind this myth is that, if you’re masturbating, it’s because your partner doesn't satisfy you. However, going back to the previous point, masturbating can actually help you see what you like, so you can tell your partner about it. Besides, there might be other reasons why someone masturbates. For instance, they could just be horny and alone. Again, the only way masturbation can become a problem is if it actually doesn't let you have sex with them or if it starts messing with your relationship’s dynamics.
Frequent masturbation can turn into a mental disorder.
This is a variation of the belief that frequent masturbation can become an obsession or turn you into a hypersexual person. According to a study by the McKinley Health Center, there is no evidence that masturbation, as frequent as it might be, can cause mental illness or physical damage. Besides, this belief reflects a misinformation both on self-love and on mental illness, the causes of which may vary and don’t necessarily have to affect your life.
Masturbation causes infertility and E.D.
I'm almost certain that some people just came up with unlikely scenarios and undesirable situations to support theses taboos about masturbation. There’s simply no logical explanation for why it would affect fertility or cause erectile dysfunction. Nevertheless, if you masturbate with sex toys and don’t clean them afterwards, you might develop diseases such as chlamydia, which does affect fertility. As for E.D., it often has other physiological or psychological causes, so it has to be treated by a specialist.
Now, let’s talk about something different. There are people who claim that everyone masturbates but not everyone admits to it because they’re ashamed. However, according to a survey by Indiana University’s Kinsey Institute, 67 to 94% of men, and 43 to 85% of women acknowledge that they have masturbated. Apart from the people who don't masturbate, there are also people who don’t experience any sexual arousal at all, and no, that doesn’t make them prudes.
You waste your number of orgasms.
No, there is no evidence that shows that you’re born with a predetermined number of orgasms that you’ll have to ration throughout your life. Your body doesn't have an orgasm "free trial" that ends when you reach a certain age. Our libido can decrease after some time, but that doesn’t mean that every woman who has reached menopause or men over fifty are unable to feel sexual pleasure.
All these myths stop us from enjoying the varied facets of sexuality and getting to know ourselves better. As in anything regarding our sexual life, it’s better to be informed and, in case of any doubts, see a doctor.
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Images by Tony Futura