Signs, Symptoms, & Treatments for Masturbation Addiction

Masturbation addiction is an interesting and complex type of addiction where someone develops a strong dependence on masturbating. The dependence is emotional, physiological and psychological, which means it fits the general parameters of an addictive condition. Like all types of addiction, it’s definitely treatable, but many people don’t seek help because there are stigmas attached to masturbation. They may also have a personal sense of shame and guilt over their condition.

As with any addiction, it’s important to educate and remove stigmas so that people can get treatment. Let’s take a closer look at what exactly constitutes masturbation addiction as well as the telltale signs of masturbation problems.

What Is Masturbation Addiction?

Masturbation addiction is a condition where someone can’t control or resist the urge to masturbate. Describing it as an addiction is somewhat controversial due to a lack of research about it as a standalone condition. Usually, someone with a masturbation addiction has another underlying issue that is leading to the obsession with masturbating. However, the reason it’s not well-researched or understood is the social stigma attached to it. Health professionals often refer to it as compulsive masturbation and may consider it a symptom of another disorder.

Masturbating isn’t unhealthy by itself. In fact, it’s a normal and common thing for both men and women. Nearly 80% of all adults engage in masturbation. However, an addiction to masturbation appears to progress in a similar way to other addictive disorders, which includes the following:

• Engaging in masturbation more frequently and longer than intended
• Losing interest in other areas of life
• Frequent masturbation despite personal and social consequences
• Feeling an obsessive need to masturbate even when you don’t want to
• Cravings for masturbation
• Thinking about masturbation almost constantly

These are all clear signs of an addictive disorder. It’s important to understand that normal masturbation habits vary from person to person. Daily masturbation isn’t necessarily a problem. The problem comes when the need to masturbate takes over your entire life and thought process.

Masturbation Addiction Affects The Brain

Another reason why masturbation addiction is so similar to other addictive disorders is that it has a strong effect on the brain. Most people genuinely enjoy masturbating because it releases mood-enhancing hormones and has a calming effect on the brain. Masturbating also helps boost self-esteem for many people.

There are some specific neural pathways associated with masturbation addiction, which includes the following:

• Arousal neuropathway
• Numbing neuropathway
• Fantasy neuropathway

The arousal pathway facilitates pleasure and intensity. The numbing pathway is responsible for relaxing feelings that lead to a state of sedation. Finally, the fantasy pathway produces feelings of escape and obsession. Masturbation triggers all three of these pathways, which can create a powerful incentive to keep doing it.

Like any other addictive disorder, the masturbation compulsion is related to the brain’s interpretation of these pathways. Put simply, when the brain detects something pleasurable, it wants more.

Not only that but the more you masturbate, the less pleasure you’re likely to get from it. This leads to problems in other areas, including poor mental health and difficulty with other sexual acts.

Masturbation Addiction Behaviors

Young children and seniors are the least likely to experience masturbation addiction. The most common age groups for masturbation addiction are adolescents, young adults and middle adults. However, any age group can experience it. How do you know if you have a compulsive masturbation problem? Check out the following signs:

• Masturbating uses a lot of your time
• Your personal life and/or work-life are suffering due to masturbation
• You have problems being on time due to an urge to masturbate
• You’ve masturbated in public
• You masturbate even if you’re not horny
• You masturbate to deal with uncomfortable emotions
• You spend a lot of time thinking about masturbation
• You feel guilty or ashamed after you masturbate
• You engage in masturbation even when you don’t want to

The main thing to look out for is if your entire life becomes consumed by a need to masturbate. If it starts interfering with your daily life, then it’s very likely that you have a problem.

Risks and Reasons For Masturbation Addiction

What triggers a masturbation addiction? It varies by person and their social influences. The best way to look at it is that the more triggers you have, the more likely you are to develop a masturbation addiction. The following are some risks and reasons for compulsive masturbating:

• Imbalance of brain chemicals
• Brain conditions
• Substance abuse problems
• Another mental health problem
• Family history of addiction
• Physical or sexual abuse history
• Easy access to sexual content

Not all of these causes and risk factors need to be present initially for you to develop an addiction to masturbation. In fact, the addiction might start with a strong enjoyment of masturbation that eventually leads to brain changes.


As masturbation addiction isn’t considered a formally recognized disorder, the symptoms for the condition are more like a set of criteria. The symptoms of masturbation addiction will vary from person to person. Usually, the more signs of masturbation compulsion you have, the more severe your addiction. Some common symptoms of addiction to masturbation include:

• Loss of sensitivity
• Shame and guilt about masturbating
• No impulse control
• Overstimulation due to excess masturbation
• General sexual dysfunction

If you have any of these symptoms or a combination of these symptoms, it’s important to talk to someone about them.


Getting treatment for masturbation addiction goes beyond the act itself. Treatment for masturbation addiction almost always involves discovering underlying factors. For this reason, it’s important that therapy and treatment for masturbation addiction are comprehensive and tailored to the individual. Treatment timelines also vary from person to person. The goal is a lifestyle change and a strong desire for recovery. Alongside formal treatment, you can take the following steps to motivate your recovery:

• Find a support group
• Spend less time alone
• Wear extra clothes at night
• Stop consuming porn and other sexual content

Therapy For Masturbation Addiction

Counseling for masturbation addiction usually includes some form of cognitive-behavioral therapy. The reason is that an addiction to masturbation usually involves maladaptive beliefs, which in turn lead to negative thoughts and behaviors. For example, one common belief is that you’re not desirable as a sexual partner. Treatment for masturbation addiction involves reframing these beliefs and working through various behavioral experiments.

Getting Help For Masturbation Addiction

You shouldn’t feel shy or ashamed of seeking help for masturbation addiction. Therapy can help you get your life back and put you into a healthier mental state.

Find a Therapist in Los Angeles for masturbation addiction through Menachem Psychotherapy Groups. Our therapists specialize in a wide range of areas, including addiction and behavioral problems.

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