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I have been on an anti-anxiety medication for a year and a half now, which has severely decreased my sex drive. As an example, in the last 8 months, I have successfully masturbated to climax only 8 times! I have a very hard time masturbating or becoming aroused at all, or keeping my mind on the job; since there's so little going on and my libido is so dead, my mind just wanders to other thoughts. The only way I can manage to ejaculate is by beating like mad until either my arm practically falls off or my body finally responds to the amount of physical stimulation. I was told by my doctor that a decreased sex drive might be a side effect, but this is ridiculous! Getting off the drugs isn't much of an option, however. Any advice?
- age 21, New York

Definitely discuss it with your doctor. Some types of medicines in this class of drugs (called SSRIs) have greater sexual side effects than others, and in your case the side effects are clearly affecting your quality of life. However, do some research before talking to your doctor, and be skeptical of what you read in marketing materials from pharmaceutical companies. Armed with some objective knowledge, you and your doctor should be able to find a workable solution.

I'm 19, and I masturbate pretty frequently. I have had acne for years. I notice that the longer I don't masturbate, the better my acne gets, and the more frequently I masturbate, the worse it gets. I've deduced this over the course of at least two years! Upon ejaculation, dopamine is released in the brain, right? If this is so, then I imagine it's the dopamine that affects the hormones that makes skin more greasy. So basically there is a link between acne and sexual activity. Do you agree with my amazing scientific argument, or have you got another explanation for this link?

I wouldn't rule out that there's a link between sexual activity and acne. However, there cannot be a link specifically between masturbation and acne, because physiologically speaking, your system cannot tell the difference between masturbation and intercourse. In order to prove your hypothesis, though, it would have to be shown that dopamine levels have an effect on the skin. I just did a quick Google search and didn't turn up anything like that — except, of course, on the family of related "overmasturbation" sites that are trying to sell phony herbal pills to people who masturbate. (If this has been your source of information, I suggest you look elsewhere for the truth.)

I've got a better explanation for you. What if there's something that causes both acne and the urge to masturbate? Natural testosterone levels in the blood, perhaps? When these levels are higher, you're probably more likely to masturbate more and have acne breakouts. When the levels come down, you may not be as driven to masturbate, and coincidentally, your acne happens to clear up. Then a couple days later you masturbate twice and your face breaks out. I don't blame you for reaching the conclusions you have, but I think my explanation makes more sense from a physiological point of view. (This is kind of like when there's a local study that says crime is higher in neighborhoods with liquor stores, so officials conclude that liquor stores cause crime. That's a bunch of hooey. Just because two conditions may coincide, that doesn't mean one causes the other — there are too many other factors in play.)

How can I stop "precum" [pre-ejaculatory fluid or Cowper's gland secretion] from happening? It's fine when I'm masturbating, but when I'm with my girlfriend and we're kissing and all, I feel it and it's almost embarrassing. What can I do to stop it or reduce it? Are there any vitamins or supplements I can take to help?

There's nothing you can do to stop it. It's just one of those things you have to learn to accept. Look, sexuality and the human body aren't always squeaky-clean and exactly the way you like them. In both males and females, there's a lot of natural smells and fluids involved with the body. It's simply part of being human. You have to understand, both guys and girls worry about these things and the imperfections in their bodies, thinking that the opposite sex is going to be turned off and grossed out, or will laugh. It's a myth — both guys and girls have imperfections, smells, and fluids that they worry about. You just have to get over it and enjoy your body, and those of others, exactly the way they are.

I've begun to notice that when masturbating, my forearm and wrist get very tired and sometimes slightly tingly. I figured this was probably the start of developing carpal tunnel syndrome, so I've decreased the frequency of my sessions and my arm and wrist area seem to be pretty much fine. Was I right about the carpal tunnel?

I think you were. Carpal tunnel syndrome is known as a repetitive stress (or motion) injury, meaning it results from a movement done over and over. Certain masturbation styles certainly qualify: Anatomically, the carpal tunnel — literally a tunnel between the carpal bones, through which nerves pass — is located in the wrist, so it's possible to develop carpal tunnel syndrome if your wrist bones are moving a lot when you masturbate. If you're experiencing tingling or numbness during or after masturbation, I suggest changing your technique slightly so you aren't using as much wrist action. Try to hold your wrist steady, so that your hand moves as one with your forearm, and create the motion in your elbow instead. If that's difficult for you, consider wearing a wrist brace when you masturbate. Either way, you'll take a lot of that repetitive stress off the nerves that pass through the carpal tunnel, and the condition should improve.

I masturbate daily and I have noticed that at least one of my testicles is always "breathing," or expanding in and out — constantly. Why does this happen?

It's not your testicle that's "breathing" but rather your scrotum. The scrotum skin contains many tiny muscles that control the looseness or tightness of the skin in relation to temperature. In cooler temperatures these muscles contract to tighten the skin and bring the testicles closer to the body; in warmer temperatures, they relax, letting the testicles hang farther from the body. Under certain conditions the scrotum can seem to have a life of its own, as these muscles oscillate back and forth between contracting and relaxing. That's what you're noticing. It's totally normal.

Currently I engage in a lot of sexual intercourse and oral sex — as often as 3 times a day. I read that it takes 2 to 3 days for the body to produce mature sperm. So, does this mean that since I am not giving my sperm cells a chance to mature, that I don't need to be as worried about getting a female pregnant?

My god, no. There's a constant supply of sperm cells coming down your body's assembly line; your body doesn't wait for an ejaculation to start producing new ones. You can be certain that even if you're ejaculating very frequently, your semen contains sperm cells that are 100% mature. Please use a condom.

I know you have declared it a myth that masturbation causes hair loss, but I would still like to know whether a certain herbal company's reasoning and claims have any truth. In particular, I would like to know if masturbation has any temporary effect on the level of DHT, testosterone, or other hormones in any part of the human body.

The story about DHT, hair loss, and masturbation — like the made-up term "overmasturbation" — originates from one and only one web site whose only goal is to sell herbal pills that do nothing, and they've gotten a lot of attention due to a large advertising campaign. We checked out an article on that site called "Hair Loss Due to Over Masturbation," which was purportedly written by a "Mitchell McNiff, M.D." According to the bio for this name, Mitchell is a "board certified urologist" and is "also the Medical Director of C.A.Z.T. Laboratories," which specializes in "Fertility Testing and Sperm Banking." A quick Google check reveals that there is no such laboratory, and there are no search results for "Mitchell McNiff" that aren't associated with the "overmasturbation" site. We have to assume, therefore, that Mitchell McNiff is a made-up character, not an actual physician. There are several web sites out there that say similar things, but if you spend a few moments investigating, you'll find that they're either all owned by the same parent company or link back to a site owned by the parent company. And they are there to sell herbal pills for people's sexual insecurities, whether it be masturbation, penis size, impotence, or even breast size. Aside from sexual predators and phishers, we can't think of a more evil presence on the Internet. Stay skeptical and don't believe any of it! (For more information, see this reputable web page:

The more a person masturbates, the more DHT is produced. DHT is responsible for causing hair loss, so overmasturbation can cause hair loss. I should know — I am a sufferer. Please amend your web page.

No, but thank you for summarizing a bunch of baloney from an unreputable source. You drink water, don't you? So, if I told you that water-drinking caused hair loss, because the body requires water to produce this DHT stuff, would you take one look at your balding head and believe me? I didn't think so. Please see the previous question/answer.

Why is it that when I reach an orgasm while I have a stuffy nose, the congestion in my nose seems to completely clear up for about 20 minutes?

Orgasm is a major physiological event in the body, and the mucous membranes inside the nose are quite sensitive to bodily changes that affect the levels of histamines, which are responsible for nasal congestion. You may have noticed that if you have a stuffy nose while lying down, simply standing up can cause a rapid but temporary clearing of the nose. Actually, for a lot of people, sexual excitement causes an increase in nasal congestion. Both this effect and the one that you describe are normal.

