Defeat Lust & Pornography man on computer in dark room
Defeat Lust & Pornography 3 minute read

The Health Benefits of Masturbation

Last Updated: July 22, 2021

I speak at a lot of conferences, and many in my audiences are young men in high school or college. When I talk about the negative impact of pornography and masturbation, it’s not uncommon for me to get a lot of questions afterwards from these guys. You see, a lot of these guys have been told that not masturbating is actually unhealthy.

Since the days of psychologists like Sigmund Freud and Alfred Kinsey, people picture the sexual impulse as if it’s this boiling, tumultuous force that needs an outlet or it will explode in harmful ways.

The Health Benefits of Masturbation

What does medical science actually tell us about this? Many studies have been done about this and always with really mixed results. But then in 2010 a very helpful paper was written for the Journal of Sexual Medicine. Dr. Stuart Brody compiled the research from a lot of studies and found that while ejaculation is associated with positive health effects, not all ejaculations are created equal.

Once researchers started distinguishing between masturbation and vaginal intercourse, there was more consistent results among the different studies. Researchers have found that more frequent masturbation does not have the same kind of positive health effects that sexual intercourse does. In many cases, there are no health associations when it comes to masturbation, and it instead has negative effects. For instance, men who masturbate more tend to have more prostate abnormalities, have less of an ability to recover from ED, and tend to have more signs of depression.

In short, we can say this:

  1. There is no documented health problems associated with not masturbating.
  2. Masturbation does not have the same kind of health benefits that intercourse does.
  3. Masturbation, in specific ways, can be shown to be unhealthy.

The fact is, the body has built-in mechanisms that come with the build up of hormones in our system. For instance, semen can be ejected during a nocturnal emission.

The Impact of Masturbation and Sexual Fantasy

So let’s be really honest here: no man ever masturbated because he was fantasizing about the possible health benefits. Most men masturbate because of sexual fantasy.

I remember reading a short letter written by Oxford scholar C.S. Lewis where he offered some hard-hitting advice about masturbation to a good friend. He said a man’s sexual appetite is designed to lead a man out of himself, to be a self-gift that both completes and corrects his own personality—first by sharing oneness with a lover and then with the creation of children. However, with masturbation, the appetite is turned back in on itself and “sends the man back into the prison of himself, there to keep a harem of imaginary brides.”

What is the harm in this? Lewis says the problem with masturbation is that a man comes to prefer the dark prison of his imaginary sexual harem over the repeated intimate embrace that could transform him into the man he should become. Here’s what he writes,

For the harem, [that is, the fantasy women in his imagination] the harem is always accessible, always subservient, calls for no sacrifices or adjustments, and can be endowed with erotic and psychological attractions which no woman can rival. Among those shadowy brides, he is always adored, always the perfect lover; no demand is made on his unselfishness, no mortification ever imposed on his vanity. In the end, they become merely the medium through which he increasingly adores himself.…After all, almost the main work of life is to come out of our selves, out of the little dark prison we are all born in. Masturbation is to be avoided as all things are to be avoided which retard this process. The danger is that of coming to love the prison.

If you struggle with masturbation, don’t buy the lie that it is somehow really healthy for you or harmful for you to avoid. Not at all. In fact, by training your brain to not retreat into fantasy or in many cases pornography, you are training yourself to be the man you ought to be: someone whose sexuality is truly relational, intimate, and giving, not just a solo experience.

Want to learn more about the science of porn use?

The more frequently men view pornography, the more they are likely to say they are less satisfied with sex and relationships.

Science shows us that acting out with pornography taps into our powerful neurochemistry, and this can quickly lead a person to use porn habitually. Much like a drug, the chemicals that fire when watching porn cause the brain to increasingly crave it until eventually it can feel almost impossible to break free. If you want more information about the science of porn use, check out the free e-book, The Porn Circuit.

  1. dude

    I have found Covenant Eyes very helpful and Bible based.

    many of us growing up in post sexual revolution societies have been brainwashed and confused by the mass media which has been saturated with sex scenes, public nudity, legalisation of porn industry and now LGBT scenes.

    But God is infinitley smarter than man and Satan.

    The Bible makes clear all the evil of sins of the flesh including the potential in todays mass media.

    So, I have learnt that actively seeking out nude and sex scenes is offensive to God and sinful. We do not need to surround ourseves with that media. We still can easily choose to not be influenced by our decadent culture of the late 20th and early 21st century.

  2. chris

    i’v masturbated for six years since i was 14 and now im 19 and i wanna put an end to it.what should i do? For i hoped for an upright life no to which im living in no,it will be help if you provide me with steps to let go off this prison,thank you

    • Chris McKenna

      Hello Chris, I’m so sorry you feel so trapped. It is a tough, tough cycle to break. But, it IS possible to break it! Is it hard work? Absolutely. But, here’s a post that has helped others in your situation – you are not alone! God is STRONGER than any chain that binds us. Please read this and let me know what you think: https://www.covenanteyes.com/2010/07/14/three-steps-to-kick-the-habit-of-masturbation/

