Masturbation is defined as the sexual stimulation of one's own genitals, usually for the purpose of reaching orgasm.1 Most men masturbate regularly throughout their lifetime. A 2010 study of American men reported that more than half of the men between ages 16 and 60 reported masturbating at least once in the past month. The report also showed that slightly less than half of the men between ages group 14 and 16 and older than 60 reported having mastubated at least once in the past month.2 How often a person masturbates changes throughout their lifetime. Men report masturbating more frequently following a stressful event, such as a parental death or divorce.3
Masturbation is a healthy activity. Research has shown evidence that masturbation plays a critical role in both men’s and women’s understanding of their own bodies. Oftentimes, those who masturbate are able to communicate their sexual preferences with a partner, leading to an increased satisfaction during intercourse.4 Furthermore people with no prior masturbation habits may have a harder time establishing intimacy with others.5 There are many reasons people masturbate. A recent study concluded that men masturbate for reasons that include, but are not limited to, sexual pleasure, self-exploration, release of stress and for their partner’s arousal.6
Men can masturbate in many ways: using the fingers, hands, everyday objects, or specific sex toys to stimulate one or more areas of the genital region. Male masturbation techniques are influenced by many different factors and personal preferences. Certain techniques that work for some men might be uncomfortable or difficult for others. The following is an outline of some of the more common methods of male masturbation.
Manual stimulation includes the use of one’s own hands to stimulate one’s genitals. By grasping the bottom of the shaft (the base of the penis) and moving the hand gently up and down, men can effectively stimulate their penis. Manual stimulation can arouse men quickly, as it increases the blood flow to their genital area, causing an erection. With increased stimulation of the penis, it is common for men to reach orgasm and subsequent ejaculation. Men can experiment with manual stimulation by varying the speed at which they masturbate and the pressure they apply to their penis. Moreover, keeping one consistent speed and pressure can create a build up of pleasure that can help men reach sexual orgasm.
Many uncircumcised men report pulling down the foreskin of their penis for increased stimulation.7 Others like to masturbate by gripping the penis with their palms and the thumb pointing towards them. To add variety to manual stimulation, some men will gently massage, pull, or hold their testicles while masturbating. Lastly, men who report being uncircumcised or simply find it difficult to masturbate can use water-based lubricant while masturbating to decrease friction and maximize pleasure. It is not recommended to use soap, as this might dry out the skin of your penis.
The Fleshlight is a sex toy variety that is made to look and feel like a vagina, anus, or mouth, depending on the type. The Fleshlight is named for the flesh-like material comprising its inner sleeve, as well as the plastic case that resembles a flashlight. Fleshlights can even come with custom-molded labia (the lips surrounding the vaginal opening), which are sometimes shaped to emulate popular porn stars. Many men choose to use the Fleshlight during masturbation, as it can better simulate the experience of having sex with a partner.
Some men prefer using life-like dolls designed for penetration. Some dolls are made out of plastic and are blown up, while others are more life-like and are made out of material resembling human skin. The price of the dolls can vary in price significantly, depending on who makes them, how realistic their features are, and what material they are made of. Some of these dolls can also be pre-ordered and custom-made to have pubic hair, smaller or larger breasts and hips, different-colored skin and eyes, and other varying life-like features.
Other Sex Toys
There are hundreds of sex toys that are available for both men and women. Men can use a dildo, for example, to penetrate the anus to stimulate stimulate the anal nerves and prostate gland.
Pornography is the purposeful exhibition of sexual subject matter for the purpose of sexual arousal typically through videos or pictures. Watching pornography on the internet can be enjoyable for men and women. Some men and women choose to watch pornography while masturbating, or with their partner(s). While some people watch it regularly to become sexually aroused, others find pornography offensive and controversial. Thus, watching pornography is a highly personalized decision that may or may not enhance one’s sexual experiences.
Pornography includes a variety of different pictures and videos that are usually categorized by genre. For example, these categories can include specific body parts, sex positions, sexual acts, or fetishes. Some pornographic websites require registration, while others are free.
Pornography is often depicts an unrealistic example of sex. Therefore, if one chooses to watch pornography, they must understand that the actors and actresses are photo-shopped, highly sexualized, and not representative of real men and women. Pornography often demonstrates unequal power dynamics and stipulates unreasonable expectations on men and women. Pornography is therefore not a proper substitute for a comprehensive sex education.
