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How can I prevent involuntary masturbation?

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Practicing since : 2002
Answered : 2566 Questions
Hi, I am a 24 year old male. And I have a rather unusual problem. I dont masturbate-but when I go to sleep, every now and then, during a half sleep/awake phase, I find myself moving against the bed, masturbating. This happens maybe once or twice every couple of months. It used to be more often, but I’ve been fighting this for 2 years now. I dont masturbate consciously nor do I encourage it due to religious beliefs. I dont think about sexual things all the time. I mean, I'm young and unmarried, so Im bound to have thoughts from time to time, but most of the time, I fight to control these.

Most nights, I just go to bed, not thinking of anything like that, just trying to get to sleep. After having been sleep for about an hour or two, this half sleep act takes place.

How in the world do I stop this? When it happens, its so weird, I cant make myself stop, but fully awake, I would never decide to do this. It’s like, Im not in control, it feel like its subconscious actions, yet I can feel whats happening, but Im not rational, Im still kinda sleep and cant make myself stop it. Now, once again, its not that often but when it happens, I just hate it.

I’ve been doing internet research about this problem and have found interesting things that describes why it happens but none on real solutions.

This is embarrasing and weird and I just want to know what I can do to prevent it.

Please help and thank you.
Wed, 2 May 2012 in Men Sexual Problems
Answered by Dr. Robert Galamaga 3 hours later

Thank you for your query.

Let me start by saying that your question is a difficult one to answer but I think I can provide you with good information and reassurance regarding what is going on.

First of all you are a young man in your prime both physically and mentally. Your body is hard wired at this age to be sexually active and to reproduce. This is largely hormonally driven. Hormone levels do fluctuate throughout the day as does the sex drive.

I appreciate that you prefer not to masturbate and recognize that you feel this way for religious reasons. In the absence of sexual activity, masturbation or orgasm there can be a buildup of sexual tension which the body naturally looks to release. This is manifested in your case by these involuntary episodes which you experience.

With all of this being said let me recommend a few things which may help. First of all you must exercise daily for at least 45 minutes of good cardiovascular high intensity workouts. This is a good tension reliever. Also I recommend you decrease or eliminate any stimulants such as caffeine in your diet which can be found in coffees and teas. At bedtime I recommend you drink a cup of chamomile or Valerian root tea. This will help calm you and possibly decrease the number of these episodes which you describe. Finally I recommend you wear tight fitting underwear such as briefs and not boxers when you go to bed. This will keep the genitals in place and decrease the likelihood that you will be stimulated as you sleep.

I hope you have found my answer and recommendations to be both adequate and helpful. Should you have additional questions I am available to address them.


Dr. Galamaga
Above answer was peer-reviewed by
Follow-up: How can I prevent involuntary masturbation? 1 hour later
Thank you for your reply and your time.

I noticed that this seems to happen possibly before I start dreaming. I although I dont always remember my dreams, when the episode does occur, it seems to happen at about an hour or two after finally getting to sleep.

These episodes at first, two years ago were at XXXXXXX twice a week. now, they are about two or three months apart, and when it happens, it will happen a couple of times, within a week of each other - then, I'm free for another couple of months. its so strange.

I can never remember this actually interrupting a dream. I think it's happening before I reach REM sleep.

Is this interrupting REM sleep? If so, how can I maintain REM?

Answered by Dr. Robert Galamaga 9 hours later
Hello again,

Good to hear from you again.

I don't think this is having an affect on REM sleep. I agree the nature and frequency of what you are dealing with is peculiar and it is a reminder of how amazing the human brain really is. In addition there may be some deeper psychological things which could play a role as a trigger. If the psychological things were quite obvious then I am sure you would have been able to pinpoint them and address them. If there is a psychological aspect, I suspect it could be quite subtle in your case.

I applaud your efforts in reaching out to understand more about this concern and again I hope I have been of some good assistance. If you have further questions I am available.


Dr. Galamaga.
Above answer was peer-reviewed by
Follow-up: How can I prevent involuntary masturbation? 6 hours later
Thank you again for your time and support. I've been fighting hard to decrease the frequency of these events. To some degree, I've been successful, but it hasnt always been easy.

I will keep fighting these occurrences and though at times, I may fail due to being partially sleep, as long as the frequency is low, that would be great.

This "every couple of months" is the current frequency. My goal is to lower this.

I've been reading through forums to see if others suffer from this as well. I've found that I'm not alone.

Forums of various individuals, even among the married with a normal and healthy sex life experience similar episodes. I've read about people whose spouses have awaken to find their partner doing something similar as I've described. Both men and women. I was shocked to find that even those that experience normal intimacy still subconsciously have these episodes.

This scared me a little bit. It would be quite strange if even married, there will still be occurrences from time to time. I hope that's not the case with me if I marry. But I wont worry about it too much.

Its so strange, when an episode occurs, in which I'm half awake, I can feel what Im doing, but I cant rationalize. I have to find a way to fully wake up when these events occur.

Is there any way I cant "snap out of it" so-to-speak?

Any wake up tricks? (from a half awake state)

Answered by Dr. Robert Galamaga 2 hours later
Hello again and thanks for your followup,

I firmly believe that in the event that you become involved in a loving and intimate relationship that these episodes will become exceedingly rare and more likely will resolve and go away completely.

Regarding snapping out of this there is no easy answer I am afraid. I can say that positive thinking in this respect would be helpful. By this I mean reaffirm to yourself that you are in control of your body. You could simply repeat this to yourself "I am in control" over and over for a few minutes a day. This can have a subconscious affect and possibly may improve the frequency - making it more rare in your case.

You are right - you are not alone. You are not abnormal and I want to remind you of that as well. Please try the few things of - good exercise, healthy diet, relaxation or meditation, relaxing teas and positive thinking. I think all of these together will serve you well.

I again wish you all the best.


Dr. Galamaga
Above answer was peer-reviewed by
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