Gone are the days of masturbation being viewed as a shameful act linked to madness, disease, and general nastiness. Nowadays, even the most prudish of medical professionals would agree masturbation has numerous health benefits.
That said, there is harmless fun and then there are downright dangerous delights.
Speaking to the German daily newspaper Bild, forensic physician Dr Herald Voss warned that between 80 and 100 people in Germany die each year from their risky masturbation practices.
The most common reason for autoerotic deaths is oxygen deficiency, known as hypoxyphilia, where people strangle themselves during masturbation for an added sexual euphoria. The problem is that asphyxiation, being deprived of oxygen, can arise far easier and faster than you think. Complete constriction of the carotid arteries, the major arteries that run up the side of your neck and supply oxygen to your brain, can leave you unconsciousness within 15 seconds and dead within minutes.
A separate study of autoerotic deaths in Northern Germany found that the most common way to asphyxiate was through strangulation or hanging, although people often used plastic bags, masks, or drugs.
Most autoerotic deaths are men, according to Dr Voss, although statistics are hazy since many of the deaths are undocumented or misreported. In suspected autoerotic deaths, police typically look for clues such as pornography, exposed genitalia, shackles, and a lack of suicide note. However, it’s often easier to classify the death as a straightforward accident or a suicide.
“Relatives who find the body sometimes put things away, because the shame is so great,” Dr Voss told Bild.
A urology study from the US in 1985 set out to discover the prevalence of injuries caused by people masturbating with vacuum cleaners. It concluded: “Unfortunately, and contrary to apparent public appreciation, injury due to this form of autostimulation may not be unusual. Five cases of significant penile trauma resulting from this form of masturbation are presented, with a spectrum of severe injuries, including loss of the glans penis.”
Voss added another story of a woman from the German city of Halle who reportedly found her son with Christmas tree lights clamped to his burnt body.
The moral of the story: Masturbation is a wonderful thing that everyone enjoys, but whatever your tastes or kinks, make sure you stay safe.