sexual stimulation of one's own genitals
(Redirected from Masturbate)

Masturbation is when a person touches their own sex organs to gain pleasure. It often results in an orgasm. Some religions say it is bad, but the modern view is that it is a normal and healthy thing to do.

A man masturbating by stroking his penis
A woman masturbating by rubbing her clitoris

Almost all boys and most girls masturbate in the United States. A U.S. nationally representative survey of 5865 men and women ages 14–94 said that 28% of men ages 70 + , 43% of men ages 14–15 and 60–69, and more than half of men ages 16–59 reported that they masturbated in the last month (Herbenick et al., 2010).[1]

Starting in puberty if not earlier, both teenage boys and girls masturbate daily on average according to one survey. Studies have shown that many people, including adults with sex partners, masturbate regularly. There are many slang words and expressions for masturbation. Among the most common, at least in the United States and Canada, are: jacking, jacking off and jerking off. Those are usually just used for males and are generally considered slang. A teenage boy might say, "I've got to jerk off." Some words or expressions can be for anyone and are reasonably polite: playing with yourself, touching yourself, pleasuring yourself, self pleasure and solo sex. Those expressions might be used on TV or radio talk shows. In comics, the words fap fap fap mean the person is masturbating (but it is not pictured, but rather implied).

Masturbating can be done alone, but can also be done with another person. This is called "mutual masturbation". This is fairly common among pre-teen and early-teenaged boys regardless of sexual orientation. Usually, it is done out of curiosity so boys can educate themselves about whether their sexual responses are similar. Girls may also masturbate together, regardless of sexual orientation. Girls and boys who are starting a relationship, who are worried about pregnancy, or who are just curious about sex may begin with mutual masturbation. Two people can also masturbate together over the internet or with phones, although that is usually called cybersex or phone sex rather than mutual masturbation. That can be a good way for two people who are in love but are far away from each other to keep their romantic relationship alive. It can also be a way for people who have not met in person to build a relationship. Even for two people who do not plan to have a romantic relationship with each other, it can be more enjoyable to masturbate with someone else than to masturbate alone.

Group masturbation (most commonly done by pre-teen or teenage boys) is known as a circle jerk. It used to be considered a normal and common thing for boys to do and not a problem.[2] Today, however, people worry that group masturbation among boys can involve bullying and can have lifelong negative consequences for some people.

Vibrators and dildos can be used to make masturbation easier or feel better, but it is often done with just a person's hand.

Animals can masturbate too.[source?]

Female masturbation

Nude with Coral Necklace, by Amedeo Modigliani, done in 1920. It shows female masturbation.

The female sex organ most sensitive to touch is the clitoris which is like a very small penis. Female masturbation almost always involves stimulating the clitoris, either by hand or with a vibrator. For some women, the glans (or tip) of the clitoris is so sensitive that they do not enjoy touching it directly.[3] Instead, they touch the clitoral hood and move it as it touches the clitoris. The clitoral hood is made of thin skin like an eyelid and normally covers most or all of the clitoris. Many women also enjoy the feeling of fingers or a sex toy in the vagina, but this is a secondary sensation that is not necessary for orgasm, and that rarely results in orgasm on its own. Some women find stimulation of the front vaginal wall particularly pleasurable. The anus is rich in nerve endings and is also sometimes stimulated during masturbation, as are the nipples.

Masturbation is usually continued until orgasm. Some women may have problems reaching an orgasm, especially when they are young, and have little experience masturbating.

Some women experience "multiple orgasms" - several orgasms in a row without loss of arousal. It should be noted, however, that women who are not capable of multiple orgasms report as much orgasmic satisfaction as women who are multi-orgasmic.

Male masturbation

A Satyr masturbating, on Ancient Greek pottery.

Masturbation for males is the act of stimulating the penis, usually by hand, to provide self-pleasure. For teens and adults, masturbation usually ends in what is called an ejaculation (the release of liquid called semen which contains sperm cells). This ejaculation is usually accompanied by a powerful, pleasurable feeling called an orgasm. Most boys start masturbating between the age of 10 and 15. It is not uncommon for younger boys to do so, even if they cannot ejaculate semen. Even male fetuses in the womb sometimes appear to play with their penis.

