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The Real Reason Men Lose Their Erection When Using A Condom

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by Raffaello Manacorda

Men Lose Their Erection When Using A Condom

That Awkward Moment When…

If you’re a man, you’ve probably experienced this. Everything is perfect, the foreplay is going great, and the stage is set for a throbbing, mind-blowing, heart-shattering lovemaking. Your erection is strong and powerful, and feeling it turns you on even more.

And then, that moment comes. Your lover looks at you sweetly but squarely in the eyes, and with a soft but firm voice says, “We need to use a condom.”

This makes perfect sense. The risk of STIs and/or pregnancy is real. So you’ve got to wear that condom.

But our genitals don’t understand logic. And, sometimes, it only takes a few seconds of this pause for your penis to soften. Her being sweet and comprehensive only makes things worse: something inside you tells you that you won’t be able to do it if you wear a condom.

I’ve gone through the same process. I used to consistently lose my erection whenever a woman asked me to wear a condom. It wasn’t pretty. I hate to admit it, but a couple of times I even lied to a partner, telling her that there were no condoms in the house, while I actually had plenty. I just was too scared of sexual failure. Boy, am I grateful that no one got an STI or got pregnant because of that dirty little lie of mine.

So why on Earth does this happen? Why do we men lose our erection because of condoms?

The Real Reason Condoms Turn Men Off…

You might try to fool yourself and others with explanations such as:

  • That you don’t feel enough pleasure with a condom.
  • That a condom squeezes your penis too much.
  • That the pause “takes the romance away”…

But deep in your heart, you know that those are not the real reasons.

As for sensitivity and comfort, you know well that your penis is not all that sensitive. In fact, the harder it is, the less sensitive it is. And as for the non-romanticism of the 2-minutes pause, you have fantasized or have been in way less romantic situations, where your erection stood strong and implacable.

So WHAT is the real reason why you lose your erection? And what can you do about it?

To answer this question, the first thing you need to understand is that your main sexual organ sits in between your ears or, if you prefer, inside your chest. It is your head and your heart that turn you on (or off).

So, the reason why we men lose our erection when a woman asks us to wear a condom is that some deeply uncomfortable thought and/or emotion arises in us in response to that request. And what might that thought or feeling be?

Although every man is different, that uncomfortable thought is virtually always a variation on the same theme: she asking you to wear a condom carries the message that she does not accept you inside her body. And this can be truly devastating for a man.

Some Truths About Male Sexuality

Men love to feel invited, welcomed, by a trusting lover that opens up to their force and thrust. When the body of a woman is welcoming, wet, inviting, this is a huge turn-on for a man. When the body and soul of a woman tense, close up, tighten – this is a turn-off.

Men deeply crave to feel accepted, welcomed, and trusted.

The request to wear a condom challenges that. It can seem to convey the following messages:

  • If you don’t wear it, I won’t let you inside me (you’re unwelcome)
  • I don’t trust you to be healthy, or to control your ejaculation (you’re not trusted)

This is the subterranean thought that runs into most men’s mind, and makes them lose their erection.

Understanding it is the first step towards liberating your sexuality from this blockage.

As a man, you need to realize that, even if you wear a condom, you are welcome and accepted. That she wants you just as badly. In fact, she wants you so badly that she wants to be fully trusting and surrendered. And in order for that to happen, she needs to feel safe. This conviction will take some time to build, but once it’s there, it will never leave you. Condoms won’t be an issue anymore.

In order to get there, the best thing to do is start practicing, both by yourself and with a partner.

Practicing By Yourself

Get familiar and friendly with condoms. Buy a pack of condoms and start experimenting. Wear a condom and play with yourself.

Now, I know that the condom instructions say that you should wear it only when you are fully erect. The reason they say this is that if your penis is not fully erect, then a condom can potentially slip away, which is not cool. But for now, you can forget about this. You are alone, and you can wear a condom even if your penis is completely flaccid. In fact, you should practice this skill. Wear a condom on your soft penis, and then stimulate your penis so that it becomes hard.

Familiarize yourself with the condom, and lose your aversion to it. This will be really useful once you practice with a partner.

Practicing With a Partner

This is potentially going to be scary, so you’ll need to set a firm intention: you won’t back off. You will wear a condom no matter what, whether you end up having intercourse or not.

Next time you have the opportunity, do not wait for your partner to propose using a condom. Once you have enjoyed your foreplay long enough, go ahead and say the magic phrase: “I’ll put on a condom now, just in case.”

That means that, whether you are going to penetrate your partner or not, you can wear a condom anyway and then continue with whatever you were doing. At some point you may even forget that you have a condom on.

Your partner also has a role in this. You can ask her to support you in a very simple way: by doing with your penis exactly what she would do with it if there were no condoms. Touching it, sucking it, teasing it—just as if that condom did not exist.

