Reviewed by the doctors at The Cleveland Clinic Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology
What is Over Masturbation?
First things first. The vast majority of masturbation is completely healthy and positive. There is no data for this, but anything approximating "over masturbation" is very rare. There is no number or quantity of masturbation that is healthy or unhealthy. Masturbation isn’t like candy or eggs, there isn’t a "recommended daily allowance", it means different things to different people, and we all use masturbation differently, in positive and negative ways. So this question needs to be answered on an individual basis, keeping in mind that very few of us actually masturbate in ways that are harmful to ourselves. If I am over masturbating, will I have to stop masturbating altogether?
No credible health care professional who is working in your best interest would ever tell you to stop masturbating forever. A healthy sexual life includes masturbation across the lifespan, and stopping for a week or two doesn’t mean you have to stop forever. If you feel like your masturbation is a problem you may want to take a break from masturbating for a while and take some time to think about what is going on for you. But you should never feel like taking a break means dropping masturbation from your sexual repertoire. If someone tells you that masturbating is wrong or you need to stop it, they are probably doing so in their own interests, not yours.
Feeling guilty about masturbation is not necessarily a sign of over masturbating.
Many of us are raised with negative messages about our bodies, sex, and specifically masturbation. We respond by feeling guilty when we masturbate. But masturbation is healthy and guilt is not a required part of it. As you go through the questions below it’s important to know that feeling guilty about masturbation doesn’t mean you’re doing it too much. Guilt is a normal response to being told bad things about masturbation. The solution in this case is not to stop masturbating (although you might chose to take a break while working things out), the solution is to deal with your feelings of guilt, to recognize them as unnecessary, and to work towards feeling good about your ability to give yourself pleasure and knowing that masturbation is a part of sexual health.
Is your masturbation causing you distress?
Like any behavior, we can use masturbation for avoidance, as a form of risk taking, or as a way of pushing our own boundaries outside of our comfort zone. If you find yourself consistently feeling bad about your masturbation, either after you’ve masturbated, or when you think about it, then you may want to take a break and figure out why. By distress I don’t mean feeling guilty, as this can be a very normal response for those of us raised with negative messages about masturbation, and surrounded by so many myths about masturbation . But if the amount your masturbating is causing you distress of any other kind, it’s worth figuring out what the problem might be.
Is your masturbation causing (unwanted) physical pain or damage?
If you are masturbating to the point of rubbing your skin raw, or causing any other physical pain or damage that you don’t want, you maybe over masturbating, or masturbating the wrong way. There may be a simple or complicated solution to this (simple being something like using a personal lubricant, complicated being something that involves therapy and more introspection). But if masturbation is resulting in physical pain or discomfort it may be a good time to take a break and figure out what’s going wrong.
Is your masturbation getting in the way of your life in unwanted ways?
You may be over masturbating if you aren’t finding time to work, go to school, and see family and friends because of your masturbation frequency. Here’s an example where masturbating once a day may be perfectly healthy and fine for one person, as they do it when it works best and doesn’t interfere with other parts of their life that are important. But if you’re masturbating once a day exactly at the time you need to be at an important obligation, there might be something more going on. If the rest of your life is being consistently disrupted by your masturbation, it may be a situation where you are over masturbating.
Do you find yourself literally unable to stop masturbating?
While there is nothing inherently harmful or dangerous about masturbation, it can become a compulsion or a focus of an obsession. If you feel compelled to masturbate and truly feel unable to stop masturbating, it is likely that you are over masturbating and need to find some support to explore what’s going on that is compelling you to masturbate so frequently. In situations like this it may not make sense to stop masturbating cold turkey, but might be better to find some supports (family, friends, professionals) before you start to change your masturbation behaviors. Resources for people who think they may be engaging in chronic masturbation.
Finding a resource depends on where you live, what sort of health care you have, and how involved you want to get in exploring your feelings. If you have access to free sexual counseling services (through an organization like Planned Parenthood or your school) that may be enough. If you have a friend you can trust you may want to talk with them.
Be aware that there are many religious groups and organizations that consider all masturbation to be unhealthy and can take advantage of people who are looking for genuine answers by imposing their own morality at a time of vulnerability.