Let’s start by defining what makes one a chronic masturbator. Chronic masturbation means masturbating multiple times a day, every day, month after month. The man who masturbates daily, or even twice a day, is not a chronic masturbator. A man who occasionally masturbates a half a dozen times a day is also not doing it chronically. It’s impossible to draw a clear line, but 20 or more times a week, every week, is a good working definition. Yes, some men do this; in fact, those who masturbate chronically are more likely to be doing it five plus times a day – Every. Single. Day.
Is this a matter of a really high sex drive? No. Is it a mental illness? Occasionally excessive masturbation occurs in those with mental illnesses, but chronic masturbation is not a mental illness. So why would a man do this? In a way, it’s very similar to being hooked on nicotine or other drugs. Sexual arousal causes the release of various chemicals into the body and brain. The higher the arousal, the more chemicals released, with orgasm causing a huge spike. We all know how these chemicals make us feel good, relaxed, calm, and how they can ease pain – both physical and emotional, help us sleep, and dispel stress and even fear. The chronic masturbator is seeking a “fix” of these chemicals when he masturbates. Masturbation then is a way of dealing with stress, fear, pain, boredom, and other negative feelings. Once a habit of many times a day is established, stopping is no less difficult than giving up cigarettes “cold turkey”.
I have no idea how common chronic masturbation is, as I can find no good studies. Unfortunately, most of what is written about this topic is junk. Some claim it does not exist (“you will stop when you bleed” or “you can’t do it too much, you will stop getting erections”), while others claim that excessive masturbation (variably defined as low as once a week) will cause all manner of problems including premature ejaculation, semen leakage during the day, baldness, great fatigue, and even death. (Many of these “warnings” come from those who are following certain Eastern religions or Eastern sexual practices.) What is written here comes primarily from discussions of this issue I have had via e-mail and chat with several men who were or had practiced it.
Most men who masturbate chronically have been doing it since their teen years. This means they bring it into their marriage. Most such men have no problem hiding their habit from their wives; often for decades! Most women do not understand how quickly and easily a man can masturbate – a bathroom break of “normal time” is all that’s needed. Most men have no trouble adding “one more” when they have sex, so a lack of interest or function is usually not seen – at least initially.
Usually the problems start as the man gets older and his body is unable to keep up with his chemical need. Erections become more difficult to obtain, or climax takes a long time and/or violent stimulation. If the man has been using porn, he will need to step up that use to get the erections and climaxes he needs. Men who have gone without porn may start for this reason. One man who had masturbated six times a day for over 30 years contacted me for help only when he started to use porn and realised he needed to do something about the problem. Sex with the wife usually becomes a problem even before masturbation becomes difficult, resulting in the odd situation of a man masturbating many times a day while refusing his wife sex.
If you have this problem, or you have discovered that your husband does it, how can it be fixed? First, please understand that there is a real chemical addiction going on here – just as real and difficult to kick as an addiction to nicotine. I don’t say this to excuse anything, but rather to frame the issue in a way that allows it to be dealt with intelligently. Stopping cold turkey is very difficult, and possibly harmful. One man who had masturbated three to six or more times a day for forty years stopped cold turkey. Less than two weeks later, he was at an urologist in significant pain. The doctor got his history, and then told him his body was accustomed to frequent ejaculation, and stopping that was the cause of his pain. The “prescription” was to climax more often by whatever means possible. Sadly, his wife was unwilling to help him with this.
The best approach is to back off slowly, giving the body a chance to accommodate the change. If possible, the man’s wife should be involved. At the very least, she needs to know how it’s going, and it is far better if she can be involved in most of his ejaculations – even if just by being present. As he is able to reduce his frequency, it would be helpful if his wife chooses to take care of him whenever he needed to ejaculate, by whatever method she likes. This is certainly asking a lot, but I see it as part of “for better or worse”.
How much a man can reduce his need to ejaculate will vary by how long he has been masturbating compulsively, how often he was doing it, and probably some individual variations. No more than once a day would be a good goal, and one that should be obtainable even if it takes a long while. The couple should be aware that his reduction in sexual climax might mean he climaxes much more rapidly when they have sex – at least initially. He is also likely to see sex differently; for the better. For the first time sex is a loving act, rather than a way of getting a fix. What a blessing for both husband and wife that is!
Do any women masturbate chronically? I don’t know. I suspect it does happen but is even rarer than among men. Differences in both sexuality and the brain seem to make women less prone to all manner of obsessive sexual behavior. Frequent masturbation does happen in women, but cases where it lasts long term without being a result of porn use are rare.
Some women masturbate very often due to persistent sexual arousal disorder (PSAD), but this is an entirely different thing. Women who suffer from PSAD experience continuous physical sexual arousal, which can lead to a great deal of masturbation. Some of these women find that orgasm brings no relief, and even makes the problem worse.
Chronic or habitual masturbation is usually well hidden from a man’s wife and can go on for many years before the man decides he needs to deal with it. Change is possible, but not easy due to the chemical dependence developed. Because it almost always predates the couple’s marriage, the woman should not feel that her husband’s problem is about her, or that she has done anything to cause it. A wife’s understanding and loving response will help the man, and her willingness to be actively involved in retraining his body and mind will make recovery more likely and much easier.
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