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Thirst: Our brains tell us when to stop drinking

When the water content of our blood drops, neurons in the brain tell us that we are thirsty. But how do we know when enough is enough?
Water

Water is essential to life. When we get deydrated, it can have serious consequences.

The water content in our body is tightly regulated. Dehydration can lead to dizziness, delirium, and unconsciousness. Drinking fluids restores this balance or homeostasis.

But it takes time for water to travel from our mouths through the body. We stop drinking a long time before this happens.

If we kept drinking during this delay, we would be at serious risk of water intoxication, or water poisoning, which is potentially deadly.

Scientists are beginning to unravel the sophisticated mechanisms that stop us from drinking too much water, and the answer lies in the brain.

What controls thirst?

The brain’s thirst control circuit is a small region in the forebrain called the lamina terminalis (LT).

Once the LT network is activated, we become thirsty. A study published last week in the journal Science demonstrated that thirst creates an uncomfortable feeling in mice, which is alleviated by drinking.

There is one other thing that triggers thirst: eating. As soon as we start to eat, our thirst is stimulated. This is known as prandial thirst.

Water is necessary for us to digest the food that we eat. It also stops electrolytes in food from disturbing homeostasis by balancing out the fluid levels.

Why do we stop drinking?

Zachary A. Knight, Ph.D. – from the Department of Physiology at the University of California, San Francisco – and his team reported in the journal Nature that neurons in the subfornical organ (SFO), which forms part of the LT, might be at the heart of things.

The authors explain that “much normal drinking behavior is anticipatory in nature, meaning that the brain predicts impending changes in fluid balance and adjusts behavior pre-emptively.”

For their study, the researchers used mice and restricted their access to water overnight. “When water was made available,” the authors write, “mice drank avidly and, surprisingly, [SFO] neurons were inhibited within 1 min.”

This drop in neuronal signaling happened much faster than the water was able to reach the blood.

“Drinking resets thirst-promoting SFO neurons in a way that anticipates the future restoration of homeostasis,” they add. This means that our brain anticipates how much water we need to drink to restore homeostasis.

Signals from the mouth to the brain

What is not yet clear is how the brain knows when we are drinking fluids. A recent study published in the journal Nature Neuroscience pointed the finger at receptors in our mouth.

The team – led by Yuki Oka, Ph.D., who is from the Division of Biology and Biological Engineering at the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena – showed that water changes the acid balance in the saliva, which activates acid-taste receptors.

So, what is the best way of quenching thirst? A study by Sanne Boesveldt, Ph.D. – from the Division of Human Nutrition at Wageningen University & Research in the Netherlands – and her team, which will be published in the October edition of the journal Physiology & Behavior, set out to answer this question.

The authors explain that cold drinks are already known to be more thirst quenching, as are sour, flavored, and carbonated drinks.

In their study, the team found that cold, flavored popsicles were significantly more thirst quenching than cold liquids. The most effective flavor was lemon.

So, while the days may be getting colder as fall gets underway in the Northern hemisphere, a lemon popsicle might still be a good option the next time thirst calls.

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How do dreams affect brain disorders?

Research presented at the latest Canadian Neuroscience Meeting connects fascinating insights into the science of dreams with the risk of developing neurological disorders.

[woman dreaming]

Scientists examine what goes on inside our brains when we dream and find surprising connections with neurodegenerative disorders.

Research presented at the 2017 annual gathering of the Canadian Association for Neuroscience, held in Montreal, investigates what goes on inside our brains when we dream. Surprisingly, the research also suggests that dream dysfunctions may predict the development of neurological disorders such as Parkinson’s disease or dementia.

The research was conducted by Dr. John Peever and his team at the University of Toronto in Canada in 2015.

Dr. Peever and colleagues have previously studied how dreams occur and discovered the brain cells that are responsible for reaching the dream state: the so-called REM-active neurons.

How do we dream?

Since the 1960s, scientists have known that dreaming occurs during rapid eye movement (REM) sleep, and that the brainstem is a key brain region responsible for controlling dreams.

The brainstem is located at the base of the brain, and it communicates with the hypothalamus to transition from wakefulness to sleep, and vice versa. A chain reaction started by REM-active “SubC” neurons ultimately releases the GABA neurotransmitter, which, in turn, reduces the level of arousal in the hypothalamus and the brainstem. SubC neurons take their name from the brain area in which they are found: the subcoeruleus nucleus.

These brain cells that produce GABA, or GABAergic neurons, control the timing of REM sleep and its features, such as muscle paralysis. As Dr. Peever explains, “When we switch on these cells, it causes a rapid transition into REM sleep.” The brainstem sends signals to relax muscles and limbs so that we do not do in real life what we dream about while asleep.

Knowing all of this, Dr. Peever and colleagues set out to examine dreaming disorders such as cataplexy, narcolepsy, and REM sleep behavior disorder.

People with narcolepsy do not just fall asleep instantly, but they also experience cataplexy, which is the sudden loss of muscle tone while they are awake.

REM sleep disorders linked to neurodegenerative conditions

While examining the breakdowns in the brain circuits that cause these disorders, the team made an interesting discovery.

They found that REM sleep disorders are linked to several neurodegenerative diseases that tend to occur in old age. “This link suggests that neurodegenerative processes initially target the circuits controlling REM sleep and specifically SubC neurons,” write Dr. Peever and colleagues in their 2015 paper.

We observed that more than 80 percent of people who suffer from REM sleep disorder eventually develop synucleinopathies, such as Parkinson’s disease, and Lewy body dementia. Our research suggests sleep disorders may be an early warning sign for diseases that may appear some 15 years later in life.”

Dr. John Peever

The National Institutes of Health (NIH) estimate that approximately 50,000 people in the United States are diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease every year, and around half a million people live with the disease. Lewy body dementia affects another 1 million U.S. adults.

Both Parkinson’s disease and Lewy body dementia are characterized by a buildup of a neuronal protein called alpha-synuclein inside the neurons.

In the future, Dr. Peever hopes that his research will pave the way for neuroprotective therapies that would prevent against the development of such neurodegenerative disorders.

“Much like we see in people prone to cancer, diagnosing REM disorders may allow us to provide individuals with preventative actions to keep them healthy long before they develop these more serious neurological conditions,” Dr. Peever says.

Action video games decrease gray matter, study finds

A new study suggests that playing action video games can be detrimental to the brain, reducing the amount of gray matter in the hippocampus. Specialists should exert caution in advising video gameplay to improve cognition, the study authors urge.
girl playing action video game

Researchers find that playing action video games can lead to hippocampal atrophy.