Some people choose to masturbate with their partner. Mutual masturbation is a sexual act that involves at least two people who stimulate each other’s genitals.Mutual masturbation can be a great way to explore one’s sexuality and can allow partners to experience pleasure together. Communication is an important factor in any sexula relationship. It is important for partners to be open and honest with each to help explore what the other likes.
Some partners find it enjoyable to watch the other masturbate, as some find it sexually arousing. Couples will typically lay next to each other or face each other while masturbating. This experience can serve to be very intimate, as it oftentimes requires communication and patience.
There is no chance of of impregnating a female when masturbating, even if a man is thinking of a particular person, or is participating in mutual masturbation. The only way a female can become pregnant is if semen enters the vagina.
How Much Is Too Much?
There is no measured amount of masturbation that is considered healthy. Most people’s masturbatory habits are probably fine, as long as masturbation or the lack thereof, does not begin to intrude with their daily lives. Masturbation is a form of sexual expression and liberation and is very subjective for each person. Although there is no specific frequency that separates a healthy habit from an unhealthy one, it is advised that if the sexual habits interfere with other parts of life then a person should reduce their masturbatory habits.
Masturbation and Sexual Problems
Historically, masturbation has been condemned by many cultures and beliefs. Thus, some people feel guilty or shamed when they masturbate. For example, in the Indian culture there is a common belief called “gupt rog.” It is believed masturbation causes many sexual problems such as: impotence, lack of sexual desire, and premature ejaculation.8 Often times, this extra guilt a person may feel when masturbating may contribute to difficulties with erectile dysfunction. 9
We would like to emphasize that masturbation is completely normal, and a person who masturbates should not feel any guilt or shame. Masturbating is healthy and beneficial for the human body and is important for a person’s exploration of their sexuality and sexual preferences. Masturbation will not cause decreased intelligence or cause sickness or other sexual problems.
Although masturbating is very natural, it is not socially acceptable to masturbate anywhere one please; We recommend that people masturbate on their own personal time. Masturbating can be done in the privacy of one’s own room, shower, or other personal space.
Moreover, many men like to masturbate by fantasizing about women/men or while watching porn. This type of behavior is normal and acceptable; however, it is very important to note that men should avoid watching or fantasizing about child pornography and rape. Being involved in child pornography in any way is illegal in the United States. Continuous and frequent viewing of watching pornographic scenes where a woman is getting raped against her will can potentially create and lead to dangerous socialization and inappropriate behavior.
1. LeVay, Simon, Janice I. Baldwin, and John D. Baldwin. Discovering Human Sexuality. Sunderland, MA: Sinauer Associates, 2015. Print
2. Herbenick D., Reece M., Schick V., Sanders S. A., Dodge B., Fortenberry J. D. (2010). Sexual behavior in the United States: Results from a national probability sample of men and women ages 14–94. The Journal of Sexual Medicine, 7, 255–265.
3. Leung, Alexander K., and William L. Robson. "Childhood Masturbation." Clinical pediatrics, vol. 32, no. 4, 1993., pp. 238-241 “Masturbation; refers to the self-stimulation of the genitalia, often to achieve an orgasm.”
4. Kaestle C. E., Allen K. R. (2011).The role of masturbation in healthy sexual development: Perceptions of young adults. Archives of Sexual Behavior, 40, 983–984.
5. Coleman E. (2002). Masturbation as a means of achieving sexual health. In Bockting W. O., Coleman E. (Eds.), Masturbation as a means of achieving sexual health (pp. 5–16). New York, NY: Haworth Press
6. Ramanathan, V., Sitharthan, G., Pepper, K., & Wylie, K. (2014). Masturbatory behavior and feelings: An exploratory study of indian immigrant men in australia. International Journal of Sexual Health, 26(1), 25-40.
7. "Masturbation: Get the Facts about Masturbation." Planned Parenthood. N.p., 22 Jan. 2016. Web. 15 Nov. 2016
8. Chensul, L. S., Mekki-Berrada, A., Nastasi, B., Saggurti, N. and Verma, K. R. 2006. Healing traditions and men's sexual health in Mumbai, India: The realities of practiced medicine in urban poor communities. Social Science & Medicine, 62: 2774–2785.
9. Chakrabarti, N., Chopra, V. K., & Sinha, V. K. (2002). Masturbatory guilt leading to severe depression and erectile dysfunction. Journal of Sex & Marital Therapy,28(4), 285-288.
Last Updated: 29 November 2016.