Many clients who come to the Laurel Centre seeking help for sex addiction and porn addiction ask the question “are you going to ask me to give up masturbating?”.  This blog will look at different aspects of masturbation which can help you think what role masturbation has in your individual journey in healing from sex addiction and/or porn addiction.

Why do you masturbate?

Have a think of when you generally masturbate.   Is it when you are bored, at home alone and got nothing else to do?  Have you had a bad day at work or had an argument with your partner and you need to feel comfort?  Are you struggling to go to sleep, so you masturbate to relax?  Have you woken up feeling aroused and want to release the tension?   All these reasons could apply to you and that is okay.

When masturbation becomes unhelpful

So, when does masturbation become unhelpful in your life?  Ask yourself these questions:

  • How often do you think about masturbation?
  • How often are you masturbating?
  • Are you planning when you will have the next opportunity to masturbate?
  • Do you NEED to masturbate to calm down, go to sleep, chill out or feeling aroused?
  • Has masturbation become a compulsion rather than a pleasure?
  • Do you feel you are in control of your masturbation habits?

Masturbating to internet pornography

We now live in a world of high-speed broadband and unlimited availability of pornography.  With this unlimited access to pornography, we have seen a rise of clients who are in their 20s and 30s who have only masturbated to pornography.  They have not learnt the skill of enjoying their bodies without the extra stimulus of pornography.  We also see clients who are in their 40s, 50s, 60s and 70s who used to know how to masturbate without porn but have got hooked into watching internet pornography and have lost the skill of masturbation without porn.  In some clients, this has also resulted in having the problem of porn-induced erectile dysfunction (PIED).  One way of healing from PIED is Mindful masturbation.

Mindful Masturbation

It is possible to enjoy masturbation without the extra stimulus of internet pornography or using mental fantasy (images we conjure up from memory).  Many people who are addicted to internet pornography bulk at this concept and wonder if they can really enjoy their bodies without fantasy or porn.  Mindful masturbation is a technique used to help people get back in touch with their bodies in a ‘mindful’ and sensual way.  This technique also allows your neural pathways in your brain to be reprogrammed to touch in a positive way that can be used by yourself or with a partner.  The technique for Mindful masturbation is too long to describe here, click on this link for a full description. 

Abstaining from sex and masturbation

Once people are in recovery from sex addiction and porn addiction, they are very conscious of their triggers and can be fearful that masturbation could trigger them back into their sexual compulsive behaviour.  Therefore, they take the personal decision of abstaining from masturbation and sometimes abstaining from sex.  This can help the person with the addiction focus on other aspects of their recovery such as their physical and emotional well-being as well as understanding the reasons for the compulsive sexual behaviour.  Abstaining from sex for an agreed period of time, can also help the couple focus on their relationship without the added pressure of when they should have sex.

Creating a positive and healthy sexuality

Recovering from sex addiction and porn addiction does not mean giving up sex!  Recovery means exploring with yourself and a sex addiction therapist what positive sexuality will look like for you.  Positive sexuality is being respectful of yourself and others, it will be in line with your personal values and it will be pleasurable.  It can take some time to work out what a healthy and positive sex life will look like for you.  Each person is unique and so each person’s sex life will be different.  You need to decide for yourself what boundaries to put in place to keep yourself safe from having a relapse or slips in your recovery.  Deciding what is ‘not ok’ behaviour and what is ‘ok’ behaviour.  If you are in a relationship, then keeping an open dialogue about what a healthy sex life looks like for you as a couple is important.  Some people do decide to cut out masturbation, while others will decide they are okay with masturbation.  It is deciding what will be good for you at this stage in your recovery from your addiction.   If you want to know more about positive sexuality, then read Paula’s blog on “The CHOICE Recovery Model – Identify Positive Sexuality”.