The impact of video games on our health and well-being has often been studied and discussed, and it is still a very controversial topic. According to the Entertainment Software Association, at least one person in 63 percent of households across the United States plays video games for at least 3 hours per week, making gaming one of the most popular leisure activities.

A new study led by researchers from the Department of Psychology at the Université de Montréal, and from the Douglas Institute in Québec, both in Canada, has now found that action video games, specifically, have a direct negative effect on the brain.

Lead study author Dr. Gregory West, an assistant professor at the Université de Montréal, has published the team’s findings in the current issue of Molecular Psychiatry.

Action games’ effect on brain

The current study stems from two considerations. First, the researchers noted that action video games – which are defined as “first- and third-person shooting games” – are sometimes recommended by specialists to increase the visual attention of children and adults.

Secondly, according to previous research conducted by Dr. West, action video game players employ a particular kind of navigational strategy called “response learning,” which is based on forming a navigational “habit” and relying on it.

Response learning is also associated with a decrease in the gray matter of the hippocampus, which is a part of the brain linked to episodic memory and orientation. A low amount of gray matter in this brain area is related to Alzheimer’s disease, depression, and post-traumatic stress disorder.

In looking at the effects of action video games on the hippocampus, Dr. West and his colleagues also took into account any links with the striatum, which is a brain area that receives signals from the hippocampus.

The striatum also contains the caudate nucleus, which plays an important role in the formation of habits and procedural memory – that is, the kind of memory that we rely on to know how to walk, swim, or ride a bicycle.

According to existing research, Dr. West and his colleagues note that “the caudate nucleus shares an inverse relationship with the hippocampus.”

This means that if we rely too much on habit and procedural memory, we end up underusing the active learning capacities promoted by the hippocampus. This may cause the hippocampus to atrophy, leading to an unhealthy brain structure overall.

That’s why we decided to do a full neuro-imaging study, […] and what we saw was less gray matter in the hippocampus of habitual players. We then followed that up with two longitudinal studies to establish causality, and we found that it was indeed the gaming that led to changes in the brain.”

Dr. Gregory West

Fifty-one male and 46 female gamers were recruited for the current research and were eventually tasked with playing either action video games – which, in this case, were shooter games such as Call of Duty – or 3-D platform video games from the Super Mario series.

Response learners lose gray matter

The participants were first tested to see whether they were “spatial learners,” relying on visual clues and landmarks to make their way through a particular environment, or “response learners,” relying on acquired habits to navigate. Spatial learners have a more active hippocampus, whereas response learners tend to underuse it.

For this test, the researchers developed a “4 on 8 virtual maze,” which is a task that encourages the players to come up with a navigational strategy that links to either the hippocampus or the caudate nucleus.

“The virtual reality task consists of an eight-arm radial maze situated in an enriched environment. The environment contains both distal [far from the player’s perspective] and proximal [close to the player’s perspective] landmarks: two trees, a rock, and mountains,” the researchers explain.

After establishing which players were response learners and which were spatial learners, the researchers asked them to play the action and 3-D platform video games.

It was found that the same amount of time (90 hours) dedicated to gaming had different effects depending on the kind of game that was involved: action games led to hippocampal atrophy, whereas platform games increased the volume of gray matter.

The researchers believe that response learners might be able to increase their gray matter volume by “be[ing] encouraged to use spatial strategies” instead. Dr. West and his colleagues also suggest that game developers might even be able to prevent action games from leading to the atrophy of the hippocampus by changing the games’ design.

Action games, they say, “[…] often include an overlaid head-up display which displays an in-game GPS [global positioning system] to direct players to their next location or event,” discouraging players from actively employing spatial strategies. Without this, the researchers suggest, the games’ negative effect on the brain might be avoided.

Considering these findings, Dr. West and his colleagues advise caution in “prescribing” action video games to young players, as they might end up doing more harm than good. However, the researchers suggest that game training must be adapted to the necessities of the individuals involved.

“For example,” they say, “patients with Parkinson’s disease who also present with dementia and patients with Alzheimer’s disease, schizophrenia, depression, and post-traumatic stress disorder” should not be exposed to action video games, as they already have lower volumes of gray matter.

“In contrast,” the researchers add, “patients with Parkinson’s disease without dementia do display dysfunction in the basal ganglia, and may benefit from action video game training.”

How video games affect the brain

Video gaming is clearly a popular form of entertainment, with video gamers collectively spending 3 billion hours per week in front of their screens. Due to their widespread use, scientists have researched how video games affect the brain and behavior. Are these effects positive or negative? We examine the evidence.
man playing games on a computerThere is increasing research focused on the impact of video gaming on the brain.

At a glance, more than 150 million people in the United States play video games regularly, or for at least 3 hours per week. The average American gamer is a 35-year-old adult, with 72 percent of gamers aged 18 or older. For video game use by children, most parents – 71 percent – indicate that video games have a positive influence on their child’s life.

Video game sales continue to increase year on year. In 2016, the video game industry sold more than 24.5 billion games – up from 23.2 billion in 2015, and 21.4 billion in 2014.

The top three best-selling video games of 2016 were Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare, Battlefield 1, and Grand Theft Auto V. These games fall into the first-person shooter or action-adventure genres – the top two genres, accounting for 27.5 percent and 22.5 percent of sales, respectively. First-person shooter and action genres often stand accused of stirring aggression and causing violence and addiction.

Decades of research examining video gaming and violence have failed to reach consensus among scientists. Scientists have been unable to find a causal link between playing video games and acts of violence in the real world.

Video games and brain changes

A growing body of evidence, however, shows that video gaming can affect the brain and, furthermore, cause changes in many regions of the brain.

game addict laying on the floorGame addicts have functional and structural changes in the neural reward system.

Scientists have recently collected and summarized results from 116 scientific studies to determine how video games can influence our brains and behaviors. The findings of their review were published in Frontiers in Human Neuroscience.

“Games have sometimes been praised or demonized, often without real data backing up those claims. Moreover, gaming is a popular activity, so everyone seems to have strong opinions on the topic,” says Marc Palaus, first author of the review.

By looking at all research to date, Palaus and team aimed to observe whether any trends had emerged with regard to how video games impact the structure and activity of the brain. A total of 22 of the reviewed studies explored structural changes in the brain and 100 studies analyzed changes in brain functionality and behavior.

Results of the studies indicate that playing video games not only changes how our brains perform but also their structure.

For example, video game use is known to affect attention. The studies included in the review show that video game players display improvements in several types of attention, including sustained attention and selective attention. Furthermore, the regions of the brain that play a role in attention are more efficient in gamers compared with non-gamers, and they require less activation to stay focused on demanding tasks.

