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TEENS & MASTURBATION

Dr Karelle Hylton, PhD Counselling psychologist

DEAR COUNSELLOR,
I AM a 14-year-old male and I have found that every ‘free’ moment I have, I use it to masturbate. It feels good to masturbate. No one knows that I masturbate. I am a B+ student and I am great at athletics and badminton. I know that I like girls, but I know that it is not legal nor the right time to engage in sex with a girl. However, when I masturbate, I feel as if I am doing something wrong. Can this cause me harm? Is it wrong to masturbate?
– M.B.

Dear M.B.,
Masturbation, as you already know, refers to touching your own sex organs for pleasure. You may be surprised to know that regardless of age, gender, culture, religion, or race, masturbation has been found in all societies, so this is not unique to you. Persons masturbate for different reasons. Some persons masturbate to learn about what feels good to them and how they like to be stimulated or pleasured; to experience pleasure; to relieve tension (sexual tension or general tension); to relieve stress; to engage in sex when a partner is unavailable or does not want to have sex (which does not apply in your case … as you stated that you “know that it is not legal nor the right time to engage in sex …”); and to relax.

As far as I know, there are no harmful side effects of masturbation. However, some people report feeling guilty about masturbating and negative feelings associated with any behaviour can threaten a person’s health and well-being. Masturbation may become harmful if you find that you are not able to function in school and socially, and if your daily functioning is impeded by the activity – such as relationships, school, or work – or if it hinders you from fulfilling your regular commitments and responsibilities. You seem to be a normal teen as you have a B+ average and are engaged in sports. Believe it or not, there are benefits to masturbation! A number of studies have proven the benefits of self-pleasuring to mental, social and physical health:
• It can be a route to safer sex, to help prevent pregnancy and sexually transmitted infections, including HIV.
• It can induce sleep.
• It allows people to become familiar and comfortable with their body.

You have asked if masturbation is wrong. The most important thing to remember is that overdoing an action or addiction to anything is not okay, but everything in moderation is acceptable, and so is the case with masturbation. Thank you for your question. All the best, M.B.

Dr Karelle Hylton, PhD Counselling psychologist karelle_hylton@yahoo.com

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