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Defeat Lust & Pornography 5 minute read

Is Masturbating Bad For You?

Last Updated: October 17, 2023

Is masturbation healthy? While no one ever masturbated while fantasizing about reducing the risks of prostate cancer, there is a common idea that masturbation is good for your health. Some have even suggested that stopping masturbating might increase certain health risks in men.

For instance, Anthony Santella and Spring Cooper, two lecturers on human sexuality at the University of Sydney, claim masturbation is good for men. It reportedly reduces the risk of prostate cancer, increases immune system functioning, and reduces depression.1

Could it be bad for you not to masturbate? When we look at the actual research, we see a different picture.

What Are The Health Benefits of Masturbation?

When sex educators claim masturbation in men is healthy, they are referring to research about ejaculation. One study from the Journal of the American Medical Association, says, when you look at the various studies on this subject, the results are quite mixed.2 Some show a positive correlation to reducing prostate cancer risks, some a negative correlation, and some no correlation at all.

Conclusions from the research about ejaculation are mixed because researchers often assume all orgasms are created equal. They aren’t. Even the makeup of semen is different when you compare masturbation to vaginal intercourse.3

Masturbation does not provide the same health benefits as sexual intercourse.

So what about the claim that it is bad for you not to masturbate? Once researchers started differentiating between masturbation and vaginal intercourse, they noticed more consistent trends regarding health benefits. Compared to sexual intercourse, Dr. Stuart Brody says masturbation is correlated with fewer health benefits—or even increased health risks—for the following conditions in men:

  • Satisfaction with one’s mental health
  • Relationship satisfaction
  • Self-rated happiness
  • Lower depression scores
  • Less likely to have schizophrenia
  • Improved erectile function
  • Faster recovery from stress
  • Fewer prostate abnormalities
  • Less prostate cancer risks4

Dr. Brody says masturbation is actually associated with more symptoms of depression and more prostate abnormalities.

In short, there are a few health problems associated with masturbation, and whatever health benefits masturbation claims to have, it is only because of its distant relation to its healthier cousin: sexual intercourse.

What Happens in Your Brain When You Masturbate?

Dr. Norman Doidge, author of The Brain that Changes Itself, says there are two separate pleasure systems in our brains: one for exciting pleasure and another for satisfying pleasure. Masturbating to fantasies and especially pornography activates the exciting system, but leaves the satisfying system starved for “the real thing.”

The exciting system is fueled by the neurochemical dopamine. Dopamine focuses our attention, giving our brain a little feel-good reward, helping us become sexually aroused and gearing up for sex. The satisfying system involves actually having sex—touching, kissing, caressing, and really connecting with someone—which provides a calming, fulfilling pleasure. The problem with masturbation is that the satisfying system is never activated.

The more one masturbates to porn, the more dopamine is released in the brain. Eventually, dopamine receptors and signals fatigue, leaving the viewer wanting more but unable to reach a level of satisfaction. This desensitization in turn impacts the prefrontal cortex—the “executive control” center of the brain—causing what is called hypofrontality. This means a loss of self-control and a propensity to addictive behavior.

Is Masturbation Unhealthy?

Beyond this, some evidence suggests that masturbation can adversely affect sexual health. Masturbation, especially when porn is involved, is also causing erectile dysfunction in some men. The problem isn’t with the organ between your legs but the organ between your ears: the brain.

Sam Black writes in The Porn Circuit:

“Drs. Marnia Robinson and Gary Wilson explained in Psychology Today that overstimulation with pornography creates changes in the brain that make a man less responsive to the physical pleasure of a real woman and hyper-responsive to Internet porn… Men become sensitized to Internet porn, but desensitized to sex in general, which requires more and more stimulation to achieve arousal. When preparing for real sex, the pornified brain fails to get its dopamine surge and the signal to the penis is too weak to achieve erection. But turn on an Internet device with unlimited pages of novelty, and boom, the plumbing works.”