I have recently noticed that during my experience with foreskin restoration, I am producing "pre-cum," whereas I wasn't before. It is common that circumcised males do not produce "pre-cum"?

No, there's no connection between a guy's circumcision status and his tendency to produce pre-ejaculate (a.k.a. Cowper's gland secretion). Some guys produce a lot of it, some only a little, and some none at all. I have no idea why you're producing more now; maybe it has something to do with the extra stimulation that your restoration project is giving you.

Do you recommend having pubic-fat-removal surgery to reveal more of the penis? If so, at what age should be the earliest to have it, how much do you think it will cost, and how effective would it be?

Oh, I'm all for it! Elective plastic surgery to increase the apparent length of the penis by a half-inch or so? What better way to spend a couple of thousand dollars? As for what age is too early, you can never be too young to have fat sucked out of your pubic region! After all, if you wait too long, you might not be able to fit into the chair where they perform this procedure!

The beauty of this surgery is, if you continue to pig out on fried foods and high-fructose corn syrup soda, and your penis starts to "shrink" again, you can just go back to the doctor, get more fat sucked out of your groin, and be a stud again! Who cares if you get type 2 diabetes and heart disease — that's the health-insurance company's problem! If you're lucky, they might even let you eat a cheeseburger in the operating room while they're vacuuming the fat out of your body. That's right, thanks to modern medicine, now you can stuff your face with all of the greasy, sugary food you want, *and* have a larger penis. Because you deserve to have it all. God bless America!

Why do some guys have "wet dreams" multiple times a week, yet some guys don't have them at all? Where does the semen go?

Many guys who masturbate regularly never experience nocturnal emissions. For guys who rarely or never masturbate, if the semen isn't ejaculated in a nocturnal emission, it may be simply re-absorbed by the body. It's largely a matter of genetics whether the body is more likely to deal with the matter through a "wet dream" or not.

I am 16 and I have a good question. Wouldn't masturbating often — like, 2-3 times per day — make it so that your body loses a lot of hormones and testosterone needed for puberty and growth? So, if someone did masturbate this frequently, could it affect the growth of his penis and body, ultimately making it smaller than normal or stunted because of the lack of necessary hormones and testosterone?

Not a chance. When you masturbate, you don't "use up" hormones. Anytime your body needs a hormone, it makes more — that's what your endocrine system is for. Unless you have a specific hormonal deficiency, your body produces exactly as much of any hormone as it needs, the same way your stomach normally produces the right amount of acids for whatever you eat. Nice try, but no, masturbation does not stunt your growth.

I'm a gay male, and I've never had any "wet dreams." I'm just wondering if it's common for gay guys not to have nocturnal emissions?

Yes, it is. But it's also common for straight guys not to have nocturnal emissions. Men who masturbate frequently often don't experience them. I'm not aware of any clinical studies, but I don't believe "wet dreams" discriminate on the basis of sexual orientation.

I am 14 and I masturbate usually two to five times per week. Around a year ago, I would masturbate two to three times a day. Soon, I started to get dark spots all around my penis, and as time passed I started to get spots all around my body (back, arms, chest). I went to the doctor, and he gave me a cream/ointment called Loprox Topical Suspension. I didn't tell him about the masturbation. I applied the cream, and after two weeks the spots were gone. I didn't masturbate for around two weeks after I applied the cream, but once I did start to masturbate again, the spots started coming back. Do you know if the spots are related to masturbating?

Yes, I do: No, they aren't. I have never heard of a case where masturbation caused a change in skin coloration on other parts of the body, and physiologically speaking, I can't see how it could possibly happen.

I have been masturbating about three times a week, and lately, I have been having excessive saliva buildup — I've been spitting these big spits, and I can't seem to stop. It worries me that this has something to do with masturbating.

I'm not going to answer this one. I'm just going to add it to the always-growing file of physical "problems" that people manage to blame on masturbation. Amazing!

I am a 15-year-old male who masturbates at least once a day. Can masturbation cause constipation? I'm doing no special techniques, just sitting down and masturbating. Is masturbation harmful? If I stop for at least one week, do you think it'll stop my constipation?

Masturbation, which you'd learn if you looked around on reputable Web sites or in books, is not harmful. And no, it doesn't cause constipation. If your gastointestinal regularity is becoming a problem for you, talk to a doctor about it — not us. This is getting silly!

I have been masturbating for over 4 years now. For about the first 3 years, while I masturbated, I would constantly fondle my nipples. I then realized that my nipples had become much thicker, and bigger. Now, even with a shirt on, you can often tell that there is something unusual about my nipples. What can I do to get my nipples back to their normal size?

Are you sure that your nipples enlarged because of your nipple play, or is it possible they just grew that way? Nipples come in many sizes, and yours may be perfectly normal. You would probably have to be pretty rough on them, and often — or apply some other force, such as artificial suction — to cause your nipple tissue to thicken up like that. But if that's what happened, there probably isn't anything (short of plastic surgery) that would cause your nipples to return to their former size, although they may revert somewhat to their original condition over a period of years.

I am 15 and have been clinically depressed for a year now, and I am on two different medications. What are the sexual side-effects they mention in the TV commercials?

First of all, has your doctor not talked with you about the side-effects of the medications you're taking? I don't know much about the procedures for prescribing antidepressants to minors, but I am concerned that nobody has filled you in on how the medications would affect your body. It's best if you ask your doctor, but in a nutshell, the most common sexual side-effects of most antidepressants are that your libido (erotic desire) generally goes down, and it becomes more difficult to reach orgasm. Your mileage may vary, depending on your body and the specific medications that you take (and their interactions). Talk to your doctor!

Now, I can't resist editorializing here. I'm certain that some teenagers are truly clinically depressed, and that medication helps them greatly. However, a lot of people these days are wondering how many teenagers are needlessly medicated. The entrenching of prescription drugs in our society is largely due to a medical/pharmaceutical complex of publicly owned corporations that value healthy stock prices over healthy people. It's a generalization, but to a cynical person, the pharmaceutical companies see teenagers as a "profit opportunity." Teenagers are a difficult, depressive lot; it has always been that way. But in years past, families — my own is a perfect example — had a way of working through these troublesome years, because there really were no other options. But now, parents can take the easy way out: They can put children in front of a video instead of playing with them, and they can put teenagers on pills instead of dealing with the emotional rollercoasters and fights that have tortured teens and their families since time immemorial. Again, I am not saying this is necessarily the case with you, but it should be something to consider. If I were you, I would thoroughly educate myself on what clinical depression in teens really is (using reliable, unbiased information coming from somewhere other than a pharmaceutical company). That will help you decide, with your parents, if taking not one but two medications is truly "right for you."

I'm 14 years old and have been masturbating since I was about 13. I have overly large, distinct veins all over my left (masturbating) hand, and up my forearm. On my right arm I have hardly any veins, so the large veins must have been caused by masturbating. Is there some way to reduce the size of these veins?

Consider this: Is it possible that you might have been doing some other things with your left hand and arm over the years that could have caused it to be more muscular than the right? Or, that this is just a random, natural feature of your body, an expression of your genes? Or, have you ever considered that your underdeveloped right forearm may have been caused by not masturbating enough with that hand? My point: Masturbating probably isn't the only thing you do with that hand and arm. If you use your left hand to masturbate, you probably also do a lot of other things with it, without realizing, and those things may be equally responsible for any perceived size difference between your arms. Your imagination may be responsible, too.

Does excessive masturbation make your skin age, and your hair to go thin and grow less? If so, how much should I limit this practice?
- age 24, California

No, no, and no. Where did you get these ideas? Where does anyone get these ideas? It's something I may never completely figure out.

I masturbate by lying down and spitting on my hand, but after I ejaculate and get up to wash my hands, I sometimes suddenly feel light-headed and see sparkles in front of my eyes for a second or two. Then it just goes away. What is this due to? It worries me, and I actually limit my masturbation because of it. Please help me — what causes this?
- age 16, Turkey

I know your first impulse is to blame masturbation and think the practice is doing something horrible to your body, but it isn't. You're merely experiencing a "head rush," which sometimes happens when you stand up too quickly. It's due to the fact that your body is used to being in a horizontal position, and when you get up, the blood pressure to your brain drops briefly. But as you've noted, the body adjusts quickly and the condition goes away. The condition might be intensified by the fact that you undergo some physical exertion when you masturbate in that position, but your light-headedness is not because you just masturbated!