There are many ways in which a male can choose to masturbate. The most common of these techniques is using the hand. A man simply wraps his hand or two or three fingers around the shaft of his penis (in erection) and moves his hand up and down.[4] As the sensation increases in intensity, the rate of hand movement generally quickens until orgasm occurs. Orgasm is a feeling which usually results in semen being ejaculated from the penis. Circumcised males or males with dry skin often use a lubricant when masturbating. A lubricant, usually called lube, or personal lubricant, is a slippery liquid available at stores. It is often on the same shelf as condoms. If someone masturbates a lot without lube, sometimes the skin can become irritated (rough) from too much rubbing. Usually, if the person goes slowly, there is a natural lubricating liquid that drips out of the end of the penis. Books call this liquid pre-ejaculatory fluid or, more commonly, pre-ejaculate (pronounced with an "at" sound at the end, unlike the verb ejaculate, which has an "ate" sound at the end.) A more common name for this liquid is pre-cum. Depending on how much time you take, you may get up to 4 ml (slightly less than 1 U.S. teaspoon) of pre-ejaculate before ejaculation.[5]

Pre-ejaculate is clear and slightly sweet-tasting. It can be rubbed around for added stimulation. It dries very quickly. Lube stays slippery much longer. Cleaning products are generally not recommended for masturbatory lubrication. If they get in the penis, they can hurt. Also, they dry out the skin. If someone masturbates and ejaculates very quickly, they usually won't have pre-ejaculate first. Uncircumcised males often begin masturbating by moving the foreskin back and forth over the glans of the penis to get an erection. People may also rub and touch other sensitive areas of the body such as the scrotum (the bag or sac containing the testicles.) For most males, the smooth skin on the back of the scrotum is very pleasurable to touch. Due to the placement of the prostate gland, another method (though much more of a social taboo) involves inserting an object, like one's hand or a sex toy, into the anus to rub against the prostate. This causes a sensation of pleasure through the male's body and has been stated to cause orgasms more pleasurable than those caused by simply rubbing the shaft.[6]

Other common methods of male masturbation include running water on the penis in the bathtub or shower and rubbing the penis and scrotum with a towel or bed sheets. Some males enjoy masturbating with a lubricated condom on. A man can put his penis into a sex toy that is like an artificial vagina.

Group masturbation


This is most commonly considered a thing groups of pre-teen and teenaged boys do, but sometimes it might be done by groups of men, groups of girls, groups of women, or groups of people of different ages and include both men and women. In the case of boys or men, group masturbation is called a circle jerk. (Sometimes a circle jerk just means an unnecessary office meeting where nothing useful is done.) Group masturbation circle jerks may be less common for boys today than in the past because boys now have much more information about sex. They might think looking at other boys masturbating is not that interesting because information and pornography are on the internet. Also, sex education classes usually have some information about what is normal. In the past (maybe 30 to 70 years ago) circle jerks often happened at summer camps. Circle jerks were sometimes part of hazing at some schools for boys. Hazing means older students making new students do a lot of things they shouldn't or don't want to do. Today, camping leaders and older students are told they must not allow circle jerks. Circle jerks often were like games, with the "winner" being the boy able to ejaculate first, last, or farthest depending on the pre-established rules.[2][7] Usually each boy only touches his own penis, but sometimes each boy touches the penises of the boys on each side of him. Many boys today would think of that as a homosexual (gay) thing and would not want to do it. A circle jerk that involves oral sex is called a daisy chain and is a form of group sex. A circle jerk can serve as an introduction to sexual relations with other males, but the main reason or benefit for doing it is that young teenagers usually don't have the chance to have regular sexual activity with another person.[2] In earlier years, many experts did not think circle jerks were bad, and some saw them as educational (educating boys that they were normal) and helpful in building self-confidence. Some of that may be true, but group masturbation may be a problem if some boys, often older boys, force other boys to do it when they really don't want to. It is a very serious problem if men suggest that boys do it. This could have happened at some summer camps. Boys who were in circle jerks might develop problems later. Some men who have relationship difficulties or sexual problems as adults feel their problems are caused by group masturbation they did when they were pre-teens or teenagers. Experts have different opinions, but group masturbation is probably not a good thing for pre-teens and teens to do. Even if it is not a problem for most boys, it might be very bad for a few boys. Some boys who are unsure if they are gay or straight may find it very awkward. Sometimes boys with smaller penises are teased or bullied afterward. Also, there could be very bad problems if anyone takes pictures and shares them on phones or on the internet. If a boy or girl feels a strong need to see if what happens when they masturbate is "normal", it is probably better to do it with just one friend, in person, not with a phone or computer. That way they can see if what happens when they masturbate is similar without worrying about being bullied or about pictures being shared.