Related: RecoverED–10 Days on the Road to Healing From Porn-Induced Erectile Dysfunction

What Really Happens When You Masturbate

Physical health aside, when masturbation is accompanied by erotic fantasy, what do men risk by habitually escaping into that fantasy world? C.S. Lewis wrote these hard-hitting thoughts to one of his friends:

“For me the real evil of masturbation would be that it takes an appetite which, in lawful use, leads the individual out of himself to complete (and correct) his own personality in that of another (and finally in children and even grandchildren) and turns it back; sends the man back into the prison of himself, there to keep a harem of imaginary brides.”5

In other words, masturbation is a self-focused act that trains you to think and act selfishly, especially when accompanied by pornography. It makes it more difficult to engage in real intimacy because a real relationship requires give-and-take. It does not provide on-demand gratification like porn and masturbation.

The health impact of masturbation, good or bad, may not motivate anyone to start or stop masturbating, but we shouldn’t be duped into thinking quitting masturbation is bad for us. If anything, refusing to retreat into a fantasy world forces men to live in the real world where they can serve, love, and enjoy a real woman.


1Cooper, SC, Santella, AJ. Happy news! Masturbation actually has health benefits. TheConversation. 2004. Dec 4. Accessed January 12, 2023 at https://theconversation.com/happy-news-masturbation-actually-has-health-benefits-16539.

2Leitzmann MF, Platz EA, Stampfer MJ, Willett WC, Giovannucci E. Ejaculation frequency and subsequent risk of prostate cancer. JAMA. 2004 Apr 7;291(13):1578-86. doi: 10.1001/jama.291.13.1578. PMID: 15069045.

3Griffin, RM. Male Masturbation: 5 Things You Didn’t Know. WebMD. Accessed, January 12, 2023 at https://www.webmd.com/men/guide/male-masturbation-5-things-you-didnt-know#1.

4Brody, S. (2010), The Relative Health Benefits of Different Sexual Activities. The Journal of Sexual Medicine, 7: 1336-1361. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1743-6109.2009.01677.x

5Lewis, CS. Yours, Jack: Spiritual Direction from C.S. Lewis. HarperOne. 2008.

  1. B

    If I masterbated for the last 42 years, does it mean I’m going to HELL for eternity? How do I cast Satan out of my scrotum?

    • Keith Rose

      Hello B, thanks for your questions, a couple of things. 1) The Bible is clear that we all deserve hell whether we masturbate or not. Jesus is the only one who can save us. 2) Jesus is more powerful than any sin, including pornography, lust, or compulsive masturbation. Put your faith and trust in him and ask for his forgiveness and you will find freedom from the power of hell. But that doesn’t mean you’ll immediately find freedom from every sinful habit. The Bible teaches that could still take time, and you’re going to have to work at it. 3) There are different reasons for masturbating. Most often, masturbation has a hold on people because they’re watching pornography or enjoying lustful fantasies, and masturbation is “acting out” the fantasy. In this case, before you worry about stopping masturbation you need to eliminate the porn and lustful fantasies. Those are the deeper issue. But I’ve also known people who masturbate just to relieve sexual tension or even stress. If you masturbate for these reasons, it may not be lust but simply a lack of self-control. Or you could be turning to masturbation as a comfort, instead of turning to God. Learning to change means understanding yourself and the reasons you do things. Then, take steps and use the resources God has given you to address those reasons. Keep reading our website and you’ll find lots of these resources!

      Blessings,

      Keith

  2. King of the flies

    Doesn’t god punish those who lie? Far be it for me to stand in the way of your hustle Jeff, but as an outstanding atheist with a Christian background I can’t help but intervene. It is true that masturbating does increase immunity. And if you actually cared to do your research it would make sense why the body does this. Rather it was due to having masturbated or sex. Second, there is empirical evidence that it does reduce the chances of getting prostatic cancers.

    Now, you know you inserted that we’re pushing people to masturbate by telling the lie that if one doesn’t that their very health would decline. That was never even uttered by a single advocate of moderate masturbation.

