The most private aspect of sex is what we do with ourselves when we’re alone. Many people feel vaguely ashamed of the act of masturbation. It is a private sexual behavior rarely shared or discussed in public — even with the closest of friends.
Research has found that among adolescents aged 14–17 years in the United States, around 74 percent of males and 48 percent of females masturbate. Among older adults, roughly 63 percent of men and 32 percent of women between 57 and 64 years of age masturbate.
The practice of masturbation is normal, at all stages of life. Even though some people are still often taught in childhood that masturbation is something to avoid doing.
Here are some of the myths about masturbation that are still believed among the majority of people today.
- Masturbation causes insanity
The old belief that masturbation will cause mental illness simply isn’t based in truth. Masturbation does not cause any emotional problems, except for those who feel guilty about doing it or worry that it conflicts with their religious or cultural tenets.
- If you have an adult relationship, you shouldn’t need masturbation
Most people masturbate throughout their lives. Some people find great pleasure in masturbating, whether they are currently in a relationship or not. Masturbation might even help your sex life; it can teach you what you like and what you don’t like so you can share that information with your partner. In some relationships, levels of sexual desires of the partners are different and masturbation can help relieve some of the pressure to engage in sex. Also, some people find that masturbating together can be highly erotic.
- Children who do it are at risk of being sexualized early
All children self-stimulate. They explore their bodies through sensation. Touching some places brings delight and other places hurt or discomfort. Children need to be taught that masturbation is a private act, is best when used alone in their own bedrooms, and that their bodies are supposed to feel good. Research shows that age-appropriate education from an informed parent about the body and its sexual function actually results in less sexual promiscuity or risk-taking in adolescence. Excessive masturbation in young children might need consideration to see if the child is anxious, neglected, or stressed.
- Masturbation can sexually use you up
At birth, you’re not given some predetermined number of orgasms, and once you run through them, that’s it. There’s no limit on the number of orgasms people can physically experience. There may be a limit on the number you want or can enjoy comfortably, but there’s no limit on the number of orgasms you can have, so masturbation can’t use them up. Nor does masturbation use up men’s sperm or semen. In normal, healthy men, the testicles are always making sperm and the prostate is always making seminal fluid.
- Women can become addicted to vibrators
Over time, some women become particularly fond of vibrator stimulation and enjoy it during both solo and partner sex. It’s a personal preference, not an “addiction.” And if women need vibrators to have orgasms, that’s fine. Some do. There’s nothing wrong with incorporating vibes into partner sex. Many couples who try it never go back.
- Ninety-eight percent of people masturbate—and the other 2 percent are lying
It is true that many people, both male, and female, masturbate, but to say that everyone does is a misstatement. According to the National Survey of Sexual Health and Behavior (2010), anywhere from 67 to 94 percent of men have masturbated at least once in their life. Only between 43 and 67 percent indicated they had masturbated within the last month. For females, the percentages were lower – between 43 and 85 percent indicated they had masturbated at least once in their life but only between 21 and 43 percent had done so within the last month.