When it comes to self-gratification, lubrication is key. Whether a man turns to a bottle of hand lotion, his own saliva, or (preferrably) a personal lube made for the purpose, that slick liquid creates a slippery layer between hand and skin that makes for a pleasurable experience. But in a pinch, when these items are not available, most guys will admit to engaging in dry rubbing.

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A dry session here and there won’t do much harm, but if this becomes a regular practice, handling the penis without lube can cause some significant damage. The following are some of the problems that can arise from persistent dry rubbing, along with some simple solutions.

Potential Health Risks of Dry Rubbing

  1. Infections: Dry rubbing, especially with a tight grip, can cause microscopic tears in the skin’s surface. These tiny fissures may allow bacteria and other organisms to enter and cause inflammation and infections.
  2. Diminished sensitivity: Prolonged rubbing may damage the nerve tissue of the penis, causing loss of sensitivity and reduced ability to experience sexual pleasure.
  3. Urethral stricture: Vigorous manual stroking with a tight hold may cause urethral damage, including the formation of scar tissue. This, in turn, can lead to urethral stricture, or narrowing of the penile opening. A diminished urinary stream, difficulty urinating,  or reduction in ejaculation volume may result.
  4. Erectile dysfunction: Excessive manual stroking without lube may damage the circulatory tissue, leading to problems such as erectile dysfunction or unsightly damaged capillaries.
  5. Curved or bent penis: Dry rubbing with a powerful stroking action may stress the phallic connective tissue, causing scarring. Eventually, this can lead to Peyronie’s disease, characterized by a bent, curved or shortened penis. Painful erections and difficulty with penetrative sex may result.
  6. Calloused or toughened penis: Manual dry rubbing of the penis may, over time, create a “callous” on the penile skin, a process known as keratinization. This area of toughened skin may be less receptive to pleasurable sensations or feel “deadened.”

How to Avoid These Potential Problems

In order to prevent these problems from occurring, follow these simple steps:

  • Go easy. Instead of a “death grip,” practice using gentle touch, or experiment by stroking with items such as feathers or silky materials.
  • Always lube. A personal lubricant is the best option here. Olive or coconut oil can be used as an alternative, but they are messy and hard to wash off. Hand and body lotions often contain fragrances and other chemicals that can irritate the penis skin, so these should be avoided.
  • Moisturize. Using a penis-friendly moisturizer can keep the skin hydrated and soft, making the skin more resilient and less prone to injury if you do forget the lube from time to time.