Parental discussions and sextortion


Some parents discuss masturbation with their children. Other parents don't. If a parent does discuss it, the parent should be careful not to embarrass the child. The main things to say are, "Masturbation is normal, but do it in your bedroom with the door closed." The child should be told never to send nude pictures or videos to anyone, particularly people they have met online. It is a common scam (trick) for someone to pretend to be an internet girlfriend or boyfriend, and to ask teenagers (boys especially) for nude pictures. Then the person will ask the teen to masturbate on camera. Later, the person says they will send the pictures or videos to all the teen's friends and family unless the teen sends money. This is called sextortion.[8] If the teenager sends money, the person demands even more money. Beyond mentioning those things, parents usually don't need to say a lot except that they are always available to answer questions.

Masturbation frequency, age, and sex


If and how often people masturbate depends on many things. One of the things it depends on is hormone levels. Hormones cause sexual arousal. Other things that the frequency of masturbation depend on are sexual habits. Sexual habits are sexual activities that people do because they are used to doing them. Other people of the same age or standing - called peers - can also influence this frequency. General health is another of the many factors.[9] The general attitude towards masturbation is formed by culture.[10] Medical causes have also been associated with masturbation.[11][12][13]

"Forty-eight female college students were asked to complete a sexual attitudes questionnaire in which a frequency of masturbation scale was embedded. Twenty-four of the women (the experimental group) then individually viewed an explicit modeling film involving female masturbation. One month later, all subjects again completed the same questionnaire. Subjects in the experimental group also completed a questionnaire evaluating aspects of the film. Results indicated that the experimental group reported a significant increase in the average monthly frequency of masturbation, as compared to the control group. This same group, however, reported that the film had no effect on sexual attitudes or behavior."

A 2004 survey by Toronto magazine NOW was answered by an unspecified number of thousands.[14] The results show that an overwhelming majority of the males — 81% — began masturbating between the ages of 12 and 15. Among females, the same figure was a more modest majority of 55%. (Surveys on sexual practices are prone to self-selection bias.) It is not uncommon, however, to begin much earlier, and this is more frequent among females: 18% had begun by the time they turned 12, and 6% already by the time they turned 10. Being the main outlet of child sexuality, masturbation has been observed in very young children. In the book Human Sexuality: Diversity in Contemporary America, by Strong, Devault and Sayad, the authors point out, "A baby boy may laugh in his crib while playing with his erect penis (although he does not ejaculate). Baby girls sometimes move their bodies rhythmically, almost violently, appearing to experience orgasm."

A 2004 magazine survey in Canada found that 43% started masturbating when they were about 12–13 years old.[15] When boys start masturbating, wet dreams often stop since semen is taken out from his body regularly. According to a Canadian survey of Now magazine readers, (cited above), the frequency of masturbation declines after the age of 17. However, most males masturbate daily, or even more frequently, well into their 20s and sometimes far beyond. This decline is more drastic among females, and more gradual among males. While females aged 13–17 masturbated almost once a day on average (and almost as often as their male peers), adult women only masturbated 8–9 times a month, compared to the 18–22 among men. It is also apparent that masturbation frequency declines with age. Adolescent youths report being able to masturbate to ejaculation six or more times per day, though some men in older middle age report being hard pressed to ejaculate even once per day. The survey does not give a full demographic breakdown of respondents, however, and the sexual history of respondents to this poll, who are readers of an urban Toronto lifestyle magazine, may not be typical

