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I am a 21-year-old male who has been having problems with sex, and I think may be related to masturbation. Specifically, when I receive oral sex or have sex with my girlfriend, I am unable to climax. I can sustain an erection for only a few minutes, and it usually goes away fast — even in the middle of intercourse. I have had this problem for a long time (with previous girlfriends) and don't think it is related to passing issues such as stress. My theory is that because I like to masturbate with a very fast hand motion, I just don't find the oral and vaginal sex I receive as arousing. Does this mean I should change my masturbation habits to better simulate sex (i.e., slowing down and perhaps using my non-dominant left hand)?

Yes, you're right on the mark. This is a fairly common problem, particularly among guys who are into fast-motion or especially tight masturbation. (However, plenty of guys who masturbate this way have no problem reaching orgasm with other stimulation forms.) You may need to put in some effort and will power, but if you'd like to cure this problem, try masturbating a little less often for a while, don't go quite as fast, loosen up your grip a little, and also work on getting stimulation by moving your hips instead of your hand (perhaps by using the "Vagina" technique) to better simulate intercourse. Your body will learn to adjust to the less intense stimulation, particularly if you wait until you're very horny before you masturbate.

If you masturbate by rubbing against a bed or mattress, is there any danger of catching any STD? Could masturbating when you have a cold or flu cause you to get AIDS? And will masturbating by rubbing against a bed for a second time or so when you haven't gotten up for a while and are still wearing the same underwear cause you to get an STD?

No, no, and no. Do yourself a favor and read something about sexually transmitted diseases.

On your Web site it says that it's harmful to stop the semen from coming out when it is naturally about to do so. Yet, one of your "reader favorite" techniques is the "Stop & Go" method. Aren't they contradicting each other?

First, we've never said that stopping semen from coming out is harmful. You may be talking about the practice of "injaculation," in which during the normal ejaculatory process the person does something to prevent the semen from physically leaving the body. The relative safety of "injaculation" techniques is unclear, and so, just to be 100% safe, we feel it's simply a better idea to let your semen be ejaculated from the body when the time (um) comes. As for "Stop & Go," the idea is that eventually, after several "close calls," you allow your body to go over the edge and reach orgasm and ejaculate. We believe that as long as you eventually reach orgasm, stopping short of the orgasm point is okay. But there's also a school of thought (primarily in Taoist teachings) that believes it's okay, or even beneficial, to experience heightened states of arousal without ejaculating. Still, since ejaculating is a big part of the fun of masturbation (and possibly may reduce prostate cancer rates later in life), we say go ahead and ejaculate.

I'm 16 and I masturbate often. Lately I've been looking into different techniques and positions. Unfortunately, after trying one where I needed my knees to be bent, I found that I could not reach orgasm. Since then I have tried many times to make sure that I bend my knees when I masturbate, however I can never achieve maximum hardness in order to enjoy myself. I'm very worried than when I do start having sex, I will not be able to reach orgasm since I will be in a different position. Even when I do try bending my knees to get into the habit, I have this strong urge to straighten them out and lock them.

As I've said before, masturbation and intercourse are very different experiences, and being able to masturbate to orgasm only in certain positions doesn't necessarily mean you can only have intercourse in those positions. However, I would try to get over it, because it's not going to help you sexually to have such restrictions. Try going as long as you can without masturbating; then, when you can't take it anymore, masturbate with your knees bent. Don't give in; don't allow yourself to orgasm unless your knees are bent. If you do this a few times, you'll likely get over your restriction.

Is it safe to stick the bow of my glasses into my urethra?
- age 15, Colorado

No, it is never safe to insert anything into your urethra! There are several dangers involved with inserting objects into the urethra: It could get lost inside (necessitating an immediate and extremely embarrassing trip to the emergency room); you can infect the urethra with bacteria (urogenital infections are really nasty); and you can irritate the extremely sensitive tissues of the urethra. Doctors and nurses need to insert something into the urethra during certain procedures, but they use sterile equipment and they know what they're doing. Don't do it. (For more guidelines on masturbation safety, see this page.)

I feel that JackinWorld has overdone its efforts to allay masturbation fears by limiting warnings about masturbating too often to "rubbing yourself raw" and "interfering with other aspects of your life." Here's my problem: I have a hard time coming to orgasm by any means other than my own hand. Other people's hands and orifices rarely seem to do it. I anticipated this problem a few years ago when I realized that my masturbation ritual had become very uniform and, specifically, uniformly fast. It had not always been this way, and I feared that I had accustomed my penis to a very specific type of stimulation that another person was unlikely to be able to give me. My concerns have been addressed (partially) in some of Dan Savage's [syndicated and online] columns. I had never read anything like this on JackinWorld, and I'm worried. Sex is really fun, and I feel like my masturbation patterns/habits have put me behind. Perhaps JackinWorld should make reference to the negative consequences of certain habitual masturbation patterns: If you think you're getting in the habit of coming to climax exclusively through means a partner is unlikely to engage in — such as super-fast stroking, delicately paced for 15 minutes — you might want to switch it up a bit, because it may become the only technique that works on you.

In fact, you're very right. Perhaps we've been remiss at mentioning all of the possible complications that certain masturbation habits can bring about. Mainly, we feel compelled to point out the many wrong ideas that people have about masturbation, but perhaps it's time to address this issue.

From what I can tell, most guys who have long masturbated with strong grips or at high speeds are still able to reach orgasm during partnered intercourse, merely because there are so many other erotic stimuli going on when you're with a partner. However, clearly for some guys, this does become a problem. I think you and Mr. Savage are correct in advocating variation in masturbation technique, and if you use a firm grip, lightening up from time to time. As Mr. Savage says, it is possible to learn to reach orgasm with a lighter touch. I also advocate mixing up your sessions with some techniques that more closely simulate intercourse, such as the "Vagina" and the Baggie & the Mattress. If you have trouble reaching orgasm with these techniques, perhaps it's time to spend some more time with them until you can. Lay off the jackhammer, death-grip "fist" technique for a while — working more subtle techniques into your routine may enhance your sexual abilities with a partner, and perhaps it may also ease some of the anxieties you may have over partnered sex.

