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Soft Spots: Six Months to Live

Finding your ideal mate, penis growth, sustaining inner confidence.

Q: Is it true that if you start masturbating too early in life, your penis won’t grow to full size? I started masturbating when I was 14 years old. I’m 22 now, and my penis is almost six inches when erect. Will it grow any more, or is that it?

A: As far as I’m concerned, you’re never too young to stimulate yourself. Generally speaking, the day you discover you have a sensitive bodypart is the day you begin experimenting with it. And that’s a good thing. But 14 isn’t all that young to start dating Mrs. Thumb and her four daughters. In fact, it’s a bit older than average. As for the rest of your theory, I haven’t been able to find any research that correlates frequency of masturbation with stunted penile development. If anything, the opposite seems a bit more likely: The more erections you have, the more blood will flow to the organ, and the more likely the organ will grow. What’s most probable is that the size of your erection is determined by just two things: heredity and how aroused you are in a given situation.

Having said that, let me move on to your real concerns, which seem to be the size of your penis and whether you masturbate too much.

Because a man’s body usually stops growing by age 23, what you’ve got between your legs probably isn’t going to change much. Sure, there are ads for creams, lotions and pumps that are all guaranteed to increase penis length; however, information about those products is sketchy and anecdotal at best, so buyer beware.

Some surgeons inject fat into the sides of a patient’s penis as a way of making it thicker’but not longer. Another surgical procedure involves implanting an inflatable shaft in the penis, but that’s used less as a size enhancer than as a cure for impotence’which doesn’t seem to be your problem. Your problem is that you think you’re too small, but you’re not. You’re almost exactly average. Not big, not small. Average.

As for your other concern’that you’re doing it too much’masturbation is a self-limiting activity, much like eating. Once you do it, you don’t want to do it again for a while. Signs that you’re doing it too much include chafing and dry or cracked skin. The cure: Take a breather or start using lubricants if you’re not doing that already.

Former Surgeon General Jocelyn Elders once said that for kids, masturbation could be a healthy alternative to premarital sex. That remark cost her her job, but I’m going to go out on a limb and agree with her. You’re 22, though, and you’re not a kid anymore. Keep flogging your dolphin all you want, but if it ever gets to the point that you prefer it to relationships with human beings, then maybe it’s time to cut back.

Q: How do you know if you’re with the right mate?

A: A psychologist I know, Dr. Jo Lichtman, has a very simple test: Ask yourself what you’d do if you only had six months to live. Is the person you’re with someone you’d want to share those months with? You could ask the same question about your job or your house. To be sure, the good doctor’s formula gives more weight to present satisfaction than to future security, but who’s to say that the person who gives you a wonderful six months won’t also give you 50 great years?

Q: Have you ever known someone who was filled with confidence and seemed as though he could conquer the world, then something changed and it seemed every decision he made was wrong, and he couldn’t find his way back to that level of confidence again? That’s where I feel I am right now.

A: You didn’t say what changed, but I’m betting you made a decision that turned out to be very wrong. After that, you hesitated, you second-guessed yourself, you refused to trust your instincts. Try keeping this in mind: You don’t grow from always being right. You grow from making mistakes, learning from them and moving on. It’s no longer a mistake if, in fact, you’ve learned something from it. Making a mistake’regardless of the size and consequences’teaches you that mistakes are survivable. Having made one and survived, you can move on to the next decision knowing you can handle the consequences’whatever they might be.

Editor’s note: Teagan invites you to write to her at [email protected]. IM

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