And now, if the moment is ripe for both of you, still wearing your condom, penetrate her. Don’t worry if your erection isn’t that strong. In that case, just make sure to hold the bottom of your condom with your fingers to make sure it doesn’t slip away. But do get yourself to the point where you can penetrate her while still wearing a condom.

This moment is a threshold, and after that, the rest will be much easier. The more you feel that things are going well, the more natural it will become to continue making love with a condom. You will notice that it isn’t all that different from not using it, and that wearing a condom will give both of you more confidence and a feeling of safety. Since you are practicing here, refrain from ejaculating inside your partner, even if you are wearing a condom. The purpose now is to gain confidence with condoms—not necessarily to have the hottest lovemaking of your life.

Every man on this planet should be able to make love with a condom, if necessary. We owe it to ourselves, and we owe it to our partners, men or women. Asking a partner not to use condoms just to protect our sexual pride is not an option. If two lovers decide to not use condoms, let that be a conscious decision, rather than a slippery workaround of a sexual blockage.

Have fun!

Complete Article HERE!

It Must Be Something In The Air!

A rash of pretty bizarre messages have been arriving the past few days. I’m so lucky.

While I want ya’ll to know that I’m delighted to hear from each and every one of you, particularly those of you from the far-flung corners of the globe, there’s just so much I can offer by way of advice.

Often, the best I can do is offer some generic information about one thing or another, then suggest that if the concerns persist, that person ought to seek professional help nearer to hand than me. So regardless how many people write in with further questions, the only thing I can do is repeat myself. (See below for examples.)

Others write to me with a pressing problem, but fail to include enough information for me to advise them properly. Thus I find myself asking more questions of them than they do of me.

Name: glen
Gender:
Age: 42
Location: Santa Ana CA
Is it possible to give coitus to a vagina while another man’s penis stays inside the same vagina?

Yep, you betcha! It’s called double penetration, DP for short.

Name: y
Gender:
Age: 35
Location: Indiamalia7.jpg
Will breasts become bigger due to having sex?

Not from just having sex, darling! But if you get pregnant from having sex, you can rest assured that your boobs will get larger then.

Name: aamir khan
Gender:
Age: 22
Location: pakistan
hi sir… i have a problem when i talk to girls so there will b little cum going from my penis. and i m dischargig vry soon. so whts dis??? and wht shold i do??

image-1.jpegI do believe you are referring to what is commonly called “pre-cum”. This clear alkaline fluid produced by your Cowper’s gland during sexual arousal lubricates and neutralizes the acidity of the urethra that will soon carry your jizz, with its payload of up to five hundred million sperm. Your urine, which also passes through this shared tube, leaves your urethra acidic. And if your body didn’t neutralize the acidity before you shot your wad, all your sperm would die.

Name: Jim
Gender:
Age: 50
Location: Portland
I have red balls! I have noticed many porn fellows with similar red balls, but I do not find this condition attractive. I have tried fungicides and hydrocortisone. I try to keep my crotch dry, even using cornstarch powder after a shower. Any advice?

f9905211-bf1a-48bd-b58e-26853f54503c.jpgRED BALLS? I’ve heard of blue balls, but not red balls, per se. Porn fellows often have red balls because their cockring is too tight or they have been using one for too long.

Your problem sounds, however, like a bad case of jock itch. That’s no fun! Jock itch is a pretty common fungal infection of the groin and upper thighs. If you’re using an over the counter antifungal cream and a cornstarch-based powder to keep things dry down there, and you’re still having a problem, SEE YOUR DOCTOR!

You may simply need a pharmaceutical grade fungicide. Or you could have scabies.

Name: james
Gender:
Age: 31
Location: CA
hi, i am not getting proper erection while intercourse,,,got recently married what shud i do?

I need more information! Are you not aroused enough before you start the fuck? Can you get fully hard when you jerk off? Were you a virgin when you married? This must be a bummer for a newly weds.

Name: Jim Beans
Gender:
Age: 24
Location:
What pornographic resources are available for blind folk? Do you have any suggestions?

Have you tried SexAudia.com? Besides being able to hear my weekly podcast on SexAudia.com, you can hear loads of other hot and steamy erotic stories, music and other entertainment. Check it out. Tell ‘em Dr Dick sent you.

Name: Mohan
Gender:
Age: 30
Location: Malaysia
can i have children with my hypospadias condition? Should i get an operation?

I have no way of knowing how severe your hypospadias is, or if it might interfere with you having children. SEE YOUR DOCTOR! Although, if you’ve lived with this condition for 30 years, it can’t be too severe, right? Corrective surgery is a last resort and should only be considered in the most severe cases.

Name: john
Gender:
Age: 31
Location: new zealand
Hello doc .i have hypospadias and my dick is only 3 inch if fully erect..pls advice me.

That’s small, for sure. But 3” erect is not uncommonly small. There’s not much a fellow can do about tiny meat, except learn to love it and let it give you all the joy it can. Not much you can do about the hypospadias either. But since you’ve lived you’ve lived with your dick this way for 31 years, you probably know all of this already, huh?