Evidence also demonstrates that playing video games increases the size and competence of parts of the brain responsible for visuospatial skills – a person’s ability to identify visual and spatial relationships among objects. In long-term gamers and individuals who had volunteered to follow a video game training plan, the right hippocampus was enlarged.

Researchers have discovered that video gaming can be addictive – a phenomenon known as “Internet gaming disorder.”

In gaming addicts, there are functional and structural alterations in the neural reward system – a group of structures associated with feeling pleasure, learning, and motivation. Exposing video game addicts to game-related cues that cause cravings, and monitoring their brain responses, highlighted these changes – changes that are also seen in other addictive disorders.

“We focused on how the brain reacts to video game exposure, but these effects do not always translate to real-life changes,” notes Palaus. The research into the effects of video gaming is still in its infancy and scientists are still scrutinizing what aspects of gaming impact what brain regions and how.

“It’s likely that video games have both positive (on attention, visual and motor skills) and negative aspects (risk of addiction), and it is essential we embrace this complexity,” Palaus continues.

Are brain-training games beneficial?

A team of researchers from the Florida State University has stated that people should be skeptical of adverts that promote an increase in the performance of the brain that results from brain training games. They have said that science does not support these claims.

older adults playing video gamesPlaying brain-training games did not improve cognitive abilities in older adults.

“Our findings and previous studies confirm there’s very little evidence these types of games can improve your life in a meaningful way,” says Wally Boot, associate professor of psychology, an expert on age-related cognitive decline.

People are increasingly under the impression that brain-training apps will safeguard them against memory loss or cognitive disorders.

Researchers tested whether playing brain-training games enhanced the working memory of players and thus improved other cognitive abilities, including reasoning, memory, and processing speed – a process scientists call “far transfer.” However, this was not the case.

“It’s possible to train people to become very good at tasks that you would normally consider general working memory tasks: memorizing 70, 80, even 100 digits,” explains Neil Charness, professor of psychology and a leading authority on aging and cognition.

“But these skills tend to be very specific and not show a lot of transfer. The thing that seniors, in particular, should be concerned about is, if I can get very good at crossword puzzles, is that going to help me remember where my keys are? And the answer is probably no,” he adds.

Charness points out that if your goal is to improve cognitive function, then aerobic exercise may help. Some research has found that aerobic activity rather than mental activity enhances the brain.

Video games boost memory

In contrast, a study published in Nature found that through the use of a specially designed 3-D video game, cognitive performance could be improved in older adults and some of the adverse effects on the brain associated with aging, reversed.

seniors playing video gamesA small amount of brain training can reverse age-related brain decline.

Scientists at the University of California-San Francisco (UCSF) clarify that this provides a measure of scientific support in the brain fitness arena – criticized for lacking evidence – that brain training can stimulate meaningful and lasting changes.

After 12 hours of training over the period of a month, study participants aged between 60 to 85 years improved performance on the game that surpassed that of individuals in their 20s playing the game for the first time. Moreover, two other significant cognitive areas were improved: working memory and sustained attention. These skills were maintained 6 months after completion of their training.

“The finding is a powerful example of how plastic the older brain is,” says Dr. Adam Gazzaley, Ph.D., UCSF associate professor of neurology, physiology and psychiatry and director of the Neuroscience Imaging Center. Dr. Gazzaley notes that it is encouraging that even a little brain training can reverse some of the brain decline that occurs with age.

A recent study conducted by neurobiologists at the University of California-Irvine (UCI) found that playing 3-D video games could also boost the formation of memories. Participants were allocated to either a group that played video games with a 2-D environment or a 3-D environment. After playing the games for 30 minutes per day for 2 weeks, the students were given memory tests that engaged the brain’s hippocampus.

The participants in the 3-D group significantly improved their memory test scores compared with the 2-D group. The 3-D group’s memory performance increased by 12 percent – the same amount that memory performance usually declines by between 45 and 70 years of age.

“First, the 3-D games have a few things the 2-D ones do not,” says Craig Stark, of UCI’s Center for the Neurobiology of Learning & Memory. “They’ve got a lot more spatial information in there to explore. Second, they’re much more complex, with a lot more information to learn. Either way, we know this kind of learning and memory not only stimulates but requires the hippocampus.”

Strategy video games, in particular, have shown promise in improving brain function among older adults and may provide protection against dementia and Alzheimer’s disease.

“If the target is to improve older adults’ cognitive control, reasoning, and higher-order cognitive skills, and stave off dementia and Alzheimer’s disease as long as possible, then maybe strategy games are the way to go,” informs Chandramallika Basak, assistant professor at the Center for Vital Longevity and School of Behavioral and Brain Sciences at the University of Texas at Dallas.

Basak, like Charness, agrees that cognitive training should come second to physical activity programs when it comes to improving cognitive function. Physical fitness programs have been linked with positive effects on cognition and brain function and structure.

There is evidence to suggest that video games may be a viable treatment for depression and improve memory and mood in adults with mild cognitive impairment.

The effect of video games on the brain is a new area of research that will continue to be explored. We may just be scraping the surface of the potential that video games could present in enhancing cognitive ability and preventing cognitive disorders.

Premature ejaculation: Treatments and causes

Premature ejaculation is a form of sexual dysfunction that can adversely affect the quality of a man’s sex life. It is when an orgasm or “climax” occurs sooner than wanted.

There may occasionally be complication with reproduction, but premature ejaculation (PE) can also adversely affect sexual satisfaction, both for men and their partners.

In recent years, the recognition and understanding of male sexual dysfunction has improved, and there is a better understanding of the problems that can result from it.

The information here aims to demystify the causes of PE and outline effective treatment options.

Fast facts on premature ejaculationHere are some key points about premature ejaculation.

  • In the majority of cases, an inability to control ejaculation is rarely due to a medical condition, although doctors will need to rule this out.
  • PE can lead to secondary symptoms such as distress, embarrassment, anxiety, and depression.
  • Treatment options range from reassurance from a doctor that the problem might improve in time, through to home methods of “training” the timing of ejaculation.

Treatment

[Man looking sad about premature ejaculation]Premature ejaculation, in some cases, can lead to depression.

In most cases, there is a psychological cause, and the prognosis is good.

If the problem occurs at the beginning of a new sexual partnership, the difficulties often resolve as the relationship goes on.

If, however, the problem is more persistent, doctors may recommend counseling from a therapist specializing in sexual relationships, or “couples therapy.”


No medications are officially licensed in the United States for treating PE, but some antidepressants have been found to help some men delay ejaculation.