I have never been able to masturbate by holding the penis shaft. Instead, I lie down on my stomach and cup my hands to the left of my penis, and I just rub the pelvic area next to it. I achieve orgasm and ejaculation without ever getting an erection. When I do have an erection, I can have sex okay and can maintain an erection for a long time, but I don't ever get near to having an orgasm. I am scared that I have somehow messed myself up, and I don't know what to do.
- age 18, California

You haven't messed yourself up — certainly not physically, anyway. But you have gotten your body accustomed to reaching orgasm through an unusual form of stimulation indeed. That's not a problem in itself — but having an orgasm through intercourse, if that's something you want to be able to achieve, is not going to happen unless you make the effort and work at it. Masturbation, of course, is the best possible way to practice, at your leisure and in private. It's important that you learn to stimulate your penis — first to achieve an erection, then to maintain it, and finally, to achieve orgasm. I would advise stopping your unusual masturbation technique for a while; make a commitment to yourself that your next orgasm will result from direct penis stimulation, and nothing else. You may want to use a hip-thrusting technique such as the Vagina with plenty of lubrication, and if it helps, add erotic photos or videos into the mix. It may take a few tries — maybe a lot of tries — but eventually you'll get there. By that point, achieving orgasm through intercourse will be much easier. (If possible, try to abstain from ejaculating a week or so before you have intercourse.) Good luck!

I am 18 years old and have masturbated for years. Of all the times I've done it, I have not once used lubricant of any kind. I assumed it was normal, but once in a while I would read about using lubricant, and after reading much of JackinWorld I've noticed many of the techniques and variations mention lubrication. Any reason I should change my ways? There's absolutely no problems when I'm masturbating now.

If you're not having any trouble, there probably isn't any reason to change. However, many circumcised people who masturbate "dry" can be overly rough with the penis, which can cause slight desensitization of the skin, as well as occasional chafing. Another option is to use a non-liquid lubricant such as talcum powder. If you've never tried masturbating with a lube, give it a shot, so to speak — you may find it provides a more sensual, intercourse-like masturbation experience. Your penis skin may thank you, too.

I'm a "band geek" and was wondering, is valve/slide/key oil for trumpets/trombones/horns a safe lubricant? I know that it contains petroleum distillates, so it wouldn't be safe for use with condoms, but that's about it.

Although I don't think it would seriously harm you, I'd advise against it. Since this is a thin (low-viscosity) oil, it could easily get inside your urethra and irritate the highly sensitive tissue there. Plus, let's face it, this stuff is made to be used on horns, not the skin flute! You're better off using a commercial personal lubricant, or if that isn't available, something made for skin contact, like hand lotion.

There is a Web site that talks about "traumatic masturbatory syndrome" — they indicate that masturbating hands-free and prone, or face-down, is the road to sexual ruin. I've masturbated prone on the mattress and floor for years and loved it. Am I ruined? Is there any validity to this traumatic masturbatory syndrome, and if so, how come there aren't more men incapable of partnered sex?

I'm not sure what to think about "traumatic masturbatory syndrome." We actually used to have an article about it here on JackinWorld — it was a summary of a paper published in 1998 in the Journal of Sex and Marital Therapy. As I recall, the article discussed masturbating not only hands-free and face-down but also without an erection. (Yes, it is possible for some men to reach orgasm without ever getting erect.) However, other than that one article, there have been no other papers or studies relating to "traumatic masturbatory syndrome," which suggests that the whole thing may be a crock. As for the Web site you mentioned, there is one guy on the Web who seems motivated to spread the word about this supposedly dangerous practice, endlessly citing that one article. I'd say that if you masturbate hands-free and face-down, you'd be better off doing it to orgasm only with an erection; it makes some sense that being accustomed to reaching orgasm by thrusting a non-erect penis in an intercourse-like position could lead to erectile-dysfunction problems later on. But otherwise, until we hear more about "traumatic masturbatory syndrome," I wouldn't worry about it.

I'm afraid I've become addicted to the use of a vibrator to bring myself to orgasm. I use every type, from the electric handheld kind to the small bullet-size ones. I often use several at once — anally, beneath the scrotum, and directly on the meatus or penis head. I use them several times per week. I now find that I cannot masturbate without vibration. In fact, reaching orgasm with a partner is now almost impossible. Does a man permanently lose sensitivity, or is it something that will return if he were to stop using vibration for a while?

Congratulations on your creative and varied use of these toys — but maybe you should cut back or lay off for a while, particularly if you're at a time in your life when you want to have partnered sex. As you've noticed, overdependence on vibrators can really get in the way of sexual intimacy. On JackinWorld we often warn that mechanical stimulation devices can temporarily or permanently desensitize the penis; I have a feeling that your case belongs in the temporary category. Permanent desensitization in most cases results from exposure to powerful, violent stimulation, which should always be avoided (even if it's from your own hand).

This is going to sound bizarre, but for a short time now I have been intentionally hurting my testicles through various squeezes, twists, slaps, and taps while I masturbate. For some reason I find the pain pleasurable. It also holds back my orgasm, and when I finally do orgasm, it is very satisfying. Is this is a safe way to masturbate? Is there anyone else out there who does this?

Some people do get a sexual charge out of pain, and some people do safely work this into their sexual practices. But it isn't good idea to be deriving pain from your testicles. Even though the testicles themselves are pretty tough, the epididymis and vas deferens which are attached to them are much more delicate. You could injure yourself or make yourself sterile if you treat them too roughly. So, I definitely recommend that you stop doing this. See if there's any other part of your body you can derive a safe pain/pleasure from. Don't take it out on your genitals.

