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What is Masturbation Addiction? Everything You Need to Know

Expertly reviewed by Jessica Espanto, LPT, MA, RPsy · Psychology · In Touch Community Services

Written by Lhay Ann Boctoy · Updated Jul 28, 2022

What is Masturbation Addiction? Everything You Need to Know

The act of touching yourself for sexual pleasure or masturbating is completely normal. Masturbation is common for people of any age, gender, or whether you are sexually active or not. However, when taken to the extreme, masturbation may also result in negative effects to your wellbeing. Read on to learn what masturbation addiction is.


There are different reasons why people masturbate:

  • People want to understand their body better
  • To release sexual tension
  • Masturbating feels good and helps people relax
  • Many people enjoy masturbating with their partner as part of a healthy sexual relationship. Others masturbate on their own, even if they are not sexually active. Although masturbation is a common part of a person’s sexuality, people are still embarrassed and uncomfortable about masturbation. It is because society still thinks it’s taboo and wrongly blame masturbation for a number of health problems that includes:

    • Blindness
    • Infertility
    • Reduced sexual function
    • Sexual perversion
    • Mental health issues

    Masturbation is still a sensitive and personal topic for most people, but it has a positive effect in your health such as:

    • Stress reduction
    • Promotes better sleep
    • Helps in relaxation
    • Enhances confidence and self-esteem
    • Helps the release of endorphins (the brain’s opioid-like neurotransmitters), which causes a feeling of mental and physical wellbeing

    But when can you consider masturbation as an addiction? Can excessive masturbation lead to a serious health condition? First we need to consider, what is masturbation addiction?

    What is Masturbation Addiction?

    Addiction to masturbating is considered as a type of compulsive sexual behavior or hypersexuality disorder. It is caused by excessive engrossment in sexual fantasies and uncontrollable sexual urges. In effect, a person becomes distressed, which causes negative impact on everyday activities and responsibilities including:

    • Work or school activities
    •  Self-esteem
    • Affecting relationships with other people
    • His or her overall health

    Other examples of compulsive sexual behavior are use of pornography, cybersex, paying for sex, or multiple sexual partners.

    Currently, masturbation addiction is not included in the DSM-5, however, it may be included as part of hypersexual disorder along with other addictions like pornography addiction. To be considered for hypersecual disorder, a patient must be at least 18 years-old and have experienced symptoms for at least 6 months.

    Signs and Symptoms of Masturbation Addiction

    There are different signs and symptoms to indicate that you are addicted to masturbation.

    • You have developed intense and uncontrollable sexual urges and fantasies that is taking up most of your time. For example, you leave certain engagements early or turn down appointments to make time for masturbation.
    • Trying to suppress or reduce the urge to masturbate or control your sexual fantasies have been unsuccessful.
    • Guilt or remorse follows bouts of masturbation.
    • You use masturbation and other compulsive sexual acts as an escape from reality, anxiety or stress, loneliness and depression.
    • It is difficult for you to establish and maintain a healthy and stable relationship with other people.
    • You continue to engage in this sexual behavior even if it may potentially cause trouble at work, risk the loss of important relationships, or can cause financial strain or even legal problems.

    Risk Factors and Causes

    Regardless of sexual orientation, anyone can develop a masturbation addiction, but it commonly occurs in men. There are factors that increase the risk of masturbation addiction, namely:

    • Sexual imagery and information is readily available on the internet and easily accessible for anyone.
    • Hormones and brain chemistry can also affect sexual behavior.
    • Masturbation is something you will do in private therefore addiction can be easily hidden or denied.
    • Not everyone is ready to listen when it comes to sexual topics. Following this, the patient may struggle alone, which allows the condition to worsen eventually.

    An increased risk of masturbation addiction is more common in people who:

    • Have been a victim of physical or sexual abuse
    • Have problems with alcohol or drug abuse
    • Live with family members who already had problems with addiction
    • Are suffering from other mental health conditions such as depression or anxiety or even gambling addiction

    Engaging in excessive masturbation too frequently may result in reduced self-esteem and isolation as compulsive sexual habits interfere with your interaction with other people and lower sexual satisfaction. If not diagnosed and treated early, masturbation addiction may lead to:

    • Developing other mental health conditions
    • Struggling with feelings of guilt and shame
    • Loss of interest in engaging sexually with other people and search for pornography instead
    • Neglecting and lying to your partner or family
    • Drinking excessively and engaging in substance use
    • Arrest for sexual offenses

    Diagnosis and Treatment

    Common disorders that are related to sexuality is usually a difficult topic to share with others, and may be difficult for others to notice. The awareness must start with the patient himself or herself. Compulsive masturbation habits can escalate quickly so it is better to recognize its early signs and symptoms. If you notice that you may need professional help, ask yourself the following questions:

    • Can I manage my sexual urges?
    • Does my sexual behavior make me feel distressed?
    • Is my sexual habit keeping me isolated and ruining my relationships, my job, and can potentially lead to extreme consequences such as getting arrested?
    • Do I try to hide my sexual habits?

    The treatment for masturbation addiction includes medication, individual therapy, support groups, and other research-based methods. Support groups and group therapy in particular can lessen the patient’s isolation and shame by encouraging them to interact with people who also struggle with compulsive sexual habits.

    With the help of therapy, patients are taught to identify their personal triggers and what coping strategies they can use to manage the excessive urge to masturbate. Hopefully, with appropriate medication and treatment, the patient can prevent the urges of masturbation addiction.

    Key Takeaway

    The first step in achieving sobriety and getting help is to admit you need help. If you think you need to seek treatment, try to open up and set aside the feelings of embarrassment and shame. Keep in mind that what you will share with your doctor will be kept confidential. Remember that many people struggle with masturbation addiction and you are not alone.

    Learn more about addiction here.


    Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.

    Expertly reviewed by

    Jessica Espanto, LPT, MA, RPsy

    Psychology · In Touch Community Services

    Written by Lhay Ann Boctoy · Updated Jul 28, 2022

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