I've heard that masturbation is good for the immune system, and I've also heard that it's bad for it. Does masturbation have any effect either way? Whenever I masturbate when I'm sick, it doesn't really do anything.

I don't believe it has any real effect. Like any vigorous physical activity, masturbation does tend to raise the body temperature and get the metabolism going, which when you're sick may help the body fight infection (that's what fevers are about) — although if you already have a fever, it might make you feel worse afterward. Some argue that time spent masturbating while sick would be better spent sleeping, while others argue that you'll sleep better if you've just masturbated. So I think the effect on the immune system is pretty much a wash.

I'm 14 and wrestle on my high school team. I've been masturbating for a while, like since I was 11. I love it. But one of my friends said that a doctor had told him he shouldn't masturbate during wrestling season. The reason, according to the doctor, was that it takes some kind of fluids out of the knee and makes your knees weaker. Is this myth true or false?

Like most myths, this is false! Many years ago, the medical establishment thought that masturbation caused vital fluids to leak or be removed from the brain and spinal column, leading to all sorts of problems. These beliefs have long since been completely discounted, as have the beliefs about masturbation causing any kind of permanent harm to the body. But it seems this particular doctor, if he indeed said such a thing (and you should be skeptical of your friend), still thinks there's some truth to the claim. There isn't — none at all. The only fluid release masturbation will cause is semen from your penis!

I masturbate about 6 times a day. My sight is double — but I went to over 20 eye doctors, and they all said my eyesight was fine. I even see very strange things — in a dimly lit room, for example, I might be able to see a poster out of the corner of my eye, but when I look at it dead-on I can't see it for some reason. When I stopped masturbating for a week my eyesight was getting better, but then I started again, damn it. I can't stop — help me!

You're seeing double, huh? So, when you say you went to 20 eye doctors, do you mean actually just 10? Seriously, if you went to a bunch of eye doctors and they all said your vision was normal, I have to side with them. As for your "disappearing poster" trick, that's a phenomenon everyone experiences in dim light. It's because the fovea (the spot on the eye's retina responsible for your point of visual focus) is less sensitive to dim light than the surrounding area of the retina. So I have to say, unless you're talking about experiencing double vision during orgasm (and I'm sure some of us can attest to experiencing that), any vision weirdness you're experiencing is not related to masturbation. Why must everything that concerns you be linked to this harmless practice? (See previous answer for more.)

A few months ago I joined a drum corps, which is like a quasi-professional marching band. Since I joined, I've lost a lot of weight — it's really physically demanding. I've also noticed that my orgasms have gotten a lot more powerful. I feel like I have more energy, and masturbation is wonderful now. Are the orgasms related to the increase in physical activity?
- age 17, Pennsylvania

I'd have to guess they are. Losing a lot of weight has many effects on the body, such as an increased metabolic rate and higher energy levels overall. All of these factors may be making your sexual arousal more intense, pleasurable, and satisfying. Plus, losing weight may have improved your self-image, in which case autoeroticism — getting aroused by your own touch and your own body — may be heightened. Enjoy your newfound sexuality!

I have little bumps on my hand that I think are from masturbating. They are only on my right (masturbating) hand. Is there a way to get rid of them? Are they normal?
-age 14, New York

Like the little bumps that sometimes can be found on the penis shaft, those bumps are just hair follicles developing. Soon you'll be sprouting hair on your palms — yes, because you've been masturbating, and before long everyone will know exactly what naughty things you do when you're by yourself. Just kidding! I don't know what bumps you're referring to, but this question falls into the popular "something-must-be-wrong-with-me-and-I-know-it's-because-I-masturbate" category. Just to clarify, masturbation doesn't cause bumps to form on the hands or the penis, and it doesn't have any other lasting physical effect on the human body. Anything you attribute to this healthy act is a result of your own imagination and sense of guilt. Quit worrying and learn to enjoy pleasuring yourself.

Are the Cowper's glands just another name for the bulbourethral glands? In my Human Growth & Development class, my teacher explained that the bulbourethral glands are small and are found on each side of the urethra. Just curious!

Yes, they're the same thing. I'll give you a third term for these same structures: the glandulae bulbourethrales. Here on JackinWorld we just refer to them as Cowper's glands, because that's the shortest and easiest term to remember.

I'm 18 and started working out with my friend about 5 months ago. We work out about the same amount of time, do the same routine, and have the same determination to get buff and toned. His muscles are growing much faster than mine. He says he doesn't masturbate that much — like once a week — so that his testosterone will be saved up for muscle development. I masturbate at least once a day, and I think maybe this is why I'm not getting as much muscle as him. Does masturbation lower your testosterone so that muscle development is highly affected?

No, sexual activity — be it masturbation, oral sex, or intercourse — doesn't have any effect on muscle growth. Also, holding back from masturbating won't cause your body to "save up" testosterone, so your friend isn't doing himself any special favors. The body's ability to build muscle varies naturally from person to person; even members of the same family may have genetic differences in this regard. So, either masturbate or choose not to — your body will look the same either way.

I have visited two doctors about a lump on my testicle. Both doctors said it was nothing, yet I still get pains in and around my testicles/abdomen. This especially bothers me when my scrotum is "loose" while I masturbate, because the constant bouncing motion sometimes results in a dull ache in the area. I don't know what to do, and since the doctors say it is nothing, my father won't take me to another doctor.

I couldn't possibly give you a more informed opinion than the two doctors you've already seen. If two physicians have independently said that you're fine, then you should probably take their word for it. As for the discomfort you're feeling, it may simply be a result of the bouncing motion you've described. Try to stabilize your testicles — try cupping them in your other hand, which most guys find feels really good, anyway. You also might try masturbating with briefs on and your penis sticking through the fly.

Is it possible that one's testicles may shrink after ejaculation? Or is it merely an optical illusion?

It is possible. Sexual excitement causes the testes to take in more blood, which often makes them expand a bit. Often this isn't really noticable, but perhaps in your case, your testicles enlarge significantly when you're aroused — everyone's different. It's normal.

Does masturbation make you broader or make you look any different? I've kept this to myself for a while, but every time I masturbate, I want to take it back because I think it's making me get broader in my shoulders and waist. Is what I am feeling true? Can masturbation affect your bones, or is it just my imagination?

You have quite an imagination. Masturbation does not affect your bone structure. I think you take the term "boner" too seriously!

I am an 18-year-old senior in high school. My scrotum hangs really low. I know the scrotum skin changes because of the temperature, but for me, when it is real saggy, when it comes down to actually getting sexual with girls I look for excuses to end the night. If my balls could be a little more tight at all times I would be so much more sexually active and happy. I can't imagine getting naked in front of a girl with my balls hanging low like they usually do. Is there some kind of pill I could take?

A pill to tighten up your scrotum? That's crazy. In our culture, people seem to be programmed to think that anytime they have a problem with some minor aspect of their body, there should be some kind of "pill" to correct it. I say get comfortable with the body Nature gave you; the body is an unbelievably incredible thing, so enjoy it while you're alive on this planet. If your biggest problem is that your scrotum hangs too low, you're damn lucky. Think for a moment how much worse things could be for you. Talk to someone who has been castrated in the battlefield, or was born with a serious genital deformity, or who has lost a testicle. Then you might be a lot happier with your body the way it is.

After I masturbate, the next morning, I often pee in two or three different directions. Why is that?

It's probably due to remnants of semen that dry at your urethral meatus (me-AY-tus) — the opening at the end of your penis. If there's a flake of dried semen stuck to the skin there, it will break the urine stream and cause it to go in all sorts of directions.