I masturbate using a technique kind of like the Five-Finger, but I think I'm putting my wrist at a weird angle, and whenever I move my wrist around it pops as if I'm popping my fingers. It worries me, because a few weeks ago my hand felt kind of numb. It went away, and I've tried different methods, and using my other hand, but I don't get the same feeling and I can't do it as hard and as fast. So is there anything I can do before I get like carpal tunnel syndrome and need surgery or something?

Repetitive-motion injuries of the wrist occur from just that: repetitive motion of the wrist. So, are you moving your wrist when you masturbate — in other words, is your hand moving separately from your forearm, or are they moving together, with most of the joint motion happening at the elbow? The second method is far preferred over the first. If you're moving your wrist, and your wrist is at a weird angle, then you are at risk for developing a disorder such as carpal-tunnel syndrome. As long as your wrist is more or less "frozen in place" when you masturbate — and try to keep it at as straight and natural an angle as possible — you should be fine.

When masturbating, I like to put a wide rubber band around the base of my penis. This technique gives me stronger erections and greatly enhances the orgasm. I also use rubber bands during intercourse when I'm especially nervous (it makes it easier to maintain an erection). I was just wondering if this increased blood flow to the penis is unhealthy, and if there are any long-term side-effects to this technique?

Genital rings (most people know them by a more crude name), when used not too frequently, seem to be relatively harmless. That said, you're talking about a rubber band — not a sex toy manufactured for this specific purpose. Putting on a rubber band could certainly be harmful if applied too tightly. Such an elastic device must be loose enough to allow some blood to flow; your living tissues need a certain amount of circulation to survive. If you aren't losing any sensation from using the band, you'll probably be all right — but to be on the safe side, I definitely encourage you to use a manufactured genital ring instead.

Sometimes when I masturbate, I like to stop a moment and grip my penis tightly with both hands and squeeze as hard as I can. I even use my thighs against my hands to add to the pressure. I'm wondering if this would cause problems, because the pressure I apply is really high — as if I were using one of those coin-operated machines that test your strength. I haven't had any problems using this technique so far; I don't feel any pain with it (possibly because pain tolerance is heightened during masturbation). Is this okay to do, or is there some risk I should be aware of?
-age 19 Washington

It's certainly an unusual technique. I caution you to take it a little easier on yourself. The penis contains a network of blood vessels and chambers that fill with blood when you get an erection, and such abuse is liable to cause tiny ruptures you can't see on the surface. It could have a long-term scarring effect, and over time, could reduce your ability to achieve erection. The penis wasn't meant to endure such compressional forces. So, I'd say go ahead and squeeze — but for safety's sake, lighten up a bit.

By the way, it's definitely not a good idea to squeeze hard while you're stroking your penis, even with lots of lubrication. You'll never get this kind of compression during intercourse, so it can set you up for serious problems reaching orgasm during sex.

A couple of months ago I read about auto-fellatio — sucking one's own penis. I have learned how to do it and have mastered it. I showed my girlfriend my talent, and now she thinks I'm gay or bi. I know I'm not gay. Is auto-fellatio accepted by men, or do they think it's gay?
- age 17, New York

Although few men are able to perform this feat, many men fantasize about being able to do it. The idea of whether it's "gay" or not is purely a matter of opinion. Realize that "gay" has two possible meanings: Relating to sexual preference, a man is gay if he prefers to have sex with other men. Relating to sexual activity, a sexual act can be considered "gay" if it's between two guys, although that doesn't at all mean that the participants are gay with regard to the first meaning. So if a guy is all by himself, I don't see how any activity he does can be considered "gay." Is it "more gay" if he masturbates to the Home & Garden Channel as opposed to a monster-truck rally? Get my drift? This kind of thinking is pointless. It's bad enough that we feel the need to assign labels to ourselves; do we really need to judge activities in which certain parts of our body touch certain other parts? Relax, enjoy your talent (be easy on your back!), and tell your girlfriend to get a life.

I masturbated with latex gloves the other day, so the semen wouldn't get everywhere. Afterward, my penis felt like the powdery substance on the gloves. Is there any danger in using gloves? On the box it says something about allergic reactions but that's it. They are just regular latex gloves.

The gloves are probably coated with talcum powder, which is harmless. However, talc has been linked to cervical cancer in women — probably because it contains traces of asbestos — so powdered gloves should not be used by women when they masturbate. By the way, women should know that corn starch is a safer alternative to talc for doing things like powdering sex toys between uses.

Whenever I take a bath, I often masturbate and ejaculate. Is there any risk in masturbating underwater?

No, none at all. As long as you stay away from using certain types of soap and shampoo as lubrication (they can severely dry out the skin — temporary but scary) you'll be fine.

Several years ago, when I was 12 or so, I started using a vacuum (with a hose) as a means of masturbation. Not too long afterward, I noticed that my penis started appearing wrinkled, and the "lip" of the penis has bumps on it now. And at times, when my penis is rubbed a lot, a "bloating" occurs on the right side, and an area raises up as if it were a blister or something. I think I messed up my penis. Should I go to a doctor? Could a plastic surgeon do something to help?

You're right, you may have messed yourself up a little. As we say on JackinSafety, you should never use a vacuum cleaner as a masturbation toy, any more than you should use a food processor. But as long as you still have no problems getting erections, or aren't experiencing pain, it's probably not serious. The condition may even resolve itself as you finish growing. At your age, a plastic surgeon is out of the question. It would be silly even for an adult to see a plastic surgeon for such a minor cosmetic condition.

I'm 19 and have been masturbating for several years. I've tried several techniques, but I can achieve orgasm only by using one technique. I usually thrust my penis onto a pillow or another soft surface, with varying speeds. I've tried many of the conventional ways to masturbate using just my hand, but nothing seems to work. Is there something wrong, am I just not sensitive? I've found also that during sexual intercourse I can last an extremely long time before I climax. Could this be caused by masturbating using one technique?

There's nothing wrong with masturbating using only one technique. Some guys have just the opposite problem — they masturbate using only their hands and worry that they won't be able to reach orgasm during intercourse, which is what you're simulating when you hump your bed. As long as you're having an okay time with intercourse (and lasting a long time is usually considered a plus), there's no reason to be concerned.

