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Masturbation becomes a problem if a person cannot prevent himself or herself from doing it in public. In addition, he or she might stop socializing or eating to masturbate an excessive number of times per day. People with this problem often do not enjoy what they are doing and have negative feelings after finishing. Masturbation on a regular but non-damaging basis is a normal sexual activity and not considered compulsive. In fact, some countries around the world encourage teenagers to masturbate to lower the rate of teen pregnancies and sexually transmitted diseases.
Compulsive masturbation is sometimes a sign of a sex addiction, mental health problem, or negative reaction to a prescription medication. A person with a sex addiction derives little to no pleasure from having sex, but compulsively participates in sexual acts anyway. Sometimes, masturbating compulsively is a sign of hypersexuality or obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD), and medications that strengthen compulsive behaviors can worsen the condition. On the other hand, many sexologists and other experts do not believe sex addiction exists and suggest that its symptoms are a by-product of a social stigma.
A sex addict has symptoms similar to a gambling or drug addict; he or she denies the problem but consistently puts sex above all else. The person might repeatedly cheat on his or her partner, expose himself or herself in public, and molest or rape. For some, the problem manifests in compulsive behavior or legal sexual acts and does not progress further. A sex addict does not gain satisfaction from his or her sexual deeds and often feels guilty or disgusted afterward. Many sex experts believe that this addiction is actually a form of OCD, while other people believe the health problem is an excuse used by criminals and people who commit adultery.
Hypersexuality is the extremely frequent urge to engage in a sexual activity. The cause is unknown, though some people blame sexual addiction. Occasionally, hypersexuality is a negative reaction to a medication and is cured by taking the person off that drug. People suffering from excessive masturbation might benefit from discussing their medications with a health professional. There is limited knowledge on this subject because it is not a commonly reported problem.
Contrary to what some sex experts believe, there is no scientific link between OCD and compulsive sexual acts yet. On the other hand, it is generally agreed upon that compulsive masturbation can be a symptom of a mental problem. Treatment is usually targeted at diagnosing and treating the compulsive health disorder rather than trying to make the patient stop masturbating. Regular masturbation has scientifically proven health benefits, such as relieving stress and possibly helping prevent prostate cancer.