College Sex Talk

Real people real answers

A student from University of Maine wants to know.....

Could a person like masturbation so much that they wouldn't want to have sex with a partner?

Male, Sophomore

Dr. Caron's Response:

Masturbation does seem to have certain advantages over intercourse. It is simple, can be done quickly, and you don't have to worry or be concerned with the desires and needs of a partner. Also, some people find the intensity of orgasm from masturbation to be greater than that of orgasms they have through intercourse. Regardless of all of this, most people still prefer partner sex over masturbation because of the many rewards partner sex provides in addition to orgasm. If a person always (not just occasionally) preferred masturbation over partner sex, it would likely be a symptom of difficulty in interpersonal relationships. The masturbation would not be the cause of the problem.

A student from Michigan State University wants to know.....

Friends and I were debating on whether it is healthy to masturbate everyday. I think one can, but they disagree. What can your expert knowledge advise us?

Male, Senior

Dr. Caron's Response:

You are correct in thinking that a person can masturbate everyday; some people do. It's important to recognize that masturbation has been a source of social concern and censure throughout history - leaving many people misinformed and feeling pretty guilty and ashamed. Many of these negative attitudes are rooted in the early Judeo-Christian view that sex was only for procreation. While today we see more positive attitudes about masturbation as a normal sexual behavior, a common concern which still exists has to do with "doing it too much." But how much is "too much"? Once a day might feel like too much to one person, while once a month might seem like too much to another. The definition of "healthy and normal" varies from person to person. A lot depends on how the person feels about masturbation: Do they feel horribly guilty or ashamed? Does it interfere with other important tasks that need to be accomplished? One might guess that if a person were masturbating so much that it significantly interfered with school work, there would be cause for concern. But, in that case, masturbation would be an indication of a problem, rather than it being the problem itself. For example, someone who is experiencing intense emotional anxiety about adjusting to college may use masturbation as an attempt to release the anxiety or as a form of self-comforting. The problem is the source of the anxiety (adjusting to college) rather than the masturbation. In another example, if a person always (not just occasionally) preferred masturbation over sex with a partner, it would likely be a symptom of difficulty in interpersonal relationships; the masturbation would not be the cause of the problem. For most, masturbation is an on-going love affair that each of us has with ourselves throughout our lifetime.

A student from Duke University wants to know.....

I heard once that vibrators cause some desensitization of the clitoris. Is this true? I use mine by applying it directly to my clitoris, so that I need to know if it's bad for me in the long run. I wouldn't want to do something that would cause me to go without future pleasure.

Female, Senior

Dr. Caron's Response:

No need to worry. The vibrator is very safe & very effective in stimulating the clitoris. There is no evidence to suggest it will lead to any structural damage or desensitize - so enjoy! I assume that by applying the vibrator directly on your clitoris, it leads you to orgasm most quickly. You might think about varying your technique (I know, you're probably thinking: why change a good thing?). What's great about the vibrator is that you can learn to extend and build to terrific orgasms. So you might want to think about varying your approach. For example, consider stimulating the clitoris for a few minutes and then "backing off" just before orgasm by stimulating the area around it, or putting a towel between you and the clitoris for a few minutes. By doing this several times, you may find your orgasm is much more intense, extended, and pleasurable. Enjoy!

A student from St. Bonaventure wants to know.....

Is it normal for a person in a relationship to masturbate?

Male, First-year

Dr. Caron's Response:

Yes. Masturbation seems to be one of the most widely practiced and least talked about sexual behaviors. And it isn’t just “beginner’s sex” that kids do until they’re ready for the “real thing.” Men and women, boys and girls, people with a regular partner and those who are single, heterosexuals and non-heterosexuals, all masturbate. While some may believe that single adults are more likely to masturbate, the 1994 Sex in America survey found that adults with a partner are more likely to masturbate than those who did not have a partner. The researchers concluded that masturbation is “not an outlet so much as a component of a sexually active lifestyle.” Some people worry that if their partner masturbates, there must be something wrong with their relationship. However, there appears to be no relationship between frequency of masturbation and frequency of sex with one’s partner. If fact, some studies have found that married people who masturbate have greater relationship and sexual satisfaction than those who do not.

A student from Harvard wants to know.....

Is it normal, or should I say common, for straight males to masturbate with and/or for other straight males?

Male, Senior

Dr. Caron's Response:

Let me begin by stating that just because something is not common does not mean it is not normal. And although we usually think of masturbation as a solo activity, it can be shared with a sexual partner in person, or via phone or internet. It also happens in groups. Please keep in mind that finding good research data on masturbation is difficult because many people are not comfortable reporting honestly about their masturbatory behavior. Having said that, when looking for data on straight males masturbating with other straight males, it does not appear to be a very common practice - at least in the published research arena. The little research found on this would fall into the category of group masturbation - also known as the "circle jerk" - where groups of boys form a circle and see who can masturbate the fastest or propel their ejaculate the furthest. One recent paper on this very topic was published by Cornog in the Journal of Sex Education and Therapy. An adult version of group masturbation occurs in organized clubs, sometimes referred to as Jack-Off or JO clubs. One example is the New York Jacks, a male masturbation club started in the 1980s. Although it is thought that this type of shared masturbatory experience most likely occurs between gay males, we know it also includes women and heterosexuals. This is seen in the rise in clubs now referred to as Jack and Jill Off or JJO clubs. Getting back to your question - I think it is important for the people participating to decide what they are comfortable with - and if this feels right for them - in terms of their own values and beliefs. That's something to consider when deciding whether to share this side of oneself with another person.

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