I am concerned about my 8-year-old son. For about two years he has loved to lie on his stomach on the floor or bed, put his hands over his penis area, and hump. My husband talked to him about not doing it where other people can see him — that it is a personal matter. My concern is that he is rubbing it red and raw at times. My husband and I are very open about masturbation, and I don't want to tell my son to stop, because it obviously gives him pleasure. Should my husband suggest lube to him and show him the "Fist" method? What should we do?

He's too young to learn about "conventional" masturbation and probably wouldn't be interested in it, anyway. He's just doing what comes naturally. If he's rubbing himself raw, give him some first-aid ointment or zinc oxide. Don't be too concerned about it; he'll stop when his body tells him to stop.

I was trying out the "Stop & Go" technique, and something startling happened to me. I was extremely close to orgasm and tried to make myself stop, but my penis started pulsating like it always does at orgasm, and I had all the feelings of an orgasm, but I did not ejaculate. And almost just as startling, I still had an interest in sex afterwards. Normally I couldn't care less about anything sexual after orgasm and just want to sleep. Is there anything that would explain this, or am I just a very rare case?

Orgasm and ejaculation are not one and the same thing. They're actually completely separate mechanisms, but because of the way a guy's body is wired, they're "designed" to happen at the same time when a guy's penis is stimulated normally through the period of sexual climax. Under certain conditions, however, orgasm can occur without ejaculation — particularly when the stimulation stops at a certain point, which is what happened in your case. The timing is tricky, though, so even if you want to make it happen again, you may not be able to. Regardless, as long as you continue to ejaculate normally when you keep stimulating your penis through the orgasm process, you don't need to worry — what happened to you was normal.

Is it okay to masturbate with a used condom? I wash the condom whenever I have finished using it.

As long as nobody else has used it before, there's no problem with re-using a condom for masturbation. You would not want to re-use a condom for intercourse, however, because a used condom isn't as strong as a fresh one and may have developed tiny, invisible holes, through which sperm or STDs could pass. But for masturbation it's fine.

I have masturbated all my life by covering my genitals with my hand and going at it. I thought everyone masturbated this way — but when I read JackinHow-To I realized I was a special case. I tried to grab my penis with my hand and simulate penetration, but it didn't work and it hurt. I can experience pleasure only by masturbating my way, and I am afraid that when I get to have sex with a girl, I won't feel any pleasure.

We don't like to tell people there are right and wrong ways to masturbate — but if you expect to have intercourse someday, you really ought to get at least a little accustomed to the feelings and movements associated with intercourse. Otherwise, you might have some trouble later, and it may take a few times to get used to it. It sounds like you didn't use any lubrication when you tried to masturbate "normally" — masturbation should never actually hurt. Find a good lube, and try the "Fist" — or for a closer intercourse approximation, the "Vagina" or something like the "Baggie & the Mattress." Be very patient at first, and try to go all the way to orgasm. You don't have to use these techniques all the time, but using them every once in a while will keep you in good shape for the "real thing" whenever that day comes around.

I just read on the JackinForum that masturbating with a Jacuzzi jet can desensitize your penis. When I was young (11-13) I remember doing this every so often. I haven't done it for at least a year, though. Is there any chance my penis could be desensitized? I masturbate regularly, but usually it's just a chore to get rid of horniness, and I don't get much pleasure from it.

It's pretty rare for someone to get permanently desensitized. If you were masturbating with rolled-up sandpaper for a couple of years it would be one thing, but an occasional date with a Jacuzzi jet isn't going to do any damage. (I hope you at least bought it dinner and a movie!) People naturally have varying degrees of sensitivity, so don't get hung up on it. And an awful lot of guys — myself included — have found that pleasure and masturbation fun definitely go up as you get older. Relax and learn to enjoy yourself.

A long time ago I heard that it's great to stick an object in your urethra, but I've also heard it's harmful. Is there any truth behind either rumor?

Yes — the second one! The penis has a lot of parts that can be stimulated safely, but the urethra is definitely not one of them. It's not safe at all. Anatomically this tube is designed only to pass urine or semen, so it's very delicate, and you can easily injure your penis by putting anything inside. Also, many curious men have ended up making embarrassing trips to the emergency room to remove objects that got lost in their urethras. Respect your penis — don't do anything that even has a chance of hurting it.

For more on unsafe techniques, see JackinSafety.

Lately I cannot have an orgasm unless I really strain myself. I have to use all the force in my hands to do it, and lube is almost always necessary. I was trying the "Vagina" technique and actually got bored with it — I could not reach climax unless I started masturbating myself instead of thrusting my hips. Does this mean I won't make a good lover? I have never had sex before.

It sounds like you're setting yourself up for trouble. Masturbation should never require strenuous or violent technique to achieve ejaculation. Once your penis starts getting used to a very vigorous technique, it can start to lose sensitivity, which means you need to provide more stimulation to compensate. It's kind of like a narcotic addiction — your body builds up tolerance, and you need more and more of the drug to approach the effect you felt the first time.

Understand that a woman's vagina is not going to be able to grip your penis with the intensity of a fully clenched fist. Other factors come into play when you're having sex with another person — it's naturally a more erotic situation than when you're by yourself on your bed — but still, on the purely physical end of things, when you're with someone you don't want to feel you aren't getting enough stimulation to go over the edge.

I recommend that you change your masturbation habits drastically for a little while. See how long you can go without masturbating — at least a week if possible — and when you come back to it, lighten up your technique considerably. By this time your penis will probably have regained some of the lost sensitivity, to try to reach ejaculation with minimal stimulation, your hand not gripping your penis tightly at all. And avoid using that really tight technique anymore. If you can consistently achieve ejaculation with the hand just gliding over the penis surface — or by doing the "Vagina" technique with a fairly light grip — you'll be pretty much cured.

