While it is true that for most teens, masturbation is an activity that occurs from time to time during the adolescent years. For some however, the activity becomes compulsive and addictive. Masturbation becomes a problem if a teen can’t prevent himself or herself from doing it excessively, doing it in inappropriate places and doing it as a means of coping with negative emotions and as a constant escape from reality.
Teens struggling with compulsive masturbation stop socializing and hanging out with friends to masturbate multiple times per day. Often, teens with this problem do not enjoy what they are doing and have negative feelings after finishing.
For most teens, discussing masturbation with adults is quite uncomfortable. For teens struggling with compulsive masturbation, talkiming about it and getting helps is even more difficult because of the personal and sensitive nature of the issue. The appropriateness of masturbation has been an area of controversy for many parents and professionals working with teens. Some believe it as a natural part of adolescence while on the other end of the scale others believe that it is wrong or sinful. There is no clear directive for how much masturbation is compulsive –ten times a day? Twice? When the behavior interferes with a teen’s ability to manage life effectively, then it is considered a problem and warrants treatment.
Compulsive masturbation is sometimes a sign of a sex addiction or a mental health problem. Sex addicts receive little pleasure from having sex, but compulsively participate in sexual acts anyway. Sometimes, masturbating compulsively is a sign of hypersexuality or obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD). Of all the types of sexual acting out, compulsive masturbation is one of the most secret and isolative. Teens that compulsively masturbate are often the last to seek help, often not seeing or understanding their behavior as problematic. In some cases, the behaviors are related to past childhood traumas. Many teens also secretly feel shameful and dirty for their habit which leads them to become more isolated and less likely to seek help.
The good news is that the earlier in life that a teen is able to recognize the problem and get help, the greater the prognosis for a successful recovery. Through participation in treatment, struggling teen sex addicts can develop a hope for a positive future that will include healthy relationships and healthy sexuality free from sexual addiction and the accompanying shame and self-loathing.