A doctor will not prescribe any medicines before taking a detailed sexual history to reach a clear diagnosis of PE. Drug treatments can have adverse effects, and patients should always discuss with a doctor before using any medication.

Dapoxetine (brand name Priligy) is used in many countries to treat some types of primary and secondary PE. This is a rapid-acting SSRI that is also licensed to treat PE. However, certain criteria must be met.

It can be used if:

  • vaginal sex lasts for less than 2 minutes before ejaculation occurs
  • ejaculation persistently or recurrently happens after very little sexual stimulation and before, during, or shortly after initial penetration, and before he wishes to climax
  • there is marked personal distress or interpersonal difficulty because of the PE
  • there is poor control over ejaculation
  • most attempts at sexual intercourse in the past 6 months have involved premature ejaculation

Side-effects from dapoxetine include nausea, diarrhea, dizziness, and headache.

Topical drugs

Some topical therapies may be applied to the penis before sex, with or without a condom. These local anesthetic creams reduce stimulation.

Examples include lidocaine or prilocaine, which can improve the amount of time before ejaculation.

However, longer use of anesthetics can result in numbness and loss of erection. The reduced sensation created by the creams may not be acceptable to the man, and the numbness can affect the woman, too.

Home remedies

Two methods that can be helpful for men are:

  • The start-and-stop method: This aims to improve a man’s control over ejaculation. Either the man or his partner stops sexual stimulation at the point when he feels he is about to have an orgasm, and they resume once the sensation of impending orgasm has subsided.
  • The squeeze method: This is similar, but the man gently squeezes the end of his penis, or his partner does this for him, for 30 seconds before restarting stimulation.

A man tries to achieve this upward of three or four times before allowing himself to ejaculate.

Practice is important, and if the problem continues, it may be worth talking to a doctor.

Exercises

Researchers have found that Kegel exercises, which aim to strengthen the pelvic floor muscles, can help men with lifelong PE.

Forty men with the condition underwent physical therapy involving:

  • physio-kinesiotherapy to achieve muscle contraction
  • electrostimulation of the perineal floor
  • biofeedback, which helped them understand how to control the muscle contractions in the perineal floor

They also followed a set of individualized exercises.

After 12 weeks of treatment, over 80 percent of the participants gained a degree of control over their ejaculation reflex. They increased the time between penetration and ejaculation by at least 60 seconds.

Causes

A number of factors may be involved.

Psychological factors

Most cases of PE are not related to any disease and are instead due to psychological factors, including:

  • sexual inexperience
  • issues with body image
  • novelty of a relationship
  • overexcitement or too much stimulation
  • relationship stress
  • anxiety
  • feelings of guilt or inadequacy
  • depression
  • issues related to control and intimacy

These common psychological factors can affect men who have previously had normal ejaculation. These cases are often called secondary, or acquired, PE.

Most cases of the rarer, more persistent form—primary or lifelong PE—are also believed to be caused by psychological problems.

The condition can often be traced back to early trauma, such as:

  • strict sexual teaching and upbringing
  • traumatic experiences of sex
  • conditioning, for example, when a teenager learns to ejaculate quickly to avoid being found masturbating

Medical causes

More rarely, there may be a biological cause.

The following are possible medical causes of PE:

  • diabetes
  • multiple sclerosis
  • prostate disease
  • thyroid problems
  • illicit drug use
  • excessive alcohol consumption

PE can be a sign that an underlying condition needs treatment.

Symptoms

Medically, the more persistent form of PE, primary or lifelong PE, is defined by the presence of the following three features:

[Man feeling bad about premature ejaculation]Premature ejaculation can cause significant distress.
  • Ejaculation always, or nearly always, happens before sexual penetration has been achieved, or within about a minute of penetration.
  • There is an inability to delay ejaculation every time, or nearly every time, penetration occurs.
  • Negative personal consequences arise, such as distress and frustration, or avoidance of sexual intimacy.

Psychological symptoms are secondary to the physical ejaculatory events. The man, his partner, or both may experience them.

Secondary symptoms include:

  • decreased confidence in the relationship
  • interpersonal difficulty
  • mental distress
  • anxiety
  • embarrassment
  • depression

Men who ejaculate too soon can experience psychological distress, but results of a study of 152 men and their partners suggest that the partner tend to be less worried about PE than the man who has it.

Diagnosis

The manual used by psychiatrists and psychologists for making a clinical diagnosis (known as the DSM-V) defines PE as a sexual disorder only when the following description is true:

Ejaculation with minimal sexual stimulation before or shortly after penetration and before the person wishes it. The condition is persistent or occurs frequently and causes significant distress.”

However, a more loosely defined form of PE is one of the most common kinds of sexual dysfunction.

A doctor will ask certain questions that are intended to help them assess symptoms, such as how long it takes before ejaculation occurs. This is known as latency.

Questions might include:

  • How often do you experience PE?
  • How long have you had this problem?
  • Does it happen in every sexual encounter, or only at certain times?
  • How much stimulation brings on an ejaculation?
  • How has PE affected your sexual activity?
  • Can you delay your ejaculation until after penetration?
  • Do you or your partner feel annoyed or frustrated?
  • How does PE affect your quality of life?

Results from surveys suggest that PE affects between 15 percent and 30 percent of men. However, there are far fewer medically diagnosed and diagnosable cases. This statistical disparity does not in any way diminish the discomfort experienced by men who do not meet the strict criteria for diagnosis.

Primary or lifelong PE is thought to affect around 2 percent of men.

What you need to know about delayed ejaculation

Delayed ejaculation refers to a difficulty or inability of a man to reach an orgasm and to ejaculate semen. The causes can be physical or psychological.

if a man takes longer than 30 minutes of penetrative sex to ejaculate, despite a normal erection, it is considered delayed ejaculation.

Delayed ejaculation affects around 1 to 4 percent of men.

It can result in distress for both the man and his partner. It can trigger anxiety about general health, low libido, and sexual dissatisfaction. Relationship problems include a fear of rejection for both parties and concern for couples who wish to start a family.

Most men will experience delayed ejaculation at some point in their lives, but for some, it is a lifelong problem.

Fast facts on delayed ejaculationHere are some key points about delayed ejaculation. More detail and supporting information is in the body of this article.

  • Delayed ejaculation is a form of sexual dysfunction affecting a man’s ability to reach an orgasm.
  • The average time it takes for ejaculation to occur upon stimulation varies between individuals, with no strict figure given for what is “normal”.
  • Most causes are psychological, but organic reasons are also possible and are ruled out first during diagnosis.
  • No pharmacological therapies are available for psychological causes of delayed ejaculation.