Every time I try the "Rosy Palm" technique, even though it feels like I'm about to ejaculate, I involuntarily urinate instead. It doesn't quite feel like a real orgasm — it feels like something different. My erection stays up, and if I do it some more, I just urinate more. What's even stranger is that the urine smells like Cheerios instead of urine. I know there's something wrong here, but what is it?

Some people have a reflex reaction, when the end of the urethra is stimulated, that causes them to urinate a little involuntarily. It's similar to a gag reflex — if the body senses there might be something in the end of the urethra, it tries to flush it out. Since "Rosy Palm" involves a lot of manipulation of the penis head, that is probably what's happening with you. The reflex seems to be preventing you from having a normal ejaculation from this technique. I don't know about the "Cheerios" smell you described, but maybe it's a result of mixing urine with a little semen, or perhaps Cowper's gland secretion ("pre-cum"), both of which may be accompanying the involuntary urine expulsion. In any case, I don't think there's anything particularly "wrong" about what's happening — the technique just may not be working for you.

When I masturbate I usually sit at the computer, looking at pictures for up to an hour and a half at a time, and I usually massage my penis while I'm doing this. I usually just concentrate on the head, and when I want to, I increase the speed and pressure of my rubbing and I ejaculate. I usually don't use the "traditional" masturbation technique (one hand, "Fist" method), doing that only occasionally in the shower or late at night. When I masturbate that way I ejaculate very fast — even if I slow down or stop for a while, I still reach orgasm quite quickly. Is it unnatural or unhealthy to masturbate by just rubbing the head? If my habits are making me ejaculate too quickly, what can I do?

Besides denying yourself a potentially longer and more enjoyable masturbation session, the only real risk here is developing patterns that cause you to reach climax too quickly when you're with a partner (when you want more control over your timing). It's actually more unhealthy to *not* be able to reach orgasm by using anything but a specific masturbation technique, which is a much more common problem. Still, it would be a good idea for you to occasionally practice using a more intercourse-like technique (the "Fist," "humping" the bed, or the "Vagina" from JackinExpert), concentrating on going slowly and building endurance. As for your other technique, it's probably fine — but be careful you're not getting too dependent on the artificial visual stimulation for arousal, as that can become a definite problem with some people.

Sometimes I like to do anal masturbation, and lately I have been sticking ice cubes inside myself. Is this bad for me, and will it hurt me if I do it a lot?

Although I can't specifically think of a reason why it might be harmful or dangerous, it can't be good for you, either. If you continue this technique, do so at your own risk. But if you do continue to do it, avoid using cubes right out of a cold freezer. Allow them to warm up a bit until they start to melt on their own. (Frozen water can be any temperature up to 32 degrees F., and the colder the cubes are the more likely they are to hurt you.)

I'm 39. I like to use the "Stop & Go" technique for a few days in a row and then ejaculate. Is this bad for your prostate? Someone told me that when you are about to ejaculate, the prostate is expanded, and when you do, it snaps back to normal. By using the Stop & Go for days in a row, it doesn't contract back and that's bad for it. But when you have an erection at night, isn't that the same thing?

It's not a good idea to stop completely once you've gone that far; we recommend you finish any serious masturbation session with ejaculation. Some people have mentioned that getting close to orgasm and then stopping, even for a few minutes, might be bad for the prostate — but it's probably fine as long as you ejaculate within an hour or so. (Plus, of course, stopping and starting up again is fun and makes the session last longer.) It very well may depend on how close you get to orgasm, too. If the process of ejaculation actually begins and then you stop, that's probably not a good idea; always follow through your orgasm once you've reached that point. If you want to do the Stop & Go thing, we recommend you stop a good 5 seconds or so before you'd otherwise reach that "point of no return."

I've tried the technique where you stop just before ejaculation and then resume, and it seems to work pretty well when I can discipline myself to stop. I have to stop completely, though — I can't just slow down, because there is still enough stimulation to keep it pumping. You've said this is good practice for pleasing your partner, but I don't get it. I'd think a girl would get bored if you kept stopping, especially if you're like me (when I stop just before ejaculating I can't start again for 15 or 20 seconds or I'll burst). Wouldn't a woman lose interest if she stops getting stimulated? Doesn't this defeat the purpose of the technique?
- age 18, California

Good question. A lot of what you mentioned is discussed in the JackinLibrary article "Masturbate to Practice For Sex." But I don't mean you need to use the same techniques during sex as during masturbation. Rather, when you masturbate, work on getting a thorough understanding of your body's response to sexual stimulation. This knowledge can then be of great help when you're ready to make the transition to intercourse.

For you specifically, there are two things you can do. First, masturbate to orgasm several times using exclusively the "Vagina" technique in JackinExpert. When you have intercourse, or practice for it using the "Vagina" technique, perhaps it's better not to get quite as close to orgasm before backing off. Instead, use your knowledge of your body to tell you how fast, deep, etc., you should go, your goal being to maintain a lower excitement level so you don't have to stop altogether and rest. There's an equilibrium point of stimulation where your excitement level idles rather than hurdles toward orgasm; it often means going slowly and perhaps taking brief pauses between thrusts. Second, if you're having intercourse and you feel you must stop thrusting in order to delay ejaculation, you can continue to stimulate your partner by reaching down and masturbating her — by gently massaging the area above the clitoris, for example. Some men do this even while thrusting, often to the great pleasure of their partners.

I'm a 15-year-old male, and I've read on your site that "JackinWorld considers any technique that prevents the semen from leaving the body as unsafe." Very often, when I masturbate, I stop right when I'm about to orgasm — but I still get a little feeling of orgasm. If I keep doing the same thing, sometimes I feel a little pain. Is that unhealthy?

The jury is still out on whether "injaculation" — ejaculating but preventing the semen from coming out — is truly unhealthy, but I think it's a good idea to avoid this and just let it come out. If your body is actually beginning the ejaculation process, stopping at that point may not be the best idea. I'd say if you're experiencing any discomfort you may be going a bit too far, so stop a little sooner. Hopefully you are ejaculating eventually — otherwise the discomfort you're describing may just be testicular vasocongestion, commonly called "blue balls" — see JackinIndex for more info on this.

