Masturbation is the act of providing oneself sexual pleasure. Most guys will stroke the glans of their penises (the part that looks like a helmet), as well as the shaft. Some will also incorporate other types of touch, like playing with their balls. It’s also not uncommon for younger guys, in particular, to hump pillows, towels, or other inanimate objects. There are even a variety of great male masturbation devices on the market. Typically, guys will watch porn while they masturbate, or conjure up mental fantasies or images.
Negative Views On Masturbation
Attitudes towards masturbation were quite negative in the past, but over the last several decades, those attitudes have shifted, at least for most people. Not that long ago, masturbation was thought to cause a wide variety of diseases and medical conditions, including mental illness, blindness, gout, and even cancer, but today we know that’s not true.
Even in the early 20th century, medical experts believed that masturbation was an extremely unhealthy and sinful behavior. In his 1904 bookSexology, professor William Walling wrote about masturbation, “Viewing the world over, this shameful and criminal act is the most frequent, as well as the most fatal, of all vices.” Masturbation is still considered morally reprehensible in many denominations of Christianity, Judaism, and Islam.
Various approaches were taken to stop people from masturbating. In the early 19th century, Reverend Sylvester Graham created the graham cracker, a bland cookie, as a means to curtail sex drive and masturbation. Later in the 19th century, Dr. John Harvey Kellogg — the inventor of Corn Flakes — prescribed a diet of bland food for the same reason. Dr. Kellogg also recommended more extreme approaches to reduce male masturbation, including circumcision, suturing of the foreskin to prevent erections, and cages placed over the genitals that would deliver electric shocks.
Positive Views On Masturbation
Things have changed significantly since then. Masturbation is still taboo and stigmatized to different degrees in different cultures, but people seem to be less afraid to talk about it. Masturbation has started to find its way into popular culture. Mainstream movies like American Pie and There’s Something About Mary feature masturbation scenes. Prince has recorded several songs over the decades that mention masturbation. Nicki Minaj’s collaboration with Beyoncé, “Feeling Myself,”is another recent example.
The medical community has also changed its tune. Masturbation is now seen as an expected, healthy, and even beneficial behavior. In 1972, the American Medical Association declared that masturbation is normal, and more recently The American Academy of Pediatrics stated that masturbation is a typical part of child and adolescent development.
How Common Is Masturbation?
In the mid-20th century, Dr. Alfred Kinsey and his research team interviewed a few thousand Americans about their sex lives, including masturbation. Even back then when people were much more socially and sexually conservative, 92% of men and 62% of women reported that they had masturbated.
The numbers haven’t changed much since. For example, in a recent study, 95% of men and 71% of women said that they masturbated.
Masturbation was related to higher levels of education, younger age, and higher social class. The researchers thought this might be because of access to good education, in particular sex education, and therefore less fear and guilt about masturbation. So based on the data, it’s safe to say that almost all men masturbate. The majority of women also masturbate, or perhaps even most, given that women tend to underreport their sexual experiences due to fear of being judged.
Even though most people masturbate, there’s still a lot of stigma and shame associated with it, especially for people with negative attitudes towards masturbation.
How Often Do Men Masturbate?
The best and most recent study addressing this question asked a random sample of just over 2,500 American men about all aspects of their sexual behavior. This chart provides the data for masturbation frequency, by age.
As you can see, there’s a pretty even spread across the different frequencies and ages. In other words, there’s no normal when it comes to how often men masturbate.
Can You Masturbate Too Much?
Sometimes, and a few different reasons.
Habitually masturbating to avoid something that you’re not dealing with, or to the extent that it’s starting to mess up your life, is a concern. Some guys masturbate to deal with stress, anxiety, sadness, loneliness, or relationship problems. In the moment, masturbation can provide relief. But as an ongoing strategy, it doesn’t make things any better; if anything, it makes things worse.
Some guys may masturbate so much that they miss out on important aspects of life, like school, work, recreation, or relationships. This often increases anxiety, shame, and a sense of being alone.
Excessive masturbation can lead to decreased sexual performance or interest, as men only have so much mojo to go around.
What’s The Take-Home Message?
Again, there’s no “normal” amount of masturbation. Some guys do it a lot; some a little, some not at all. All of that is fine — masturbating regularly is not usually something to be worried about. Having said that, if masturbation has become a coping strategy to deal with problems, or starts to interfere with your life, then it might be a good idea to step back a re-evaluate your masturbating habits and what they might mean.
Masturbation is much like any other rewarding behavior, such as watching TV, being online, eating, or playing video games. In moderation, it’s great. If it starts to feel out of control to you, though, it’s often a sign of some underlying problem that needs to be addressed.