Causes

man sitting on side of bed with woman in the background looking sad

“Does he really desire me?” Partners of men having difficulty reaching orgasm may be troubled by such questions.

Delayed ejaculation can have a psychological or biological cause. There can also be overlap between the two. It can be a lifelong condition, where a man has always had difficulty reaching an orgasm, but more commonly, delayed ejaculation occurs after a period of normal function.

Physical causes of delayed ejaculation include:

  • Medication side effects: Delayed ejaculation may be an adverse effect of antidepressants, especially selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), anti-anxiety drugs, blood pressure medication, painkillers, and other medications.
  • Alcohol or the use of certain recreational drugs can have an impact.
  • Nerve damage, including stroke, spinal cord injury, surgery, multiple sclerosis, and severe diabetes, can lead to abnormal ejaculatory function.
  • Increasing age can decrease the sensitivity of the penis to sexual stimulation.

An acquired case is usually determined as having a psychological cause if it only happens in specific situations. For example, it is more likely that delayed ejaculation has a psychological basis if a man is able to ejaculate normally when masturbating, but experiences a delay during sex with a partner.

Some psychological factors that may underlie delayed ejaculation include:

man sitting on edge of bed with head in hands

Men with a persistent problem of delayed ejaculation are likely to be distressed by it.

  • early life history including abuse, difficulties bonding, neglect by parents, negative sexual upbringing
  • unexpressed anger
  • unwillingness to enjoy pleasure
  • religious belief, perhaps that sexual activity is a sin
  • fear of, for instance, semen or female genitalia, or of somehow hurting or defiling a partner through ejaculation
  • fear of pregnancy
  • issues of lost confidence or performance anxiety – for example, anxiety about body image that interrupts the process of sexual stimulation

Certain types of masturbatory behavior may play a role in developing delayed ejaculation.

One specialist in delayed ejaculation found a relationship between the condition and the following masturbatory patterns:

  • masturbating more often, typically more than three times a week
  • having a style of masturbation that cannot be matched by sexual intercourse, particularly a high speed, high pressure, or high-intensity form
  • if the partner’s hand, mouth, or vagina is unable to easily duplicate the learned style
  • the sex partner differs from the fantasy used during masturbation to reach an orgasm

Dr. Michael Perelman, clinical professor of psychiatry, reproductive medicine and urology at the Weill Medical College of Cornell University, New York, observed that most men he had seen with delayed ejaculation reported no problems reaching an orgasm and ejaculating via masturbation.

Some men with the condition needed to employ an “idiosyncratic” form of self-manipulation to reach orgasm, such as rubbing the penis against the bed sheets, masturbating with pressure on a particular spot when reading erotic books, and even masturbating by “urethral instrumentation” – inserting a foreign body down into the opening of the penis.

Diagnosis

Delayed ejaculation is diagnosed when a man is concerned about a marked delay or infrequency of achieving ejaculation during most sexual encounters over a period of 6 months or more, and when other problems have been ruled out.

To reach a diagnosis, a doctor will speak with the individual about symptoms and how often they occur. They will then rule out other potential medical problems, such as infections, hormonal imbalance, and so on. This may involve using blood and urine tests.

[:LINK|188527|Find out more about premature ejaculation:]

Treatment

a therapist takes notes with a patient

Professional counselors may try to treat delayed ejaculation by identifying the source of the problem.

Treatment for delayed ejaculation depends on the cause. For instance, if SSRIs are the issue, an alternative drug may be prescribed.

If excessive alcohol or non-prescription drug use are factors, reducing or eliminating these may help. If there are other medical conditions, managing the primary condition, such as a neurological problem, may help resolve the delayed ejaculation.

Primary cases of delayed ejaculation may not be straightforward to treat. They often require the help of professional counselors such as psychologists, psychotherapists, psychosexual counselors, sex therapists, or couple’s therapists.

Psychologists recognize that there is no single intervention that works for all patients and that the key to successful treatment is to identify the source of the problem and to use appropriate, targeted therapy to deal with the psychological factors that trigger or contribute to the problem.

Some medications may help improve the symptoms of delayed ejaculation, but none have yet been specifically approved to treat it.

Drugs with some reported benefits include:

  • Cyproheptadine (Periactin), an allergy medication
  • Amantadine (Symmetrel), a drug used to treat Parkinson’s
  • Buspirone (Buspar), an anti-anxiety medication

Outlook

Successful treatment depends on the cause of the delayed ejaculation and the type of treatment.

Anyone who has concerns about sexual function speaks with a doctor so that the right course of action can be taken.

What is sexual addiction?

Sexual addiction is a condition in which an individual cannot manage their sexual behavior. Persistent sexual thoughts affect their ability to work, maintain relationships, and fulfil their daily activities.

Other terms for sexual addiction are sexual dependency, hypersexuality, and compulsive sexual behavior. It is also known as nymphomania in females and satyriasis in men.

While sexual addiction shares some features with substance addiction, the person is addicted to an activity, not a substance. Treatment may help, but without treatment, it may get worse.

An estimated 12 to 30 million people in the United States (U.S.) experience sexual addiction. It affects both men and women.

Fast facts on sexual addiction

  • Sexual addiction prevents people from managing their sexual behavior. Why it happens is unclear.
  • It can have a severe impact on a person’s life, but key bodies, such as the American Psychological Association (APA), have not yet established it as a diagnosable condition.
  • Typical behaviors include compulsive masturbation, persistent use of pornography, exhibitionism, voyeurism, extreme acts of lewd sex, and the failure to resist sexual impulses.
  • Treatment centers and self-help groups can help with sexual addiction.

What is sexual addiction?

The American Society of Addiction Medicine describes addiction as “a primary, chronic disease of brain reward, motivation, memory, and related circuitry.”

Sexual addictionSexual addiction is an inability to control sexual urges, leading to impaired relationships and quality of life.

A person with sexual addiction is obsessed with sex or has an abnormally intense sex drive. Their thoughts are dominated by sexual activity, to the point where this affects other activities and interactions. If these urges become uncontrollable, the person can have difficulty functioning in social situations.

In some cases, a person with a healthy and enjoyable sex life may develop an obsession. They may find themselves stimulated by acts and fantasies that most people do not consider acceptable.

In some cases, the person may have a paraphilic disorder, such as pedophilia. This is a diagnosable disorder.

A paraphilic disorder involves sexual arousal caused by stimuli that most people do not find acceptable, for example pedophilia. It involves distress and dysfunction.

Sexual addiction has not been fully established as a medical condition, although it can adversely affect families, relationships, and lives. One difficulty with identifying sexual addiction is that people have different levels of sex drive, or libido. One person may consider their partner a “sex addict” only because they have a higher sex drive.

