Is there really such thing as masturbation addiction?

Submitted by travelingscott on
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Hello all. I've been going back and forth on this topic with a few people in other places and I'm trying to get a general consensus. I thought I might have had a problem when I cam across this masturbation addiction blog. But then I really started wondering if this could really be an addiction or is it just people looking at it wrongly. Opinions welcome.


As many of the bloggers on here will testify, masturbation addiction is very real. Not everyone who masturbates is addicted, but it's easy to find out if you are or not. If you can relatively easily go a couple of weeks without masturbating, you're not addicted. If on the other hand, after a few days without you start to get a lot of cravings and weird symptoms like anxiety, restlessness, extreme boredom, fatigue, etc...guess what? Those are withdrawal symptoms.

A lot of people have confused addiction with having a "healthy sex drive." This is probably because they have never experienced or can't remember what their sex drive feels like without frequent masturbation. The reason we don't believe in that idea is that once people get through the withdrawal phase, they are able to go for months at a time without orgasm, without having any cravings or weird symptoms, yet they don't lose their interest in sex or other forms of intimacy.


In addition to Amari's comment, I believe it is also important to note here that we are not condemning masturbation, but think it is very important that people understand what it going on on a neurochemical level before, during, and after sexual release. Most people won't give it up, but they should at the very least be aware of what they are doing to their perception and relationships. Here is a good place to start, I think:

I skimmed through a couple articles on that site, and it looks pretty good. It fits right in with what people say on the site.

There are dozens of people who have posted on Reuniting about their struggles to overcome porn viewing and masturbation (P&M). It is a huge struggle for many of them. Many of those people would call it an addiction.

I don't quite understand the question "...if this could really be an addiction or is it just people looking at it wrongly". It sounds like a question about semantics. What is the intent behind the question?

Some people want to get over their P&M habit / addiction / obsession, for various reasons. What does it matter whether you call it an addiction or something else?

call it...

I think it is important to know that it really IS an addiciton in a medical and biochemical way with all the neurochemical fallout. Not just people thinking about it this or that way. Masturbation-addiction has the same biochemical - and therefore social, physical and psychological - effects as Heroin-addiction does.


Thanks guys. Sounds straight forward to me. If it has become uncontrollable then its an addiction. Just seemed odd to call something natural an addiction but I guessed anything overdone or used incorrectly can become addictive.


That's a little bit of an exaggeration. It's true that a Dutch scientist looking at brain scans of men orgasming said they reminded him of brain scans of people shooting heroin, but that doesn't mean the two are exactly alike neurochemically. There are differences among ALL addictions at a neurochemical level. However, all involve dopamine. And when dopamine goes too high, it tends to drop lower than usual thereafter (or sensitivity to it declines), at least for a while. That's when withdrawal symptoms...and extreme vulnerability to cues that promise "relief"...kick in.

I think it's important to realize that masturbation is becoming *more* addictive these days for a couple of reasons. First, there is a lot of *extreme* sexual stimulation easily available. Supranormal stimulation registers with the primitive brain as very desirable...which results in an abnormal surge of dopamine (and then abnormal lows afterward).

At the same time, people are getting fewer and fewer rewards from companionship and bonding with others (behaviors that naturally soothe those extremes in dopamine). This leaves people more and more vulnerable to seeking good feelings in ways that can easily become addictive (gambling, drugs, drinking, extreme porn, etc.).

But in truth it's not masturbation (hand on genitals) that's addictive as much as it is the superstimulating sexual cues that we use to excite ourselves to orgasm these days. The buzz of orgasm would not occur without neurochemical events deep in the primitive part of the brain - and that buzz is very intense with Internet porn, risky or illicit sex, threats of damnation...and anything else that increases excitement to high levels. This is what we need to learn in order to manage our sexual energy wisely.

The question "Is masturbation addictive?" is therefore a bit of a red herring. The real question is "Is supranormal sexual stimulation addictive?" The answer is "yes, for many people it is," just as alcohol is, or cigarettes.

You might find

this article interesting: "Mind-benders: When 'Natural' Is Risky"

"Natural" things can be addictive if they affect our reward circuitry powerfully enough. We humans are especially vulnerable to two seemingly natural things: sugar and superstimulating sexual cues...simply because our brains evolved when both were scarce. Now they're both everywhere.

masturbation addiciton

I was an average masturbator (2-3x a week) and had occassional "live" sex with an ex or casual partner for a few years. I even found the "average" amount to be too much. Every person is different. But- does it interfere with your life on a consistent basis?- that is the acid test. Daily is pretty crazy at any age. Just ask yourself that question- are you feeling dull aches?, blurriness?, fatigue?, cancelling plans so you can stay on the computer?, etc.? Get brutal and you may be able to make some positive changes. Best of luck.


Daily is crazy at any age? Hmmm... When I was a teenager, daily just felt normal. Some people probably do it 2-4 times per day, and that's normal for them. Yet that would have been too much for me. Maybe some people are just more horny than others?


My statement could be extreme. I didn't start masturbating until about 16 or so. And not every day, although on occassion perhaps. It's a case-by-case thing huh? After all, some people don't even get masturbation or sex hangovers. Different strokes. Lol.


I started at 12. (Almost 13.) And it was pretty much daily all through high school. Sometimes I think this contributed to my current CFS (Chronic Fatigue Syndrome), but if so, I'm sure it was just one of many things that added to it. Kids need to learn principles first thing at puberty, man!

Not only

is everyone's neurochemistry different, it's different at different times, different ages, and in different circumstances.

So, for example, lots of bonding behaviors can ease the after effects of orgasm somewhat. So can healthier diet, and fewer dopamine producing activities and substances (drugs, gambling, intense video games, porn). And of course, honeymoon neurochemistry can temporarily mask all kinds of ill effects, since it's a sort of drug high designed to keep you together long enough to bond with any potential offspring.

This means that it's *really* important to stay tuned to what's true for you now, and not assume the same rules will always apply.

I've been having an aching

I've been having an aching pain in my lower back, oblique and upper abdominal region. I'm thinking it may be CFS, but I don't have a lot of the symptoms of it (I don't have any flu like symptoms or swollen glands. I work out every day and I don't notice any lethargy (not more than usual hah). I've been working out my abs (I use one of those stupid contour belt things so you know what i'm talking about. That could possibly explain the aching in the abdominal section, but it doesn't account for the obliques and my back.

it could...

If there is a strong imbalance between the strength of your abdominal muscles versus the strength of your back and oblique muscles, then an unusually intense / different ab workout could very easily stress the back / obliques. This happens to me whenever I get back into an abdominal exercise program if I also have a non-existent back exercise program (which is usually the case).

Of course, I don't have CFS, so I have no idea what symptoms it is capable of creating.

Many motives/causes to same problem

It's definitely an addiction - and can be a behavioral one alone, without the neurochemical help. It's not always about orgasm or getting off - it's not always super stimulation/porn related. It can vary from self esteem/image boost or lapse, it can be a stress reliever, a focusing/clarity/calming motivation - but the reasons don't matter in defining whether it's an addiction. When it becomes obsession - when it becomes the immediate choice of means to occupy free time - when it distracts from work, family, when it happens or merely lures/tempts while driving - when it becomes the only thing done with any opportunity, any free time - it's an addiction. And the number of people who have it, regardless of gender or age, who never manage to break it whether alone or with partner or professional help, is staggering - because unless it's done in high risk (of getting caught) ways - it's never seen, never broken, never identified.

Sometimes the truth isn't good enough. Sometimes people deserve more; sometimes people deserve to have their faith rewarded.