Masturbation Death Grip Syndrome (DGS)

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What is Death Grip Masturbation?

Delayed ejaculation (RE) is one of the least common, understood, and researched subsets of all male ejaculation disorders. The American Psychiatric Association’s Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-IV-TR) defines RE as “the persistent or recurrent delay in, or absence of orgasm after a normal sexual excitement phase during sexual activity that the clinician, taking into account the person’s age, judges to be adequate in focus, intensity, and duration.” 1 While Masturbation Death Grip Syndrome (DGS) is not a recognized medical condition, it is has been colloquially defined as a subset of ejaculation, characterized by the desensitization of penile neves that inhibits orgasm due to the dependency on aggressive masturbation techniques such as too tight of a grip.2 The dependency on using an overly firm grip is speculated to condition a male to orgasm only under the circumstances where the same intensity of stimulation is recreated. As a result, a male may experience difficulty orgasming with a partner during intercourse, as a vaginal, oral, or anal sex do not recreate the intense level of stimulation that one is accustomed to.

While it is only estimated that delayed ejaculation symptoms are reported at low rates in literature (rarely exceeding 3%), clinical experiences, some urologists, and sex therapists are reporting an increasing incidence of RE and prevalence of self-diagnosed DGS.1 While the potential causes of RE vary widely and may be attributed to alcoholism and drug use, SSRI’s, birth defects, pelvic injuries, and nerve damage caused by diabetes, a five year retrospective chart review of men with delayed ejaculation indicated that 37 percent of patients had a history of masturbating in a way that stimulated a “specific spot,” or “with an idiosyncratic masturbatory style.”3 Continuously using too tight of a grip as with DGS or relying on extremely rapid stimulation characterizes two types of these styles.

Regardless of the idiosyncratic mechanisms, the inherent lack of stimulation and inability to orgasm during sexual intercourse that may be attributed to DGS can cause frustration and stress within a sexual relationship. Fortunately, this sexual dysfunction is thought to be a conditioned response to aggressive stimulation, so it is not irreversible. Note that because masturbation death grip syndrome is not a legitimate medical condition, if a male experiences numbness in the extremities or any other complications during intercourse he should consider speaking to a doctor or sex therapist.2

How does one get DGS?

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When it comes to masturbation, it is often easy to get into a routine after it becomes clear through experimentation and discovery that particular motions and degrees of pressure induce more stimulations than others. As a result, many men discover that a tight grip coupled with vigorous strokes allow for an extremely fast way of reaching orgasm.2 (Many men gravitate toward this “efficient” method at a young age to reduce the risk of getting caught).2 When this technique is used for an extended period of time it becomes routine; more pressure and vigor are necessary to achieve the same levels of stimulation.  Increasing tolerance creates a positive feedback effect that further desensitizes penile sensation during stimulation ultimately producing the characteristic effects of DGS.

Complications with this method of stimulation arise during intercourse. A vagina, for example does not replicate this same “jerking off” sensation because the stimulation during sex is much a much more subtle, gentle, and soft sensation than the one that occurs during death grip masturbation. DGS is characterized by the reliance on a single masturbation technique to climax, so the ability to climax through the alternative subtle stimulation of sex commonly interferes with the male’s sexual responsiveness and his ability to ejaculate.2

How to reverse DGS and prepare for intercourse?

There are several techniques that may be used to increase the chances of ejaculation during sex for someone who experiences the complications of DGS. In order to reconnect and recondition one’s sensitivity levels during sexual stimulation once can follow several principal steps.

Week One: Cease and Desist

Take a break from stimulation for a period of at least one week. While it may require some self-disciple, allow sexual tension and desire to build by abstaining from sex and masturbation.  It is often helpful to use this time to examine the aspects of your lifestyle that enhance or detract from your overall sexual health and wellbeing.3,4

Week Two: Masturbate Once

 After a week of masturbatory and sexual abstinence one may begin to masturbate, but only once during this period.  It is essential for sexual urges to allow erections to occur naturally without excitation by premeditated stimulation. It should not be a situation of “I command myself to masturbate now,” but rather my body commands me to masturbate now.” 3 After having waited for the time to come, a vigorous and efficiently achieved orgasm will no longer be the point of masturbating. Pleasurable stimulation (rather than completion) should be the priority in order to take your time, increase enjoyment, and ultimately relax.  The technique must be varied with subtle movements, slow strokes, a loser grip, and personal lubricants. In fact, the incorporation of a condom or a sex toy such as a Fleshlight are recommended in order to mimic the sensation of the gentle lubricated friction that occurs during intercourse.3,4

Weeks Three and Four: Increase Frequency

Repeat the same techniques that were previously described, but with increasing frequency of twice to three times per week. Continue to only masturbate when an erection happens on its own. Additionally, make sure that time permits one to pace themselves, so the process is not rushed and one does not revert to old “efficient” ways.3

What’s the next step?  

If the symptoms of Masturbation Death Grip Syndrome become less pervasive during sexual activity (i.e. increased stimulation with minimal pressure), the frequency of masturbation can continue to be increased, but it is critical that techniques do not become static–men should keep experimenting with different approaches to stimulation.3,4 The steps in this procedure may be extended in longer intervals if increased sensitivity is desired.

What if you still cannot reach orgasm during sexual intercourse?

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If the previously described techniques have been ineffective in reversing the symptoms of DGS, communicate with your partner about the difficulties you are having. Some men experience performance anxiety because of their previous failures, so making your partner aware of your anxiety can help to alleviate it.3 One may want to consider masturbating with the new techniques right up until the point of climax, then switching to intercourse in order to become more accustomed to the sensation of orgasming during sex. If delayed ejaculation problems continue, consider speaking to a physician or sex therapist, as the origin of the issue may caused by health issue such as diabetes, nerve damage, various medications, or surgery that disturbs the sphincter muscle.5

Ultimately, delayed ejaculation and the symptoms of DGS may cause frustration or anxiety, but it does not have to interfere with the ability to please your partner. A man can still be an outstanding sexual partner while improving on his sensitivity­-related performance issues. Through communication with a partner and determination to rewire one’s masturbatory habits, DGS can be overcome and one can return to experience heightened levels of sexual intimacy during intercourse with a partner.


  1. Perelman, Michael A. “Understanding and Treating Retarded Ejaculation: A Sex Therapist’s Perspective” International Society for Sexual Medicine. N. Y. Weill Cornell Medical Center, Feb. 2009. Web. 2015.
  2. “Masturbation Death Grip Syndrome.” How to Cure Masturbation Death Grip. N.p., n.d. Web. 22 Oct. 2015.
  3. “Is It Really Possible to Ruin Your Penis From Jerking Off Too Hard? | VICE | United States.” VICE. N.p., n.d. Web. 22 Oct. 2015.
  4. “Penis Sensation Loss – Fighting Back against the Death Grip.” Penis Sensation Loss – Fighting Back against the Death Grip. N.p., n.d. Web. 22 Oct. 2015.
  5. Feature, Tom ValeoWebMD. “Overcoming Ejaculation Problems: Delayed, Premature, and Retrograde Ejaculation.” WebMD. WebMD, n.d. Web. 22 Oct. 2015.

Last Updated 05 November 2015