Recently I discovered the ability to reach orgasm and ejaculate without stimulating my penis in any way. I just lie down and...focus. I don't even think about erotic things — I can just make it go. It does take a while, and my heart starts pounding and I breathe really fast. What is this called? Is this some type of mega-control over my body?
- age 17, Illinois

We've heard of some people being able to do this. It does require great concentration, bodily self-awareness, and in some people mastery of "Mental Masturbation." But sorry, we have very little info on the topic. We would very much like to hear from readers who have experienced this, and we'd love to have an article on the technique for JackinLibrary someday.

For lubrication I like to use "Slime" or "Gak" that Nickelodeon sells from those 25-cent machines in grocery stores. Is this safe? It feels different but neat.

I have no idea what ingredients make up "Slime" or "Gak." Therefore I do not recommend using it, even though my suspicion is that it's harmless. If you find out that these (or any other substances) are made from natural plant-derived substances such as carageenan (a slimy substance extracted from seaweed, used in everything from chocolate milk to shampoo), then it should be perfectly safe to use as a lube. [Note: Since this question was answered, a reader has told us these Nickelodeon products are food-based and therefore masturbation-safe.]

I like to shave my pubic hair every once in a while. It gives me a better view of my penis and allows better hand movement when I masturbate. Is it safe? Is it common?

Yes, it's perfectly safe (assuming you don't cut yourself), and it's probably more common than you think. We've gotten a bunch of letters asking for us to cover the topic of shaving, but there really isn't a whole lot to say — other than if you feel like doing it, go ahead! The only down side is it takes a while for the hair to grow back. Since most people's pubic hair is curly, each hair is longer than it appears, so it can take two to four months before it's completely grown back.

When I masturbate I like to grab hold of my testicles and squeeze until it hurts a little. This turns me on. Could any long-term damage occur?

Generally, the sensation of pain is your body's way of alerting you that something physically harmful may be going on. To complicate matters, when you are in the midst of sexual excitement, your threshold of pain goes up — for some people, way up. As a result, when you're excited you're liable to do things that would be very painful any other time. Therefore, while masturbating you need to be very careful about doing anything that causes pain to a part of your body — especially an important, fairly delicate area like your testicles. My advice would be to keep this activity to an absolute minimum, or stop doing it completely. Otherwise you may harm your ability to have children, and you may increase the possibility of other genital-related problems that may develop down the road.

I masturbate regularly, and I've tried different lubricants such as baby oil, lotion, and Vaseline (which I'm currently using). I read somewhere that Vaseline is the most unhealthy thing you could use for masturbation, since it's not water-soluble, and so all the bacteria on your penis will not wash off when you shower. Is this true? Should I be worried?

I don't think so. It's true bacteria are more likely to accumulate on surfaces covered with a greasy substance like Vaseline, but unless you have cuts or scratches on your penis this probably wouldn't be a factor, as healthy external skin is a pretty effective barrier. Of course, if you're having intercourse that's another matter. In that case you should clean off any Vaseline from your penis (it does wash off with soap), as it can weaken a condom. And if you're having unprotected sex — which you should have only in a monogamous long-term relationship, for example between husband and wife — the Vaseline should be washed off with soap to avoid contaminating your partner with bacteria.

I like to masturbate in front of a mirror. Or, if I don't have a mirror handy, I'll just look down at myself. Do other guys do this?

It's absolutely normal and very common. A mirror can be very exciting — and it doesn't necessarily mean you're narcissistic or gay. It's just a way to kind of intensify the experience and see things from a different angle.

Recently I have been masturbating with a Shower Massage. Because of the intense pleasure I get, I am becoming more and more obsessed with masturbating this way. After a few times, when I masturbate using only my hand, it seems as if the sensitivity is less than normal. Could I be effectively "desensitizing" my penis? Is it possible the intensity of the water action is thickening the skin of my penis?

Unfortunately it is possible to reduce the sensitivity of your penis by using an intense source of artificial stimulation. However, unless the stimulation is very violent, the effect is temporary, although it can last for several days. It's not that your skin is thickening — your nerve endings just get a little overwhelmed and kind of "turn down the volume" on the impulses they send to your brain.

If you're going to use any technique that produces considerably more stimulation than your hand, my advice would be to use it sparingly — once every couple of weeks, for instance. My other concern is that such stimulation can kind of take the shine off "regular" masturbation as well as sexual intercourse. In other words, if you get too accustomed to intense stimulation, masturbation and intercourse — which are supposed to feel great as is — might not do it for you after a while, and you might get dependent on something more intense, which isn't healthy. You don't need to seal your penis in plastic and bring it out only for special occasions; just use good judgment and moderation, and back off a little if you find standard masturbation is becoming too boring.

When I masturbate, I ejaculate very quickly — say, within 30 seconds to a minute. I love masturbating, but when I ejaculate so fast I can't even enjoy it. Is there anything I might be doing wrong?

You need to slow down — in a big way! In addition to not enjoying masturbation as much, you're setting yourself up for problems with premature ejaculation later on. One of the great things about masturbation is it teaches us to learn about our own bodies — what we feel like at different points of our sexual response cycle, how close we are to orgasm, etc. So when you feel yourself getting close, slow down or come to a complete stop. If you find you're unable to slow down, that it's just too late and you can't hold back, you need to start slowing down earlier. Actively work on this over time, the way you'd work on a tough computer puzzle or airplane model. And do it pretty much every time you masturbate. If you really want to change, keep a log of how long your sessions are, and try to make them longer and longer with more and more resting periods. Eventually you'll be able to delay your ejaculation for a half hour or more. In addition to having a longer period of pleasure, I'm sure you'll find the resulting orgasm much more powerful. It takes time, effort, and self-control, but believe me — it's worth it!

