In this counseling answer:
• If masturbation is a means to help release your sexual tension and keep you focused on higher goals in life, as a psychologist, I think it can help with your situation.
• Don’t be too hard on yourself as you are seventeen years old and are at one of the peaks of hormones and sexual energy in your biology. However, this does not give you the green light to indulge and crystallize the habit to no end.
As-Salaam ‘Alaikum brother,
I will answer your questions in two parts based on the central themes of your question.
Is masturbation haram?
Although I am not a scholar, as a professional counselor, I have gained some knowledge about this issue, which I am going to share with you.
There is no explicit ruling that states masturbation is unlawful; however, the normative Islamic tradition has the stance that it is in most cases. Keep in mind when a position for sacred law is not explicit, scholars will deduce a ruling based on their understanding of Islam’s principles and virtue. When something is ruled haram, it is either (i) explicitly mentioned by God (swt) or the Prophet (saw) with a specific punishment, or (ii) has been deduced as haram by a scholar through his own interpretation of the Qur’an and Sunnah’s objectives (qiyas), or (iii) harnessing the consensus opinion of what has been formulated previously (‘ijma’).
Remember, scholars are people, too, and as much as they try to help us in practicing sacred law, their positions are influenced by personal understanding and cultural context. The ruling for masturbation was prescribed before modern times in an age when it was easier to marry by many accounts and society as a whole was more reserved in nature.
Today, it is easier to have haram relations, harder to get married, and sexual stimuli inundates our society. Thus, we must gauge the context and sometimes make the hard choice between two wrongs and follow “the lesser evil principle.”
If masturbation is a means to help release your sexual tension and keep you focused on higher goals in life, as a psychologist, I think it can help with your situation. In my opinion, masturbation becomes haram if it is habitual and accompanied by viewing of illicit material. If it is used to relieve one’s self of sexual energy in order to function more clearly provided the difficulty of one’s atmosphere, then know that God (swt) is Most Forgiving and understands your situation.
In Islam, some scholars take the position that in difficult situations where one fears zina or cannot marry, it is permissible to masturbate. We should also fast when possible, but this does not mean fasting and masturbating cannot be used together to protect oneself from zina and using pornography, according to my understanding. Note that masturbation does break your fast; hence, you cannot do both at the same time, but can alternate if your condition is severe and requires both. And Allah (swt) knows best. Please review this additional article.
With that said, you realize you have made a habit of it, and I encourage you to reflect on the fact that sometimes masturbation becomes habitual because of the pleasure it provides as well as it becoming a means to escape one’s reality (which may be difficult or hard to cope with). Another strategy you could consider is transferring your sexual energy into other forms of energy such as exercise/sports/creative arts and so on.
Does it reduce sperm count or cause reproductive strength and problems?
I have read by Ibn Qayum al Jawazi in his book (The Prophetic Medicine) that release of semen is healthy and should not be avoided for long periods of time as it can affect moods negatively and helps promote stronger semen. Of course, one must research current medical findings as well and not base positions on medical sciences of the past.
Today’s research suggests that there is no clear evidence that masturbation strengthens or diminishes sperm count. It all depends on genetics and the way one masturbates. Obviously, the rougher and more aggressive one is during masturbation, the more likely you can damage your equipment in the long term. Hence, one should always use care and caution. Lastly, sperm count and quality of sperm has a lot to do with genetics, overall health, and diet. Learn More.
What you can do?
Firstly, don’t be too hard on yourself as you are seventeen years old and are at one of the peaks of hormones and sexual energy in your biology. However, this does not give you the green light to indulge and crystallize the habit to no end.
1) Sit down and write out what inspires and motivates you in life. This will help you harness your deeper will and drive for why you exist. When this happens, you begin to compare and contrast how you spend your time and why. Are you masturbating simply for sexual satisfaction or is it serving a deeper purpose? Perhaps, you are trying to heal a wound or escape from something in your life that you don’t like or causes you anxiety and pain. For example, once a brother told me that due to his parents’ constant fighting and the toxic environment they create in the home, he would escape and act out by watching pornography in his room. He did this to avoid and shut out all the pain around him.
2) One way to understand the human being is that he is a creature that seeks pleasure and avoids pain. How much pleasure does masturbation give you? Score it 1-10. How much pain does masturbation give you? Feeling guilt and sadness after masturbation is part of pain. Score the pain. Each time you masturbate, score that day and keep the list to review at end of week.
3) Ask yourself if the pain outweighs the pleasure. If it does, then reflect on this and tell yourself, “this takes away more than it gives”, or “this brings me more sorrow than sweetness.” Use mental programming to help you feel more motivated to cut back on this habit. If the pleasure is more than the pain in your opinion, then it may require deeper work with a counselor or coach who can help you discover why you lean on this habit so much as referenced in the point above. Perhaps, there is unresolved hurt in your psycho-emotional system that masturbation serves as an escape for. If this maybe the case, I recommend you check out purifyyourgaze.com where self-discovery and breaking free from sexual addictions is the focus of the program.
God (swt) bless you on your journey, brother!
Disclaimer: The conceptualization and recommendations stated in this response are very general and purely based on the limited information provided in the question. In no event shall AboutIslam, its counselors or employees be held liable for any damages that may arise from your decision in the use of our services.