Definition of Masturbation

Touching one’s own body, and in particular the genitals, for sexual pleasure and typically to reach orgasm.

Masturbation is a normal behavior most common among adolescents and young adults. Masturbation does not cause adverse health effects, either of the genitals or health in general. For several centuries myths have persisted that masturbation causes blindness, mental illness or insanity, hair growth on the palms of the hands, infertility, and other problems.

These myths arise from social and cultural attitudes toward masturbation, not from medical science.

Excessive masturbation may indicate underlying psychologic or emotional conditions.

Inappropriate masturbation (notably public masturbation) is often an indication of serious mental illness, dementia, or brain damage (such as due to stroke or trauma), conditions that disturb the normal inhibitory mechanisms of conscious behavior.

See also SEXUAL DYSFUNCTIONSEXUAL INTERCOURSE.

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