I tend to masturbate by just kneeling on the floor and then collapsing my body onto my legs, and then I just thrust my pelvis until I ejaculate. I have tried to use my hand, but I can never ejaculate that way. What should I do?

It's pretty common for males not to be able to get an orgasm with their hands if they've grown accustomed to a hands-free method. It's not a big deal, but if you really want to learn to do it with your hand, I'd recommend holding off masturbating until you just can't stand it anymore, and then go at it. Follow the directions in JackinHow-To, especially the paragraph titled "But I can't ejaculate." Good luck!

I'm a 25 year old male. When I masturbate, I need to keep my left hand gripped around the base of my penis while I masturbate with the right hand in order to stay erect. When I try to masturbate using just my right hand, I can't maintain a good erection. Also, if I stop, I start to lose my erection. I have seen men in adult movies who appear to be able to have full erections, even when they're not getting stimulated. Do men in adult movies use any drugs or artificial means to maintain longer and fuller erections?

The ease with which a male gets and maintains an erection varies greatly from person to person. Some men can maintain erections for long periods with no physical stimulation, while others (like you) require more effort. The extremes are impotence — the inability to get any erection at all — and priapism, a medical condition in which the erection refuses to go down. As far as I know, there are no readily available drugs that will increase a man's ability to maintain an erection.

I heard that the lead singer of INXS, Michael Hutchins, died while doing some kind of "auto-erotic asphyxiation." What is that?

This is a very dangerous practice in which you attempt to improve your orgasm by restricting or cutting off blood flow to your brain, or by partially suffocating yourself. I don't usually say certain sexual practices are downright perverted, but this one certainly is. If you ever get the urge to try such a thing, or if someone tries to tell you how "great" it is, STOP and don't think about it anymore. It is very possible to pass out while doing it, and you never wake up. Many people have died during these accidents. Don't you think a regular orgasm is great enough? Why risk your life trying to make it "better"? Nobody should die from masturbating!

I masturbate differently than any of the techniques on here. I keep all of my clothes on, and I position my penis to the right (it is against my body and underwear). My left hand goes down to where my testicles are but doesn't do anything to them. My right hand strokes over the shorts and the head of the penis. Eventually I orgasm, and the semen spurts out on my underwear. I've done it like this since the 2nd grade, and I have trouble using my hand around my penis. I want to participate in mutual masturbation with my girlfriend, but if I can't orgasm the usual way, how can we do that?

I think you should work at it! It might take some practice, but if you plan on ever sharing sexual activity with another person, it's a good idea to get your body used to different kinds of stimulation. After all, nobody will be able to stimulate you exactlythe way you do it. With a little practice, you should be able to work through it. Try to not masturbate for a couple of days, dream up a really good fantasy, lube up when you have plenty of time and privacy, and follow the directions on JackinHow-To. Don't get stuck in a rut where you have to have an exact certain kind of stimulation, as that could be difficult and awkward when you're with people later on.

That actually applies to the rest of you "usual" masturbators, too. Try masturbating with a different grip, or by using the other hand, or by thrusting your hips and keeping your hand still. After all, a versatile masturbator today is a good sex partner tomorrow!

My problem is I can't masturbate slowly. I am interested for about 4 or 5 minutes, and then I get bored and masturbate really fast. I try to think sexy thoughts and lie still, but I can't do it. I know if you masturbate slower you get a bigger orgasm, and I have been having the same kind of orgasm my whole life. How can I masturbate slowly?

Masturbating slowly does not necessarily mean moving your hand slowly. It just means not ejaculating too quickly. It is possible to move your hand really fast and still delay your ejaculation for as long as you want. The way you do this is by stopping to rest frequently when you feel that "heat" building up, which signals you're getting close to orgasm. Stop for a minute or so, until you've really calmed down and maybe even lost your erection somewhat, and then start up again. That way you're able to enjoy the pleasure of fast rubbing over a much longer period of time.

I am almost 16. I masturbate on my stomach with my penis limp, and I ejaculate into my hand. When I try to masturbate erect I can't ejaculate, and if I try for a while my penis gets sore, and when it gets limp it looks swollen.

It's unusual for someone to ejaculate from masturbating without an erection — it's difficult, if not impossible, for most males to do this. While I'm sure it's not physically harmful, I'd encourage you to try to break this habit, as it may become very difficult for you to have intercourse later on. Sexual intercourse (at least heterosexual intercourse) involves getting an erection and inserting the erect penis into the vagina, and this cannot be done if you don't have an erection. (One sex researcher once likened such an attempt to "trying to unlock a door with a cooked noodle.") Therefore, if you plan on ever having sex, it's important for you to get comfortable with having an erection and masturbating through to the ejaculation. I recommend you use some kind of lubrication, as it will keep you from getting sore.

The other day I tried using Colgate toothpaste as a lube. It tingled my penis and was a great experience. Is this dangerous? Does it have any poisonous chemicals in it, or does it cause cancer?
- age 15, California

I'm almost certain what you're doing is harmless. After all, it's assumed you're going to put the toothpaste in your mouth and probably swallow a little of it, right? However, in general, anything that causes the skin to tingle noticeably might be uncomfortable if it gets into the urethra (the hole at the end of the penis) or gets on other mucous membranes, so be careful when masturbating with unusual substances.

When I masturbate, sometimes I pinch the head of my penis to keep the sperm in. I do this because I don't want to shoot it onto me — so I hold it in. Then I go to the bathroom, and some of it comes out. Is that safe?

No, this technique is not recommended. While there is no hard evidence as far as we know, some physicians believe this practice can cause long-term damage to the urogenital tract. It may affect your fertility and harm the prostate. To be on the safe side, don't do it anymore. This also goes for any technique that causes your semen to stay inside your body when you would otherwise ejaculate it. These techniques build up pressure inside you in an unnatural way. Let your semen out!

