Traumatic Masturbatory Syndrome (TMS)?

Originally Published: November 17, 2006 - Last Updated / Reviewed On: August 10, 2007
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Dear Alice,

What's the deal with Traumatic Masturbatory Syndrome? Is it real or some sort of hoax?

Thanks,
Worried about TMS

Dear Worried about TMS,

Although the name itself might bring up a touchy subject, rest assured that Traumatic Masturbatory Syndrome isn't as scary as it sounds. In 1998, Dr. Lawrence Sank proposed a theory of sexual dysfunction called Traumatic Masturbatory Syndrome (TMS). In his journal article, he described the cases of four men who had erectile dysfunction and delayed orgasms (anorgasmia) while having sex with a partner. He claims that these disorders came about because the subjects usually masturbated while lying face down — the men tended to rub their penises against their hand, the surface of the floor, bed, pillow, or whatever they were laying on, in order to ejaculate. Once they were retrained to masturbate laying face up with their penises in their hands, their anorgasmia and erectile dysfunction supposedly became a thing of the past.

Pro-prone proponents of masturbating shouldn't worry about taking this theory lying down. Sank's theory isn't widely recognized in the medical community, and there hasn't been follow-up research to see if his claims are valid. Other researchers have cited that problems with getting and maintaining an erection or ejaculating may be related to more pressing issues, such as how often a guy masturbates. However, because sexual dysfunction can be caused by stressors in a person's emotional, psychological and/or physical well-being, there might be other issues at hand.

Masturbating is healthy and normal, as long as you're not getting hurt and it's not interfering with other aspects of your life. Feel free to enjoy yourself in whatever position you like best! But, if you're having problems enjoying the ride, it may help to try different techniques. Check out Just Can't Orgasm in the Alice's Sexuality archives for some tips from an old hand.

Alice

July 12, 2012

513676
I agree completely with the prior two posts. It's a real disorder. The problem it presents (normalizing an irregular way of arousal to the point where the conventional method is not enough) is real....
I agree completely with the prior two posts. It's a real disorder. The problem it presents (normalizing an irregular way of arousal to the point where the conventional method is not enough) is real. And the way to treat it is to discontinue the prone masturbation method and like the other commentator said, retrain how your penis gets stimulated.

April 24, 2012

510384
TMS is real, I myself have suffered from it. I accidentally discovered face down masturbation as a young kid, I just kept doing it. I did not discover I had a problem until college (I suspected it...
TMS is real, I myself have suffered from it. I accidentally discovered face down masturbation as a young kid, I just kept doing it. I did not discover I had a problem until college (I suspected it late in high school when I was unable to orgasm when I lost my virginity). Simply retraining oneself to masturbate normally can basically cure this, although I believe I have mild permanent damage to my urethra because urine comes out erratically sometimes. Again, just because there "isn't much research" about something DOES NOT mean a problem is nonexistent. There wasn't enough research on cigarettes causing cancer back in the day, so people rejected such claims as nonsense. Boy was that wrong...

March 22, 2012

508990
I can speak from experience on the subject of TMS. I began masturbating around 13, and did it prone almost exclusively for almost 10 years. When I started having sex in college, I found that I...
I can speak from experience on the subject of TMS. I began masturbating around 13, and did it prone almost exclusively for almost 10 years. When I started having sex in college, I found that I could not orgasm. At first, girlfriends liked it because I could go for long periods of time without orgasm. But when I did not orgasm at all, they usually blamed themselves and the relationship would eventually die. The only way I could orgasm during these years was to masturbate prone. It wasn't until I found a website discussing TMS and how to treat it (retrain the way I masturbated), that I was able to develop a normal sex life and orgasm during intercourse. So please don't discount this issue just because there isn't "sufficient research" documented. There are many problems out there which do not have "sufficient research" either because researchers will not address them or they cannot get funding to support the aim. My problem was very real.