Is it possible to get carpal tunnel syndrome (or some similar repetitive-motion disorder) from masturbation? If it doesn't cause the disorder directly, can masturbation contribute to your chances of getting the disorder if you are a use computers heavily and/or write a lot?

That would depend on your individual technique. Most people move only the elbow joint when they masturbate — but if your technique relies on a lot of wrist movement, with your forearm staying more or less stationary, then it definitely could contribute to CTS or a similar disorder. Consider altering your technique so the wrist isn't quite as involved in your fun.

Most of the time the skin on my scrotum is soft, but sometimes it becomes tough and rugged. Why does it do that?

There's an amazing network of tiny muscles under the scrotum skin. In colder environments, these muscles contract, pulling the skin into countless tiny folds. Not only does this effectively thicken the skin, it also draws the testicles closer to the body. This response occurs because sperm cells require a temperature a few degrees cooler than body-core temperature to properly mature. By hanging away from the body the scrotum achieves this slightly cooler temperature — but if it gets too cold, the testicles huddle closer to the body for warmth and the skin thickens up. Incredible, isn't it?

Sometimes I have a cut on my hand from playing handball, and when that happens I try to refrain from masturbating so as not to get semen in the cut. Will my semen do anything if it goes into an open wound?

If it's your own semen getting into your own wound, no — although it may irritate the exposed tissue a little. Consider using a petrolatum-based first-aid cream on the cut to prevent this from happening. Semen and wounds are a dangerous mix only between two people, because this kind of contact makes it very easy for STDs (such as HIV) to pass.

When I masturbate, the middle of my chest turns red. Am I going to die?

Yes, you are. But not because of this — everyone dies eventually. Relax! You're referring to the "sex flush": Capillaries (tiny blood vessels) in the skin tend to dilate (widen) during sexual arousal, resulting in a reddening of the skin tone. It's the same exact mechanism as when a person blushes. "Sex flush" most commonly occurs on the face, chest, or the extremities and is 100% normal. No need to make out your last will and testament just yet.

If you're rough on yourself during masturbation, is it possible to damage or sever the vas deferens?

You'd have to be very rough on yourself to cause damage, and it would probably hurt before you got to that point. The testes and associated ducts are actually pretty tough. However, be extremely careful about incorporating any artificial objects into your masturbation that could cause damage, as this greatly increases the risk. An example would be constricting your testes with string or a rubber band — bad idea. While it may be exciting at the moment if you're into this kind of feeling, the genitals were not designed to be abused in this manner, and your pain threshold goes up when you're sexually aroused. In the excitement you could tear internal tissues or, worse, restrict vital blood flow to certain areas. This could result in a very ugly scene. You don't need to treat your family jewels like...well, family jewels, but treat them with respect and use common sense. You get only one set of genitals in life, so use them wisely.

I am a 19-year-old male. I am taking Paxil. Since I started, my libido has *greatly* decreased. I still have the same urges, but my motivation to masturbate has gone down to an all-time low. Is there anything I can do to get it back? I would not even think about stopping the medication; I've tried others, and they don't work as well. Also, will this lowering in libido affect me later in life if I stop taking antidepressants?

A decrease in libido is common with antidepressants — it's one of the "sexual side effects" you hear about in commercials for Paxil and other such drugs. (The other main sexual side effect is difficulty reaching orgasm.) Talk to your doctor about the problem and possible solutions. While you may have tried other medications, there may be some you haven't tried that don't have these side-effects, or at least not to the same extent. But your doctor is the only person who can help you with this concern. By no means should you experiment with other medications or dosages without your doctor's approval; doing so can be dangerous.

I know it's natural sometimes to need to urinate after orgasm. My problem is that sometimes after I masturbate, and then I urinate as always, a few moments later I feel I need to urinate again — so I go, but little comes out. This feeling goes on for about an hour — feeling as if I need to go to the bathroom, but I don't. It gets somewhat painful toward the end of my penis; inside, there's a tickling/burning sensation. My remedy is quickly downing a soft drink, thus making myself have something to urinate out. I spend about an hour back and forth to the bathroom because it's unbearable to sit, stand, or do anything during these "attacks." What do I do?

No quick answers here — for this problem you should probably consult a urologist (doctor of the male urinary and reproductive systems). If you've been sexually active, this could indicate a sexually transmitted disease. If not, it may be some other kind of urinary infection. Any infection should not go untreated. In any case, no matter how serious or benign the problem may be, it sounds like it's definitely affecting your quality of life. When that happens, you shouldn't tolerate the problem — grab the bull by the horns and get it treated by a specialist.

I'm 15, and for the past few months the area around my genitals has been itching — to the point where I leave scabs. I recently read an article on genital herpes, and I'm afraid I might have it. I'm scared to go to a doctor, fearing what my parents would think. If I do have genital herpes, how would I get it? I'm a virgin!

It's unlikely you have genital herpes if you really are a virgin. It's probably "jock itch," a fungal condition that's virtually identical to athlete's foot, except affecting the genital region. You can get an over-the-counter medication at the drug store. Just go in and say to the cashier, as loudly as you can, "My genitals are itchy and scabby — what can you recommend for jock itch?" He or she will point you in the right direction. (If you want a bit more privacy, just look for the section where they sell athlete's foot medications.)

After masturbating for a while now, I've noticed that my triceps have gotten quite firm. Is this just my imagination, or is masturbation actually a good workout for your arms?

Probably neither — unless your penis is several feet long, you stroke with both hands, and your technique requires as much effort as using a Bowflex or Nautilus, the "workout" from masturbation is negligible. What may be happening is your muscles may just be developing normally as part of the puberty process — this tends to happen even to guys who don't do strenuous workouts. (If you're in your 50s rather than your teens, though, this probably isn't the explanation!)

I am 18 and have recently suffered from weak erections. This has been going on for a while now, and I've been repeatedly told it's due to performance anxiety. I have many reasons to believe it isn't. And now I have recently lost feeling during orgasm and ejaculation. I'm sure I will go so insane that I will ask my parents to see a urologist. But I'd like JackinWorld to please recognize serious topics like these.

The reason we don't go into such "serious" topics is that they're actually serious — as you alluded to, this is the domain of the medical profession. We aren't doctors, so from a reader e-mail it would be impossible (as well as irresponsible and illegal) for us to try to diagnose your case and suggest remedies. You should definitely see a urologist, for clearly it's affecting your quality of life. Anytime something gets that serious, you need to bear down, "take the bull by the horns," and do something about it so you can work toward solving the problem and getting back to enjoying life.

I am a single man with an adopted son who is now 15. The other day the subject of "wet-dreams" came up at our dinner table. He told me he'd had one when he was 11, but that he wasn't able to ejaculate yet at that age, so nothing came out. When I expressed disbelief, he seemed rather anxious that I believe him. He said the orgasm woke him up, but he was dry. Can a boy have a nocturnal emission before he has anything to ejaculate? If so, what does that say about the theory of wet-dreams being caused by excessive internal pressure building up?

It doesn't sound very unusual. Nocturnal emissions serve a couple of functions. First, as you mentioned, they keep the reproductive system's fluids moving. If a guy hasn't ejaculated in a while, his body might react with a nocturnal emission just to keep the plumbing in good working order. But at a younger age, they can also happen as a way to get the reproductive system ready for adulthood. Strange things happen at those early ages — a boy might masturbate and urinate a little instead of ejaculating semen, or have a partial ejaculation, which can be quite uncomfortable. It sounds like a "dry wet-dream" would fall into that category as well. But these things are all part of puberty. As the process gets further along, the puzzle pieces start falling into place, and the boy's sexual response cycle gets more regular and adult-like.

By the way, it's always great to hear of a father and son having such open communication about these things. I'm sure he'll grow up to be very comfortable and relaxed about his sexuality.

I was born with only 1 testicle. When I was 2, my doctor performed surgery to see if it was a case of an undescended testicle, but he found no undescended testicle — I had only one. I did Is this normal, and does it affect sperm production? I'm 14 and I masturbate and ejaculate.