I have an old ACCU-Jac machine, which is a a pump with a tube connecting to a bigger sleeve that goes over the penis. It is hands-free masturbation device. I don't think they make them anymore, but I use it all the time. It has different speeds and feels great. Will it do any damage to my penis, like bust the veins?

That sounds like an interesting device; I have never heard of it. In terms of safety, the important thing to consider is the strength of the vacuum created. Some similar devices apply a fairly strong vacuum to the penis and generally aren't considered safe — in fact I strongly recommend you stay away from them. The circulation of blood in the penis is simply too important a part of the male body to be messed with by means of a vacuum that stretches the tissues. However, if the pump is gentle enough that it creates a vacuum no greater than would be experienced during oral sex (i.e., produced by a mouth), it is probably harmless if used on an occasional basis. Without examining the device myself, though, it's difficult to estimate just how safe it might be.

Is there any way to reduce friction, apart from using a lube?

When I was a teenager, I discovered two things that worked pretty well: talcum powder (baby powder), and Sure aerosol antiperspirant. The talcum powder is definitely the better of these two.

Is it true that some guys can masturbate by sucking on their own penis?
- age 17, New Hampshire

Yes, it is. But unless you're unusually limber, you can't touch your penis to your mouth unless it's in the 7" to 8" range or longer. And even then, you can't get much of it in. But if you'd like to try, do a backwards somersault and hold your position so your shoulders are on the ground and your knees are on either side of your head. If you can reach your penis in any position, it's this. But please, be careful: one reader told me he once had to spend three days in the hospital after hurting his back trying to get his mouth to his penis. Try explaining that to your friends and family!

Is using a condom while masturbating a good idea? Also, will drug stores sell condoms to 13-year-olds, or do I have to find a condom machine?
- age 13, Pennsylvania

Some guys do like to masturbate with a condom on, as it provides a different feeling. (For more on condom use in masturbation, see JackinExpert.) You should have no problem buying them at a drugstore or even some supermarkets; in most places, there's no minimum age to buy condoms.

How do you have multiple orgasms while masturbating?
- age 15, Maryland

The phrase "multiple orgasms" is usually associated with women. Men ordinarily cannot have more than one orgasm within a short time, because once they ejaculate, their body enters a kind of "recharging the batteries" period, when they're unable to ejaculate for anywhere from ten minutes to several hours.

I've been masturbating for about ten months. I love it, but it all seems to go by so fast. Is there any way to get more pleasure before ejaculating?
- age 14, Illinois

Make sure to take a breather periodically. Masturbation can be so fun and exciting it's hard to stop rubbing your penis — but it's important to learn when you're getting close to ejaculating, and to "cool off" for a minute or so before starting up again. This way, you can prolong your sessions quite a lot — something that will become important later on in intercourse, when you'll want to make it last.

When I masturbate, right before I climax, I stop for a minute. Then I start up again. I heard that it makes more semen come out when you ejaculate. Is this true?
- age 14, Wisconsin

Yes — but if you really want to notice the difference, you have to stop and rest again and again. You can really build up some good pressure if you hold off a bunch of times (like six or eight or ten).

Are there other widely used techniques besides the ones you have shown on JackinWorld? I do it a different way: using only my middle and ring fingers, I rub my penis up and down. Do other people do this?
- age 17, New Jersey

I'm sure they do. In the U.S. alone, there are millions of guys your age who masturbate, and they do it in every imaginable way. Even so, consider yourself an inventor of a technique that pleases you the best!

Is it healthy to stick things in your butt while masturbating?
- age 18, Illinois

As long as you're careful, sure. This topic is covered here.

I have been masturbating since the age of 12 by rubbing myself against my mattress. I find this extremely satisfying, but I've started to wonder if I am the only one who does it this way. I have tried to do it the other way, but it takes forever and is not nearly as satisfying. Should I be worried?
- age 22, Australia

No, of course not. There are many boys who do it that way — especially those who have not discovered the "fist" and other grips. If you prefer "humping" the bed, then by all means do it that way. It may even be better, since it's more similar to the movements in intercourse. (For statistics on "hands" vs. "no-hands" masturbating, see the JackinWorld Survey #2.

For as long as I can remember, I've been masturbating by rubbing against my mattress. After reading JackinHow-To, I tried it by using my hand, but I can never ejaculate. I have figured out that it is okay to masturbate the way I do it, but I would be embarrassed to talk about it with anyone — like when I want to try masturbating with a friend. Can you help me to be able to masturbate with my hand?
- age 15, Colorado

Start by using some lubrication (see JackinHow-To) and put your hand down where your penis rubs. Get used to the sensation of ejaculating while rubbing through your closed fist. Gradually work your way toward rubbing your fist and keeping your body still, and you'll be home free!

I love masturbating, and I was wondering what is the best way to simulate the feeling of a vagina? I want to have it feel as close to the real thing as I can.
- age 15, Canada

The key is lots of lubrication. Try the "Vagina" technique explained in JackinExpert, and check out readers' suggestions on vagina simulation in the Question of the Week. Even better, if someone is masturbating you, ask them to make you a "Vagina" with their hand, and get on top and thrust into it. With plenty of lubrication, your penis will be sliding in and out hands-free — just like the "real thing."

I want to better simulate a vagina. How "deep" is an average woman's vagina?
- age 14, Colorado

That's hard to say. The vagina is made of a soft, elastic tissue that stretches when a penis (or a baby) is passing through it. So while it may be only a few inches deep at rest, it can stretch both in length and girth to accommodate penises of many sizes. However, many men with very large penises report they "hit the bottom" with most vaginas, thereby making their extra length useless in intercourse.

Can I put Saran Wrap over my penis to use as some sort of a barrier to prevent the semen from going all over the place? I'm afraid to buy condoms. I'm afraid the clerk will eject me from the store and call me a sick little monkey.
- age 13, Pennsylvania

Sure, Saran Wrap will work fine for masturbation (but not intercourse, where you definitely want more certain protection). You might see if you can find condoms in a supermarket or a machine; it may be less embarrassing for you to buy them at these places.

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