A propensity for both males and females to engage in self-gratification is just one of the many features that make us human. Once considered a taboo subject, pleasuring oneself is increasingly recognized as a natural, healthy activity that has numerous benefits. On the other hand, old wives’ tales about hairy palms and blindness aside, too much of a good thing can, in fact, be damaging, especially when it comes to the penis. In this article, we look at the pros and cons of masturbation from a male perspective.

The Pros

Self-stimulation can provide men with several important advantages, as outlined below:

1) The psychological benefits: Masturbation that culminates in an orgasm releases the hormone oxytocin into the body. Oxytocin is known for providing a sense of well-being and has been shown to lessen the effects of stress, depression and anxiety. Not only that; it can also help men fall asleep and makes sleep more restful.

2) Physical health benefits: As mentioned above, the release of oxytocin can lower stress levels in the body. Since stress has been linked to a greater risk for serious health problems, including cardiovascular disease, masturbating regularly can be seen as a way to help protect the body against life-threatening issues. It also helps to relieve headaches and migraines, and it even boosts the metabolism - important to maintaining a healthy body weight.

3) Fertility benefits: The "use it or lose it" principle applies directly to male fertility. Regular masturbation stimulates the production of healthy sperm, whereas abstinence has been linked to a lower sperm count.

4) Relationship benefits: By exploring one’s own body, a man learns what feels good, allowing him to communicate this to his partners. In turn, he becomes more sensitive to what may feel good to his partner, allowing for a healthier and more intimate sexual relationship.

The Cons

Although masturbation is overall beneficial, there are a few drawbacks that men, in particular, need to watch out for:

1) "Death Grip Syndrome": This dramatic-sounding name refers to the phenomenon in which a man becomes over-accustomed to a single masturbation technique. After a long period of using the same type of grip or stroke, he may have difficulty responding to any other technique and may find himself unable to reach climax with a partner. Worse yet, he may find that he needs to be increasingly aggressive with that one technique (such as a tighter and tighter grip) to continue feeling any pleasurable sensation at all.

2) Loss of erectile function: Guys who masturbate very frequently may find that their performance suffers when it comes to sex with a partner, simply because their "reserves" are depleted. Refraining from masturbation for a few days prior to a sexual encounter typically relieves this problem.

3) Skin damage: Frequent rubbing and stroking, especially without the benefit of a personal lubricant, can damage the outer layers of the skin over time. This can lead to soreness, irritation, or even bleeding. Eventually, aggressive handling can result in keratinization of the dermal tissue - essentially, a callus forms in the area. This thickened skin is less sensitive to the touch, making it more difficult to experience pleasurable sensations.

4) Obsessive behaviors: In rare instances, a man may become so entranced by the pleasure of masturbation that it overtakes his life. Personal relationships, a social life, and even work may take a back seat as he spends more and more time engaged in self-stimulation. Like any other addictive behavior, this can have serious consequences, and men may need professional help to overcome the obsession.

Fortunately, most of the drawbacks listed above can be avoided or overcome by making the right personal choices, including use of a personal lubricant during masturbation and trying new and different techniques. In addition, using a high-end penis health crème (health professionals recommend Man 1 Man Oil, which is clinically proven mild and safe for skin) can help restore stressed or damaged penile skin, or even prevent the damage from happening in the first place. The best crèmes will contain ingredients such as Shea butter and vitamin E, which are known for their healing properties, as well as the ability to keep the skin hydrated, soft and smooth. Other vital ingredients to use on the penis include (1) vitamin C, which builds collagen (responsible for the skin’s elasticity) and promotes healthy circulation of blood to the area; and (2) vitamin D, which allows for healthy oxidation of the blood and can help combat erectile dysfunction.