A Staff Report from the Straight Dope Science Advisory Board

Will masturbation shrink the penis?

January 30, 2001

Dear Straight Dope:

When I was a teenager, I heard that masturbation, or maybe excessive masturbation, may result in shrinking of the penis.  I masturbate about once every day or two . . . what can I say, I'm a guy.  But anyway, I have noticed a slight size difference of my penis. About a half an inch--a little more.  I'm worried that masturbation was the cause of my penis seeming to shrink. So obviously, my question is, does masturbation result in shrinking of the penis?

I'll take a whack at this one (ho ho ho). You think 1/2 inch shrinkage is a problem? Many men in Southeast Asia are convinced that the penis can telescope back into the body under certain conditions. Which, strictly speaking, it can. I discussed this in a staff report a while ago about genital shrinkage due to cold weather (www.straightdope.com/mailbag/mpenis.html) so I'm kind of the Penis Shrinkage Expert around here. (Cecil also covers the topic in www.straightdope.com/classics/a1_083.html.)   Reassuring anxious males is also just part of my altruistic nature. Okay, sometimes I like to scare the pants off them, too.

In short (heh), no. Masturbation does not cause the penis to shrink (well, except back to normal size after it makes the penis grow), nor does it cause acne, mental illness or hairy palms. In her brief stint as Surgeon General of the U.S., Jocelyn Elders pointed out (with ill-advised common sense) that masturbation is a normal part of human sexuality and about the safest sex there is. You won't contract any sexually transmitted diseases or cause an unintended pregnancy, and you don't have to worry about performance anxiety or ever leaving your partner unsatisfied. And really, there's no need not to respect yourself in the morning, unless you didn't respect yourself before.

People have been warning of dire health effects from masturbation for centuries. It's all myth. Here's a frightening list from the works of Ellen G. White, early leader of the Seventh Day Adventists (thanks to www.proaxis.com/~solo/pleasbsh.htm):

  • Brain weakened
  • Cancerous tumors
  • Catarrh
  • Dropsy
  • Eye-sight weakened
  • Headache
  • Head decay
  • Insanity
  • Kidney disease
  • Liver disease
  • Lung disease
  • Memory loss
  • Nervous system damage
  • Neuralgia
  • Pains in the system
  • Premature death
  • Rheumatism
  • Spinal weakness/problems

This website's purpose is actually to promote the joys of masturbation, including a section on "jack-off/jill-off jokes" and another section on "boning up on your technique": www.proaxis.com/~solo/hme.htm.

So anyway, stop worrying. Go ahead and poke fun at yourself.

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