LAST_UPDATESat, 23 Jun 2018 4pm

Over 'Self-Pleasuring' And Memory Loss: Let’s Separate The Myths From The Facts

Memory loss and young adults. Two words we do not commonly see together in a sentence but the link is turning up with more frequency in the 21st century. Most people would brush it off as short term memory loss while for a young adult like myself, I worry that perhaps ‘certain lifestyle choices’ played a factor.

Specifically, I would like to address the myths and misconceptions surrounding the effects of too much ‘self-pleasure’, a common dilemma faced by many young adults from their early teens till the mid-20s. But first let’s look at the increasing cases of young people complaining about forgetfulness.

According to a new survey from researchers at Gallup and the University of California Los Angeles (UCLA), certain lifestyle factors may lead to early onset of memory problems, no matter the person’s age. According to the director of the UCLA Longevity Center, Dr Gary Small, they were surprised by the prevalence of memory issues among younger adults.

When youngsters show indications of extreme forgetfulness, is it essentially that their hyper-speed way of life has a lot of diversion crowding their memory that they can't recover the information they need? Is it safe to say that they are encountering "typical" forgetfulness? Or is it an indication of early onset dementia? Do young adults’ lifestyle choices play a part?

Separating Normal Memory Problems Among Youth From More Serious Conditions

Harvard Health Publications had highlighted 7 types of normal memory problems being transience, absentmindedness, blocking, misattribution, bias and persistence as being acceptable and commonplace forms of forgetfulness.

Malaysian Digest asked Prof Dr Osman Che Bakar, Senior Consultant Psychiatrist from Universiti Teknologi MARA (UiTM) to shed some more light on the topic.

He said short term memory loss or occasional forgetfulness is something that has become part of our life.

“There are occasions when we have walked into a room and forgotten why we went there, at times we misplaced our wallets, spectacles at least a few time.

“Stress, anxiety and depression can make it difficult to pay attention and focus, which can affect memory. When you are tense and your mind is overstimulated, exhausted or distracted, your ability to remember can suffer.

“Stress caused by an emotional trauma can also lead to memory loss. Many people worry about these temporary lapses fearing that they are heading toward a serious mental condition, called dementia an irreversible degenerative brain disorders,” he said in an interview via email.

Apart from our toxic daily life routine, Dr Osman said there other causes that could lead to short term memory loss like lack of oxygen or glucose to the brain, alcohol and drug abuse, concussion and trauma to the head.

“There are also a list of medical problem which could cause short term memory loss these include lack of oxygen or glucose to the brain, Alcohol and drug abuse, concussions and other trauma to the head. Medical conditions such as seizures, epilepsy and heart bypass surgery can also impact short-term memory. One of the first signs of dementia is also a short-term memory loss but it is more frequent and impair the person daily function,” he further clarified.

Dr Osman further explains that people who suffer with dementia will show symptoms like mood swings and difficulty in speech.

“For the diagnosis, it must be a change from a person's usual mental functioning and a greater decline than one would expect due to aging. “The most common type of dementia is Alzheimer’s disease, a hereditary disorder which makes up 50% to 70% of cases,” said Dr Osman.

As for young people, Dr Osman said they can easily experience short term memory loss because they have problem in managing with daily activities.

“Young people can easily experience short term memory loss because many of them have problem in coping with day to day activities.

“Any events or episodes which cause stress, exhaustion, anxiety, depression or lack of sleep can cause memory loss and mental haze. Family, academic, peer pressures as well as interpersonal relationships difficulties could be the stress factors among teens,” he said.

Ever heard of treat your body like a temple? Eating junk food and skipping meals also affects your memory.

“In addition foods and beverages containing stimulants such as cookies containing refined sugar and coffee when taking in large amount or not having proper meals could also make you more anxious and experience short term memory loss when under stress,” he further explained.

So we have established that short term memory loss can have physiological triggers such as over-stimulation, lack of oxygen or oversupply of certain endorphins or a depletion of certain nutrients. Just as what we eat and what we do can affect our memory, anything done in excess to trigger imbalance will impact your health negatively. Similarly, too much ‘self-pleasure’ can be detrimental to our memory and general health at well.

What Does ‘Over Self-Pleasuring’ Have To Do With Forgetfulness?

Call it jerking off, wanking or onanism, they all refer to the socially taboo topic of masturbation. Most people may joke about it but in actuality, any serious conversations on the subject are few and far in between.

Seeking self-pleasure is a distinctively human trait and masturbation has an evolutionary basis as research finds that the younger and more fresh the sperm sample is, the more likely it is to be accepted by the female reproductive tract and result in a fertilized embryo, Scientific American reported in its latest findings in 2014. Based on this finding, they concluded that male masturbation is a natural way to shed old sperm and make room for new, fitter sperm.

In females, orgasms, which are often obtained through masturbation, are also attributed to higher sperm retention and therefore increase their chances of procreating.

Masturbation according to current medical viewpoint is considered a healthy sexual behaviour. Like other behaviours, when over practiced or an addiction develops, it can lead to both psychological and physiological imbalances.

Can addiction to compulsive masturbation affect your memory or is it just an urban myth?