Name: jake
Gender:
Age: 16
Location: Grove City
im at 6 inches and I wanna get to 7 or a lil lower how can i do this? could i get pills at this age? and if so what should i get?

You could leave it the fuck alone till you finish puberty at least. You could also be happy with what you have, because some folks, like the guy above you, would be delighted to be as hung as you.

BTW, there are no pills that work for growing a dick longer. Wake up, puppy!

Name: sheema
Gender
Age: 41
Location:
hi dr, i am 41yers old lesbo mom. i love lesbian sex. i have 4kids. one dughter and 3 sons. my sons ages is 22 18 12. my dughter age is 16yers. i have one girlfriend for sex. my girlfriend come my home and we make sex. one day we having sex then my dughter see us. she ask me what you doing with aunt. i dont tell her. but in my mind a idea. i want having lesbian sex with my dughter. tell me what shold i do. plase.

SERIOUSLY! A forty-one year old woman, and a mother of four, needs to ask if it’s ok to have lesbian sex with her underage daughter? Get otta of here!

What kind of mother are you? If your daughter wants to dabble in muff-divin’, let her play with someone her own age.

Incest, particularly the adult to child type, is considered taboo in nearly every culture, both past and present. There’s plenty of good reason for this. While lesbian sex doesn’t involve the genetic concerns (inbreeding); it would involve the most devastating aspect of incest — the secrecy. No one violates this universal taboo in the open. The secrecy and the inevitable shame and guilt will, sure as shootin’, destroy you family dynamic.

People, if you find yourself in a seductive situation with family member, don’t give in to the temptation.

Good luck everyone!

Stop, I Want To Get Off!

Name: Stefanni
07.jpg

Gender:
Age: 28
Location: California

Dr Dick: I get off on making out or having sex in public spaces? Is this illegal? Am I Sick? Stefanni

All depends, Stefanni. Most jurisdictions, particularly there in the Golden State would

probably wink at a couple making out in public. I suppose you’d be pushing the envelope if the make-out session included heavy petting. And as to full-on sex in public…CumOn, honey, a 28 year-old female who can’t discern if fucking in public is illegal or not, needs to be in supervised care 24/7. You’re not sick, dearie, you’re retarded.

Good Luck!

Name: stefan
Gender:
Age: 24
Location: GA

Is it weird if I can suck my own dick? Sometimes I do it when I’m really horny?

dares-selfsuck.jpg

Reminds me of the old joke about two guys sittin’ around shootin’ the shit. When they notice a dog over yonder lickin his balls. One guy turns to the other and says; “I wish I could do that!” And the other guy says, “Gee, I hope the dog doesn’t bite!”

Is it weird that you can suck your own cock? Dude, it’s every man’s freakin’ dream! Anyone who is limber enough and/or has a big enough dick to blow himself — wins, IMHO.

Good Luck!

Name: Chris
Gender:
Age: 18
Location: TN

Dr Dick: I’m an uncut male, but am thinking about getting circumcised for the sake of appearance? I don’t like how my dick looks like an anteater. Is this safe? Any suggestions where or what type of doctor to consult? Should I go to a urologist? Plastic Surgeon? Thanks, Chris

Whoa, puppy, stop right there. This ain’t like getting a haircut or trimmin’ your toe nails or even gettin pierced. Circumcision is irreversible and it’s mighty risky too.

I need to say one thing from the outset. Circumcision is a particularly thorny issue for

ijk2.jpg

me. I firmly believe in the right of an adult to augment, adorn and embellish, or in any other way customize his or her body. Just as long as that person has taken enough time to think it through. None of this, “OMG, I got so drunk and then the next thing I know I have this tattoo emblazoned across my chest!”

At the same time I am a furious proponent of genital integrity. So you see my conflict.

There are, of course, medical reasons for adult circumcision. But having a foreskin that looks like an anteater is not one of them. Besides, no self-respecting physician is gonna start cutting on an 18 year old guy’s cock, just because the fella doesn’t like the way his unit looks.

Here’s what I want you to do, Chris. Take a really close look at your foreskin. I mean a really close look. What do you see? Veins, right? Now pinch your foreskin between

your thumb and forefinger as hard as you can. OUCH! Ya know why that is? Your foreskin is just chock-full of nerve endings, darlin’. Your foreskin contains about 240 feet of nerve fibers and tens of thousands of specialized nerve endings, which can feel the slightest pressure, the lightest touch, the smallest motion, the subtlest changes in temperature, and the finest gradations in texture.

In many ways, your foreskin is just like your eyelid. It covers, cleans, and protects your dickhead just like your eyelid covers, cleans, and protects your eye. Your foreskin keeps the surface of your dickhead healthy, clean, shiny, warm, soft, moist, and sensitive. And there are a whole lot of us who think a foreskin is like totally hot.

