By Arush Emmanuel Michael
“Don’t touch what is in between your legs!” This has been a common dialogue preached to many Indian teenagers by their parents and guardians. The science curriculum followed in India necessitates the chapter on ‘Sexual Reproduction’; the part on ‘reproduction’ is taught very diligently however the ‘sexual’ aspects are hushed. Everyone around me had me thinking that masturbation is something that is a shame-filled and harmful act. Unable to hold in my sexual urges, catalyzed by the rush of hormones surging through my blood, I turned to the “gurus” who would give me the forbidden knowledge that my parents denied: my classmates and seniors in school. The fact that this knowledge has been passed down from other teenagers is scary and intriguing to know. This confidential information has been passed down like ancient scrolls across generations of adolescents. Most of this knowledge is absolute nonsense and should not have been the primary source of information for a gullible teenager like me. But as our generation grew up, so did technology and access to pornography and a whole new world opened up for me!
Filled with this ancient theoretical data, practical application was the next step. With free access to the internet, porn sites are explored from the first page till the last. These porn sites do not commonly appear in the recent searches of teenagers’ browsing history because of the ‘shame’ associated with these and are religiously deleted after every search. The sexual release felt is obvious and tingling, with no harm in sight the person continues to hide and go on their individual journey of sexual exploration. The adjectives like ‘bad’ and ‘dirty’ will continue to be associated with masturbation and will continue to live and the myths will never disappear without proper education and awareness.
The questions that need to be answered are many and let’s start with the most important one. Is masturbation bad, and will it damage your genitals and stunt your growth? The answer is that masturbation is not bad for you; it is totally healthy and absolutely not deteriorative to your growth. Masturbation is the safest way to achieve sexual pleasure without resulting in pregnancy and sexually transmitted infections. It does not disturb your mental health and neither does it make you develop pimples. Masturbation is in no way related to causing sexual problems, actually in women experiencing sexual dysfunction, masturbation is helpful. In men, however, depending on the masturbation technique sexual sensitivity might decrease with a grip on the penis that is too tight.
Now you may ask why is it important for the current elder age group to understand masturbation and its aspects?
For adolescents and teenagers to be sexually educated properly, it is imperative that the information reaching them is scientifically correct and not a bunch of myths existing in society. The development of a country requires the education of its citizens and basic sexual education is something that is necessary for the good health status of a nation as well as for the implementation of family planning programs. The government and society as a whole need to start addressing masturbation openly so as to remove the stigma and the myths surrounding it. You can take a step yourself, by researching and understanding the benefits of masturbation and how the sexual release is important for wellbeing.
We have addressed the myths, stigma, and problems surrounding masturbation but apart from sexual release does masturbation play any beneficial role in a person’s life?
Both your physical and mental health is benefitted in various ways through masturbation. Sexual pleasure achieved through masturbation boosts your mood and helps you to relax and sleep well. Stress deteriorates the mental health of teenagers significantly and masturbation can help relieve the same. Sexual tension is reduced on masturbation and it is the best way to explore your own body and its needs. Knowing your own body can improve sexual experiences later on in life with your partner. The benefits of masturbation are numerous as stated above and these need to be informed to everyone.
Addiction to masturbation is possible and it can be detrimental to your life if not regulated. If you start altering your daily routine so much that you are missing work and school as a result of spending too much time masturbating. This can lower productivity and can also affect your social life as one can start ignoring social gatherings and activities as a result. A doctor or counselor can help you to manage your addiction through talk therapy and suggesting ways of reducing the same to a normal level by spending time with your loved ones or by immersing yourself in a hobby.
Awareness regarding masturbation must reach every nook and cranny of society so that the myths surrounding it can be warded off. If chosen as a practice to release sexual tension, masturbation has several benefits and without proper education, one can develop an addiction for the same. Therefore, in order to have a healthy population of teenagers and adolescents, we need to address masturbation systematically and this change starts by educating each and every one.