      Peace, Chris
      Covenant Eyes

  3. Michael John Caliri

    This article on masturbation was very good. I happen to agree that masturbation does in fact have a very one sided appeal to it and destructively damaging to ones relationship with GOD and other people. I am married 31 years. Before marriage I had been very involved with pornography and masturbation and I desired to live as a Christian. You would think that once you were married all those feelings and emotions that run threw your mind and body would have gone away. Well I will tell that is nothing but a myth and lie. I actually thought I was being broad minded and progressive in my sexual thinking. In short I almost lost my marriage. The only positive thing I did was not to bring anything home. Mainly because I did not want my two sons to get involved with this (garbage). So am I cured have I been set free and released from this bondage. The answer is both Yes and No. You ask why? Simply GOD through JESUS has set me Free. On the cross CHRIST nailed every sin from the fall of the human race. No because (I) keep trying to pull the nails out. The only answer is to keep looking into GOD’s Holy Word that can wash our minds like water washing our hands of dirt. Here is some of what I have discovered over the past 40 plus years from the word of GOD. From James 1:13-15 When tempted , no one should say,GOD is tempting me. For GOD cannot be tempted by evil , nor does he tempt anyone; But Each One Is Tempted When,By His Own Evil Desire he is dragged away and enticed. Then after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin and sin when it is full-grown, gives birth to death. The key here is verse 14 we know GOD will not tempt us (note) it does not talk about Satan or any demonic being tempting us, But our own desire. I know this is hard to grasp but why? For me I have to admit it was because I enjoyed it and kept the pain I was associating with masturbation at bay. Guess what I was wrong. I will talk more at another time. GOD most HOLY bless each and everyone who struggles as I have and who will over come these issues through GOD’s amazing Grace and Love. Michael John

  4. Lucien Haskins

    Most men masturbate because of sexual fantasy.

    I don’t disagree with that, but there’s another reason why most men masturbate: to relieve sexual tension and in this case, I don’t think it should be discouraged. There are many single men like me who have extremely high (and unbearable) sex drive and since we don’t have access to sexual partners, masturbation is the only recourse. Abstinence is not an option nor should be encouraged since it would only prolong and worsen sexual frustration. I believe masturbation can provides a healthy sexual outlet for single men, as long as it is done in moderation.

    Note: I accidentally posted duplicate comments. Please delete them.

  5. Hope

    I highly recommend these books:
    Wild at Heart: Discovering the Secret of a Man’s Soul by John Eldredge
    Unveiling the Mystery of a Woman’s Soul, Captivating by John and Stasi Eldredge

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Related in Defeat Lust & Pornography

Editor's Picks

A thoughtful man looking at a computer screen.

Defeat Lust & Pornography

Am I Addicted to Porn? 12 Signs of Porn Addiction

Despite decades of research, porn addiction remains a questionable diagnosis in the…

7 minute read

Read Post

Editor's Picks

Close-up portrait of male student with head on knees sitting by wall in college

Defeat Lust & Pornography

My Sin Owned Me

I have long struggled with lust, first giving in to pornography as…

4 minute read

Read Post

Editor's Picks

A young boy praying in a Catholic church.

Defeat Lust & Pornography

I Was an Altar Boy Addicted to Porn

Since I was young, I’ve battled with a deeply personal struggle: pornography…

4 minute read

Read Post

Editor's Picks

A young man embracing his wife.

Defeat Lust & Pornography

I Overcame My Fear of Abandonment

My struggles have been with pornography, masturbation, fanaticizing, objectifying, and lying. It…

3 minute read

Read Post

Editor's Picks

Young man taking a break while hiking.

Defeat Lust & Pornography

My Imperfect Journey

My journey to overcome and avoid the temptation of pornography has been…

3 minute read

Read Post

Editor's Picks

Close-up on the hands of a group of people learning to trust one another.

Defeat Lust & Pornography

How to Trust People

After helping people overcome pornography for more than two decades, one thing…

7 minute read

Read Post

Related in Defeat Lust & Pornography

A thoughtful man looking at a computer screen.

Defeat Lust & Pornography

Am I Addicted to Porn? 12 Signs of Porn Addiction

Despite decades of research, porn addiction remains a questionable diagnosis in the…

Despite decades of research, porn addiction remains a questionable diagnosis in the medical community. But there’s no question that thousands of people struggle unsuccessfully to quit pornography. If you’re concerned that you may be addicted…

7 minute read

0 comments

Close-up portrait of male student with head on knees sitting by wall in college

Defeat Lust & Pornography

My Sin Owned Me

I have long struggled with lust, first giving in to pornography as…

I have long struggled with lust, first giving in to pornography as a 6th grader. As I approach my junior year of college, I see the destruction that my addiction has caused and the further…

4 minute read

0 comments

A young boy praying in a Catholic church.

Defeat Lust & Pornography

I Was an Altar Boy Addicted to Porn

Since I was young, I’ve battled with a deeply personal struggle: pornography…

Since I was young, I’ve battled with a deeply personal struggle: pornography and masturbation. It’s hard to pinpoint exactly when this addiction took hold of me, but that first encounter remains etched in my memory.…

4 minute read

0 comments

A young man embracing his wife.

Defeat Lust & Pornography

I Overcame My Fear of Abandonment

My struggles have been with pornography, masturbation, fanaticizing, objectifying, and lying. It…

My struggles have been with pornography, masturbation, fanaticizing, objectifying, and lying. It started after dealing with intense feelings of loneliness following my graduation from college and first job in ministry. I was spending a lot…

3 minute read

0 comments

Young man taking a break while hiking.

Defeat Lust & Pornography

My Imperfect Journey

My journey to overcome and avoid the temptation of pornography has been…

My journey to overcome and avoid the temptation of pornography has been a long and difficult one. It started at the age of 8. Some of my friends came over to my house one day…

3 minute read

0 comments

Close-up on the hands of a group of people learning to trust one another.

Defeat Lust & Pornography

How to Trust People

After helping people overcome pornography for more than two decades, one thing…

After helping people overcome pornography for more than two decades, one thing has become clear: Defeating porn requires trustworthy relationships. Pornography develops a powerful grip on people that can’t be overcome in isolation. We need…

7 minute read

0 comments