Your foreskin is a specialized, sensitive, and functional organ of touch. No other part of the body serves the same purpose. You may be too young to have noticed how pleasurable having an intact dick can be, how it enhances your sexual enjoyment. You

certainly have no frame of reference to the contrary. Therefore, I encourage you to hold on to your lace curtains till you have a little more experience. Besides, if you get cut it removes 50% of the skin of the cock. Do you really have that much to give away?

Finally, I’m of the mind that millions of years of evolution has provided us a covering for our dickhead for a purpose. And to remove it is simply unnatural.

So, Chris, keep your skin unless there’s a medical necessary to remove it!

Good Luck!

Name: Nick
Gender:
Age: 64
Location: Chicago

Are there any vitamins or minerals that will increase the amount of ejaculate? Thanks…your site is very cool and provides a great service!

Why, aren’t you a sweetheart, Nick. Thank you for your kind words.

There sure are loads and loads of companies out there who claim to have products that will increase the volume of a man’s ejaculate. When I search the web for products that promote male sexual enhancement of any sort, I do so as a skeptic. That’s how anyone should go about such a search. If you keep your eyes open and look beyond the pseudo-medical babble you’ll discover two things, as I did.

First, every site I visited advertises their product as a miracle medical breakthrough. Often there is a testimonial or two from some doctor (MD) or doctor (Ph.D.) who substantiates the claims being made. We never really discover who these professionals are, but we are encouraged to take their words as gospel…well because we all know that professional types would never knowingly try and hoodwink us. Exactly! And if you buy that we have some swampland in Louisiana for you too.

Each site also claimed that the product they hawk has undergone rigorous clinical studies proving its efficacy. But they never actually cite any of the studies in question or where these supposed studies were published. Here’s a tip, If there is a sited study and that study was sponsored by the company that produced the product, or is published by them, then you know you’re in trouble.

Second, inevitably each product makes the most outlandish claims. Take this one for instance. I’ll not disclose the product name, because that would be like shooting fish in a barrel. But this is actual copy from one site. Product X will…

  • Intensify ejaculatory contractions due to the strengthening of the vas deferens muscle (the muscle responsible for the expulsion of semen)
  • Increase volume of released ejaculate
  • Produce faster recovery for second orgasms
  • Improve semen quality
  • Produce more satisfying orgasms due to increased contractions and ejaculate
  • Improve prostate health
  • Improve Erectile Dysfunction caused by diabetes
  • Increase sexual well-being and vitality
  • Cure cancer
  • End world hunger

Ok, I made the last two up.

One only has to look closely at the claims to realize they’re hogwash. Besides, they don’t really tell us anything other than the product in question might somehow improve something that may have something to do with male virility. The same could be said about a glass of water. Please read on…

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The truth is, Nick, you can probably do just as well with a modest daily intake of zinc and lecithin supplements. For some, these nutrients have a noticeable effect on the volume of ejaculate. And they’re a whole lot cheaper and easier to get then the trumped-up stuff you see online.

Also keeping yourself hydrated also will also increase the volume of your spunk. It just

stands to reason, the more hydrated you are the easier and more efficiently all your glands responsible for secreting a watery substance, like your prostate, will have getting water from the bloodstream. If you’re dehydrated, your prostate will not have as much water available, and subsequently you’ll spooge considerably less.

Good Luck!

Your Cock; A Complete Owners Manual (abridged)

Name: Hector
Gender: male
Age: 17
Location: Tujunga, CA
I’m afraid my penis isn’t right. I worry because it doesn’t look like other guys. For one thing I’m a lot smaller. I’m afraid to have sex or show my penis. Is there any way for me to know for sure? I hope to hear from you because this is making me real nervous. Thank you.

first-life-form-with-a-penis-humor

I’d chill out, if I were you, Hector. Lots of guys your age mistakenly think there is something wrong with their unit, when actually their willie is quite normal. This heightened concern, as you suggest, can lead to anxiety or even a complex about one’s cock size and shape. You don’t really give me much to go on as to why you think your pinga is not like the other guys. That leads me to think you don’t really know all that much about your package in general. Do you? I mean, who are you comparing yourself to anyway?

Since I don’t have a lot of information to go on, I suppose we oughta start with some essentials. Here’s Part 1 of my primer — Your Cock; A Complete Owners Manual (abridged). That’s supposed to be funny, BTW.

We all know that there are big ones and little ones, fat ones and skinny ones. Some are bobbed; some are whole. Some curve and bend; some are straight as an arrow. Some have a mushroom cap; some sport more of a helmet look. Some grow; some show. And they come in a veritable rainbow of colors.

