Tuesday, November 17, 2009



It's touted these days as the only truly safe sex though it doesn't protect you from self abuse.

In the reporting of masturbating, "Studies show striking similiarities as well as differences over the 50 years. "In the recent sample, 98% of men and 83% of women indicated they had masturbated prior to the study, and 38% of men and 40% of women reported first masturbation before puberty. This compares with 95 % of men and 39% of women having masturbated in the earlier sample, with 27% and 13% respectively, reporting a pre-pubertal onset. Thus, we see relatively little change in masturbation histories for the males, but a major change for the females." (Bancroft et al, 2003)

An interesting contributing factor in the difference was seen in what was termed a "social acceptability scale". Where men's defensive strategies have been 'fight and flight", women have been more programmed to "unite". In one research study of women's sexual responses which caused the validity of all sexual surveys for women prior to the 80's to be in doubt, the researchers studied this variable. They had a luscious sexy blond ask women questions about sexual behaviour and they had a rather prim snooty librarian like brunette ask the same questions. The blond had positive responses to 'have you masturbated" , "have you performed oral sex" whereas the same questions asked by the brunette were met with frank "no". Men's responses were not altered similiarly though today this might well have changed.

Excessive masturbation comes under the heading of "out of control sexual behaviour" which is sometimes called "compulsive sexual behaviour" or "sexual addiction". The fastest growing problem area in this regard is "internet sex". This is masturbatory or interactive. (mutual masturbation).

Interestingly in review of the material no quantifiable data were available. Those who came forward with issues of 'out of control' masturbation were 'self reported'. Women in the self reporting group, because of lack of refractory inhibition after orgasm indeed, presented more of a problem.

Studied as a biological and psychological issue of disinhibition, lack of self regulation, persistent genital arousal, obsessive compulsive behaviour and addictive sexual behaviour it has responded to a variety of treatments ranging from SSRI (Serotonin Specific Reuptake Inhibitors such as Prozac) or 12 step self help programs such as the Sex Addicts Anonymous and Sex and Love Addictions Anonymous.

In the asylums I treated several patients with compulsive masturbation who had caused physical harm to their penis. One fellow had severe abrasions secondary to constant rubbing and sores that were open and infected. Treatment required increased antipsychotic medications, sedation and bandaging of his hands in mittens. I remember doing the latter in worse case though I've found SSRI"s were beneficial in patients self reporting problems in lesser instances.

Commonly I have referred people to the 12 step programs which have been most helpful. The text I've most recommended is "Out of the Shadows" by Patrick Carnes. His SAST, sexual addiction screening tool, is a most helpful indicator which gives some clear direction to individuals asking themselves if they might have a problem. It can be likened to the 20 questions of the John Hopkins Alcoholism survey commonly used by AA.

That said avoidance of masturbation can have negative health consequences.

"Some wrapped heavy pieces of iron to their penises as penitence, others isolated themselves in small rooms for years, some rolled themselves in ant nests as the holy Macarius, or rolled naked in thorn bushes as the holy Benedict. http://www.bandoli.no/christianity_and_sex.htm I can't say many of these early monks and later saints would have fared well in a modern emergency rooms.

Certainly the Victorian era also was somewhat mad in it's dangerous practices.

This is just one of their "antimasturbation" devices. Freud's contribution in his day marked a change in direction in this area of tides and turns.

A friend commented to me "kings and queens do it." while another friend commented, "Still ,you really shouldn't talk about it." and finally one said, "you really should not admit to having done it yourself."

With aging the Hegeler and Mortensen (1978) reported an age-related decline in several aspects of male sexual function in 1163 Danish men age 51-95 years. "Frequency of masturbation declined by less markedly than coitus, so that in the over 80's it is the more common outlet."

Further, Pfeiffer and colleagues 1972 found a much greater decline in both sexual activity and interest in among the women, with the most dramatic decline occuring between 50 and 60 years of age. In the 66-71 age group 50% of woemn said they had no sexual interest, compared with only 10% of men. In the Melbourne Women's Midlife Health Project 438 women, "by post menopause, there was further decline in sexual responsivity, frequency of sexual activity and sexual desire, and increased pain during intercourse and in partner's sexual problems. The authors concluded that sexual responsivity is adversely affected by both ageing and the menopausal transition, with further negative effects of post- menopausal status."

With that kind of information it might be that men at least should be grateful themselves and some men should seriously consider learning masturbation if they haven't already. The alternatives might well be increasingly limitted. Given the effects of attitude on women's sexuality it might well be that these stats change with the new generation of aging women. Which doesn't mean that men shouldn't consider masturbation given the sense of humor of this group. As one older woman said about an older men on Viagra, "It's like putting a flagpole on a condemned building."

It may however be that viagra and cialis are being sold as much for 'self consumption."

The Big Book of AA says "God alone can judge our sex situation. Counsel with persons is often desirable, but we let God be the final judge. We realize that some people are as fanatical about sex as other are loose. We avoid hysterical thinking or advice."

The lesson about character defects is that we have to be willing to let them go and here I am still wanting to share mine.

Like St. Benedict, I might go looking for a thorn bush but I'd be afraid the one I found would be burning.

No comments: