We gathered ALL the latest and exciting facts on how often people masturbate, the trends, common myths, benefits, and side effects. Read on:
So how often do people masturbate? Most of us discovered masturbation on our own in one way or another. Whether it was a magazine, late-night TV, or just our first crush, something or someone brought the wonder of self-pleasure into our lives.
And then we never, ever talked about it. Let’s change that.
We’ll dive into the national statistics on masturbation, people’s favorite ways to do it, what they fantasize about, the myths surrounding it (no, you won’t go blind), and much more.
These data points give some unique insights into self-pleasure:
- Around 75% of all women need the help of sex toys, hands, or tongues to reach orgasm during intercourse.
- Men who masturbate to completion 21 or more times per month can reduce their risk of prostate cancer by 33%.
- Married women who masturbate experience more orgasms, higher self-esteem, higher sexual desire, and greater marital and sexual satisfaction in their lives.
- Younger millennials (ages 18-24) are more likely to masturbate weekly (57% do) than any other age group.
- On average, homosexuals masturbate more often (14.3 times per month) than heterosexuals (12 times per month).
- Virgins are 2.2x more likely to prefer to watch solo performer porn.
- 21% of men and 30% of women say masturbation is more pleasurable than having sex with a partner.
Sure, you probably already know what masturbation is, but we’ll define it for you anyway.
Aside from achieving orgasm from self-touch, masturbation can also involve getting physically intimate with other sensitive areas of the body. These data points provide further insight:
- Touching the genitals – or other sensitive areas of the body – for sexual pleasure or arousal is masturbation. (Healthline, 2022)1
- Masturbation is a natural way to safely explore your body, experience pleasure, and release sexual tension. People of all races, genders, and backgrounds masturbate. (Healthline, 2022)1
- 78% of adults worldwide masturbate, but they consistently underestimate the number of other people who do by 11%. (PR Newswire, 2018)2
Self-Pleasure on a Global Scale
When we say that just about everyone masturbates, we really mean that almost everyone in the entire world masturbates.
Here’s a look at the numbers:
- While 78% of adults who masturbate worldwide, some countries have higher rates: (PR Newswire, 2018)2
- Great Britain – 96% of men, 78% of women
- Germany – 93% of men, 76% of women
- U.S.A. – 92% of men, 76% of women
- According to one survey, very few people feel they should talk about masturbation to those they’re close with. Just 18% of respondents in the United States, 15% in the United Kingdom, and 11% in Germany feel this way. (PR Newswire, 2018)2
- Younger millennials (ages 18-24) are more likely to masturbate weekly (57% do) than any other age group. (PR Newswire, 2018)2
- Gay and bisexual individuals are 20% more likely to masturbate weekly than heterosexual individuals. (PR Newswire, 2018)2
- On average, people begin masturbating at age 15.2 in the U.S., 15.3 in the U.K., and 15.8 in Germany. (PR Newswire, 2018)2
How Often Do People Masturbate?
Surveys and studies often have varying data on masturbation, primarily because many people are still too embarrassed to talk about it.
Take a look at the numbers:
- 95% of American men and 81% of American women have masturbated in their lifetime. (TENGA, 2016)3
- Roughly 88% of people in the U.S. masturbate, but over half say they are uncomfortable discussing it openly. (TENGA 2016)3
- About 13% of Americans masturbate with the intent to improve sexual performance. (TENGA, 2016)3
- Frequency of male masturbation:
- 92% of American men masturbate, but surveys indicate that Americans think that only 83% of men do. (PR Newswire, 2018)2
- Of all men who use sex toys, 80% say that it improves their self-pleasure experience. However, only 53% of Americans think sex toys are useful for men. (PR Newswire, 2018)2
- About 25% of men ages 18 to 59 masturbate weekly to a few times per month (International Society for Sexual Medicine, unspecified)4
- About 20% masturbate 2-3 times per week.
- Less than 20% masturbate more than 4 times per week.
- Older men were more likely to report no masturbation in the previous year.
- Masturbation statistics on men ages 25 to 29: (FiveThirtyEight, 2014)5
- 16.5% claim not to have masturbated in the past year.
- 14.7% masturbate a few times per year to monthly.
- 25.4% masturbate a few times per month to weekly.
- 23.4% masturbate 2 to 3 times per week.
- On average, men masturbate 4 times per week for about 14 minutes. (Online Doctor, unspecified)6
- Frequency of Female Masturbation:
- Over half of American women ages 18 to 49 masturbate at least once every three months. (Web MD, 2022)7
- One survey found that 40.8% of women reported masturbating in the past month, while 21.8% said they had never masturbated in their lives. (Public Library of Science, 2017)8
- In a study of adolescents, 45.5% of females reported masturbating a few times per year; 22.5% reported masturbating at least twice a week. (The Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine, 2011)9
- Masturbation statistics for women ages 25 to 29: (FiveThirtyEight, 2014)5
- 28.5% had not masturbated in the past year.