I don't think having only one testicle could be called "normal" (it's kind of like having only one kidney), but don't let that bother you. Like a single kidney, a single testicle can function pretty much as well as two can. Remember that it takes only one sperm cell to fertilize an egg — you're probably ejaculating millions each time. Also, there's a lot more to the male reproductive system than the testicles. Therefore it shouldn't affect your masturbation or sex life at all.

This is ridiculous. I'm 19, and I still wake up EVERY day with an erection. But that's not the ridiculous part. I seem to have some sort of clock in my penis that knows it's 10 AM. Every day, at 10AM, I get an erection. It doesn't matter whether I'm at work, sitting in my car, or in school. It's embarrassing! Sometimes I'll use that "morning wood" and masturbate. It doesn't work — I still get the 10 AM erection. I've been dealing with the 10 AM erection, as well as ones at other random times, since I was 14. Aren't the random erections supposed to stop by now? I'm tired of trying to hide it all the time.

Very strange! Does it go "cuckoo, cuckoo" too? (Just kidding!) Our bodies definitely have biological diurnal (24-hour) clocks, and some people's are more accurate than others. Yours appears to have been made in Switzerland! Well, you're still a teenager, so my guess is it's pretty normal overall. You'll probably start to see the bizarre tolling-of-the-bell start to wane pretty soon. In the mean time, wear some tighter underwear (at least before lunchtime), and consider the alternative — your penis is fortunate to have no problems getting erect. (Cue Bob Dole sound bite here....)

I am 16. I used to masturbate about 5 times a day; now my girlfriend and I are having sex most days, so I don't masturbate as much. On days I don't see her I usually don't masturbate, as I want to save it up for the next time we have sex. The more semen I save for sex, the longer I ejaculate, which just feels great. The problem is that by the second day my testicles are aching and hurting. My older brother says he had the same problem, but now he is at college and is having sex several times a day. He says that at our age your body makes a lot of semen and stores it in your testicles — and that if you do not ejaculate often, the pressure in your testicles is what makes them hurt. Is this true? Is there anything I can do to stop them from hurting? I would rather save my semen for sex, but should I masturbate, too? My brother says I ejaculate more semen than most guys, so maybe my body just makes more.

Everyone's body manufactures different amounts of semen, and that amount can change over time, both in the short term and the long term. Perhaps it's true you're generating a lot of semen right now. However, your semen is not being stored in the testicles and causing them to ache. (Semen is stored in an organ called the ampulla; see Science Corner, Semen Production & Ejaculation.) The ache is probably from testicular vasocongestion, known on the street as "blue balls." It usually results from prolonged arousal that doesn't end in ejaculation. Blood builds up in your testes when you're aroused, and the blood tends to leave after you ejaculate. If you don't ejaculate it the blood tends to stay there, causing discomfort. So for you specifically, if you get this discomfort but you aren't doing anything in particular to cause arousal (making out, looking at erotic pictures for a long time, etc.), I'd suggest that you masturbate more often to relieve the discomfort. If you are in fact causing the condition by getting aroused but not ejaculating, don't do it if you want to be comfortable and "save" your semen. Or just continue to masturbate, but when you have sex, hold off your ejaculation for a while. That will build your semen back up.

I'm an 18-year-old guy. A few days ago, I started to get this headache — a horrible, pulsating ache on the back of my neck, to the left side at the base of my skull — whenever I tried to masturbate. As I get more and more excited, the pain increases and becomes so unbearable I have to stop without achieving orgasm. I haven't had sex since this began, and I'm worried that the next time I try to have sex, the same thing will happen and I'll have to stop. Do you have any idea what's wrong with me? Is this a permanent problem? I'm more than a little embarrassed asking my doctor or parents for help.

Tough! This is a serious concern, and if you want the problem to be solved, you need to consult a doctor about it. It could just be a matter of tension or something you're doing physically wrong that causes certain muscle groups to seize up when you get sexually excited. Or it could be something else. But if you're experiencing any kind of pain that's affecting your enjoyment of sexuality, there is one and only one thing to do about it: See a doctor.

I'm 15, and just decided to try masturbating. I did it, and everything "came out" (figuratively speaking) just fine. If I do this 2-4 times a week, about how long until I see growth changes coming into effect?
- age 15, Illinois

What growth changes? Masturbation does not affect growth of your body, or any part thereof, either way. Assuming you're still going through puberty, you and your penis will grow at the same rate no matter how much or how little you masturbate.

I am very concerned about my body shape. Does masturbation makes you look pale, lazy, and drunk? I am a weightlifter, and I go to the weight room every other day — but after I masturbate I don't have any power to lift weights. I'm also unable to fight with anyone. Why can't I do anything after masturbation? I can't think very good, and my eyes get puffy and hurt. Why does all of this happen?

If your self-descriptions are accurate, maybe you're just not waiting long enough between the time you masturbate and the time you hit the weights. When you ejaculate, your body secretes substances that cause you to feel sleepy and lose energy overall — but that's very temporary. In your case, maybe it takes a bit longer for your energy to "recharge," so you might have to wait longer after masturbating than most people. If you can go with masturbating only once a day, do it before you go to bed — then it shouldn't be a problem.

Then again, it could be "all in your head." Getting puffy eyes and thinking poorly after you masturbate both seem pretty unlikely. If deep down you're guilty about masturbating or wish you didn't masturbate as much, you may be imagining these symptoms, or even psychosomatically inflicting them upon yourself.

Finally, we respectfully point out that if masturbation keeps you from getting into fights, that's a good thing. Maybe if everyone masturbated regularly, there wouldn't be any fights or any wars. Someday, fellow masturbators...someday.

Does masturbating cause a person to lose weight? I've been masturbating for few years now, and I don't know if this keeps me from gaining weight. Some people told me I look the way I do because I masturbate so much. I've heard semen contains protein. Is there any relation?

There is no relation. Semen does contain protein, but if you ate one peanut per ejaculation you'd more than make up for it. Good luck gaining weight (and masturbating!).

Masturbation is very enhanced for me when my scrotum is relaxed and loose. I know temperature and excitement level have a lot to do with scrotum tension, but are there any lotions you know of to help with this? Any suggestions to help me swing low?

Most people feel the way you do about scrotum looseness being more erotic — but as far as I know, there's no way you can control it by putting something on the skin (unless it's warm). This is because the skin texture is not really controlled by the skin itself but by tiny muscles under the skin. When these contract — either when it's cold, or when your excitement level is very high — the skin bunches together, creating that thicker, more firm texture. At this point if you could look at the skin under a microscope you'd see it's rough and corrugated, rather than smooth and flat. Even though it might feel like it, the skin isn't really thicker; it's just bunched together.

Since your body temperature has much to do with the behavior of your scrotum, a hot bath (either before or during your session) will keep you "hanging low" for a maximum time.

Sometimes when I masturbate my scrotum gets small and hard, but other times it is bigger and soft. Why does it do this, and is it normal and healthy?

It's entirely normal and healthy. Your scrotum changes size and texture with the temperature — it's a mechanism your body uses to keep your testes a few degrees below core body temperature, since sperm cells require a slightly lower temperature to develop normally. When your body (and/or your scrotum) is a little cold, tiny muscles in your scrotum contract; this causes the skin to bunch together, making the scrotum appear smaller and making its texture more firm to the touch. At the same time your testicles are drawn closer to the body so they can stay warm. When your body is warmer, the muscles relax, causing the skin to loosen and soften and letting the testicles hang lower where they can stay cool.

I'm a 17-year-old teen who enjoys masturbation. (Duh, who doesn't?) I used to masturbate before I go to sleep. However, I don't clean up my semen. As a result, lately the sides of my thighs around my genitals have been red and itchy. I can't resist scratching, and the condition is getting worse. Is my skin developing an allergy to semen? And by the way, what's the pH of semen?

