Olusegun Johnson explores the problem of masturbation amongst young people, highlighting the health and psychological implications.
Masturbation today as in generations past remains one of the most noxious habits perpetrated by young people all over the world. Many consider it harmless and sinless, as they feel they stand no risk of contracting any disease, and are of the opinion that they are in no way committing any sin – not fornication and definitely not adultery.
Online encyclopedia, Wikipedia, explains Masturbation as “the sexual stimulation of one’s own genitals for sexual arousal or other sexual pleasure, usually to the point of orgasm. The stimulation may involve hands, fingers, everyday objects, sex toys or combinations of these.”
A further explanation says “masturbation involves touching, pressing, rubbing or massaging a person’s genital area, either with the fingers or against an object such as a pillow; inserting fingers or an object into the vagina or anus; and stimulating the penis or vulva with an electric vibrator, which may also be inserted into the vagina or anus. It may also involve touching, rubbing, or pinching the nipples or other erogenous zones.”
Masturbation can also be a mutual exercise by partners. This has been tacitly approved across ages, but it is not the focus of this piece.
The primary reason many people ever get into masturbation has been acknowledged to be attainment of puberty and rise in libido level. Wikipedia explains libido simply as ‘sex drive’ or ‘a ‘person’s overall sexual drive or desire for sexual activity.’ Many young men and women, therefore, get into masturbating as a result of puberty attainment and urge to enjoy sex outside sexual intercourse. Often it is influenced by exposure to negative information, peer pressure and influences from books, movies, internet and social media. The initial motive usually is to ease sexual tension, but more often, addiction sets in, leading to other problems including health and psychological.
Dangers of addiction
Online health journal, Vaughter Wellness, states the side effects of masturbation to include “lower back pain, fatigue, thinning hair or hair loss, soft or weak erection, premature ejaculation, fuzzy vision, groin-or testicular pain and pains or cramps in pelvic area or tail bone.”
However, it might seem like most people indulging in this trend are unaware of these dangers.
Emmanuel 24 from Ikorodu, Lagos, confessed that he started masturbating at age 15. “I was not influenced by anyone, it just came up like that.” He confessed. “But presently, I find myself disturbed. I don’t really enjoy or see any good in it anymore. Recently I took a conscious decision to stop it, but suddenly realised I couldn’t. Now I’m 24 and still masturbating.”
Emmanuel revealed that “I often get moved into the act anytime I see a girl in flashy or suggestive wears; and usually, what I do next is go somewhere private and masturbate.”
Unfortunately, Emmanuel confessed that the habit has turned him into a recluse. “I no longer mingle with friends.”
David, 21 who started masturbating at 18 said “I masturbate just to satisfy my urge, and it all started when I attained puberty I watch pornography movies a lot and this has been part of what is affecting me up till date.”
Meanwhile, Julius for whom masturbation has literally replaced his emotion for females said “I started masturbating a year ago. It was first introduced to me by my friends in school and I have since found it hard to do away with it. Every time I indulge in it, it’s as I’m having sex.”
Doctors on masturbation
Is masturbation a true alternative to sex? Is it really a veritable avenue for relieving stress or tension?
Doctor Onwuchekwa Chinwendu of Limad Hospital, Command, Ipaja, Lagos, in his response, said, “To some extent, this is true. I say this because many who are emotionally stressed and do not want to go about meeting with prostitutes, usually embrace the option of masturbation to satisfy or ease their sexual urge. But in truth, masturbation does not really reduce stress and tension. When you begin to indulge in masturbation, it begins to increase your stress level and the need to satisfy yourself emotionally through self-inducement also gets on the high. Inevitably, this increases the stress and tension and gets your body asking for more. This eventually gets out of hand become a life habit.
On dangers of masturbation, Dr Chinwendu said “Masturbation to some extent makes you free from sexually transmitted diseases, especially because sexual intercourse or canal penetration of the opposite sex does not take place. The downside, however, is that it has a tendency to make one a recluse, as they tend not to socialise with friends.”
