The Traumatic Masturbatory Syndrome.
Woody Allen is accredited with saying about sexual self-pleasuring: “Don’t knock masturbation – its sex with someone I love”. While George Carlin remarked: “If God intended us not to masturbate, He would have made our arms shorter!” Even so, for a sexual practise, often learnedly referred as “universal”, male masturbation still has the power to engender a huge amount of guilt and even foreboding around the globe. A day scarcely goes by but that I do not have some young man seeking reassurance that his pornography watching and self pleasuring are not going to impart some irreparable damage to his potential sexual function.
Young men in particular, despite all they would have surely read about and learned in today’s information saturated world, still seem extraordinarily willing to accredit masturbation with almost mystical powers to cause anything from erectile dysfunction to premature ejaculation even to, most feared of all, infertility itself. In my enthusiasm to expunge these often irrational fears it used to be my habit to universally dismiss all concerns about masturbation. Nowadays however, my reassurances about the safety of all masturbation, is not quite so total. Now I realise that there is at least one exception to the rule that all male masturbatory practises are innocence and safe and of no real consequence.
I refer to the practise of prone or face down masturbation where a pillow or cushion or mattress, are used to basically hump against. This is a minority practise. Kinsey, studying this subject as far back as 1948, discovered that the majority of men masturbate in the sitting up position using their hand to stroke their penis up and down. When asked, only about 12% of Kinsey’s volunteers said that they masturbated in anyway other than in the sitting up position as their majority practise. In fact when this figure is further finessed the real figure is closer to 5 to 10%. Prone masturbation as an exclusive practise is therefore rare.
This is probably just as well. It is only in the last decade or less that the dangers of developing what is today we call the Traumatic Masturbatory Syndrome is known to be directly related to the practise of using prone masturbation as an exclusive or near exclusive masturbatory technique. This syndrome often only comes to light as the boy grows into man and starts to engage in couple sexual activity. It is manifested occasionally by erectile dysfunction but more typically by delayed or absence of ejaculation from intercourse alone or a condition sometimes referred to as ejaculatory incompetence.
The reason why prone or face down masturbatory practises give rise to these unique dysfunction may be multifaceted but are probably as follows. Young men who practise prone masturbation tend to start doing so at a younger age that do those who practise sitting up masturbation. They also tend to do it more often. In the face down position the young practitioner does no ever rely on pornography simply because to do so in that position would be impracticable. Instead, he looses himself inside of his own head and relies on the physical pleasure experienced from friction of whatever it is that’s underneath him to bring him to orgasm. These circumstances do not prevail during sitting up masturbation or intercourse and therefore failure to climax is to be almost expected in later live when couple sex becomes a feature of his life.
There are perhaps a number of points to be taken from this recent research into the Traumatic Masturbatory Syndrome. and they are:
(1) When a man complains about ejaculatory incompetence it is now a wise practise to enquire into his ejaculatory practise history. The chances are that this will include predominately or near predominately prone masturbation.
(2) This information arms the therapist with a scientific explanation for this sexual dysfunction and a road map for its resolution.
(3) In advising young men about the normality of masturbation, a caveat needs to be attached to this to the effect that the position in which a man predominately masturbates is important and has at least potential implications for future sexual function. Where this is predominately practised in the prone position then the man needs to be advised that such a practise is neither safe nor sensible.
Dr Andrew Rynne.