Despite the amazing diversity, there are lots of things that each of our members has in common with everyone else’s. The average length of a flaccid cock is 3.7 inches with a diameter of 1.25 inches. The average length of a hardon is 5.1 inches, with a diameter of 1.6 inches. If you are over the age of 17, you pretty much have all the cock you’re gonna have. That’s not to say that as we age and as our muscles slack, our pal won’t hang a bit differently than when we were a young buck. But there’s not gonna be significant change in length or girth after puberty is done with us. Keep in mind that all this stuff is determined by genetics and heredity, like your overall body type, the color of your eyes, your hair pattern, and how tall you are. So the likelihood that any guy will add even one permanent inch to his dick either in length or girth, without surgery, is about as likely as him adding even an inch to his height.

The head of your dick is called the glans. (It’s the thing that can be shaped like a mushroom or a helmet.) It is made up of soft tissue called the corpus spongiosum. Just below the glans, on the underside of your cock is a waddle of skin called the frenulum. This puppy is chock-full of nerve endings that make it ground zero for dick-centered pleasure.

Male_anatomy

All uncut (uncircumcised) men have a prepuce, or foreskin that covers and protects his dickhead. Cut (circumcised) men don’t, because it has been surgically removed. If you are lucky enough to be intact, your foreskin is a highly specialized, sensitive, and functional organ of touch. No other part of the body serves the same purpose. Please note: circumcision actually removes 50% of the skin of a guy’s dick.  And who among us would choose that if we were allowed to choose?

You know the old adage, “Use it or lose it”? They may have had a penis in mind when that maxim was coined. Researchers agree — erections are good for you. When you get a woody, your cock is engorged with oxygen-rich blood, which is essential for the upkeep of the smooth muscle tissue. This kind of tissue makes up about 90% of your cock. You can see how a healthy circulatory system is vital to a vibrant sex life. An oxygen-deprived cock will build up a kind of plaque in your cock, which resembles scar tissue. This will cripple your rod (Peyronie’s disease) or rob you of your wood altogether.

penis mesureI also want to alert you of some startling new data that came out of recent research about masturbation. Australian researchers questioned over 1,000 men who had developed prostate cancer and 1,250 men who had not, about their sexual habits. They found those who had ejaculated the most between the ages of 20 and 50 were the least likely to develop prostate cancer.

The protective effect was greatest while the men were in their 20s. And get this; men who ejaculated more than five times a week were a third less likely to develop prostate cancer later in life. But let’s not get off topic too much.

The other big part of your package is the family jewels. We mind as well take a look at them too while we’re at it. Your nuts (testis) and the sack (scrotum) they’re housed in are an evolutionary marvel. Your testicles are about 4°F cooler than your core body temperature. Lucky for us, this is the ideal climate for healthy sperm production. 90% of the male hormone, testosterone, is manufactured in our balls. Evolution has even provided that one nut, generally the left, hangs slightly lower than the other. The lower nut will also be slightly larger. I suppose this keep them from knocking into each other so much.

Ok so you think the outside of your junk is pretty impressive, well you ain’t seen nothin’ yet! Here’s where things get really interesting. First, there is no “bone” in your boner. Don’t laugh! Humans are one of the few mammals (horses, donkeys, rhinoceros, marsupials, rabbits, whales and dolphins, elephants and hyenas are the others) that don’t have a penis bone. Most males of our species have a unique bone called baculum in their penis. The baculum is designed for speed fucking. Sliding a bone in and out of a sheath is much faster than waiting for hydraulics to kick in. This enables our mammalian relatives to spend very little time actually mating. Which is, after all, a vulnerable position for them to be in.happy penis

If there’s no bone in there what make our dick hard? Good question. If you dissected your woody and looked at a cross-section you’d see three distinct spongy tubular structures, each are made up of smooth muscle tissue. Two of these tubular structures — one on either side of your cock, both of which run the length of your cock — are called the corpora cavernosa. These marvelous structures become engorged with blood lifting and thickening your cock to erection. The corpus spongiosum, the third tubular structure is located just below the corpora cavernosa. This baby houses your urethra, through which urine and semen pass during urination and ejaculation, respectively. This may also become slightly engorged with blood, but less so than the corpora cavernosa.

There are several points of interest in and around your balls too. I already mentioned your urethra, which stretches from your bladder to the tip of your dick. It carries your piss and cum, but not at the same time, I’m happy to report. Your prostate is an almond shaped gland that sits between your bladder and the root of your dick. Slightly in back of that is a pair of glands called the seminal vesicles. These tubular glands open into the vas deferens as it enters the prostate gland. They secrete the lion’s share of your spooge (ejaculate) about 70% to be precise. Most of us have two vas deferens tubes to correspond to the pair of ball (testicles) most of us have. These convey your mature sperm, the ones that have been comfortably relaxing in the epididymis, which is a tube filled mass at the back of each of your balls.

To conclude, the average male, between the ages of 15 and 60 will ejaculate 30 to 50 quarts of jizz (semen), containing 350 to 500 billion sperm cells. How amazing is that?