The problem may be unrelated to the semen, or the moisture might be aggravating it. It's probably a mild fungal infection — "jock itch," which is very similar to athlete's foot. In any case, you aren't developing an allergy. An allergy occurs when your body reacts to an outside agent, like pollen, poison oak oil, or pet dander. Except in very rare cases, the body doesn't react adversely to one of its own secretions. I suggest thoroughly cleaning up after each session, perhaps applying some baby powder to the area. If you suspect it's jock itch, try one of the many over-the-counter creams sold for this purpose. And if it persists or gets really bad, consult a dermatologist. (To answer your last question, the pH of semen is about 7.5, just barely more alkaline than distilled water.)

I'm an 18-year-old male who recently entered puberty. I am also a wrestler. During wrestling season, as many people know, many wrestlers become either anorexic or bulemic to drop to a low weight class, and we often combine that with long-term workouts wearing two or three sweatsuits. I normally fast, and if I eat anything I vomit it up and replace the food with a couple glasses of water to keep hydrated. I noticed that lately my semen has become much thinner and "stringy." Reaching orgasm also takes much longer than normal and is not as satisfying. I understand that my body is doing this because of a lack of nutrients and therefore is producing much less sperm to compensate for the void of calories. Will these eating habits affect genital growth?
- age 18, Ohio

People write to JackinWorld all the time asking whether masturbation can stunt one's growth — of course, it will not. I certainly can't say the same, however, about extreme eating behaviors like anorexia and bulemia. Though this doesn't have much to do with masturbation, I strongly recommend you do further research on the dangers of self-starvation. If a coach is supporting you in this kind of effort, he's doing you a great disservice. The mere fact that your semen appearance has changed significantly indicates your body is telling you something. It may also explain why you entered puberty so late. Forget about genital growth — that's the least of your problems. Since your whole body is still growing and developing you could be stunting yourself in far more harmful ways.

I've been masturbating for about a year now, and I'm kind of worried my right arm is starting to get a little bigger than my left. I try to alternate them, but it's not so easy with my left, so I have to finish it with my right hand — and I can't get them even. Is this normal?
- age 14

That has to be just your imagination. Young people often develop all sorts of ideas about how other people can tell that they masturbate, either through what they can see, hear, or smell. I'll tell you the most obvious factors that tip people off — your age, and your gender! Those things are much more obvious than any size differential between your arms.

If you really think one arm is getting bigger, measure them carefully and see. If you're still worried, you can always exercise your left arm to compensate — curls with a dumbbell may be most effective. Of course, then people might think you masturbate with both hands equally well. (Just kidding!)

I have an erection problem. I masturbate 3 or 4 times a day almost every day, including long masturbation sessions when my girlfriend and I have phone sex. But over the last few days I've started to notice that unless I touch myself I can't get an erection, whereas I used to get them just by having sexual thoughts and looking at pictures. I thought it might be that because I ejaculate so much my body doesn't need to get aroused that easily. I love this girl very much and we have decided to have sex, but there can't be any sex if I can't get an erection.
- age 17, New York

Masturbation does not make it more difficult for you to get an erection, except on the short term — an hour or two after masturbating you may still be "recovering" from the orgasm and therefore erection may be more difficult. However, abstaining from masturbation for a while may make it easier to get an erection, because your level of sexual tension is higher (i.e., you are "hornier"). You may also be experiencing a slight decline in the ease of erection, which is normal in the late teens. In this regard you have probably already leveled off — erection probably won't be much more difficult for you over the next couple decades.

It's worth mentioning that it's very common for a man to masturbate briefly to achieve a strong erection prior to intercourse. Sometimes you're so excited you don't need to, but for many men this is perfectly normal.

Every time I get done masturbating, right after I ejaculate, I start itching really bad all over — my legs, my arms, my pubic hair, my penis...everything itches for a couple of minutes and then stops. Why is this?

We've heard all sorts of physical responses to masturbation, and I think I've heard the itching thing before. It's some kind of odd nerve-related thing — an orgasm is a pretty big event for the nervous system, and a few people start to sneeze just after orgasm, or their eyes start to water. The itching is probably just another weird side effect, and it's probably nothing to worry about. And there's probably nothing you can do about it.

Sometimes when I go to the bathroom (a #2), when I get off the toilet it feels like I have to pee — and when I do, a little semen comes out. What causes this?

It sounds like when you relieve yourself (we're talking about defecating, if anyone doesn't know what "#2" means), pressure is exerted on your prostate, causing some prostatic fluid (a component of semen) to enter the urethra. The prostate is located just outside the rectum wall, so when something passes by it might squeeze the prostate a little. I don't think you need to be concerned about it, but if it's accompanied by pain or you experience other troubling symptoms, consult your doctor.

You've mentioned it's impossible to urinate when you are about to ejaculate. However, this has happened to me. In fact, it has happened instead of an ejaculation. I masturbate for a few minutes and feel what I think is an orgasm coming on — but then I urinate instead, which really shocked me the first time. What's going on?

I don't think I said it was impossible — but most physically mature males are unable to urinate when they have a strong erection and are close to orgasm. For someone in the early stages of puberty urination close to orgasm doesn't seem all that uncommon, but if you're at least 15 or 16 it shouldn't be happening. I defer to the medical profession on this one. I can't tell you what might be going on, so if you're pretty much done with puberty (you didn't mention your age) you should probably mention it to your doctor at your next checkup. It's probably not serious, but a doctor would be the best person to ask.

While I'm masturbating I like to push on the area under my testicles and rub it a little deep, because it feels really good and makes ejaculation feel more intense. However, a few minutes later, it hurts down near my perineum [the region between the scrotum and anus] and the lower part of my testicles. Have I damaged something down there, or is it safe to push on the perineum like I am doing?
- age 16, Nevada

If it hurts — no matter what technique you're using — I'd say you're doing it too hard. Back off a bit; no masturbation technique should ever result in pain. And avoid pressing deeply on the perineum when you're actually having the orgasm, as that can cause the semen to back up rather than ejaculate, which JackinWorld doesn't consider safe. (For more on this discouraged technique, see this.)

I am a 20-year-old guy. For a few weeks I have been having "off days." Sometimes I masturbate 3 or 4 times a day, and then a few days later, I won't get any urges for some time, and I feel slightly depressed. Then after a few days, the urge comes back and I feel okay. Then the cycle starts again. What's going on?

It's possible there's something going on biochemically that gives you periods of depression, which would likely affect your masturbation habits. But that actually sounds pretty normal for someone who's moving past the "gotta masturbate all the time" years. Most of us go through days when we feel more sexual than at other times. Even if this kind of thing is fairly new for you, I wouldn't worry about it unless it's accompanied by other troublesome symptoms, in which case you should consult a doctor.

I am a 16-year-old male who masturbates 1 or 2 times a day. During some of my sessions my feet — the right, left, or both — start to cramp up and ruin my pleasure. Do you know what's happening and how I can correct it?

It sounds like it might be your calf muscles, perhaps because you have a habit of pointing your toes while you masturbate. Whatever the case, you're strongly working some muscle that doesn't ordinarily get worked. (No, not that one!) When you start to feel a cramp, try to figure out what muscle or muscles are contracting, and then contract the muscle that works against it until the cramp stops. For instance, if it's the muscle at the back of your calf, stop pointing your toes and draw your foot up instead, and hold it there. Then make a conscious effort to stay at least partly in that position while you masturbate. Eventually you'll "kick" the habit and won't cramp up.

I recently came across information about masturbation that I'm not really sure whether to believe. It said that our bodies become physically conditioned over time by the different things we do, such as sleeping a certain amount of time, at certain times, the amount we eat and when, and so on. The article said the same applies to our sexual behavior — that as we settle into patterns, in a way we are programming our bodies to act in certain ways. It also mentioned masturbation, saying that if we masturbate at a regular interval for a period of time, our bodies become used to that and will come to expect it. What do you think?