Females are less likely to masturbate while in a heterosexual relationship than men. Both sexes occasionally engage in this activity, however, even when in sexually active relationships. Popular belief asserts that individuals of either sex who are not in sexually active relationships tend to masturbate more frequently than those who are; however, much of the time this is not true as masturbation alone or with a partner is often a feature of a relationship. Contrary to conventional wisdom, several studies actually reveal a positive correlation between the frequency of masturbation and the frequency of intercourse as well as the number of sex partners. One study reported a significantly higher rate of masturbation in gay men and women who were in a relationship.[16][17][18][19]

Cultural views and practices


The Catholic church says masturbation is a 'gravely disordered action'.[20] Among men masturbation may be seen as a sign of weakness. There are slang terms for it that are used as insults.[21]

The Sambia tribe of New Guinea has rites of passage surrounding manhood. They include frequent ejaculation by fellatio. Semen is valued. Masturbation is seen as a waste of semen. Because of this, it is frowned upon but frequent ejaculation is encouraged. The capacity and need to ejaculate is nurtured for years. This is done from an early age through fellatio. This allows the semen to be consumed rather than wasted. Semen is ingested for strength. It is considered in the same line as mothers' milk.[22]

Other cultures have rites of passage into manhood that end in the first ejaculation of a male. This is often by the hands of a tribal elder. In some tribes such as the Agta in the Philippines, stimulation of the genitals is encouraged from an early age.[23] At puberty, the young male is then paired off with a "wise elder" or "witch doctor". This person uses masturbation to build his ability to ejaculate in preparation for a ceremony. The ceremony ends in a public ejaculation before a celebration. The ejaculate is saved in a wad of animal skin and worn later to help conceive children. In this and other tribes, the measure of manhood is actually associated more with the amount of ejaculate than penis size. Frequent ejaculation through masturbation from an early age fosters frequent ejaculation well into adulthood.[24]

Masturbation marathons have occurred in the U.S. and UK. These events provide a supportive environment where masturbation can be performed openly.[25]



Masturbation may increase fertility during sexual intercourse. In females, it can regulate the conditions of the vagina, cervix and the uterus. This can either increase or decrease the chance of conception. Whether the chance is increased or decreased depends on the timing of the masturbation. This timing is a subconscious decision. If she has intercourse with more than one male, it favors the chances of one or the other male's sperm reaching her egg.[26][27]

Female masturbation can also protect against cervical infections. It does this by increasing the acidity of the cervical mucus and by moving debris out of the cervix.

The function of masturbation in males is to flush out old sperm with low motility from the male's genital tract. The next ejaculate contains more fresh sperm, which has higher chances of achieving conception during intercourse. If more than one male is having intercourse with a female, the sperm with the highest motility will compete more effectively.[28][29][30]

Health and psychological effects




The physical effect of masturbation and having an orgasm or ejaculating is heightened arousal while epinephrine courses through the body, producing dopamine also known as the happy chemical, shallow breath and post-climactic euphoria.[31]

It is held in many mental health circles that masturbation can relieve depression, stress and lead to a higher sense of self-worth. Some people who don't have other sexual activity find they get sad or irritable (easy to get angry) if they go for several days without masturbating. Masturbation can also be particularly useful in relationships where one partner wants more sex than the other — in which case masturbation provides a balancing effect and thus a more harmonious relationship.[31]

Mutual masturbation, the act by which two or more partners stimulate themselves in the presence of each other, allows a couple to reveal the map to their pleasure centers. Witnessing a partner masturbate is an educational activity to find out the method a partner uses to please themselves, allowing each partner to learn exactly how the other enjoys being touched.[31]

In 2003, an Australian research team led by Graham Giles of The Cancer Council Australia concluded that frequent masturbation by males appears to help prevent the development of prostate cancer.[32]

A study published in 1997 found an inverse association between death from coronary heart disease and frequency of orgasm even given the risk that myocardial ischemia and myocardial infarction can be triggered by sexual activity. This is consistent with an article on the benefits against prostate cancer.[33] However, the article notes that "The question of causation is complex... several explanations are possible".