According to Andrology expert, Dr. Mohd Ismail Mohd Tambi, when a man reaches his climax, endorphin and other neurotransmitter that will flood the brain and short-circuit areas in the brain just like drugs.

Over masturbation can prompt inflammation of the nervous system coupled with the amassing of destructive, pro-oxidant proteins that cause cerebrum cell destruction. The hippocampus, the part of the mind that controls long-term memory and spatial route, encounters harm.

Meanwhile, each time a man ejaculates, he loses vital neurochemicals that also involved with concentration and memory. Men who ejaculate frequently showcase lower levels of acetylcholine, a neurotransmitter that lowers heart rate and acts as an “excitatory” chemical in the central nervous system.

With lowered levels of acetylcholine, individuals experience memory lapses. According to studies, individuals with Alzheimer’s disease often showcase lower levels of acetylcholine in the central nervous system.

The side effects of these imbalances in body chemistry can show themselves as fatigue, hair loss, memory loss, blurred vision, and groin/testicular pain.

Just like any other physical activity that overstress our body, excessive ejaculation distresses the liver, nervous system and present symptoms of sexual exhaustion even in young adults.

The first national study of teen masturbation surveyed the habit among 14 to 17 year old boys and girls (in the US of course) and was published in the Archives of Paediatrics and Adolescent Medicine and later reported by Time magazine in August 2011 showeing that about half of the boys said they engaged in the activity at least twice a week, but that figure fell to about 23 percent among girls. An estimated 46 percent of girls reported masturbating only a few times per year.

As children got older, they appeared more likely to masturbate. Just 63% of younger boys reported masturbating at least once, but that figure increased to 80% among 17-year-olds. For girls, the percentage rose with age from 43% to 58%.

For teens that develop an addiction to masturbation from their late teens onwards, they often start to develop medical conditions like Adrenal Fatigue Syndrome (AFS). The prevalence of Adrenal Fatigue Syndrome (AFS) among teenagers and young adults are on the rise.

Excessive chronic masturbation is a common cause of AFS in males and young adults. Medical researchers have highlighted that this is seldom discussed although the pervasiveness of sex in the modern world is unavoidable.

Teens that develop a long term addiction might start to experience symptoms like pain in the lower back, groin and leg regions, fuzzy vision, seminal leakage, premature ejaculation and weak erections by their mid-20s due to the depletion of vital nutrients in their system.

So You Have Compulsive Masturbation. Can The Addiction Be Reversed?

Is there too much of a good thing?

Dr Vipul Sharma wrote in 'Over Masturbation - Cure Naturally' there is no magical number of times in a week or measure of time masturbating that is ideal, however in the event that you masturbate to the point where you are hurting yourself, chances are you are doing it excessively.

In the event that you basically require a physiological discharge, once ought to suffice. On the off chance that you masturbate three, four or ten times progressively this will probably show that you are utilizing masturbation to sedate feelings or getaway. This ought to be a clue to check with yourself and perceive how you're utilizing masturbation.

Do you feel shame when engaging in masturbation? Whether the negative feeling is surfacing due to your religious convictions, societal influences, or family upbringing, associating shame to the act can be extremely harmful. Shame oftentimes prompts further secrecy and keeping up a double life where you look great on the outside however don't feel so great within. It is truly essential to seek help when the cycle of addiction, shame and secrecy becomes a vicious loop, since it normally develops over the long haul.

Dr Vipul suggested those who suffer with compulsive masturbation should avoid from watching porn (obviously).

"Several men and women have the tendency to satisfy the sexual urges that get aroused through porn by masturbating. Try to switch over to other interesting topics to watch or read about. Get rid of all your CDs and magazines that contain porn and set up some porn-blocking software on your computer," she said.

Apart from staying cooped in your room watching porn, Dr Vipul also suggested that they should break some sweat. In other words, exercise!

"If you spend most of your time alone at home, in your bedroom, you may feel tempted to masturbate, just to feel a bit better. Make it a point to leave the house for a few hours each day, even if it is just to go for a walk or run a few errands. Enter your bedroom only when you are ready to sleep," he said.

Regarding the matter of unwinding, different techniques like yoga, meditation, deep breathing, Tai Chi and massage therapy are popular and accessible options for most people. Also, these strategies calm anxiety, as well as help you come to terms with your own self-awareness over the long haul.

From a medical viewpoint, over masturbation depletes vital nutrients from your body which by common sense need to be replenished with nourishing food that is high in protein and essential minerals as well as a great deal of water.

There has been proven links between compulsive masturbation leading to loss of certain nutrients which can trigger occasional forgetfulness. Does taking Acetyl-L-Carnitine help in improving our memorizing ability and prevent dementia?

“Some research studies show that the vitamin-like nutrient L-carnitine may be able to slow down brain deterioration. Plus, it may give people the ability to think clearer.

“Since short term memory loss or occasional forgetfulness is a normal part of life, it is a reversible condition. We could improve the minor gaps in memory by keeping your life and possesions organized,” Dr Osman explained.

Masturbation is a part of life and our sexual practices. However, like most things in life, too much of a good thing can be bad. There are centuries of taboo and myth surrounding the practice of self-pleasure which will take more than one article to address all the misconceptions. But as with anything in life, practicing moderation is a good starting point.