Prone masturbation is uncommon. Most reports of prone masturbation focus on men or people with penises.

This type of masturbation occurs when you lie face-down on your chest and masturbate. You may thrust your penis against a mattress, pillow, or the floor. You may also cup your penis and testicles and thrust into your hands.

Some research suggests that frequent prone masturbation can lead to sexual dysfunction and other complications. When this happens, it’s known as traumatic masturbatory syndrome.

Read on to learn more about how prone masturbation can affect your body and, if needed, how to practice a more natural technique.

The face-down position of prone masturbation puts a great deal of pressure on the penis. It also puts pressure on vital nerves found at the base of the penis.

This pressure is often more intense than sensations felt during partner sex or face-up masturbation. Frequently masturbating in this way can dull the effects of other sensations.

This may make both sex and typical masturbation less pleasing. When you can’t achieve the level of pressure or the sensation you expect for orgasm, you may find that you’re unable to orgasm in any other way.

Frequent prone masturbation might numb your body to arousal and pleasure. For example, you may find you are unable to get or maintain an erection. This can happen when you’re engaging in foreplay, oral sex, or penetrative sex.

Ultimately, frequent prone masturbation could cause a complete inability to reach orgasm from other forms of sex and masturbation. A delayed orgasm is also possible. This happens when you take significantly longer to reach orgasm than you would like or should expect. Other sexual dysfunctions may occur, too.

Mental and emotional elements can impact sexual function, as well as your ability to have an orgasm. If you’re occasionally unable to get an erection or orgasm, you may start to worry about your abilities in the future. This can impact your performance and may lead to greater dysfunction.

Although most accounts of prone masturbation refer to penises, prone vaginal or clitoral masturbation is also possible.

This type of prone masturbation can have negative effects, too. The increased pressure on the clitoris may make sensations from vaginal or oral sex less pleasing. You may even find that pressure from hand stimulation isn’t enough to reach orgasm.

Prone masturbation may be more common in people with penises because the genitalia is mostly on the outside of the body. That makes it easier to manipulate in the prone position. This difference in anatomy might explain why fewer women report issues with this type of masturbation.

It’s not clear that prone masturbation is responsible for any sexual health problems. Sexual function problems may happen no matter the type of masturbation you prefer.

However, some reports suggest that prone masturbation might affect your sexual health. This may be especially true in people who frequently masturbate this way.

Unfortunately, very little research for prone masturbation exists. Most studies are based on anecdotal reports.

Prone masturbation may be impacting your sexual health if you:

  • Can’t orgasm any other way. If you can only orgasm with this type of masturbation, you may want to consult your doctor or a sex therapist. Typical masturbation should be possible in several positions.
  • Avoid other sexual activity. If you dodge intercourse or other sexual activities, prone masturbation may be impacting your sexual health. Healthy sexual function typically includes multiple activities.
  • Can’t maintain an erection. Difficulty getting or maintaining an erection is always a concern. Prone masturbation can impact your ability to get or stay hard.
  • Experience delayed orgasm. If vaginal, anal, or oral sex doesn’t get you to orgasm in the same amount of time as prone masturbation and it’s causing you distress, there may be an issue. The loss of sensation tied to frequent prone masturbation may make orgasm more difficult.

If you frequently masturbate while lying face down and have concerns about your sexual health, talk with your doctor. They may be able to work with you directly or refer you to a sex therapist.

Together, you and your provider can develop a care plan to reduce your risk for complications. Your care plan might include the following steps:

1. Abstain from this type of masturbation

Go cold turkey and give up masturbating entirely for a period of time. One week is a minimum recommendation. You may want to aim for three weeks or longer.

This “break” may help you reset your sensation expectations. It can help restore them to a more normal level. This may help make typical masturbation, as well as other types of sexual activity, more pleasurable.

2. Reduce overall masturbation frequency

In one report, people who reported sexual dysfunction masturbated daily for years. Repeated, frequent masturbation can make you less sensitive. Abstaining or reducing the number of times you masturbate each week may help improve sexual function.

If you currently masturbate daily, cut to no more than two or three times per week. Less often may be helpful as you begin to break the habit.

Reducing how frequently you masturbate may also help build sexual tension, which can lead to greater satisfaction later.

After two to three months, you can increase frequency if you wish. However, restart this practice if you find yourself returning to prone masturbation.

3. When you do masturbate, vary technique to condition your body to respond to other types of stimulation

You can retrain your body to respond to other forms of stimulation and masturbation. This may take some time, but it’ll be worth the effort if you can reduce your risk for potential complications.

Try face-up masturbation in your hand. This is a very typical position for masturbation. If you prefer the action of thrusting, you can move your hips so your penis moves in and out of your hand rather than moving your hand.

You can also explore using a vibrator. This method may offer more sensation than a hand alone. Try masturbating with a lubricant, or don’t use one if you typically do.

The goal of this strategy is to prevent your body from becoming accustomed to another masturbation technique. As a bonus, you may end up finding several ways you like to masturbate, which may make quitting prone masturbation easier.

Masturbation is a habit that’s born out of repetition. Masturbation is also a healthy, pleasurable, and fun part of sexuality. If it becomes a problem, you can find ways to correct it and develop a healthier relationship with this activity.

If you have a partner and worry about the impact this process might have on intimacy, the key is to be open. Talk to your partner about your concern. Express how you feel and how you’re looking for help. You and your partner may be able to work together to find different techniques that make you comfortable.

It’s possible to stop using prone masturbation and find other techniques — it just takes time and effort. Be patient with yourself, and keep an open line of communication with your doctor about your progress.