Sexuality and U
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Sexual Health

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Can masturbation affect relationships?

Some people wonder if masturbating will decrease a person’s desire to have sex with a relationship partner. In general, the answer to this question is no. Frequency of masturbation is usually a reflection of a person’s overall level of sexual appetite. So, a person who masturbates is also likely to have an equally strong desire for sexual activity with his or her partner. If one partner masturbates, it does not mean that he or she does not have a desire to engage in sexual activity with the other partner. If anything, masturbation can be seen as reflecting a healthy appetite for sex which is likely to also express itself in desire for sex with the partner. 

Although, in general, if one or both partners masturbate on a regular basis it is unlikely to negatively impact on the frequency or quality of sexual activity within a relationship, there are exceptions. First, a person who masturbates so frequently that it interferes with other important aspects of his or her life (e.g., work, school, social activities) will likely also find that excessively frequent masturbation interferes with their intimate personal relationships. Second, masturbating to orgasm immediately before engaging in sexual activity with a partner is likely to somewhat reduce the speed and intensity of sexual response when having sex.

Couples may masturbate each other (called mutual masturbation) or in front of each other. This gives them a way to learn about each other’s sexual response. It is also a way for couples to be sexually intimate if they are uncomfortable with, or not ready to engage in other sexual behaviours such as oral sex or vaginal or anal intercourse. Mutual masturbation also has a much lower risk of sexual transmitted infection than these other sexual behaviours.