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How Much Masturbation is Too Much?

Katelyn Brenner FNP

Reviewed by Katelyn Hagerty, FNP

Written by Geoffrey C. Whittaker

Published 06/22/2021

Updated 11/27/2023

Let’s face it: there’s a pretty wide space for interpretation between what we imagine sex addiction or porn addiction is like, and what most of us are capable of accomplishing in an average day. However, if you’re feeling some doubts and/or soreness, it’s good to go ahead and ask the question:

How much masturbation is too much masturbation? 

We, in turn, have tried to answer it, along with questions you may have about how often the average guy masturbates and what happens if you do it too much. 

Read on for more about stroking statistics.

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How Often Do Men Masturbate?

How often does the average guy make time for self-love? There isn’t any comprehensive data on masturbation frequencies among guys, and it’s important to know that what we do have is self-reported statistics — which means it’s entirely possible that some guys underreported their behaviors. With that caveat, we’ll point you to the most recent data we could find.

A 2023 study asked participants about their self-pleasure habits and found that answers were all over the place: 

  • About a third of respondents said they hadn’t masturbated in the last year

  • About 20 percent did it a few times a year

  • About 15 percent did it one or more times a month

  • About 20 percent did it once a week or more, up to daily

You might assume the final group would qualify as “too much,” but in fact, the way we define excessive masturbation is not exactly based on numbers — it’s based on self-perception.

Crucially, there was no direct association between frequency of masturbation and negative side effects or psychological distress. In short, the number of times people do it isn’t related to how they feel about masturbation in general.

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Is it Possible To Masturbate Too Much?

Experts generally don’t have a good grip (pun intended) on what qualifies as compulsive masturbation. This behavior can be caused by many potential triggers and there’s not a lot of certainty in this area of research.

Like porn addiction or sex addiction, masturbation addiction is sort of a subjective thing because — to a certain extent — what qualifies as a “distressing amount” is relative. 

Your masturbation habits might seem very normal to someone with an open mind about sex, but seem unhealthy to someone with a more stringent cultural belief about sexual behavior in general.

That said, there are some concrete, agreed-upon signs that you’re doing it too much, which we’re about to explore. 

How Do I Know If I Masturbate Too Much?

There are obvious ways to tell if you’ve been masturbating too much, but they mostly include visible symptoms like skin irritation and injury, like:

  • The skin on your penis is raw, red or bleeding

  • Your penis becomes sore 

  • Your erections are painful 

If any of these symptoms resonate, you can bet that you’re doing it too much, too often or too hard.

The psychological signs of too much masturbation can be harder to spot, however, and they can also be subjective.

Some people report that masturbating to excess makes regular intercourse start to seem less satisfying. And depending on your religion or cultural upbringing, you could find yourself dealing with masturbatory guilt when you indulge in solo play. 

Some reports have suggested that masturbation can have negative effects on elements of your daily life, including your relationships, social life and self-confidence.

In some cases, these feelings of shame and guilt can even lead to severe depression.

However, actual scientific data on masturbation’s impact on any of these things is lacking.

Benefits of Masturbation

We don’t want you to get excessive masturbation confused with normal, healthy masturbation practices. For every bit of sexual medicine research about the dangers of too much, there seems to be an equally shaky claim about the benefits of masturbation.

Masturbation seems to offer a number of health benefits for guys, including:

  • De-stressing. A bit of self-pleasure can actually help to relieve anxious feelings — including the performance anxiety that may be preventing you from getting an erection or ejaculating.

  • Comfort with checking for cancer. Obviously self-love means you’re comfortable loving yourself, but it turns out that men who use self-pleasuring tools and sex toys like vibrators are actually more likely to perform an all-important testicular self-exam. So here’s to being open to experimentation and early detection of conditions like testicular cancer.

  • Better sleep. Masturbating before bed may improve the quality and length of your rest — that’s enough reason for us, anyway.

  • Better brain chemistry. We’re not saying an orgasm is the same as an antidepressant, but achieving orgasm, alone or with a partner, can help produce feel-good hormones (specifically dopamine and norepinephrine) in your brain.

  • Bonding. There’s no need to do it alone — masturbating with a partner can encourage closeness in relationships and help you to explore each other’s sexual preferences.

There are some anecdotal reports that masturbation may also help relieve stress, promote relaxation, reduce your risk of prostate cancer and more, but we’d caution that the research pointing to these things needs further review — you can’t believe everything you read on the internet.

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Myths About Masturbation

Stroking hourly may not be the kind of wellness activity that a sex educator would recommend for your everyday life, but how worried should you be about the wilder claims people make about the dangers of masturbating too much? The good news is that, aside from the mental health concerns above, most of the famous “risks” are actually a bit of fiction.

Blindness

Can masturbating too much really cause you to go blind? Not really. Technically, some very, very rare cases exist where sexual activity has led to valsalva retinopathy, a condition that can lead to vision loss in one or both eyes. But excess masturbation hasn’t been directly or indirectly linked to this condition.