Good luck

A handy history

Condemned, celebrated, shunned: masturbation has long been an uncomfortable fact of life. Why?

by Barry Reay

A handy history

The anonymous author of the pamphlet Onania (1716) was very worried about masturbation. The ‘shameful vice’, the ‘solitary act of pleasure’, was something too terrible to even be described. The writer agreed with those ‘who are of the opinion, that… it never ought to be spoken of, or hinted at, because the bare mentioning of it may be dangerous to some’. There was, however, little reticence in cataloguing ‘the frightful consequences of self-pollution’. Gonorrhoea, fits, epilepsy, consumption, impotence, headaches, weakness of intellect, backache, pimples, blisters, glandular swelling, trembling, dizziness, heart palpitations, urinary discharge, ‘wandering pains’, and incontinence – were all attributed to the scourge of onanism.

The fear was not confined to men. The full title of the pamphlet was Onania: Or the Heinous Sin of Self-Pollution, and all its Frightful Consequences (in Both Sexes). Its author was aware that the sin of Onan referred to the spilling of male seed (and divine retribution for the act) but reiterated that he treated ‘of this crime in relation to women as well as men’. ‘[W]hilst the offence is Self-Pollution in both, I could not think of any other word which would so well put the reader in mind both of the sin and its punishment’. Women who indulged could expect disease of the womb, hysteria, infertility and deflowering (the loss of ‘that valuable badge of their chastity and innocence’).

Another bestselling pamphlet was published later in the century: L’onanisme (1760) by Samuel Auguste Tissot. He was critical of Onania, ‘a real chaos … all the author’s reflections are nothing but theological and moral puerilities’, but nevertheless listed ‘the ills of which the English patients complain’. Tissot was likewise fixated on ‘the physical disorders produced by masturbation’, and provided his own case study, a watchmaker who had self-pleasured himself into ‘insensibility’ on a daily basis, sometimes three times a day; ‘I found a being that less resembled a living creature than a corpse, lying upon straw, meagre, pale, and filthy, casting forth an infectious stench; almost incapable of motion.’ The fear these pamphlets promoted soon spread.

The strange thing is that masturbation was never before the object of such horror. In ancient times, masturbation was either not much mentioned or treated as something a little vulgar, not in good taste, a bad joke. In the Middle Ages and for much of the early modern period too, masturbation, while sinful and unnatural, was not invested with such significance. What changed?

Religion and medicine combined powerfully to create a new and hostile discourse. The idea that the soul was present in semen led to thinking that it was very important to retain the vital fluid. Its spilling became, then, both immoral and dangerous (medicine believed in female semen at the time). ‘Sin, vice, and self-destruction’ were the ‘trinity of ideas’ that would dominate from the 18th into the 19th century, as the historians Jean Stengers and Anne Van Neck put it in Masturbation: The Great Terror (2001).

There were exceptions. Sometimes masturbation was opposed for more ‘enlightened’ reasons. In the 1830s and 1840s, for instance, female moral campaign societies in the United States condemned masturbation, not out of hostility to sex, but as a means to self-control. What would now be termed ‘greater sexual agency’ – the historian April Haynes refers to ‘sexual virtue’ and ‘virtuous restraint’ – was central to their message.

Yet it is difficult to escape the intensity of the fear. J H Kellogg’s Plain Facts for Old and Young (1877) contained both exaggerated horror stories and grand claims: ‘neither the plague, nor war, nor smallpox, nor similar diseases, have produced results so disastrous to humanity as the pernicious habit of Onanism; it is the destroying element of civilised societies’. Kellogg suggested remedies for the scourge, such as exercise, strict bathing and sleeping regimes, compresses, douching, enemas and electrical treatment. Diet was vital: this rabid anti-masturbator was co-inventor of the breakfast cereal that still bears his name. ‘Few of today’s eaters of Kellogg’s Corn Flakes know that he invented them, almost literally, as anti-masturbation food,’ as the psychologist John Money once pointed out.

The traces are still with us in other ways. Male circumcision, for instance, originated in part with the 19th-century obsession with the role of the foreskin in encouraging masturbatory practices. Consciously or not, many US males are faced with this bodily reminder every time they masturbate. And the general disquiet unleashed in the 18th century similarly lingers on today. We seem to have a confusing and conflicting relationship with masturbation. On one hand it is accepted, even celebrated – on the other, there remains an unmistakable element of taboo.

When the sociologist Anthony Giddens in The Transformation of Intimacy (1992) attempted to identify what made modern sex modern, one of the characteristics he identified was the acceptance of masturbation. It was, as he said, masturbation’s ‘coming out’. Now it was ‘widely recommended as a major source of sexual pleasure, and actively encouraged as a mode of improving sexual responsiveness on the part of both sexes’. It had indeed come to signify female sexual freedom with Betty Dodson’s Liberating Masturbation (1974) (renamed and republished as Sex for One in 1996), which has sold more than a million copies, and her Bodysex Workshops in Manhattan with their ‘all-women masturbation circles’. The Boston Women’s Health Collective’s classic feminist text Our Bodies, Ourselves (1973) included a section called ‘Learning to Masturbate’.