More research is needed to determine whether or not sexual addiction exists as a disorder.

Symptoms

Some attempts to define the characteristics of sexual addiction have been based on literature about chemical dependency. Sexual addiction may share the same rewards systems and circuits in the brain as substance addiction.

However, people with sexual addiction may be addicted to different types of sexual behavior. This makes the condition harder to define. It also suggests that the disorder stems not from the individual acts, but rather an obsession with carrying them out.

Sexual addiction also appears to involve making rules to feel in control of the condition, and then breaking them to make new rules.

Activities associated with sexual addiction may include:

  • compulsive masturbation
  • multiple affairs, sexual partners, and one-night stands
  • persistent use of pornography
  • practicing unsafe sex
  • cybersex
  • visiting prostitutes or practicing prostitution
  • exhibitionism
  • voyeurism

Behaviors and attitudes may include:

  • an inability to contain sexual urges and respect the boundaries of others involved in the sexual act
  • detachment, in which the sexual activity does not emotionally satisfy the individual
  • obsession with attracting others, being in love, and starting new romances, often leading to a string of relationships
  • feelings of guilt and shame
  • an awareness that the urges are uncontrollable, in spite of financial, medical, or social consequences
  • a pattern of recurrent failure to resist impulses to engage in extreme acts of lewd sex
  • engagement in sexual behaviors for longer than intended, and to a greater extent
  • several attempts to stop, reduce, or control behavior
  • excessive time and energy spent obtaining sex, being sexual, or recovering from a sexual experience
  • giving up social, work-related, or recreational activities because of a sexual addiction
  • sexual rage disorder, where an individual becomes distressed, anxious, restless, and possibly violent if unable to engage in the addiction

Studies have demonstrated a strong link between alleged sexual addiction and risk-taking. Sexual addiction may cause a person to persist in taking risks even if there may be health consequences, such as sexually transmitted infection (STI), physical injury, or emotional consequences.

Complications

Untreated, compulsive sexual behavior can leave the individual with intense feelings of guilt and low self-esteem. Some patients may develop severe anxiety and depression.

Other complications may include:

  • family relationship problems and breakups
  • financial problems
  • STIs
  • legal consquences, if the sexual act is illegal or publically disruptive, such as in exhibitionism

Causes

The causes of sexual addiction remain unclear.

Addiction takes root in the reward center of the brain. It may occur when certain parts of the brain mistake pleasure responses for survival mechanisms.

The midbrain is the section of the brain that handles the body’s reward system and survival instincts. As sexual activity creates a rush of dopamine, the “feel-good” chemical in the brain, this triggers the feeling of pleasure. The midbrain then mistakes this feeling of pleasure as being central to survival.

One possibility is that, in people with sexual addiction, the frontal cortex, or the brain’s center of logic and morality, is impaired by the midbrain.

Studies on rats have linked lesions of a section of the brain called the medial prefrontal cortex (mPFC) with compulsive sexual behavior. This may shed some light the causes of hypersexuality in humans.

Some studies have found a higher frequency of addictive sexual behavior in people from dysfunctional families. A person with sexual addiction is more likely to have been abused than other people.

A significant number of people recovering from sexual addiction have reported some type of addiction among family members. It can occur alongside another addiction.

Diagnosis

Symptoms of sexual addiction may resemble those of other addictions, but the diagnostic criteria for sexual addiction remains in dispute. For this reason, there are different sets of criteria for diagnosing the condition.

Hypersexuality is not a formal diagnosis, according to the American Psychiatric Association’s (APA’s) Diagnostic and Statistic Manual of Mental Disorders, 5th Edition (DSM-V), due to a lack of evidence supporting its existence as a condition.

However, the International Classification of Diseases, Tenth Edition (ICD-10) provides a category into which hypersexuality can fit: “F52.8: other sexual dysfunction not due to a substance or a known physiological condition.”

Excessive sexual drive, nymphomania, and satyriasis are all included under this category.

The Semel Institute for Neuroscience and Human Behavior, UCLA, suggested in a 2012 study that to in order for a sexual addiction to qualify as a mental health disorder, an individual must:

“Experience repeated sexual fantasies, behaviors, and urges that last upwards of 6 months, and are not due to factors, such as medication, another medical condition, substance abuse, or manic episodes linked to bipolar disorder.”

As more examples of sexual addiction and its consequences have emerged, the disorder has become more widely accepted as a legitimate mental condition.

Sexual addiction or advanced libido?

One challenge is to distinguish sexual addiction from a high sex drive.

Two key features can help health professionals to do this:

  • consistent failure to control the behavior
  • continuation of the behavior despite the harm caused

A qualified psychiatric doctor will be able to distinguish between an advanced libido and a pattern of dependency on sexual stimulation or other paraphilic disorder that requires medical attention.

Suggested criteria

Dr. Aviel Goodman, director of the Minnesota Institute of Psychiatry, has proposed criteria similar to those used in substance addiction.The criteria would diagnose sexual addiction when significant damage or distress is caused by a pattern of behavior.

To receive a diagnosis, a person should show at least three of the following traits during a 12-month period. The behaviors relate to tolerance and withdrawal issues. They would not adjust to the changing personal circumstances caused by sexual addiction.

  • The behavior needs to increase in frequency and intensity to achieve the desired effect.
  • Continuing at the same level or intensity fails to produce the desired effect.
  • Discontinuing the behavior leads to withdrawal syndrome, including physiological or psychological changes.
  • Similar behavior is engaged in to relieve or avoid withdrawal symptoms.

Other possible criteria include:

  • engaging in the behavior for a longer time or at a higher intensity or frequency than intended
  • having a persistent desire to cut down or control the behavior, or making unsuccessful efforts to do so
  • spending a lot of time on activities needed for preparing to engage in and recovering from the behavior
  • giving up or reducing important social, occupational, or recreational activities because of the behavior
  • continuing the behavior despite knowing that it is likely to cause or worsen a persistent physical or psychological problem

Treatment

Addiction can be difficult to treat, as a person with an addiction will often rationalize and justify their behaviors and thought patterns. People with a sex addiction may deny there is a problem.

Sexual addiction treatmentSexual addiction can be controlled by attending self-help meetings.

Current treatment options aim to reduce any excessive urges to engage in sexual relations and to encourage the nurturing of healthful relationships.

