Q&A: I Masturbate Face-Down. Will This Cause Sexual Problems?

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QUESTION: I've been masturbating face-down on my bed since puberty. Lately I've noticed that I have a hard time having orgasms from more traditional methods. Some quick research online called this "traumatic masturbatory syndrome" and said that it can cause severe sexual dysfunction. Is this true? What can I do about it?

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Face-Down-Bed

Photo: atconc (flickr.com)

Although a face-down style of masturbation that involves rubbing against the bed appears to be less common than a style that involves a man laying on his back or sitting up, that doesn’t mean that face-down masturbation will cause sexual problems.

Research in Masturbation

The term traumatic masturbatory syndrome was first used in a 1998 article by a clinician who described four of his patients who masturbated face-down and who experienced sexual problems. However, the term has never been widely accepted by the sex research or therapy community.

After all, just because four men who masturbated with this technique also had sexual problems does not mean that the masturbation technique caused the other sexual problems or that it’s an actual syndrome, let alone a traumatic syndrome.

Although a face-down style of masturbation that involves rubbing against the bed appears to be less common than a style that involves a man laying on his back or sitting up, that doesn’t mean that face-down masturbation will cause sexual problems. However, sometimes men who rely on one and only way of masturbating find it difficult to orgasm from other types of masturbation or sexual stimulation such as oral sex or intercourse.

New Techniques

In my experiencing working with men, they can often “re-train” their bodies to respond to a wider range of sexual stimulation by varying their masturbation technique.

You might try, for example, masturbating with lots of lubricant sometimes, a small amount of lubricant other times and no lubricant at all on other occasions. You might try different paces or rhythms or using different hand techniques. Try to focus on experiencing pleasure rather than the goal of orgasm which can put pressure on your experience and make it even more difficult to come.

You might even try masturbating less often. Sometimes, by masturbating less often you can build sexual tension in a way that makes it easier to orgasm when you do masturbate again.

Resources

If you continue to find it difficult to ejaculate, I would encourage you to speak with your healthcare provider about your experience. In some cases, medical conditions such as diabetes can contribute to men’s difficulty with ejaculation or orgasm.

Sex therapy can be helpful as well in cases where the difficulty ejaculating makes men feel worried, anxious or concerned about dating or being sexual with another person. You can find a sex therapist in your area on Society for Sex Therapy and Research’s website.

Finally, reading The New Male Sexuality may be helpful as you explore a wider range of sexual pleasure.

Dr. Debby Herbenick (M.P.H., Ph.D.)

is a sexual health educator at The Kinsey Institute, Associate Director of the Center for Sexual Health Promotion at Indiana University and author of several books including Sex Made Easy and Because It Feels Good: A Woman's Guide to Sexual Pleasure and Satisfaction.
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Comments

  • michaelstephens

    This first explanation is a very good answer; hitting at the core of the problem. In my opinion, it comes down to addiction. Meaning: anything we do in repetition causes changes in both our cell receptors response to peptides and the release of them from the hypothalamus. I have experienced this problem myself from always masturbating laying down on my back. This I believe caused me to have difficulty reaching orgasm in different sexual positions when with a partner. From that, I developed an anxiety or nervousness while being intimate with other men. Feeling that I would not perform to their expectations. After experimenting with different forms of auto-eroticism I became more confident and comfortable with my sexual partners. And, I am glad that these issues are up for discussion now and no longer taboo. Thank God for Kinsey!