Dr. J’s Top 10 for Men: Do It Yourself Sex: If It Feels this Good, Why Do They Say It's So Bad?
Posted May 22 2009 12:00am
“We have reason to believe that man first walked upright to free his hands for masturbation.” Lily Tomlin
Happy summer to you all (at least those of you in the Northern Hemisphere). A few weeks ago, we began looking at an assortment of concerns drawn from actual questions I’ve received from real readers just like you. Keep in mind that this particular Top 10 list represents the most common sexual concerns expressed by men. This little project has been met with much enthusiasm, so I’m pleased to offer this latest installment. How does this work? After each and every question, you’ll find my answer. Oh—and really astute readers (that’s right, I mean you) will doubtless remember that at the end of this last year, we surveyed the top 10 women’s concerns. Guys, it’s your turn to shine, so read on.
Here are two composites of the hundreds of letters I’ve received about self-pleasuring. They represent two very common misconceptions.
“I've been hearing people say that watching too much porn can cause erection issues. Is that true? I remember masturbating to porno magazines and never had an issue with getting hard. Recently, I had sex with a woman for the first time in a few months and couldn’t get hard. I know there’s nothing wrong with me physically. I’m only 22 years old. Can you help me with a solution please!!!”
Dr. J’s Response
OK. Take a deep breath and relax. What you’ve been hearing is a myth. Looking at erotica doesn’t affect your ability to respond to a person. However, there may be other reasons why you weren’t comfortable enough to get erect with a new partner.
It also sounds to me like you’re under the impression that masturbation, or self-pleasuring, is somehow harmful. Again, this is a myth.
Let’s look at some possibilities. Many of us are shy and/or nervous around a new partner, and this can definitely have an effect on erection.
And perhaps you really weren’t that interested, but felt you SHOULD be. Maybe this person didn’t really turn you on. It may be helpful for you to take an inventory of characteristics that you find attractive or interesting. Are you seeing anyone who has any of those qualities, or are you feeling like you SHOULD be turned on regardless? After all, you’re not going to get pizza by hanging out at a steak restaurant.
And, of course, many other factors can influence desire. You might also examine what else has been happening in your life that may have affected you. Are you content with yourself, with your life, with your relationships? Are there any family or work crises? And how’s your physical health? There are numerous medical conditions that can also contribute to lack of desire.
Are you anxious around potential sex partners? Be aware that anxiety is the enemy of good sex. If you’re feeling anxious or unsure of yourself, your desire for sex will be affected. Or you may have conflicting feelings about being sexual, based on earlier issues in your life. Or you may actually FEEL desire, but suppress it, due to feeling conflicted. Are you aware of any reasons you may have for avoiding sex with others?
There could be other reasons you’re not turned on: Men receive so many messages that sex is about “performance” and pleasing a partner, rather than just enjoying the pleasure of it. Everything is goal-oriented—like a football game. The other message that many men receive is that sex is somehow dirty and wrong, unless you’re doing it for reproductive purposes. Sometimes this can creep into our unconscious thoughts and sabotage any pleasure. Some men are very affected by cultural or family messages that unmarried women who have sex are somehow “dirty” or evil.
So, to recap: you may have negative attitudes about sex in general, or you may have performance issues or be bored or frustrated. Think about the issues I’ve raised and see if any are true for you. Remember not to put pressure on yourself. I’m wondering what YOU think is contributing to this and whether you’ve taken any actions to try to change it. You’ve probably got more insight than you realize.
“Out of the blue, I get erections and can’t get them to stop unless I burn myself on my wrist with a lighter. What is the explanation for this problem? This happens even when I’m not looking at anything or when I wake up in the morning. And it always makes me masturbate, even though I try to avoid doing that. Please help me!”
Dr. J’s Response
Please, please stop hurting yourself! There is absolutely nothing wrong with you. Your body is responding how it’s MEANT to respond. Let me explain.
All healthy men have erections daily during both waking and sleeping hours. These are automatic responses of your body, just the same as breathing and blinking. Why are you so afraid of them? Erections are GOOD. They mean you’re alive and healthy.
And why are you trying to avoid self-pleasuring (masturbation)? Many people feel insecure about self-pleasuring because they don’t have adequate information. We all want to know that what WE do is OK. From your note, it looks like you feel that it’s somehow harmful or wrong. There are no data to indicate that self-pleasuring is in any way harmful.
I’m here to tell you that whatever works for you is what works for you, and please stop worrying and enjoy your life. The fact that you’re trying to stop self-pleasuring and are finding it difficult should tell you that it’s part of who you are. Accept it as a wonderful gift that keeps on giving.
Here are some facts about self-pleasuring:
It’s the surest way to orgasm and the most effective way to learn about our sexual response cycle, as well as the surest way men to learn orgasmic control. If you feel you come too quickly, the surest way to slow down is to teach yourself a new pattern via self-pleasuring.
Another advantage is self-knowledge: How can you show a partner what you like if you don’t know yourself?
And the #1 reason for self-pleasuring: it’s fun!
Self-pleasuring is a part of who you are sexually—for your whole life, not just when you don’t have a partner. People self-pleasure from birth to death, when they’re alone and when they’re partnered. It’s just one of many options we have as sexual beings. It’s not better or worse than partner sex, just different—like steak is different than chicken.
Remember that all our scientific data show that the people who take responsibility for their OWN pleasure have the best sex lives and rate themselves as happiest about their sexuality. So please stop torturing yourself, accept your sexuality as a gift and start enjoying life. Well, there you have it—the whole, sad story. In spite of all the accurate information available these days, some men STILL believe that touching themselves is wrong, or that touching themselves “too much” (as though there were an optimum frequency) is harmful. Sigh.
Tune in next time, my darlings, to see what our next Top 10 for Men is all about. In the meantime, pour yourself something yummy, go outside and smell those flowers!