Alfred Kinsey and his team are mainly remembered for the sex surveys that publicised the pervasiveness of same-sex desires and experiences in the US, but they also recognised the prevalence of masturbation. It was, for both men and women, one of the nation’s principal sexual outlets. In the US National Survey (2009–10), 94 per cent of men aged 25-29 and 85 per cent of women in the same age group said that they had masturbated alone in the course of their lifetime. (All surveys indicate lower reported rates for women.) In the just-published results of the 2012 US National Survey of Sexual Health and Behavior, 92 per cent of straight men and a full 100 per cent of gay men recorded lifetime masturbation.

There has certainly been little silence about the activity. Several generations of German university students were questioned by a Hamburg research team about their masturbatory habits to chart changing attitudes and practices from 1966 to 1996; their results were published in 2003. Did they reach orgasm? Were they sexually satisfied? Was it fun? In another study, US women were contacted on Craigslist and asked about their masturbatory experiences, including clitoral stimulation and vaginal penetration. An older, somewhat self-referential study from 1977 of sexual arousal to films of masturbation asked psychology students at the University of Connecticut to report their ‘genital sensations’ while watching those films. Erection? Ejaculation? Breast sensations? Vaginal lubrication? Orgasm? And doctors have written up studies of the failed experiments of unfortunate patients: ‘Masturbation Injury Resulting from Intraurethral Introduction of Spaghetti’ (1986); ‘Penile Incarceration Secondary to Masturbation with A Steel Pipe’ (2013), with illustrations.

‘We are a profoundly self-pleasuring society at both a metaphorical and material level’

Self-stimulation has been employed in sexual research, though not always to great import. Kinsey and his team wanted to measure how far, if at all, semen was projected during ejaculation: Jonathan Gathorne-Hardy, Kinsey’s biographer, refers to queues of men in Greenwich Village waiting to be filmed at $3 an ejaculation. William Masters and Virginia Johnson recorded and measured the physiological response during sexual arousal, using new technology, including a miniature camera inside a plastic phallus. Their book Human Sexual Response (1966) was based on data from more than 10,000 orgasms from nearly 700 volunteers: laboratory research involving sexual intercourse, stimulation, and masturbation by hand and with that transparent phallus. Learned journals have produced findings such as ‘Orgasm in Women in the Laboratory – Quantitative Studies on Duration, Intensity, Latency, and Vaginal Blood Flow’ (1985).

In therapy, too, masturbation has found its place ‘as a means of achieving sexual health’, as an article by Eli Coleman, the director of the programme in human sexuality at the University of Minnesota Medical School, once put it. A published study in the Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology in 1977 outlined therapist-supervised female masturbation (with dildo, vibrator and ‘organic vegetables’) as a way of encouraging vaginal orgasm. Then there is The Big Book of Masturbation (2003) and the hundreds of (pun intended) self-help books, Masturbation for Weight Loss, a Womans Guide only among the latest (and more opportunistic).

Self-pleasure has featured in literature, most famously in Philip Roth’s novel Portnoys Complaint (1969). But it is there in more recent writing too, including Chuck Palahniuk’s disturbing short story ‘Guts’ (2004). Autoeroticism (and its traces) have been showcased in artistic expression: in Jordan MacKenzie’s sperm and charcoal canvases (2007), for example, or in Marina Abramović’s reprise of Vito Acconci’s Seedbed at the Guggenheim in 2005, or her video art Balkan Erotic Epic of the same year.

On film and television, masturbation is similarly pervasive: Lauren Rosewarne’s Masturbation in Pop Culture (2014) was able to draw on more than 600 such scenes. My favourites are in the film Spanking the Monkey (1994), in which the main character is trying to masturbate in the bathroom, while the family dog, seemingly alert to such behaviour, pants and whines at the door; and in the Seinfeld episode ‘The Contest’ (1992), in which the ‘m’ word is never uttered, and where George’s mother tells her adult son that he is ‘treating his body like it was an amusement park’.

There is much evidence, then, for what the film scholar Greg Tuck in 2009 called the ‘mainstreaming of masturbation’: ‘We are a profoundly self-pleasuring society at both a metaphorical and material level.’ There are politically-conscious masturbation websites. There is the online ‘Masturbation Hall of Fame’ (sponsored by the sex-toys franchise Good Vibrations). There are masturbationathons, and jack-off-clubs, and masturbation parties.