Medically, Dr Chinwendu said “It causes erectile dysfunction. I know of people who face this problem as a result of masturbation.
“You can also injure yourself in the process between orgasm and release of sperm because at that moment, you increase your effort of inducement on the instrument or hand on your private part, which can result in sourness or tear. And when this happens, you are exposing your private part to diseases. How clean is the instrument or hand you’re using for instance?
So it may reduce sexually transmitted diseases, but you are at the same time exposing yourself to other diseases.”
Asked if masturbation improves sexual relationships, Chinwendu said “There are two schools of thoughts. In the early twenties, the U.S worked on Masturbation and its Effects on Relationship. While one school of thought says it makes you relate well with your spouse and enjoy improved sexual life and relationship, the other absolutely negates it. One of the negative sides according to the other school of thought is that it can cause erectile dysfunction because you’re excessively over-working your sex organ. It increases your sex organ but also weakens it. Ultimately you will not be able to satisfy a woman in bed. This is the fact.”
Can it be overcome?
“First of all, awareness is needed.” Dr Chinwendu said. “Does a victim believe it is wrong? Do they feel that what they are doing is wrong? When it becomes a habit, it is difficult to stop. For example, smoking cannot be done away with easily. So there should be awareness in schools, in communities and in the media. People have to be informed of the dangers of this practice.
“A sufferer should purposely delete or destroy instantly all those things that induce the practice such as pornography movies, pictures, discs and whatever. I know of a 16-year-old girl with more than 20 pornography movies and pictures, which her father eventually discovered. Imagine what would be going on in such girl’s mind!
“Bad habits corrupt useful habits; if you have friends that are into such practice, cut them off, do not mingle with them. All materials used to self-induce yourself should be done away with.
“Thirdly, this practice largely affects people who are on their own or lonely; so sufferers should start socialising. When you start having the feeling to masturbate, call a friend and go out and mingle. That way, the habit starts to die and you will gradually leave it.” Dr Chiwendu said.
Dr. Gbenga Adeyemo, a psychologist attached to a government health facility in Ejigbo, Lagos also spoke on the side effects of masturbation.
“First, masturbation is a known form of sex throughout the world. It is the act of stimulating oneself sexually by use of one’s hand.” Adeyemo said
He said “The reason for masturbation is mainly for sexual enjoyment, sexual achievement or means of avoiding unwanted pregnancy. What we hear, see, and our environment can affect us negatively to go into such act. For example, when you see a lady dressed half-naked, what comes to your mind first is to have sex with her. And knowing that the avenue is not there, you would rather go and masturbate.
“Also, friends young people keep or their community is a huge determinant. 70 percent of people who practice this get involved through bad company.”
On the hazards, Adeyemo said “when masturbation is you, you are masturbation; that is, if you can’t do without it in a day, you begin to stay on your own and prefer to do things secretly. Ultimately, it affects you when you get married because you as a male will not last in bed. If it is a female, you will prefer self-pleasing to sex with the opposite sex. That shows there is a problem.
“Again if such person does not have exposure to sex initially, they want to try sex on their own and when they touch their sex organ, it takes them along.
“Also if you are fond of masturbating, it can become hereditary, whereby your children might be affected too, just like we have Polio, HIV and Laser Fever. We have seen situations like that.”
Said Adeyemo, “What is common today is that it results into problems of quick ejaculation and memory loss or Down’s Syndrome. They may even begin to see nothing sexually attractive in any other sex partner other than themselves. So they create hatred for mutual sex.”
On ways of stopping masturbation, Dr Adeyemo said “Masturbation should not be seen as diseases that you get admitted to the hospital to treat or that you are prescribed drugs to cure like malaria or headache. First, it is important to know the things that move you into the act and how long you have been into it.”
“One solution is for such person to mingle more with friends. He or she should avoid being on his own as much as possible. They should try to find something doing, that will occupy their mind and take them away from the act.