Masturbation is also seen as a sexual technique that protects individuals from the risk of contracting sexually transmitted diseases. Support for such a view, and for making it part of the American sex education curriculum, led to the dismissal of US Surgeon General Joycelyn Elders during the Clinton administration. A 2011 study from Indiana University supports the assertion. After taking age and partner status into account, the study showed that sexually active boys who masturbated regularly were eight times more likely to have used a condom during their last intercourse than other boys.[34] This positive outcome has been observed in other studies and has been the basis of public health policy in Great Britain promoting masturbation.

Some people actually consider masturbation as a cardiovascular workout.[35] Masturbation makes most people feel good and can sometimes replace sexual intercourse when one cannot find a partner. It can also prepare one for sexual intercourse.

Blood pressure


A small study has shown that a test group which only had intercourse experienced, as a whole, lower blood pressure in stressful situations than those who had intercourse but also had masturbated for one or more days.[36]



Objects inserted into the vagina or anus should be clean and should not be able to scratch or break. Care should be taken not to fully insert anything into the anus — any object used should have a flared or flanged base; otherwise, medical help may be needed to get it out. Modern dildos and anal plugs are designed with this feature.



Masturbation involving both a man and a woman (see mutual masturbation) can result in pregnancy only if semen contacts the vulva. Masturbation with a partner can also theoretically result in transmission of sexually transmitted diseases by contact with bodily fluids.

Problems for males


A man whose penis has suffered a blunt trauma or injury during intercourse may rarely sustain a penile fracture[37] or suffer from Peyronie's disease.[38] Phimosis is "a contracted foreskin (that) may cause trouble by hurting when an attempt is made to pull the foreskin back".[39] In these cases, any energetic manipulation of the penis can be problematic.

Lawrence I. Sank[40] observed that masturbating prone (lying face downward) could be responsible for sexual problems in some men, including anorgasmia and erectile dysfunction, as observed in four men he examined. He coined the term traumatic masturbatory syndrome to describe this theory. As of 2007, no follow-up research has been conducted and the idea is not familiar or widely held within the medical community. Some sources, however, give credence to the idea. One sex therapist[41] condemned masturbation by rubbing against a pillow or mattress and Lipsith et al.[42] suggest that masturbation could play a part in male psychogenic sexual dysfunction (MPSD), citing Sank as their authority. MPSD is a difficulty in reaching orgasm during intercourse and developing a dependence on masturbation.

Compulsive masturbation


Masturbating frequently presents no physical, mental or emotional risk in itself,[43] but masturbation can be used to relieve boredom or stress. In either case, as with any "nervous habit", it is more helpful to consider the causes of the boredom or of the stress, rather than try to repress the behavior itself.[44]

There is some discussion between professionals and other interested parties as to the existence or validity of sexual addictions. Nevertheless, there are lists of warning signs such as when sexual activity affects a person's ability to function in everyday life, or is placing them at risk, for example, of pursuing illegal or destructive activities. Very frequent and compulsive masturbation may be seen as a sign of sexual addiction.[45]

Philosophical views


Immanuel Kant considered masturbation a violation of one's duty to one's self and an unnatural act, stating it was against natural law.[46] Sigmund Freud regarded masturbation as unhealthy.[47] Margaret Sanger frequently stated that masturbation was unwise.


Many songs are about masturbation but avoid using the actual word. The song Longview by Green Day has a line that starts, "When masturbation’s lost its fun."

Masturbation in non-human animals


Not only humans masturbate, animals do too. The following animals have been seen masturbating: dogs, several kinds of monkeys and apes,[48] cows, horses,[49] whales,[48][50] bats,[48] and sheep.[48] Even birds[48] and reptiles masturbate (turtles,[51] for example). In this case, this does not only affect animals that were domesticated, and live in captivity,[52] but also includes wild animals, of both sexes.[48][53] Bears have been documented to masturbate, while they watch other bears mating.[53]

Techniques used vary: Manual stimulation using hands, paws, feet, or tail is common, but autofellatio also occurs: Animals rub their penis against the belly, or against other objects.[48] Some species have been known to make tools that help them masturbate.[48] Some species have shown to ejaculate spontaneously, without being stimulated first.[48] Certain species are known to also stimulate other erogenous zones, such as the nipples, or the antlers in deer.[48] Female mammals often masturbate by stimulating the clitoris, which is present in all mammal species.[48]


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