What Defines Chronic Masturbation?

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The term chronic masturbation isn’t a medical or psychological diagnosis. There's no test or measure for what is considered too much masturbation. In fact, if you're worried that you are masturbating too much the first question you should ask yourself is why you are worried and how are you defining too much.

There are some activities that are valued by society more than others. Sexual activity, and masturbation, in particular, are not usually thought of as being very important or valued in society. Most people want to engage in these activities but few of us see them as legitimate or valuable. Many of us think about our desires as a problem. Something to feel guilty about or ashamed of. Or at the very least, something to keep to ourselves.

What Defines Chronic Masturbation?

Usually chronic means something that lasts a long time, a condition that isn’t easily resolved. And since most of us masturbate our whole lives, by at least one definition, we all engage in chronic masturbation. Another aspect of the definition of chronic is that it is something that happens regardless of what we do, and this may be more to the point for people worried about chronic masturbation.

In the vast majority of situations, masturbation is completely healthy and concerns about chronic masturbation are unwarranted (and more related to guilt than anything else). But for some people the amount they are masturbating causes significant distress, and in those cases, the behavior could be considered to be chronic masturbation.

There is no specific diagnosis for chronic masturbation, so there is no simple test to take to figure out if you’re masturbating too much. But here are some questions you can ask yourself, and some circumstances when masturbation may, in fact, be a problem for you.

Is Masturbation Causing Distress?

Like any behavior, we can use masturbation for avoidance, as a form of risk taking, or as a way of pushing our own boundaries outside of our comfort zone. If you find yourself consistently feeling bad about your masturbation, either after you’ve masturbated, or when you think about it, then you may want to take a break and figure out why. By distress, I don’t mean feeling guilty, as this can be a very normal response for those of us raised with negative messages about masturbation, and surrounded by so many myths about masturbation. But if the amount your masturbating is causing you distress of any other kind, it’s worth figuring out what the problem might be.

Is Masturbation Causing (Unwanted) Physical Pain or Damage?

If you are masturbating to the point of rubbing your skin raw or causing any other physical pain or damage that you don’t want, you may be over masturbating, or masturbating the wrong way. There may be a simple or complicated solution to this (simple being something like using a personal lubricant, complicated being something that involves therapy and more introspection). But if masturbation is resulting in physical pain or discomfort it may be a good time to take a break and figure out what’s going wrong.

Is Masturbation Getting in the Way of Life?

You may be over masturbating if you aren’t finding time to work, go to school, and see family and friends because of your masturbation frequency. Here’s an example where masturbating once a day may be perfectly healthy and fine for one person, as they do it when it works best and doesn’t interfere with other parts of their life that are important. But if you’re masturbating once a day exactly at the time you need to be an important obligation, there might be something more going on. If the rest of your life is being consistently disrupted by your masturbation, it may be a situation where you are over masturbating.

Do You Find Yourself Unable to Stop Masturbating?

While there is nothing inherently harmful or dangerous about masturbation, it can become a compulsion or a focus of an obsession. If you feel compelled to masturbate and truly feel unable to stop masturbating, it is likely that you are over masturbating and need to find some support to explore what’s going on that is compelling you to masturbate so frequently. In situations like this it may not make sense to stop masturbating cold turkey, but might be better to find some supports (family, friends, professionals) before you start to change your masturbation behaviors.


Finding a resource depends on where you live, what sort of health care you have, and how involved you want to get in exploring your feelings. If you have access to free sexual counseling services (through an organization like Planned Parenthood or your school) that may be enough. If you have a friend you can trust you may want to talk with them. If you need some help finding a certified sexuality professional in your area you can visit the American Association of Sexuality Educators Counselors Therapists website, where they offer a referral list.

Be aware that there are many religious groups and organizations that consider all masturbation to be unhealthy and can take advantage of people who are looking for genuine answers by imposing their own morality at a time of vulnerability.