It would be a mistake, however, to present a rigid contrast between past condemnation and present acceptance. There are continuities. Autoeroticism might be mainstreamed but that does not mean it is totally accepted. In Sexual Investigations (1996), the philosopher Alan Soble observed that people brag about casual sex and infidelities but remain silent about solitary sex. Anne-Francis Watson and Alan McKee’s 2013 study of 14- to 16-year-old Australians found that not only the participants but also their families and teachers were more comfortable talking about almost any other sexual matter than about self-pleasuring. It ‘remains an activity that is viewed as shameful and problematic’, warns the entry on masturbation in the Encyclopedia of Adolescence (2011). In a study of the sexuality of students in a western US university, where they were asked about sexual orientation, anal and vaginal sex, condom use, and masturbation, it was the last topic that occasioned reservation: 28 per cent of the participants ‘declined to answer the masturbation questions’. Masturbation remains, to some extent, taboo.

When the subject is mentioned, it is often as an object of laughter or ridicule. Rosewarne, the dogged viewer of the 600 masturbation scenes in film and TV, concluded that male masturbation was almost invariably portrayed negatively (female masturbation was mostly erotic). Watson and McKee’s study revealed that their young Australians knew that masturbation was normal yet still made ‘negative or ambivalent statements’ about it.

Belief in the evils of masturbation has resurfaced in the figure of the sex addict and in the obsession with the impact of internet pornography. Throughout their relatively short histories, sexual addiction and hypersexual disorder have included masturbation as one of the primary symptoms of their purported maladies. What, in a sex-positive environment, would be considered normal sexual behaviour has been pathologised in another. Of the 152 patients in treatment for hypersexual disorder in clinics in California, New Mexico, Pennsylvania, Texas and Utah, a 2012 study showed that most characterised their sexual disorder in terms of pornography consumption (81 per cent) and masturbation (78 per cent). The New Catholic Encyclopedia’s supplement on masturbation (2012-13), too, slips into a lengthy disquisition on sex addiction and the evils of internet pornography: ‘The availability of internet pornography has markedly increased the practice of masturbation to the degree that it can be appropriately referred to as an epidemic.’

Critics think that therapeutic masturbation might reinforce sexual selfishness rather than sexual empathy and sharing

The masturbator is often seen as the pornography-consumer and sex addict enslaved by masturbation. The sociologist Steve Garlick has suggested that negative attitudes to masturbation have been reconstituted to ‘surreptitiously infect ideas about pornography’. Pornography has become masturbation’s metonym. Significantly, when the New Zealand politician Shane Jones was exposed for using his taxpayer-funded credit card to view pornographic movies, the unnamed shame was that his self-pleasuring activities were proclaimed on the front pages of the nation’s newspapers – thus the jokes about ‘the matter in hand’ and not shaking hands with him at early morning meetings. It would have been less humiliating, one assumes, if he had used the public purse to finance the services of sex workers.

Nor is there consensus on the benefits of masturbation. Despite its continued use in therapy, some therapists question its usefulness and propriety. ‘It is a mystery to me how conversational psychotherapy has made the sudden transition to massage parlour technology involving vibrators, mirrors, surrogates, and now even carrots and cucumbers!’ one psychologist protested in the late 1970s. He was concerned about issues of client-patient power and a blinkered pursuit of the sexual climax ‘ignoring … the more profound psychological implications of the procedure’. In terms of effectiveness, critics think that therapeutic masturbation might reinforce individual pleasure and sexual selfishness rather than creating sexual empathy and sharing. As one observed in the pages of the Journal of Sex and Marital Therapy in 1995: ‘Ironically, the argument against masturbation in American society was originally religiously founded, but may re-emerge as a humanist argument.’ Oversimplified, but in essence right: people remain disturbed by the solitariness of solitary sex.

Why has what the Japanese charmingly call ‘self-play’ become such a forcing ground for sexual attitudes? Perhaps there is something about masturbation’s uncontrollability that continues to make people anxious. It is perversely non-procreative, incestuous, adulterous, homosexual, ‘often pederastic’ and, in imagination at least, sex with ‘every man, woman, or beast to whom I take a fancy’, to quote Soble. For the ever-astute historian Thomas Laqueur, author of Solitary Sex (2003), masturbation is ‘that part of human sexual life where potentially unlimited pleasure meets social restraint’.

Why did masturbation become such a problem? For Laqueur, it began with developments in 18th-century Europe, with the cultural rise of the imagination in the arts, the seemingly unbounded future of commerce, the role of print culture, the rise of private, silent reading, especially novels, and the democratic ingredients of this transformation. Masturbation’s condemned tendencies – solitariness, excessive desire, limitless imagination, and equal-opportunity pleasure – were an outer limit or testing of these valued attributes, ‘a kind of Satan to the glories of bourgeois civilisation’.

In more pleasure-conscious modern times, the balance has tipped towards personal gratification. The acceptance of personal autonomy, sexual liberation and sexual consumerism, together with a widespread focus on addiction, and the ubiquity of the internet, now seem to demand their own demon. Fears of unrestrained fantasy and endless indulging of the self remain. Onania’s 18th-century complaints about the lack of restraint of solitary sex are not, in the end, all that far away from today’s fear of boundless, ungovernable, unquenchable pleasure in the self.

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