It’s a question that’s been asked over and over and over again. For the curious reader running the gauntlet of op-ed pieces – medical popular science claiming that masturbation is healthy for young men (because girls don’t masturbate, obviously); strait-laced but very angry, ranty sex-negative activists linking all masturbation to porn and using that to plan an attack; bright and breezy articles about masturbation being all rainbows, sunshine and candy; the endless “ZOMG! LOL!” of the tabloids – one question always rears its head.

How much masturbation is too much?

It’s also not a question I’m too keen on asking. A more salient question – and one which isn’t so judgemental – would be “is there such a thing as too much masturbation?” As a young man who came to masturbation quite late (I was 18 when I started), it was a question I asked myself more than a few times… never coming to a clear conclusion. I could have thought more about it, but I usually got distracted and would, instead, go off for a stress-relieving wank.

The fact that it took me years before I admitted to masturbating also delayed the occasion that I got around to asking anyone else about it. JackinWorld, an American website all about it, gave a slightly nebulous attempt at an answer – something like “there is no such thing as too much masturbation, unless it interferes with your daily life and usual activities,” which meant very little to me as a student, but made a friend laugh for about half an hour when I read it to him.

“Usual activities?” he wheezed, turning around in his computer chair.

“I don’t know,” I shrugged, reclining on his bed. “I mean, how many times do you do it?”

“Twice a day, maybe? Except when people are staying with me… then I don’t do it at all.”

“Not at all?”

“Not always.”

As our conversation continued from there on, and continued onto MSN once I’d gotten home that night, we shared more. We both enjoyed masturbation; we both set time aside for it as well as doing it spontaneously; we both watched porn when we needed an aid (he was gay, so didn’t like any of my recommendations); we both masturbated even when talking to other people on MSN… which, of course, made me wonder. But not too much.

Something I didn’t tell him was that, for years, I was convinced I was masturbating too much. I was, initially, a victim of my own efforts to stop completely – and, when that didn’t work, to cut down. “I’ll jerk,” I’d tell myself, “but I won’t jerk off. I don’t need any orgasms.” My blossoming sex life was more of a continuing cycle of masturbating, having orgasms, feeling guilty, deleting all my porn… and starting again.

I also didn’t tell him that I didn’t start masturbating until after I’d had sex for the first time – well after – or that I used to deal with my erections by curling into the foetal position and waiting for them to subside. And, of course, I didn’t tell him anything about my continuous attempts to quit.

It wasn’t until university that I gave up trying to give up. I had a lot of free time and had, in a short space of time, been dumped by my girlfriend, forgotten by all those at school and realised that I wasn’t going to make any new friends where I was. I bought some telephony equipment, hacked into the internet from my room, and discovered a whole new world of porn, erotica, and sexual excitement.

And I haven’t looked back.

So if you were to ask me the question – is there such a thing as too much masturbation (and, if so, how much is too much?) – I doubt I’d ever reach a definitive answer. I can reminisce at length about my own experiences, attempts, discoveries and masturbation. I can tell you how much I masturbate now, or even how much I used to. With my memory, I can even think back to frank conversations about exactly how much wanking went on in my early 20s.

But I can’t give you an answer. Because there isn’t one. There’s one for me; there’s one for you. Like most things in life, the answer’s probably different for everyone. I’m not everyone, so I can’t answer that question.

But I can give you one piece of advice, based on my own history:


If you think it’s too much, it probably isn’t.