death grip syndrome

Death Grip Syndrome. Is it Real or Just a Myth?

Table of contents

    People of all ages engage in the sexual act of masturbation at some point in their lives. At the end of the 18th century, this behavior, which has been practiced since the dawn of human existence, started to be viewed as unethical and unhealthy. It was disapproved of, along with other sexual behaviors including oral/anal sex and homosexual sex, because it was thought to endanger the possibility of conception. Freud, Tissot, and other medical experts connected masturbation to a number of diseases and agreed that it is detrimental and that individuals should refrain from it.

    One of the numerous conditions that experts thought was related to the practice of masturbation was the “death grip syndrome”:

    What is death grip syndrome?

    “Death grip syndrome” or DGS is a non-medical term that describes a condition that is believed to be caused by frequent or aggressive masturbation in men according to urban dictionary. This syndrome is accounted responsible for multiple damages including sexual dysfunctions (erectile dysfunction, premature ejaculation, etc) and a sore or a decreased sensitivity of the penis which is assumed to lessen sexual pleasure and make it more difficult to achieve orgasm.

    It is important to note that the sort of masturbation associated with this syndrome is one that is excessive in speed, pressure, duration and intensity.

    Is it real or just a myth?

    Despite the fact that this term, as stated above, is not a real medical condition as there is no such syndrome in the medical literature that is called as such; some research has shown that, in some people, masturbation, when performed in an unusual, excessive or aggressive manner (for example, in a prone position), can actually result in a variety of sexual dysfunctions and difficulties such as:

    • Erectile dysfunction (ED): this is the inability to get or maintain an adequate erection.
    • Premature ejaculation (PE): a condition where the ejaculation happens sooner than desired.
    • Anorgasmia: described as the inability to achieve an orgasm or getting a delayed orgasm.
    • Delayed ejaculation: the incapability to ejaculate or ejaculation that takes much longer than expected to occur.
    • Sore or numb penis
    • Lack of sexual desire: a decreased sexual drive and loss of interest in sexual activities.

    How does death grip syndrome happen?

    There are different mechanisms that can explain death grip syndrome or the different sexual dysfunctions that can happen due to the kind of masturbation described above:

    • The decreased blood flow that results from the firm compression of the penis: a regular erection depends on a healthy blood flow in the penis. Therefore, when the penis is stroked vigorously, blood flow is reduced in the penile area, which can result in numbness in the penis, ED, and as a result, difficulties in eliciting orgasm and ejaculating.
    • Traumatic masturbation syndrome: which is the practice of masturbation by lying on the bed in a prone position and rubbing the penis on the bed, pillow or hands. This syndrome was shown to lead to ED, anorgasmia and a decreased sexual appetite.
    • Excessive stimulation of the nervous system: when stimulated repeatedly, the nervous system can become deficient and result in various psychogenic sexual problems.
    • Declined sensitivity of the penis: the penis can become less sensitive due to its excessive stimulation by frequent masturbation causing the individual in question to use more force while masturbating in order to attain orgasm. This habit cannot be imitated while having sex, resulting in difficulties obtaining climax during sexual intercourse. 
    • The disparity between expectations and reality: People tend to fantasize about various sexual situations while masturbating; these situations are not always applicable in real sexual intercourse. This can result in a decrease or suppression of sexual arousal, and hence in erection and orgasm.
    • Conditioning the brain to a certain type of stimulation or situation: Getting adjusted to a specific form of penile stimulation while masturbating, or a setting in which climax is linked to self-touching, might mold the brain to such behaviors that cannot be recreated by sexual intercourse, making this latter ineffective for reaching sexual satisfaction.

    Is it possible to avoid death grip syndrome? And how?

    According to research, not all masturbatory practices result in sexual dysfunction and thus the so-called “death grip syndrome.” It is the act of masturbating in uncommon methods, such as prone positions, violent approaches, or a high frequency; that is implicated in the development of such harm to individuals’ sexual health.

    Therefore, in order to prevent such a condition, it is important to:

    • Stay away from forceful masturbation or retaining a tight grasp on the penis.
    • Avoid prone positions that can be harmful to the erectile function.
    • Take control of the masturbatory habit to avoid masturbation addiction.
    • Keep in mind that sexual fantasies cannot always be reproduced in real life.
    • Maintain a healthy sexual life.
    • Try pelvic floor training: which is a type of exercise that strengthens the penis muscles and helps with good erection. 

    How to cure death grip syndrome?

    The cure of the death grip syndrome depends on the symptoms or conditions concerned (ED, PE, anorgasmia). In all cases, seeking the advice of a healthcare professional is crucial as these symptoms can mask other serious health issues.

    The treatment can consist of medical drugs, psychological counseling in the case of psychogenic sexual dysfunctions and proper sexual education.

    And most importantly, maintaining a healthy masturbation routine is the greatest approach to alleviating death grip syndrome.


    The expression “death grip syndrome” is not a medical term. Some experts believe it is a myth or a phrase designed to discourage individuals from masturbating; an act that used to be deemed damaging, unethical, and even wicked and continues to be regarded as such in some modern cultures and beliefs.

    Professionals continue to disagree about whether masturbation harms men, and research has produced conflicting findings that lend credence to both sides of the argument. Self-erotism is a natural act that offers pleasure and sexual satisfaction and has many benefits, but it can also be harmful in some situations, such as traumatic masturbation syndrome (TMS) or other problematic uses of this practice.


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