There's probably something to that. People are very, very complex creatures, so there's no way to think of us as being programmed like an alarm clock — there's psychology, physiology, and who knows what else is going on. In just mental terms alone, the brain operates on numerous levels simultaneously (Freud called three of these the id, ego, and superego), so it's incredibly hard to tease apart all the threads that affect our behavior. But generally speaking, I'd say you can "program" yourself to want to masturbate at a certain time each day, just as you can teach yourself to wake up at 7 AM without an alarm clock, or even get into the habit of brushing your teeth before bedtime.

According to JackinWorld, it's bad to use your thumb or finger to prevent semen from coming out during ejaculation. [See this question.] So why do you say to go almost to climax and then hold back? (I wait until I feel the "burning" sensation and then hold back.)

It's not a good idea to actually let the ejaculation process begin and run its course but to keep the semen from coming out, as opposed to getting close to ejaculation and then backing off, which is okay. It's like the difference between sneezing while holding your nose (which can cause injury to your nasal passages and eardrums), and just getting close to sneezing but not actually letting the sneezing reaction begin (which is harmless).

I'm 16 years old and have been masturbating for about 4 years. Why is it that after I ejaculate, I have to go for a pee? It's been like this for a long time. Are other people like this?

It's very common. It probably has something to do with semen slightly irritating the inside of your urethra, causing your body to feel like urine is entering it, which triggers the feeling that you have to pee. Don't worry about it — unless you are experiencing discomfort on urination and have had unprotected sex recently, in which case you may have an STD and should see a doctor.

After I masturbate I usually need to urinate to get rid of semen that has "stayed behind" in my penis. I have not had sex yet, but my question is, when I do have sex, will I have to go to the toilet afterwards to urinate? Is this something that normally happens after ejaculation?

If you're urinating afterwards only to clear out leftover semen from your urethra (the tube that carries urine and semen through the penis), try gently squeezing or "milking" your penis after you ejaculate. For clearing out the urethra, this is pretty much just as effective as urinating. If you have an urge to urinate after you ejaculate (and I've heard many people mention this), you will probably have the same urge after intercourse. It may be a little embarrassing, but hopefully your partner will understand. Be sure to cuddle a little longer when you get back from the john!

Lately, after I'm done ejaculating, I experience a kind of hearing loss — like on an airplane, when you get a "bubble" in your ear — that doesn't go away for about 5 minutes. Why is this?

My guess is you are doing something with your mouth and tongue that's either forcing a little bit of air into your Eustatian tube (which runs from the throat to the middle ear), or sucking a little bit of air out of the tube. When there's an air-pressure imbalance between the two sides of the eardrum, you get that "bubble" you mentioned. Next time you ejaculate, try holding your mouth wide open with your tongue all the way down (as if you're yawning) and see if it still happens. If you conclude it isn't a matter of air pressure, or if it also happens during other forms of physical excitement (such as during intense athletics), it might be worth mentioning to a doctor.

According to JackinWorld, after you ejaculate you're unable to stimulate yourself because you must "recharge." After masturbating for years, I have found that even after I ejaculate, I am able to continue without hindrance for several minutes and get what I perceive as a second, third, and fourth orgasm, and sometimes more. I was wondering if I am not counting right or have some sort of problem, or if I am just really lucky. There is a point where I cannot go further, but it's as much as 10 minutes after I start to ejaculate.

The usual thing that happens is once you ejaculate, you simply have no interest in continuing. You're done. You also feel tired and satisfied. Plus, your penis feels especially sensitive, so you just don't want to stimulate it anymore. However some males are willing and able to continue without stopping, which often results in another (weaker) orgasm shortly afterward. And apparently some, like you, can have several. But most of us are fine with one orgasm, followed by a pleasant resting period.

Sometimes when I masturbate, I get red splotches all over my chest. Why does this happen? They usually go away in about 3 minutes.

This is known as the "sex flush," and it's very common, in both sexes. When you are aroused, certain capillaries (tiny blood vessels) in your skin can become dilated (they widen), causing more blood to flow close to the skin. Often the cheeks and forehead get a "flush," and this can happen on the chest and back as well, sometimes in irregular patterns as you describe. It's entirely normal.

My son (age 17) has been complaining of occasional pounding headaches in the back of his head. I was ready to the call the doctor about it when my son confided to his father that he gets these headaches only when he masturbates. My husband says he thinks he can recall having similar headaches when he was young. Have your readers had similar experiences? I am still worried, but I realize the embarrassing situation my son is in and don't want to rush to the doctor if it is normal.

I have heard of this before in several places, and I've also heard a medical doctor say it's probably nothing to worry about, unless there are other symptoms (dizziness, blackouts, etc.), or if the headaches sometimes hit suddenly and unprovoked. He is probably just sensitive to the high blood-pressure levels that occur when he's sexually very aroused. But if the condition persists and it's enough of a problem that it's adversely affecting his quality of life, I'd have him visit the doctor.

When I masturbate, my testicles sometimes pop up inside my body. Does this mean anything?

No, that's absolutely normal. As you get close to orgasm, muscles inside your pelvis draw the testicles close to your body (presumably to get them out of the way for intercourse). For some guys they get pulled very close. They don't actually go inside your body, although it can feel and look like that.

I've heard of something called "blue balls," but I don't think I've ever had them. Is there something wrong with me, or am I just lucky?

"Blue balls" is a slang term for congestion of blood in the testicles, which sometimes results from extended stimulation without ejaculation. It is uncomfortable (similar to the feeling of getting struck in the groin, only not as intense), so I don't know why you'd want to experience it. I'd say you're just lucky!

I have a question about "blue balls." On your site you said it's caused by being aroused for a long time without ejaculating, but you never said how long it took. When I masturbate, I like to get almost to the point of orgasm, but then I stop, making the masturbation session longer (almost an hour once). It feels really good, but now I am scared that it might not be good for me. What's the deal?
- age 14, Pennsylvania

As far as I know, the condition of "blue balls" (testicular vasocongestion) is harmless — although it is uncomfortable. I'm not sure it's the same thing as what you're talking about, though. Your method is just a way to prolong your masturbation session, and you're right — it can result in an excellent orgasm. "Blue balls" usually takes a bit longer to develop — maybe an hour or two of strong stimulation. If I were you I wouldn't worry about your masturbation method. But if your testicles start to ache an hour or so into the session, it's probably just your body saying, "Enough is enough — let's ejaculate!"

I have (just today) got "blue balls" for the first time. How long does it last, and is there anything I can do to get rid of it faster?

"Blue balls" (testicular vasocongestion) usually goes away by itself in just a few hours. It goes away faster if you masturbate to ejaculation, because this relieves some of the pressure in your reproductive system. The condition is relatively harmless, although if experienced many times throughout life it could possibly contribute to prostate problems in later years. That's why it's a good idea to masturbate to ejaculation if you're uncomfortably aroused. (Read more about testicular vasocongestion)

I'm 21 and have been masturbating for many years. I masturbate fairly frequently — maybe 4-6 times a week — and I find that sometimes when I don't masturbate, I have a "wet dream" at night. This is annoying since I have to get up in the middle of the night and change. Has my body gotten so used to ejaculating that if I don't make myself ejaculate, my body will do it for me?

This is uncommon — most people who masturbate with anything like your regularity rarely (if ever) have nocturnal emissions. Still, that doesn't mean there's anything wrong with you; your body probably just has an unusual need to release semen frequently. Still, as always, if anything seriously concerns you about your body, it's wise to discuss it with a doctor.

Every time I have an orgasm, it makes me close my eyes. How come?

During orgasm, many of our muscles involuntarily contract. It's common to arch our backs and clench our fists (or at least the one we aren't using!), and so forth. In your case, the muscles around your eyes are contracting. That's about all there is to it.

When men get older, do they stop producing sperm, like when women go through menopause and stop producing eggs? I read on JackinWorld about a 75-year-old guy who still masturbates. Does he still produce sperm?

Men's sperm counts do tend to go down with age, but there's no point at which a man becomes completely infertile, as is the case with women. The 75-year-old you read about probably still produces plenty of active sperm. You may have heard that actor Tony Randall became a father not too long ago, and he's in his 70s. May we all enjoy sexuality for that many years!

