Exploring your sexuality is a beautiful thing but society has traditionally never been too keen to talk about it. A taboo topic, discussions about sex are always fraught with awkwardness and embarrassment. The sad results of this—twisted notions about masturbation, incorrect information replacing actual facts and most importantly, excessive shame and guilt associated with it.

We’re going to attempt changing this with our four-part series on sexual exploration and we decided to start with the basics. Before you can explore your sexuality in the context of a relationship with another person, you truly need to understand yourself. What better way to embark on this journey than through a little self-loving?

In the first part of the series on masturbation, we talked about how self-loving is actually good for you and in the second part, we answered several questions you were probably too embarrassed to ask anyone.

First Part: The M Word: Why Self-Pleasuring Is Good For You
Second PartThe M Word: 5 Most-Asked Questions About Self-Pleasuring

In this third part, we explore the thin line that separates a healthy indulgence from an unhealthy obsession.

Even though experts agree that there’s no specific amount of masturbation that can be considered ‘normal,’ a good way to know when you’re overindulging is if it starts to affect your life in negative ways. The symptoms could be physical or psychological, but you need to pay attention if you want to know whether it’s time to take a break.

Physical Symptoms:

  1. Chafing, dry skin, or extra sensitivity are clear signs that getting handsy with yourself is getting out of hand.
  2. Research indicates that excessive masturbation can stimulate acetylcholine/parasympathetic nervous functions and cause you to produce too many sex hormones and neurotransmitters such as acetylcholine, dopamine and serotonin. This can result in altering your brain and body chemistry and show up in unpleasant consequences such as exhaustion, loss of hair and memory, blurry vision, and genital pain.
  3. Too much masturbation can cause liver and nervous system distress, and in men could cause sexual exhaustion and speed up issues that normally affect older individuals, such as impotence or erectile dysfunction.
  4. Guys could also experience a condition called seminal leakage, where the ejaculation valve is weakened from excessive masturbation and causes them to leak sperm even when they’re not erect.
  5. Those who are trying to conceive should be wary too, since men who masturbate too often deplete their sperm count.

Psychological Symptoms:

  1. Getting too accustomed to a certain kind of stroking or pressure might make you over-dependent on that specific stimulation to achieve orgasm. Since you won’t be experiencing the same kind of friction when you’re with a partner, this could affect your romantic relationships.
  2. Choosing to go solo might also mean you don’t have any inclination or desire for sex with your partner, and this could lead to a breakdown in intimacy.
  3. Thinking about it all the time is bound to get you wound up, and affect your focus at work.

If you’re recognizing any of these physical or psychological symptoms, perhaps it is time to cut back and go hands-free for some time. Like drug addiction, alcoholism, gambling and smoking, sex addiction is also a serious psychological disorder but it can be fixed. If you try cutting back and realize you cannot manage to do so on your own, seek immediate help from a certified therapist or counsellor.

In our fourth and final part of this series, we will share how masturbation needn’t be a solo sport but can even enhance your romantic relationships.

Image: Shutterstock

PS: Explore our Wellness section for spa DIY, natural home care and more.
Here’s your complete guide to 
Emotional Well-being.

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Simona is a journalist who has worked with several leading publications in India over the last 17 years, writing on lifestyle topics and the arts, besides interviewing celebrities. She made the switch to public relations and headed the division as PR Manager at ITC Hotels’ flagship property, the ITC Grand Chola, but has since returned to her first love, journalism. Now she writes on food, which she is sincerely passionate about and wellness, which she finds fascinating and full of surprises. When she isn’t writing, she is busy playing the role of co-founder and communications director of The Bicycle Project, a six-year-old charity initiative that empowers tribal children in rural areas, while addressing the issue of urban waste.