  3. I read the article as well as the comments and wow, amazing. God is speaking loud and clear. And you can see Satan’s sarcastic evil lying voice in a few comments as well. I see the fight between good and evil here, and it’s like viewing a battle while discussing the war.

    I’m 35, at the older edge of the millennial generation. I have lived the wordly life of sin and fell victim to the widespread use of porn that came along with the creation of the internet. I discovered this web porn in 7th grade. I also witnessed the genesis and perpetuation of lies about masterbation being healthy and normal. Discovering your body and lusting is the nature of our flesh, but masterbating is not just some biological marker of sexual health. What a lie, what a cunning lie that anywone would want to believe. I like the way Xavier put it myself “pinpoint” .The truth isn’t just some feel good “natural” crap, those are the hallmarks of a lie. Satan whispers, “Hear what you want to hear, don’t be convicted, don’t listen to the conscience that God gave you. Just sear that baby and let it ride. It’s natural after all, even healthy.”

    Let me spell it out for you who are believing this lie. Masterbation does lead to porn and vice versa, and they both lead to rewiring of your brain, as well as relationship problems. It does take away your healthy affections and pins them to something empty, selfish and evil. I’m not a “holy roller”. I’m a man who has experienced these things and observed them in society. Science actually proves that it is unhealthy but people keep reading the opinions of doctors etc. that just so happen to pop up first in the online search. Satan is the prince of the air of this worldly world. So he sees to that. But thankfully Luke and others are declaring the truth and seeking to bless others. The motivation is clear.
    I’ve never been married nor written such a long comment at 4 AM. But you know what, I will conquer this evil through Christ who strengthens me before I step foot in a marriage! I will learn from Luke, Xavier and others. Even the evil comments have been caused to work for my good! Thank you Lord! Praise you! I believe in you and love you!

    • Oh and btw I know plenty of women who watch porn and cheat also. And men do need to be MEN, not worldly men who are the walking dead, but Godly men who shine bright with life! And women need to be WOMEN and fill their roles as Godly women, not identifying with this false worldly view of what women should be in the current Zeitgeist. It’s getting easy to find a material-wife and harder to find wife-material, as well as to be husband-material, bc the voice of the enemy is so pervasive. So more are falling to the world (enemy).
      Whoever doesn’t want to step out in faith to try to find God is blind, and in the end when they pass on they will lose out. Don’t hear what you want to hear, hear the truth. At least try to open your heart to discover for yourself if there is a God. He is there and He requires faith and the growth of spiritual eyes, instead of letting you see with physical eyes. But you have to take an honest open step towards Him. He will show you how science(the physical) reflects the spiritual. This is why Christ was able to speak in parables. Bc in His divine wisdom He created the Earth and life and the science it all operates under. Although He doesn’t want the pain and suffering, He allows it bc in the end it will show us the truth of who He is! And who we are in Him! Apart from Christ we can have no real fruit. That fruit you think you have without Him is actually faux and meaningless. Although He will cause it all, the good and bad, to work out for the good of those who love Him and are called for His purpose. Darkness can’t be measured or defined except only as the absence of light. Don’t go without this light to find in the end that you’ve been hoodwinked by the voice of the enemy and your own flesh. In Christ, God gives us a heart and makes us alive in the Spirit. Then we can see and discern. But He only gave one single name whereby we can be saved. The way the truth and the life. This man modeled a life of real love and sacrifice as only God could possibly do. It’s not just some ancient writings of religiousity. He is a real life man and a real life son of God in spirit and flesh. We are a dichotomy, but He is the bridge between the flesh that is man and the spirit that is God. The origin of all life. A whole universe created for one tiny planet to exist, perfectly placed away from the sun of the Milky Way, and tilted on its axis and rotating just enough to give the right weather and seasons. Just enough oxygen. Too much and we would burn up, too little and we suffocate.
      God bless our hearts and renew our minds!!!

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