Masturbation: Its American History and Its Benefits

Historically, America has held a somewhat negative societal view of masturbation that can be traced back to several centuries ago. In America in the 18th and 19th centuries, the perfect storm collided to help condemn masturbation as being a degenerate act.

Decades of the Judeo-Christian tradition of condemning masturbation as being a misuse of one’s sexuality combined with the general prudishness of the Victorian era, which lasted from 1837 to 1901, and with the Great Awakening religious revivals of the early 18th century to the late 19th century to land masturbation into the banned acts arena.

Literary works during the Victorian era helped move masturbation from being just a socially wicked act to being one of a physical and mental health nature that required medical treatments and even cures to eradicate.

One of the biggest opponents of masturbation during this time was American physician Dr. John Harvey Kellogg (1852-1943), who thought sex was detrimental to our physical, emotional and spiritual well-being. He had evener stricter views on masturbation.

In addition to sharing his anti-masturbation and anti-sex beliefs with others, Dr. Kellogg physically lived his beliefs and values. It is believed that Dr. Kellogg was celibate, that he and his wife never consummated their marriage, that they kept separate bedrooms during their entire marriage and that all eight of their children were adopted.

Dr. Kellogg was raised as a devote Seventh-day Adventist and kept to his faith all throughout his life. He went to medical school before returning to his home state of Michigan where he would eventually practice as a physician at an Adventist-operated sanitarium.

In his written work Plain Facts for Old and Young: Embracing the Natural History and Hygiene of Organic Life, Dr. Kellogg explored 39 different symptoms of a person “plagued by masturbation.” These symptoms included defective development, mood swings, fickleness, bashfulness, boldness, bad posture, stiff joints, acne, palpitations, epilepsy and a fondness for spicy foods.

To overcome these maladies caused by masturbation, Dr. Kellogg’s simple solution was a healthy diet. He suggested people avoid meats and certain flavors and seasonings because he believed these foods helped to increase sexual desire. He encouraged people to eat plainer foods, such as cereals and nuts, to maintain a lower level of sexual desire. Dr. Kellogg thought a plain diet would help curb masturbation.

In need of plainer foods for his sanitarium patients, Dr. Kellogg developed a few breakfast foods designed with healthful living in mind. He manufactured and sold his products through Sanitas Food Company, which he established in 1900. His younger brother Will Keith (W.K.) Kellogg (1860-1951) helped him run Sanitas.

By 1905, Sanitas was selling ready-to-eat breakfast cereals, including corn flakes without sugar. In 1906, Will Kellogg started his own company, the W.K. Kellogg Company, after a business dispute between the brothers. It is rumored the rift between the brothers started when Will suggested Dr. Kellogg’s corn flakes be made more palatable by adding sugar to the recipe and they would sell more product.

Both brothers ended up selling their own version of corn flakes, which caused court battles and a falling out that lasted for decades. Will’s version of Kellogg’s Corn Flakes are still sold in America today, and most people don’t realize the breakfast food was designed to help stop masturbation or that some of the profits of the W.K. Kellogg Company flowed into the Race Betterment Foundation, created in 1914 to publicize and promote eugenics. (Click the link to read a Your Sexy Librarian blog about American eugenics.)

It is interesting to note that one of Dr. Kellogg’s sanitarium patients was Charles William (C.W.) Post (1854-1914), who founded Postum Cereal Co. in 1895 after being inspired to start his own company based upon the dietary products used at the sanitarium. In 1897, Grape-Nuts premiered followed in 1904 by a brand of corn flakes called Elijah’s Manna that was later renamed Post Toasties in 1908. Both of these creations of Post are still sold in America today.

For people whose diets failed to alleviate their need to masturbate, Dr. Kellogg suggested threading silver wire through the penis’ foreskin to prevent erection and cause irritation and advocated an application of carbolic acid to the clitoris to burn it and discourage touching it.

Please note that carbolic acid is poisonous and harmful to skin and should NOT be used as Dr. Kellogg suggested.


Masturbation has its benefits, much to the chagrin of anti-masturbationist Dr. Kellogg. Let’s explore five of those benefits.

Benefit One: Better Pelvic Floor Muscles

The contractions from having an orgasm through masturbation can strengthen the pelvic floor, which is the muscular base of the abdomen that stretches like a hammock from the tailbone at the back to the pubic bone in front.

Pelvic floor muscles function to support pelvic floor organs (the bladder, small bowel and rectum for both sexes and additionally the vagina and uterus for women), assist in urinary and fecal continence, aid in sexual performance, stabilize connecting joints and act as a venous and lymphatic pump for the pelvis. Strengthening the pelvic floor muscles can help prevent erectile dysfunction in men and incontinence in both men and women.


Benefit Two: Reduces Prostate Cancer Risk

Two studies have shown that high ejaculation rates can help reduce a man’s risk of developing prostate cancer. A Harvard follow-up study revealed that men who ejaculated twenty-one or more times a month experienced a thirty-three percent lower risk of prostate cancer compared with men who reported four to seven ejaculations a month. In this particular study, ejaculations included sexual intercourse, nocturnal emissions and masturbation.

An Australian study had similar findings to that of the Harvard study. In the Australian study, men who averaged 4.6 to seven ejaculations a week were thirty-six percent less likely to be diagnosed with prostate cancer by age 70 than men who ejaculated less than 2.3 times a week on average.

The theory is that frequent ejaculation helps empty the prostate of potentially irritating or harmful substances which, in turn, protects the prostate from developing infections and cancerous lesions or tumors.


Benefit Three: Helps Reduce Premature Ejaculation

Some sex therapists from around the world advocate that masturbation can aid men who have experienced premature ejaculation, which is uncontrolled ejaculation either just before or shortly after sexual penetration. Masturbating two hours prior to sexual intercourse can enable these men to have a longer duration of sexual intercourse before another ejaculation occurs.


Benefit Four: Helps Prolong Sexual Intercourse

Masturbation can help men last longer during a sexual encounter. Think of it as training to run a marathon. A runner starts out running a half mile and then adds length each run time until the desired length is achieved. Men who wish to last longer during sex can train as well.

If his usual masturbation takes 40 strokes to end in ejaculation, a man can add an additional 10 strokes to his next masturbation session to prolong ejaculation until he reaches the 50 stroke goal. He can keep adding 10 strokes each session until he gets to the desired amount of time he wants to have sexual intercourse before ejaculation occurs.

Training to prolong orgasm is a great foundation for learning Tantric sex, which is an ancient Hindu practice that is over 5,000 years old and focuses on sex being a slow process to allow for increased energy and mind-body connections that can result in powerful orgasms and sometimes in simultaneous orgasms between partners.


Benefit Five: Increases Sexual Awareness

Masturbation is a great tool as it can be used in place of sexual intercourse as it allows people to enjoy the physical benefits of orgasm without the need for a sex partner.

In addition, if a woman explores her body on her own, she is going to know more about what feels good and when, where and how it feels good. She can use this knowledge later in sexual encounters with a partner. The same can be said for men who explore their bodies via self-play.


Masturbation is not evil. It doesn’t kill kittens or cause infertility. It won’t grow hair on your palms or make a person go blind. Masturbation can help individuals who partake in self-play to better understand their individual sexualities, what excites them and what they enjoy sexually.

Knowledge, especially about one’s own body, should not be forbidden.


Submit a Comment