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4th February, 20213 min read

How often should you masturbate?

Medical reviewer:Dr Ann Nainan
Author:Caroline Bodian
Last reviewed: 03/02/2021
Medically reviewed

All of Healthily's articles undergo medical safety checks to verify that the information is medically safe. View more details in our safety page, or read our editorial policy.

Masturbation is normal and extremely common – most people have done it.

As with any sexual activity, how often you masturbate will vary. Some people rarely masturbate, while others may do it several times a day. Many people still masturbate when they’re in a sexually satisfying relationship with another person.

But is there a ‘normal’ amount of masturbation, and is there such a thing as masturbating too much? Read on to find out.

What is masturbation?

Masturbation is when you get sexual pleasure from touching your genitals, generally with your hand. It can involve using your fingers or hand to rub the area around your vagina and clitoris (a small soft bump in front of the entrance to the vagina), or rubbing and moving your hand up and down your penis.

There’s no right or wrong way to masturbate and you can do it alone or with another person. Some people may hold disapproving views about masturbation, but it’s important to know that masturbating is completely normal – and healthy. Many people use it to figure out what they like sexually and what helps them to orgasm.

Side effects of too much masturbation

There’s no ‘normal’ amount of masturbation and masturbation isn’t harmful, even if you do it often.

If you masturbate a lot in a short space of time, however, your genitals might feel sore. This can sometimes lead to a swollen penis caused by fluid in the tissues (oedema). While it may look alarming, the swelling will go away within a day or 2.

If you masturbate with another person, there’s a very small risk of getting or passing on a sexually transmitted infection (STI), but only if you pass fluids, such as semen, to one another’s genitals – on your fingers, for example.

Unlike what you may have heard, masturbation doesn’t affect sperm count. After someone with a penis has ejaculated, it can take a bit of time before they can do it again – this is normal and doesn’t mean there’s anything wrong.

If you get any bruising, cuts or soreness from masturbation, you’re probably masturbating too hard or roughly.

Masturbation addiction

Masturbation is a normal part of sexuality. But if you feel like you masturbate too much and it’s getting in the way of your life, you may want to try to cut down.

Masturbating so much that it feels ‘out of control’ is sometimes referred to as sex addiction. Some people may develop this in order to block out negative emotions or difficult experiences, and it can negatively affect their life and the life of their loved ones.

If you’re concerned about masturbation addiction, you can find resources and support online or speak to your doctor for advice.

Key points

  • masturbation is a normal and healthy part of sexuality
  • the amount you masturbate is a personal choice
  • masturbation isn’t harmful, even if you do it often
  • if you masturbate too much in a short span of time, you may get sore genitals
  • if you think you might be addicted to masturbation, you can look for support online or speak to your doctor for advice
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