Scientific Facts About Masturbation

How much do you know about masturbation? Here’s a look at some of the main things scientists have learned over the years from studying self-love, including who does it, why they do it, how they do it, and what physical and psychological effects it has on us.

1.) A majority of both men and women masturbate. However, men are more likely to have done it and they tend to do it more often than women.

2.) When considering people who have testosterone levels within the normal range, research has found that higher levels of testosterone are linked to having more desire for masturbation, but only among women; among men, testosterone levels are unrelated to masturbatory desire. This suggests that the factors triggering interest in masturbation may be different for men and women.

3.) People of all ages masturbate. Younger people are more likely to report doing it, but they’re definitely not the only ones who practice self-stimulation. For a look at how masturbation and other sexual practices vary across the lifespan, see here.

4.) Persons of all sexual orientations masturbate, too, including asexual folks. In fact, survey studies of self-identified asexuals have found that most of them report masturbating; however, the nature of their masturbation may be quite different than it is for sexual persons (e.g., some asexuals engage in non-directed masturbation, meaning masturbation without accompanying erotic fantasies).

5.) Vibrators are frequently used by women during masturbation, and they’ve been using them for a long time. In fact, the vibrator was reportedly the 5th electric device approved for home use after the sewing machine, fan, teakettle, and toaster. In other words, people had vibrators in their homes long before television sets and vacuum cleaners.

6.) Vibrators aren’t just for women. A national U.S. survey found that 16.6% of men reported having used a vibrator during masturbation before. This survey also found that guys who used vibrators reported the best erectile function, the most sexual desire, and the most satisfying sex lives.

7.) Survey research has found that clitoral stimulation (as opposed to vaginal insertion) is most women’s preferred masturbatory technique.

8.) Despite what you may have heard in the media about a growing epidemic of “porn-induced erectile dysfunction,” research has found that there is no strong or consistent linkage between men’s porn use during masturbation and their erectile functioning (see here and here for more).

9.) When we’re masturbating, our perception of what is sexually attractive and desirable changes. In fact, research has found that heightened sexual arousal achieved through masturbation can make almost anything and anyone seem more sexually appealing. There are some fascinating and important implications of this effect for the development of unusual sexual interests.

10.) Frequent masturbation could potentially be good for your health. Research has found that, in men, masturbation to orgasm is associated with enhanced immune system functioning. Learn more about this study and some of the other potential health benefits of masturbation here.