- 37.2% masturbate a few times per year to monthly.
- 21.5% masturbate a few times per month to weekly.
- 7.9% masturbate 2 to 3 times per week.
- 5% masturbate more than 4 times per week.
- One self-report survey found that women masturbate an average of twice per week for about 13 minutes. (Online Doctor, unspecified)6
Masturbation Breakdown by Age and Sex
Masturbation numbers vary by age and sex, not just because it actually does, but also because younger people are more likely to be comfortable admitting to it.
Some cultures also make it a lot easier for men to talk about self-pleasure than women. That being said, the numbers show that most people of both sexes have at least tried masturbating by their late 20s:
- A 2009 survey asked people of all ages, “Have you ever masturbated?” Here are the percentages of people who said yes: (FiveThirtyEight, 2014)5
- 14 to 15 – 67.5%
- 16 to 17 – 78.9%
- 18 to19 – 86.1%
- 20 to 24 – 91.8%
- 25 to 29 – 94.3%
- 30 to 39 – 93.4%
- 40 to 49 – 92%
- 50 to 59 – 89.2%
- 60 to 69 – 90.2%
- 70+ – 80.4%
- 14 to 15 – 43.3%
- 16 to 17 – 52.4%
- 18 to19 – 66%
- 20 to 24 – 76.8%
- 25 to 29 – 84.6%
- 30 to 39 – 80.3%
- 40 to 49 – 78%
- 50 to 59 – 77.2%
- 60 to 69 – 72%
- 70+ – 58.3%
Masturbation Trends, Attitudes, and Fantasies in the U.S.A.
From movie stars to math teachers, we’ve all got our own unique fantasies. We’ve also got our own ways of exploring them as often or rarely as we please.
The following data points paint a picture of society’s self-pleasure profile in the U.S.:
- One survey found the following masturbation numbers by demographic in the U.S.: (Bespoke Surgical, 2019)10
- Overall – 12.3 times per month
- Heterosexuals – 12 times per month
- Homosexuals – 14.3 times per month
- Virgins – 10.5 times per month
- Non-virgins – 13 times per month
- Singles – 16 times per month
- In a relationship – 11 times per month
- These are some of the most common fantasies in the American sexual psyche, broken down into the percentages of Americans who fantasize about them: (Bespoke Surgical, 2019)10
- Celebrities – 34.4%
- Ex romantic partners – 33.6%
- Friends – 33%
- Pornstars – 28.8%
- Only romantic partner – 25.4%
- Missed connections – 21.5%
- Co-workers – 18%
- Teachers/Authoritative figures – 10.6%
- Since masturbation can be considered taboo, Americans feel a variety of different ways about it both growing up and as adults. (Bespoke Surgical, 2019)10
- Americans’ perceptions of masturbation while growing up:
- It was shameful – 31.6%
- It was healthy and/or natural – 31.3%
- Neutral/ no strong perception – 28.2%
- That it was bad or sinful – 22.4%
- Something that only adults do – 17.7%
- It was gross – 12%
- Didn’t know what it was – 11%
- How Americans feel after masturbating:
- Relaxed and ready to sleep – 34.8%
- In a better mood/feeling good – 24.6%
- Energized – 10.2%
- Empowered – 8.8%
- Guity or ashamed – 7.8%
- Still wanting more – 6.3%
- Other – 2.6%
- Americans’ perceptions of masturbation while growing up:
- Americans use sex toys in the following ways during masturbation: (Bespoke Surgical, 2019)10
- Never uses sex toys while masturbating – 49.4%
- Less than 25% of the time – 13.3%
- About 75% of the time – 11.1%
- About half of the time – 10.1%
- About 25% of the time – 8.3%
- Every time – 7.9%
- While most people still shy away from talking about it, some Americans do admit to doing the following things while masturbating: (Bespoke Surgical, 2019)10
- Texting or sexting – 36.1%
- Being on a phone call – 34.1%
- Being on a video call – 31.1%
- Watching or Interacting with a “camgirl” or “camguy” – 21.9%
- Some American pornographic trends are as follows: (Bespoke Surgical, 2019)10
- 1 in 4 people watch porn every time they masturbate.
- Men are 1.8x more likely to watch porn every time they masturbate.
- Virgins are 2.2x more likely to primarily watch solo performer porn.
- 18% of homosexuals primarily watch straight porn while masturbating.
- 22% of women never watch porn, compared to just 6% of men.
- Singles are 1.3x more likely to watch porn every time they masturbate.
How Masturbation Develops in Adolescence
Everything has to start somewhere, and masturbation starts alongside changing hormones and awkward voice cracks.