Hairy Palms

Will your palms grow hair from excessive masturbating? Almost definitely not. An old wives’ tale about hairy palms probably originated from a chance overlap in someone with a rare condition known as circumscribed hairy dysembryoplastic of palms, or potentially the condition hypertrichosis.

That hypothetical historical person also likely spent a little too much time in their bedroom, but their hairy palms were unrelated.

Infertility

There are a number of potential causes of infertility, but masturbating isn’t on the list — at least, not for long-term infertility. 

From premature ejaculation to hormone deficiencies, a lot of things can actually affect your fertility. While masturbating frequently might temporarily empty the tanks, so to speak, it does not decrease your testosterone, nor does it decrease your overall sperm count — at least not according to any research that’s currently available.

Erectile dysfunction

While there’s a tentative link between poor erections and how you masturbate (e.g., too hard), the act of masturbation alone doesn’t really impact your erectile health.

But if you tend to lock in what some people call a “death grip” or masturbate with porn too often, it could affect your ability to orgasm with a partner or your performance in intimate circumstances.

Erectile dysfunction (ED) may seem to be linked to masturbation because of a thing called the refractory period — a sort of cool down after orgasm that prevents you from having sex again immediately.

The refractory period isn’t a form of ED, but it does last for minutes, days or hours depending on a number of factors.

But masturbation alone is not going to cause ED, and if you want to know more, you can read the details in our guide to masturbation and ED.

If You Think Frequent Masturbation is Causing Your Bedroom Problems

Research may say that masturbation isn’t to blame for a problem, but you could still be having a problem. And if that problem is ED or premature ejaculation, then you should seek medical advice to correct the problem, regardless of the cause.

They might prescribe an ED medication like:

These drugs, which are in a class of medication called PDE-5 inhibitors, have been shown to make getting and maintaining an erection easier. They’ve also been shown to reduce the refractory period in men without ED. 

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Masturbating Too Much: Final Words

Masturbation makes for some of the most fun you can have all by yourself. 

But how often should a man ejaculate or masturbate? There’s no official word on how much is too much, and how little is too little. A better way to look at the question is to consider the healthcare risks and benefits:

  • For the most part, you have all the freedom in the world to explore your body and preferred pleasure spots without worrying about any damaging side effects.

  • Sexual health and men’s health are deeply linked, so if you’re seeing performance issues, they may be related to other parts of your health, like your heart, diet, sleep or stress.

  • However, while masturbation is largely free of adverse effects, there is a chance that routinely giving yourself a hand could cause injury or affect your mental health. 

While this practice is safe both alone or in the company of a preferred partner, enjoying self-pleasuring in moderation may be advisable.

It’ll help avoid getting a little too used to having fun by yourself, developing other psychological complications from repeated sessions or even causing physical discomfort and irritation.

12 Sources

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  2. Zimmer, F., & Imhoff, R. (2020). Abstinence from Masturbation and Hypersexuality. Archives of sexual behavior, 49(4), 1333–1343. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7145784/.
  3. Reed-Maldonado, A. B., & Lue, T. F. (2016). A syndrome of erectile dysfunction in young men?. Translational andrology and urology, 5(2), 228–234. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4837321/.
  4. Michaels, L., Tint, N. L., & Alexander, P. (2014). Postcoital visual loss due to valsalva retinopathy. BMJ case reports, 2014, bcr2014207130. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4208123/.
  5. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. (n.d.). Hairy palms and soles - about the disease. Genetic and Rare Diseases Information Center. https://rarediseases.info.nih.gov/diseases/8461/hairy-palms-and-soles.
  6. Hariharasubramony, A., & Chankramath, S. (2012). Generalized hypertrichosis. Indian journal of endocrinology and metabolism, 16(6), 1057–1058. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3510946/.
  7. Leslie SW, Soon-Sutton TL, Khan MAB. Male Infertility. [Updated 2023 Mar 3]. In: StatPearls [Internet]. Treasure Island (FL): StatPearls Publishing; 2023 Jan-. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK562258/.
  8. Safron A. (2016). What is orgasm? A model of sexual trance and climax via rhythmic entrainment. Socioaffective neuroscience & psychology, 6, 31763. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5087698/.
  9. Prevalence and characteristics of vibrator use by men ... - sciencedirect. (n.d.). https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S1743609515325753.
  10. Lastella, M., O'Mullan, C., Paterson, J. L., & Reynolds, A. C. (2019). Sex and Sleep: Perceptions of Sex as a Sleep Promoting Behavior in the General Adult Population. Frontiers in public health, 7, 33. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6409294/.
  11. Herbenick, D., Wasata, R., & Coleman, E. (2023). Masturbation Prevalence, Frequency, Reasons, and Associations with Partnered Sex in the Midst of the COVID-19 Pandemic: Findings from a U.S. Nationally Representative Survey. Archives of Sexual Behavior, 52(3), 1317-1331. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC9794105/.
  12. Aneja, J., Grover, S., Avasthi, A., Mahajan, S., Pokhrel, P., & Triveni, D. (2015). Can masturbatory guilt lead to severe psychopathology: a case series. Indian journal of psychological medicine, 37(1), 81–86. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4341317/.
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