Compulsive Masturbation: Definition and Consequences

Masturbation is a source of healthy and beneficial pleasure. However, it is possible to develop an addiction to this behavior. Read on you want to know how compulsive masturbation can develop and what measures can be taken to prevent it.
Compulsive Masturbation: Definition and Consequences

Last update: 03 February, 2021

Compulsive masturbation, also known as masturbation addiction, is motivated by an intense and repeated urge to satisfy the need to experience sexual pleasure. Although masturbation is a healthy and pleasant act, in the case we’re discussing here, it becomes independent from pleasure. Those who engage in compulsive masturbation turn it into an automatism to calm feelings of anxiety.

It’s a psychological disorder that can cause a great deterioration in a person’s social and professional life. People displaying compulsive masturbation tendencies could get to the point where they cancel social meetings so that they have more time to masturbate or they could repeatedly interrupt their daily work schedule in order to satisfy their urges in the restroom.

It’s common for these people to be labeled as vicious or perverted when, in reality, they simply suffer from a hypersexuality disorder and are in need of psychological treatment. On some occasions, they may even need medical assistance for lesions to the penis or vulva due to excessive stimulation.

A man worried due to compulsive masturbation.

What’s the limit?

There are people who have a high sex drive. They enjoy masturbating often and there’s nothing wrong with that. The problem is when the purpose of masturbation begins to change, while increasing its frequency. In other words, the person becomes addicted to the stimulating feeling, which is known as a process addiction.

Genital stimulation generates a particular and pleasant state in the brain. On a psychic level, there’s a momentary sensation of well-being that the person isn’t able to achieve by other means. This is why, in many cases, people end up being dependent on it.

Repetition works as a kind of self-medication aimed at diminishing anxiety, just like someone who smokes, drinks alcohol, or gambles. Therefore, by not masturbating, abstinence syndrome appears. When suffering from this syndrome, people feel nervousness, irritability, headaches, lack or excess of appetite, insomnia, and even tremors.

In addition to the imperative need to masturbate and the presence of withdrawal syndromes, in order to state that it’s compulsive masturbation, there must be an increase in the frequency of masturbatory behavior. In other words, every day that passes, the frequency increases, as well as the inability to control it. Finally, it must affect the person’s social and working life.

The consequences of compulsive masturbation

Firstly, compulsive masturbation affects sexual behavior. This pattern of self-stimulation leads the person to focus primarily on ejaculation or orgasm. The only goal is to let off steam. This may eventually lead to alterations in the neurophysiological circuits involved in sexual response.

Thus, when having a sexual encounter with another person, people suffering from this addiction won’t be focused on pleasure or well-being. Rather, they’ll seek a quick orgasm that reduces emotional discomfort. They could have difficulties in maintaining arousal, initiating or concluding a sexual encounter.

On the other hand, loss of interest and pleasure in sexual companionship can lead to a person’s preference for self-fulfillment. This is especially complicated when you’re in a relationship, since they’ll tend to avoid sexual relations, as well as lose the motivation to satisfy their partner. In addition, feelings of guilt and emotional instability will arise.

In addition, the inability to control the urge and the need to satisfy it when it appears leads the person to become socially isolated or even miss or be distracted at work. For example, they may stop attending social meetings to have more time alone, which ends up deteriorating personal relationships. At work, it’s common for them to sneak to the restroom to masturbate or even to miss work altogether.

Another striking consequence in people with addiction to masturbation is that they lack energy. The discomfort that this feeling produces, along with the lack of desire to do another activity and physical tiredness, cause a characteristic feeling of fatigue. As energy levels decrease, overall life quality is impacted. This can become a vicious cycle.

A woman overwhelmed in bed by compulsive masturbation.

How to treat it

If the act of masturbation, as well as the need to masturbate, don’t cause discomfort and don’t affect other spheres of life, it’s not necessary to seek treatment. Masturbation is a behavior that’s part of sexuality and is completely healthy. However, if it relates to feelings of anxiety and lack of impulse control, the most appropriate thing to do is seek advice from an expert in psychology and sexual therapy.

The intervention will aim to diminish negative feelings, control the impulse, and recover the interest to enjoy sex, alone or in company. The goal of therapy won’t be to eliminate masturbation behavior completely but to recover a healthy habit.

If you think you have this disorder and you want to try to solve the issue on your own before going to therapy, you can try the following:

Set a schedule, first with short goals. For example, avoid masturbating in the space between however many hours you decide. Then, increase the time until days pass and the practice is less common. Ideally, you’ll gradually break the habit. However, people often need psychological support to deal with the associated feelings that come with this condition. This will be particularly true if, after trying it out on your own, symptoms don’t diminish or worsen.

All cited sources were thoroughly reviewed by our team to ensure their quality, reliability, currency, and validity. The bibliography of this article was considered reliable and of academic or scientific accuracy.

  • Freud, S. (1912). Contribuciones para un debate sobre el onanismo. Obras Completas, 12, 247–263.

  • Shekarey, A., Rostami, M. S., Mazdai, K., & Mohammadi, A. (2011). Masturbation: Prevention; Treatment. Procedia. Social and Behavioral Sciences, 30, 1641–1646.

This text is provided for informational purposes only and does not replace consultation with a professional. If in doubt, consult your specialist.