Masturbating is totally healthy, and totally normal. There are tons of myths out there meant to scare you into thinking masturbation is wrong or bad. But the truth is masturbation is perfectly safe. Masturbating won't make you blind, crazy, or stupid. It won’t damage your genitals, cause pimples, or stunt your growth. It doesn’t use up all your orgasms or ruin other kinds of sex.
In fact, masturbation can actually be good for you. Here are some benefits of masturbation:
Masturbation is safer than any other type of sex. You can’t get pregnant or get any sexually transmitted infections from masturbating.
Masturbation can help you learn what you like and don’t like sexually. And if you decide to have sex with someone, you can know what you do/don’t want to do. BONUS: getting comfortable talking about sex and your body with your partner makes it easier to talk about protecting yourself against STDs and pregnancy, too.
Exploring your body and learning how to give yourself sexual pleasure can be empowering and help improve your body image.
Masturbation can lower stress and help you relax. It even helps some people fall asleep.
Having an orgasm releases endorphins — feel good chemicals in your brain. Orgasms can be a natural painkiller and can even help with period cramps.
Mutual masturbation (masturbating with a partner) is a really safe way to have sex and let the other person know what feels good to you. If you share a sex toy, use condoms on the toy and clean it before swapping. And if you touch each other’s genitals, wash your hands before touching your own.
Can I get an STD from masturbating?
Nope. Masturbating is the safest sexual activity out there. There is virtually NO chance of getting an STD or any other infection from touching your own genitals (and there’s also no chance of pregnancy). STDs have to be passed from one person to another, so you can’t give yourself an STD. The one exception to this is herpes - so if you have any cold sores on your mouth and touch them, make sure to wash your hands before masturbating.
But it IS possible to get an STD if you’re masturbating with another person and touching each other’s genitals. Anytime semen (cum) or vaginal fluids are spread to someone else’s body, or your genitals rub against each other, there’s a risk of STDs. So if you touch each other’s genitals, wash your hands before touching your own.
STDs can also be spread by sharing sex toys with another person. You can help protect yourself by using condoms on any toys that you share (even if they’re not shaped like a penis). Put a new condom on anytime a different person uses it. If you’re the only one using your sex toys, you don’t have to worry about STDs. But if you use them with other people, protect those sex toys just like you’d protect your own genitals — put a condom on ‘em!
It’s possible for masturbation to cause irritation or infections if your body is sensitive to the way you masturbate or the things you masturbate with — but this isn’t the same thing as an STD. Lotions, Vaseline, oils, and scented or flavored stuff may irritate your vulva and vagina. Masturbating roughly and not using lubrication can also lead to irritation because of friction. And germs from the anus can cause vaginal infections — so never put something in your vagina that’s been in your butt without washing it or covering it with a condom.
If you’re worried that you have an STD because of pain, itching, or discomfort in your genitals, go to your doctor or your local Planned Parenthood health center.