Luciana Parisotto, MD., M.A. Clinical Medicine in Neurology of the Sexual Behavior.


Prejudices x sexual health

Masturbation is defined as sexual self-gratification, and this is not associated exclusively to the stimulation of the genitals, as most people believe. In a one-year old infant, for instance, self-gratification relies on oral satisfaction. That is, self-manipulation is done by putting objects or bodily parts into the mouth (rudimentary masturbation).

Masturbation is a completely normal behavior, and can be present at any age. Fantasies linked to masturbation and the act per se are universal sources for guilt. It’s very important that the parents allow their children to perform this activity, providing them with the necessary privacy, and avoiding their own inhibitions and repressions to affect the beginning of their children’s sex life.

At early childhood already, from age 1 to 3, penile erections can be observed upon touch, or while the baby is sleeping. By 3 or 4 years old, the infant starts to directly manipulate the genitals. It occurs in a disguised form when playing games with the adults, such as mounting on the parents. Later on, in puberty and adolescence, techniques of rubbing the penis and the clitoris are learned and specialized according to preferences. It’s necessary to stress that masturbation is the essential prelude to adult sexual satisfaction. Adults learn how to reach orgasm in the company of others through sexual intercourse, but usually they go on with the masturbatory activity as a supplement to their sex life, as a regulator of sexual desire. In senescence, masturbation is common and healthy.

Masturbation is usually accompanied by fantasies that may largely vary as regards topics, intensity and participants. Originally, fantasies are a simulation of what the child believes that privately occurs between their parents. Aggressiveness may be involved in these fantasies, as, for instance, beating situations. The submission to the aggression suffered in the fantasy can be regarded and experienced as female passivity towards the father figure. Sexual satisfaction means the union with and acceptance by the parents.

However, as it occurs to other physiological functions such as the habits of eating, peeing and evacuating, sexual learning is also subject to social rules, with masturbation being inhibited according to the culture in which the individual is raised. Women’s fantasies and sexual attitudes, especially, are often inhibited as a protection against early sexual initiation and unwanted pregnancy.


Avoid scolding or punishing a child in masturbatory activity. Recommend that they do it in privacy, as it is part of their individuality. Their questions must be answered in a simple way and restricted to the query only. Don’t try to resort to deep explanations, nor lie about sex.
Respect other people’s religious beliefs, but bear in mind that masturbation was considered a sin regarding the waste of semen (sperm). For religion, the sexual intercourse should always aim at breeding, to spawn more children.
Avoid disseminating myths as those saying that individuals who masturbate become insane, epileptic, schizophrenic and suffer from an abnormal growth of the hands and body hair. Also, sex doesn’t wear out! Many people believe the number of orgasms, in the long run, will be reduced if the individual wastes it on arousing himself/herself. This isn’t true at all. Obviously, orgasms repeated in a row will lead lust to be momentarily satiated. However, after some time is elapsed (which varies from person to person or according to age), sexual desire returns and entices a new pursuit for sex.