1. Can you be addicted to masturbation?

Yes, masturbation is a common sexual addiction that affects men and women alike. Masturbation is a healthy part of sexual exploration during childhood development. Sometimes a person turns to masturbation as a form of self-medication to deal with stress or trauma. When masturbation becomes a method of escape, this can set the stage for becoming addicted to masturbation.

2. What is compulsive masturbation?

Masturbation addiction commonly referred to as compulsive masturbation can be very secretive and isolating. A man or woman can compulsively masturbate with or without pornography and the behaviors can be very different. Some people may masturbate as part of their daily routine while others may binge masturbate. Binge masturbation involves spending several hours masturbating while watching porn or fantasizing. Compulsive masturbation usually lacks intimacy and often can lead to a lot of shame.

3. If I’m not hurting anyone, what’s wrong with masturbation?

There is nothing wrong with masturbation, and for some people masturbation is a way to connect with their sexuality in a healthy way. An addiction to masturbation can be both physically and emotionally harmful to a person and their loved ones. Due to the amount of time and energy spent on masturbating, genital injury is common. Additionally an addiction to masturbation can make intimate relationships difficult and hinder people from seeking out intimacy.

An important note: for many masturbation is viewed as a moral sin based on their religious life and it is the practice of Coeur d’Alene Counseling, Inc. to not work against those views.

4. Isn’t this a way of shaming or imposing some kind of morality?

No. Masturbation addiction is a real problem regardless of morality. There are certainly many points of view regarding the morality or acceptability of masturbation. Coeur d’Alene Counseling does not impose morality in the treatment of masturbation addiction. It is the role of the therapist to honor a client’s personal morality while working with the client to reduce shame and explore healthy sexuality.

5. Does recovery mean total abstinence from masturbation?

For a masturbation addict, a period of abstinence is recommended under the supervision of a trained therapist. Like anything, there can be imbalance in this sexual area of our life, just as there can be imbalance in the food we eat, the work we do, and the relationships we have. This doesn’t mean we stop eating, working or relating. The important thing is to treat the problem by stopping the unhealthy behavior, and to find healthy strategies for fulfilling sexual needs.

6. How will I control my high sex drive if I stop masturbating?

In some cases, a high sex drive is a biological imbalance that can be managed with medication. More often, fear or anxiety motivates the need for masturbation as a controlled release for excess sexual energy. By treating the underlying issues with a skilled therapist, we believe that abstinence from compulsive masturbation actually leads to greater control of sexual energy.

For more information, consider purchasing these books: “Erotic Intelligence: Igniting hot, healthy sex while in recovery from sex addiction” by Alexandra Katehakis; “Don’t Call it Love: Recovery from sexual addiction” by Patrick Carnes; and “Facing the Shadow: Starting sexual and relationship recovery” by Patrick Carnes.

Page credit: Alexandra Katehakis, Center for Healthy Sex