Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Is it supposed to look like that?

First, and briefly, my sincere apologies for the complete dearth of posts/videos over the past few months.  Real life has a habit of getting in the way of our ambitions sometimes.

Second, and to the point, I received a message in my YouTube inbox over the weekend from a young man in the UK.  In his brief intro, he says he is 11 years old and... well, I'll just quote it here:

I regularly masterbate,, i know cum is ment to be white but when i masterbate all that happens is a transparent liquid seaps out of my penis..
Please help me im confused and we dont have sex ed in our school

 The subject of his missive was, simply, "HELP".  And I could immediately see why.  This poor young man is doing something that virtually every young man has done since the beginning of time, at a time in his life when such an activity - namely, masturbation - should be explored without guilt or fear.  The lack of the most basic facts of human reproduction had moved him to a level of confusion that, while would almost certainly not prevent him from continuing to jerk off could grow to a neurotic misunderstanding of precisely what was going on when he did it.

Here was my response:

Don't worry at all about the clear liquid. Typically that is called 'pre-cum' which is basically just a lubricant, though it will contain trace amounts of sperm as your sperm production kicks into gear through puberty. Especially at 11 years old, you may not have moved far enough along in/through puberty for your semen to have fully developed.

If the liquid you're seeing seeps out all throughout masturbation, then it's probably just 'pre-cum' and unless you have any kind of pain or numbness it is nothing at all to worry about. If what you're seeing is what you produce during orgasm (you didn't mention if you actually achieve orgasm at the end), then it's likely just that your body isn't yet producing all the chemical compounds necessary to give semen its more typical off-white coloration. Still, as long as you're not experiencing any pain or numbness, it's probably absolutely harmless.

And, finally, for some guys semen never gets to a distinct color or consistency. If, as you develop, you find that your cum remains relatively transparent, the only thing I would recommend would be to see a physician to make sure there's nothing wrong with your urinary tract or your sperm production. But that's a long way down the road from now.

Of course at the first sign of pain or numbness, even afterward, see a doctor. It may seem embarrassing, but I promise that physicians have heard it all and this won't make anyone think poorly of you. Next time you have to go in for a checkup, maybe make a special point to ask about it. If you're able to, I always recommend talking to your parents - probably your father in this case - but I know not everyone has that option.

I'm glad you wrote to me, and I wish you the very best of luck.

Also, I presume since you didn't say so that you're not having sex yet, but if you ARE, then this answer might change. This description can possibly fit the symptoms of a sexually transmitted infection - but if you're not having sex, you don't have it. If you ARE having sex, then please make sure you absolutely get to a doctor and make sure to acquire condoms. :)

It isn't the most complete answer, I suppose, but I'm relatively confident that it is the RIGHT answer.  Starting an entire sex-ed lesson on the basics of puberty, bodily fluids, orgasm, and how those all combine together struck me as a little overreaching for a single response to a single concern.  Not to be condescending about it, but especially to an 11-year old boy.

Some points I left out because I didn't think they were salient to this young man's concern, but that I think lead to his disappointing misunderstanding:

Orgasm is certainly possible prior to puberty.  Though many people (especially women) can go far into sexual 'maturity' without ever having achieved orgasm, lots of people (probably especially men) experience the "Big O" before their balls drop or their pubic hair gets in the way.  I have mentioned before that there is evidence of masturbation as early as fetal development in the womb; surely pre-pubescent orgasm is not even close to out of the question.

As our bodies change during puberty and our chemicals start to discover whatever internal balance they're going to have, the evidence of that development starts to manifest in myriad ways.  For some, it's acne.  For others, it's complete distraction by anything of the opposite (or same) sex.  Many of the outward signs of pubescent change are very noticeable, like acne or a sex drive.  But some of them are more subtle, like the color of one's ejaculate or the sensation (not just the appearance) of breasts/testicles.  These specifics are just as much a part of puberty as the voice changing, pimple-having, random-hard-on-ing, tit growing parts.  Largely, though, the subtle things are rarely discussed because, I think, they're all the parts that have to do less with the stuff stand up comedians can joke about and more with the stuff parents and/or teachers would actually have to empathize with their kids/students about.

I felt bad for the young man who wrote me, though I'm insanely glad he did.  Even basic sex ed, like the "this is how your body works" science of it, is so important in the development of young people.  The shame and guilt and confusion and fear of what is, at its base, the single most natural and important function of any living thing simply angers me.

Though most of the people watching my videos and reading my blog are adults, and most of my topics and verbiage is aimed at those adults, I am not-so-secretly glad to know that pre-teens might be having a gander.  Sex ed is valuable at all stages of life, but if you can start off with a decent grasp of how this shit's supposed to work, you'll have a lot fewer bad habits to undo when you get to 18, 30, 50, and beyond.