What is the average testicle size for men?
- age 18, Canada

For adults, each testicle is roughly one-and-a-half or two inches long. People come in many varieties, though — so one-inch testicles, as well as big ones that measure three inches or more, are not too uncommon. Testicle size, though, doesn't really mean anything other than the physical dimensions of a body part.

Is it true that you produce more sperm if you wear boxer shorts? I have worn both briefs and boxers, and I don't know which one produces more sperm.
- age 14, Canada

You're partly right. You will probably produce more active sperm cells if you wear boxers, because briefs hold the testicles closer to the body, and sperm production is higher in a cool environment, when your testicles are dangling in the air. However, this won't affect the volume of liquid in your ejaculation. So for your purposes, it makes no difference. A word of warning, though: Wearing briefs will not prevent you from producing sperm to the point where you won't get a girl pregnant. You still produce plenty of sperm cells, briefs or not!

I've read that testicles are outside of our bodies because they need a lower temperature than the rest of the body. I also read that if you wanted your testicles to work properly you should keep them cool at all times. One suggestion involved wearing loose clothes — preferably boxer shorts, and for nighttime, pajamas or nothing at all below the waist. I also heard that holding the testicles in cold water for a minute or two every day (e.g., after a shower) will noticeably increase your sperm production (after a two- or three-week delay). Is there any truth to this?

It's true that sperm production requires a slightly lower body temperature, and there may be some truth to the theories about boosting sperm production — but you have to distinguish between sperm production and semen production. Sperm cells, which are all produced in the testes, account for only a portion of a given volume of semen — and much of the rest of semen is produced not in the testes but elsewhere. (For more information, see Semen Production & Ejaculation in JackinWorld Science Corner.) So even if you were able to increase the number of sperm cells in your semen, the total volume of an ejaculation might not noticeably increase.

I'm 15 and have a small problem that has been concerning me since the beginning of puberty. The thing is, I have too much pubic hair. I have far more than all of my friends. It's not the fact that I have it on my lower abdomen, but that it is growing up my penis shaft — almost to the halfway point. I also have an extraordinarily hairy scrotum, which is a source of embarrassment. The hair isn't particularly unsightly, but I don't like it, and I need to know how to get rid of it.

Teenagers often have problems accepting their bodies, but that almost always mellows with age — so you can feel better knowing you won't be tortured by this forever. I do understand it's a concern now, though. At your age I wouldn't recommend permanent hair removal in the places you mention. You can always do that later. For now, you might try trimming the hair with an electric razor, especially the kind you can buzz your hair with. You can do this pretty quickly, and it won't leave you bald. Just be careful to go slowly and not overdo it, or you'll have to wait for it to grow back before it looks "right."

For best results, you might have to do this procedure every 2-3 weeks. You'll also get better with practice.

The other day I saw my 18-year-old brother masturbating, and I noticed he has a very hairy scrotum. How can I make my scrotum look as hairy as his? Is there any kind of lotion to put on? Will hair grow on my scrotum when I become older?
- age 12, Nebraska

Hair grows on many boys' scrotums ("balls") as they go through puberty. At your age, you certainly can't be expected to have it yet. Body hair is hereditary, so if your brother's scrotum is very hairy, there's a good chance yours will be as well — although you may have wait a couple of years before it starts to grow there. No, there's no way to speed up this process — you'll just have to wait.

I am 12 years old and masturbate once or twice a day, but I can never ejaculate. I feel ready, but I just can't.

You are probably still too young. It will probably happen within the next one or two years. Please be patient — and enjoy the fact that you don't have to clean anything up yet!

I am a 13-year-old male. I have had a few "wet-dreams," but I cannot seem to ejaculate when I'm awake. Here's what happens: I get really excited, but instead of ejaculating, I urinate involuntarily. This doesn't make sense — every book I've read says that your bladder gets shut off automatically when you're ready to ejaculate. Do I have a medical problem, or is it something simple?

A couple people have reported this condition, and I'm a little perplexed. First, I have to ask: Do you actually urinate, or are you just certain you're about to urinate? If it just feels like it's about to happen, that's completely normal — everyone feels that, but it will be semen coming out of your penis, not urine. If you're actually urinating ... well, that's a tough one. I would say you should definitely talk to your doctor. In the mean time, try completly voiding your bladder before you ejaculate, or try stopping it from happening by contracting the musicles of your pelvis (which you ordinarily use to avoid urinating).

I've never had a wet dream. When I discuss it with friends, some are the same as me, or they tell me about what I'm missing out on. The first time I "came" was after masturbating, not from a wet dream — although according to my sex education class, a wet dream was supposed to be my first ejaculation. I want to have a wet dream. I once withheld masturbation for two weeks in order to see if enough sexual energy could build up, so I would have a wet dream, but nothing happened. I just couldn't take it anymore, so I masturbated and shot the biggest load of my life. One of my friends masturbates as much as I do, but he still has wet dreams — once even three times in one night. What must I do in order to finally have the infamous "wet dream"?
- age 17, Oklahoma

Wet dreams (or nocturnal emissions) vary quite a bit from one person to the next. Personally, I, too, have never had a wet dream, but then again I masturbate frequently (as you've probably guessed). Masturbation tends to relieve the body's need to ejaculate, so you're less likely to have a wet dream if you masturbate often (or, in some cases, not so often). Your friend's body and brain are just put together in a way that causes a lot of wet dreams; there's probably no better explanation for it than that. Unfortunately, I don't know of any ways to induce wet dreams or to increase their frequency.

I sometimes feel like having another orgasm, but I often lose my erection and feel like my libido is gone, not to mention my penis feels really tender. What can I do to help the tenderness go away more quickly?
- age 15, Texas

That's just a part of the way the male body works. Orgasming and ejaculating is such hard work, this is just your body's way of saying you need to rest for a bit. As far as I know there's no real way around that.

If masturbation is healthy, how come you feel tired afterwards?
- age 17, Florida

That tiredness is the reason there are myths that masturbation saps the body of energy. Actually, all that's happening is that your body releases hormones (called endorphins) when you have an orgasm, and these hormones make you pleasantly sleepy for a short while. Their function is to make you want to rest, so your body can "recover" from the ejaculation. It only lasts a few minutes, though, proving there's no long-term effects from masturbating.

When I was a kid, my father told me once that right before a game, professional athletes are discouraged from doing any activity that promotes ejaculation, because it "drains" energy from the body. What's the deal?
- age 27, Japan

It doesn't "drain" energy away — but because of the hormones I just mentioned, you might feel more tired right after ejaculating. I'd say it's probably not a good idea to masturbate right before a game — but as long as an hour or two has passed, there should be no problem.

I just had my first mutual masturbation session with another guy about a week ago. Ever since then I have had no urge to masturbate. In fact, I haven't been nearly as horny as I used to be. Can you explain this? Will I get back my horniness?
- age 18, Colorado

By the time you're reading this, I bet you've already gotten it back! What you mentioned is a common occurrence. Your mutual session may have "satisfied" you for a while, and so regular old masturbation no longer seems interesting. It's amazing how this happens — your brain feels a certain way, and as a result, your body no longer feels like ejaculating. That's one of the many wonders of the male body. I'm certain your horniness will come back — whether you want it to or not!

How can I stop pre-cum from coming out? It's great when you're masturbating — I love it then. But when I am making out with my girlfriend, I start getting it, and I am afraid she will notice it. It is kind of embarrassing.
- age 16, Missouri

Sorry — that's part of the way the male body works, and there's nothing you can do about it (short of avoiding getting aroused). Perhaps if you tell her about it sometime, though, she won't be surprised if she sees it happening.

Do all males pre-cum? Because I don't.
- age 14, Indiana

No. It's common, but certainly not universal.

When you ejaculate, is it involuntary or voluntary?

Getting to orgasm is usually a voluntary process, but once you reach a certain point, a chain reaction of involuntary processes begins. Ejaculation is similar to sneezing — both result from prolonged stimulation of a certain part of the body, resulting in a wave of involuntary reactions.

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