The following treatment options are available:

  • Self-help organizations, such as Sex Addicts Anonymous, Sexaholics Anonymous, Sexual Compulsives Anonymous, and Sex and Love Addicts Anonymous, offer 12-step programs to help the individual in self-managing the condition.
  • Residential treatment programs are available for individuals with various addictive disorders. These are in-patient programs, during which the individual lives on-site at the facility and receives care from specialized therapists.
  • Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) provides a variety of techniques that help the individual change their behavior. CBT can equip a person to avoid relapses and reprogram harmful sexual behaviors.
  • Prescription medications, such as Prozac, may be prescribed to reduce sexual urges, but the drug has not been approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to treat this condition.

The support of friends and family is crucial for a person recovering from an addiction. Sexual addiction, due to its behavioral nature, can be difficult for others to understand and tolerate, especially if it has already led to damage in relationships.

However, a strong support network helps to reduce destructive behavior and the risk of relapse.

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Can masturbation cause hair loss?

There are many myths surrounding masturbation, but is there any truth to the theory that masturbation can make your hair fall out?

People often find masturbation difficult to discuss, which may explain why this topic attracts so many myths.

This myth that masturbation causes hair loss may come from theories about protein loss or changes in testosterone.

However, these myths rarely hold water, and masturbation is a regular part of life for many people — in a survey of more than 2,000 adults, 80 percent of men and women reported masturbating.

In this article, we take a closer look at why people think that masturbation might cause hair loss. We also investigate other masturbation myths and facts, and look at real causes of hair loss.

Does masturbation cause hair loss?

Man wondering if masturbation causes hair loss, looking at hairline in bathroom mirror.

There are no studies connecting hair loss to masturbation.

In a word, no — there is no scientific evidence that masturbating causes hair loss.

This myth may come from the idea that semen contains high levels of protein, and so with each ejaculation, the body is losing protein that it could use for hair growth.

While it is true that semen is high in protein — with approximately 5.04 grams (g) of protein per 100 milliliters (mL) of semen — each ejaculation contains just 3.3 to 3.7mL of semen, which is a comparatively small amount.

Another theory is that masturbation increases testosterone, which in turn increases the levels of a hormone linked to hair loss, called DHT (dihydrotestosterone).

However, a study from 2001 showed that adult males actually had an increase in testosterone levels after abstaining from masturbation for 3 weeks. This means that testosterone levels might actually rise if a person avoids ejaculating.

In either case, there is no evidence to suggest that masturbation increases DHT levels.

Busting other masturbation myths

Many myths exist about masturbation, but modern science has not proven it as the cause of any specific physical ailments.

Alongside hair loss, there is no evidence that masturbation will:

  • cause hair to grow on the palms of the hands
  • lead to blindness
  • do permanent damage to the genitals
  • cause impotence in men and infertility in women

Many people find masturbation difficult to talk about, which means that myths about masturbation can be very persistent.

Benefits of masturbation

Woman laughing in bed

Masturbation may help to relieve stress, and encourage healthy self-image.

Masturbation may have many benefits, including:

Understanding the body

Masturbation may help a person to become more familiar and comfortable with their body, helping them understand their sexual sensations and what gives them pleasure.

Studies have reported that women who masturbate early in life may be more likely to have positive sexual experiences as an adult, and a healthy self-image.

Physical health

Orgasms, whether achieved alone or with a partner, support and strengthen the circulatory, nerve, and muscular systems of the genitals in men and women.

For men, orgasms may help to keep sperm and semen healthy. A study published in 2016 reports that frequent ejaculation may reduce a man’s risk of developing prostate cancer.

Stress relief

Many people use masturbation as a way to relieve stress or help with sleep. It may be considered a risk-free way to experience sexual pleasure, since it cannot lead to pregnancy or sexually transmitted infections (STIs).

Risks of masturbation

Although many people find it difficult to talk about, there are few risks associated with masturbation. It may become a problem if it begins to:

  • interfere with school, work, or other aspects of an individual’s life
  • cause problems in a relationship
  • cause excessive guilt
  • be too rough, resulting in swelling or decreased sexual sensitivity

If a person is worried that masturbation is becoming a problem, a doctor or sex therapist will be able to advise on the best course of action.

What causes hair loss?

Close up of patient and doctor hands over desk with laptop, notepad, and tablet.

Anyone concerned about hair loss should speak to a doctor.

The actual cause of hair loss is most often a combination of heredity and hormones, not masturbation.

Common causes of hair loss include:

Male pattern baldness

Androgenetic alopecia or pattern baldness is a genetic disorder and is the most common cause of hair loss.

An individual with androgenetic alopecia has a genetic sensitivity to DHT. When exposed to DHT, the hair follicles shrink, which prevents them from generating strong, healthy hair.

According to the American Hair Loss Organization, male pattern baldness (MPB) causes over 95 percent of hair loss in men and may affect 85 percent of men by the time they are 50.

Although women have lower levels of testosterone than men, androgenetic alopecia can also affect females. According to the British Association of Dermatologists, about 50 percent of women over the age of 65 will experience androgenetic alopecia.

Alopecia areata

This form of alopecia typically results in bald patches developing on the head or elsewhere. The hairless areas may stay contained and hair may re-grow, or the hair loss can spread to include the entire scalp, facial area, and body.

Alopecia areata is considered to be an autoimmune condition. It can affect men, women, or children.

This condition affects about 2 percent of people. For about 30 percent of people with this condition, hair loss is recurring or can become permanent.

Chemotherapy

While chemotherapy typically focuses on cancer cells, some of the cancer-fighting compounds in chemotherapy drugs can cause as much as 90 percent of a person’s hair to fall out. This hair loss is temporary, and the hair should regrow following treatment.

Major bodily stress

Major stress to the body, such as childbirth, serious infection, or malnutrition, can result in a significant loss of hair.

This form of hair loss usually resolves on its own, but it may also be persistent.

Traction alopecia

This form of alopecia occurs when the hair is pulled too tightly for a long time, resulting in damage to the hair follicles.

Traction alopecia occurs when a person wears cornrows, extensions, tight braids, or ponytails for an extended period.

In its early stages, this hair loss is temporary. However, if a person continues to wear the same hairstyle for months or years, the hair loss can become permanent.

Medication

Some medications, including birth control pills and certain antidepressants, can cause hair loss as a side effect.

Takeaway

Masturbation is a common activity that will not affect a person’s health or lead to hair loss.

Anyone who wants to talk about the benefits or problems associated with masturbation should speak to their doctor, or a sex therapist. Likewise, anyone worried about hair loss should discuss it with a healthcare professional.

Sex talk: 5 myths you need to drop

Everyone’s heard their fair share of sex myths, especially during their teenage years. Unfortunately, though, some myths might persist well into adulthood, affecting the way we relate to our sexual lives. Here, we debunk some of the most widespread misconceptions about sex.

couple in bed

Sex myths — we’re better off without them, we say, so here we debunk five of the top contenders in this category.

“When did you pop your cherry?” “You’ll go blind if you masturbate!” “Oh, and maybe put your sex life on the back-burner if you want to wow your colleagues at next month’s sports event.” Do these phrases sound familiar?

Well, we’re here to look at the facts on these and other myths about quality time in the bedroom — and we don’t mean sleep.

So sit back, relax, and learn why you should try to stop worrying so much about apocryphal “facts” about sex.

1. Popping the cherry

This is the age-old belief that a woman’s hymen is a good place to look to if you desire to know whether she’s still a virgin — or, at least, if she has engaged in vaginal intercourse.

But although much significance is attached to the hymen as an alleged marker of virginity in many cultures, the truth is that more often than not, it can’t tell us much about a woman’s sexual history.

The hymen is a membrane that lines the opening of the vagina, and its actual shape and size varies from person to person. Normally, it does not cover the vaginal opening entirely — which makes absolute sense, since otherwise menstrual and other discharge would not be able to leave the vagina.

In fact, some of us are even born without a hymen.

In the rare cases wherein the hymen does cover the entire vaginal opening — this is a congenital condition called imperforate hymen — surgery is carried out to perforate it and allow vaginal discharge to pass out of the body.

While vaginal intercourse or some more strenuous physical activities could cause minor hymen tearing, many women do not experience any tearing or bleeding during sex, as the hymen can stretch to accommodate the penis.

As Nina Dølvik Brochmann and Ellen Støkken Dahl, authors of The Wonder Down Under, explain in a TED talk, this membrane is kind of like a scrunchy — elastic and flexible.

Even if tearing does occur, bleeding doesn’t always follow. And because hymens can have myriad different shapes, it will be incredibly difficult to tell whether that “dip” in the membrane is due to a minor rupture or whether it was there all along.

2. Menstruation as ultimate baby barrier

Another favorite piece of sex lore is that women can’t get pregnant if they have sex while on their period. It’s true that this scenario is highly unlikely, but even so, the possibility of pregnancy isn’t fully eliminated.

The likelihood of becoming pregnant after period sex depends largely on how long your menstrual cycle is. In most women, the menstrual cycle lasts for approximately 28 days. Usually, 3– 5 of those days are taken up by their period, during which unfertilized eggs, or “ovules,” and uterine lining are eliminated.

Women are most fertile during the ovulation stage of their menstrual cycles, when fresh eggs are produced. Ovulation usually takes place about 12 to 16 days before the start of the next period.

Some women, however, have shorter cycles, which means that their ovulation stage also happens earlier.

That, coupled with the fact that sperm can live inside the human body for up to 5 days, means that if the timing is right, sperm could hang out inside the female body for just long enough to survive the period and penetrate a fresh egg.

So, if you do plan to ease those menstrual cramps by having sex, you may wish to consider using a condom.

3. It’s not an orgasm if it’s not vaginal

Perhaps thanks to the supersexed ideal spread by commercial porn, many people are stuck for a long time with the idea that a woman’s orgasm is purely a vaginal experience, achieved through repeated penetration.

A quick look on the Internet will reveal that some popular searches include, “Why can’t I orgasm?” and “Why can’t I make my girlfriend climax?”

Well, as Medical News Today explained in a longer piece, there is no “one-size-fits-all” recipe for achieving orgasm, and very often, women will require clitoral stimulation, instead of just vaginal penetration, to reach that sweet spot.

For some, penetration doesn’t cut it at all, and clitoral stimulation alone is their stairway to heaven.

In fact, according to Essentials of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, of the women who reach sexual climax, “25 percent […] achieve orgasm with penetrative sex and 75 percent need extra clitoral stimulation.”

That’s why both men and women would do well to learn as much as possible about their and their partners’ bodies and try to understand what makes them tick individually.

4. Masturbation is bad for you

This bring us to our next item, which is that masturbation, somehow, is bad for you. There are, in fact, many myths related to masturbation: that it can make a man go blind; that it can lead to erectile dysfunction; and that it can cause sexual dysfunction in women.

feet peeking out from under the sheets

Don’t worry, masturbating won’t hurt you, and you may want to take your sweet time while you’re at it.

In case there were still any doubts, there are absolutely no links between your genitals and your eyes, so try as you might, you won’t lose the gift of vision just by exploring your nether bits sometimes.

In fact, specialists argue that there’s no such thing as masturbating too often, and that it actually brings a plethora of health benefits, including released tension, eased menstrual cramps, and, no less importantly, a “roadmap for [the] body,” as sex therapist Teesha Morgan said in a TED talk.

She added that, for women, this roadmap learned through masturbation helps them to more readily achieve an orgasm; they become better-equipped to solicit the kind of attention that best works for them.

As for the notion that frequent masturbation can cause erectile dysfunction, Morgan explained that it, too, is a false concern. However, she added that what could happen in some cases is that a man may become used to a certain practices — for instance, “quickies” — that could then take over in partnered sex, as well, with unwanted results.

Let’s say, as a man, every single time you masturbate you only give yourself a few minutes from first touch to ejaculation. That may condition you to those few minutes, so when you’re with a partner and you want to last longer, that may create problems for you.”

Teesha Morgan

A good way to prevent this from happening, explains Morgan, is to “make your practice and your play as similar as possible,” which may involve actually spending a little more quality time with yourself, rather than rushing through things.

5. Sex affects athletic performance

It seems intuitive, doesn’t it, that engaging in exercise that might be somewhat demanding, such as sex, will decrease your stamina, so you probably shouldn’t play at this game right before running an important marathon.

For years, the managers and coaches of top sports performers have forbidden their athletes to indulge in steamy action before important events, for fear that their performance would be weakened.

You’ll be relieved to find out, then, that that’s not really the case at all. Recent studies show that having sex the day before participating in a sports competition doesn’t affect performance.

Still, researchers point out that further investigations should still be conducted — regarding the potential psychological effects of sex when it comes to athletic performance, for example.

One editorial addressing the question of sports performance following intercourse suggests that, depending on individual psychological resilience, sex might alter the state of mind of an athlete before a competition.

“If athletes are too anxious and restless the night before an event,” the authors write, “then sex may be a relaxing distraction. If they are already relaxed or, like some athletes, have little interest in sex the night before a big competition, then a good night’s sleep is all they need.”

Long story short, there is no evidence that a little consensual sex “match” is anything but good for you — just learn what works for your body, stay safe at all times, and if something you’ve heard or read about sex sounds fishy, fact-check it against a credible source.

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