Adolescents deal with intense pressure and confusion as they get to know their bodies. Here’s how that looks when it comes to self-pleasure:
- 73.8% of males and only 48.1% of females report masturbation from ages 14 to 17. (The Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine, 2011)9
- More males masturbate as they get older. 62.6% of 14-year-olds reported having masturbated, compared to 80% of 17-year-olds. (The Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine, 2011)9
- Males also masturbate more as they get older. Only 42.9% of 14-year-olds reported masturbation within the past month, but 67.6% of 17-year-olds did. (The Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine, 2011)9
- More females try masturbation as they get older (43.3% at age 14 to 58% at age 17), but the number of females who reported masturbating recently did not increase. (The Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine, 2011)9
Men vs. Women: Self-Pleasure by Preference
At the end of the day, you’re the one who knows best what makes you feel good. Here’s a general breakdown of how people like to masturbate:
- 90% of men and 60% of women prefer to use their hands to masturbate. (Online Doctor, unspecified)6
- Only 10% of men and 40% of women prefer using sex toys to masturbate. (Online Doctor, unspecified)6
- 67% of men and 38% of women prefer to watch porn videos to masturbate. (Online Doctor, unspecified)6
Can Masturbation Replace Sex?
Can it? Well, sort of. It can absolutely make sex better, though.
Research suggests that masturbation is tied to sexual contentment, and significant percentages of both men and women actually prefer it to sex:
- One study found that masturbation can compensate for sex in men, and complement sex for women: (Archives of Sexual Behavior, 2017)11
- This dynamic depended on how content the study participants were with how often they had sex.
- For men and women, sexual contentment and relationship status caused masturbation much more predictably than sexual frequency.
- 21% of men and 30% of women say masturbating is more pleasurable than having sex with a partner. (TENGA, 2016)3
- Almost one-quarter of millennials have used a phone call, Skype, or another digital method to masturbate with a partner. (TENGA, 2016)3
- 95% of people who have masturbated in front of a partner say that the experience was “good,” “very good,” or “excellent.” (TENGA, 2016)3
- Around 75% of all women need the help of sex toys, hands, or tongues to reach orgasm during intercourse. (ABC, 2019)12
- Four out of ten women prefer masturbation to sex. (Adam & Eve, 2003)13
Is There Such a Thing as Too Much Masturbation?
No. There’s no golden rule or perfect number for self-pleasure. Whatever works for you, personally, is what’s best.
- Some people never masturbate. Some people masturbate multiple times a day. Many people fall between those two frequencies, but any frequency is perfectly normal. (Planned Parenthood, unspecified)14
- Men who masturbate to completion 21 or more times per month can reduce their risk of prostate cancer by 33%. (European Urology, 2016)15
- Men who ejaculate over 5 times per week in their 20s are a third less likely to develop aggressive prostate cancer. (British Journal of Urology International, 2003)16
Common Masturbation Myths
At some point or another, we all heard horror stories about the dangers of masturbation, but the science doesn’t support any of those wild rumors.
Here’s a list of things masturbation doesn’t do:
- Masturbation does not cause: (Healthline, 2022)1
- Hormonal Imbalances
- Changes to the size or shape of the penis
- Decreased sperm count
- Vision loss
- Hairy palms
- Erectile Dysfunction
- Low libido
There are some benefits to masturbation, primarily for relieving stress. For women, research suggests that it can significantly improve their marriage or relationships.
- The following percentages of people report using masturbation for: (TENGA, 2016)3
- Relieving sexual tension – 59%
- Sexual pleasure – 56%
- Relaxation or stress relief – 54%
- Sleep aid – 26%
- Married women who masturbate experience more orgasms, higher self-esteem, higher sexual desire, and greater marital and sexual satisfaction in their lives. (Journal of Sex Education and Therapy, 2015)17
Side Effects of Masturbation
As with any habit, there can be some unwelcome side effects. For example, societies with puritan values often cause people to feel shame or guilt about natural bodily functions, which can be psychologically damaging.
Masturbation can also become an excessive or harmful habit if done incorrectly.
- Guilt: (Healthline, 2022)1
- Masturbation is not immoral or wrong, but some people may experience guilt if they worry that self-pleasure conflicts with cultural, spiritual, or religious beliefs.
- Decreased Sexual Sensitivity: (Healthline, 2022)1
- Gripping the penis too tightly can cause a decrease in sensation; however, this can be reversed with a change of technique over time.
- Women report increased sexual function and lubrication after using a vibrator, and men who use vibrators can experience improvements in erectile function.
- Disruptions to Daily Life: (Healthline, 2022)1
- In rare cases, some people might masturbate more than they want to. This can:
- Cause them to miss work, school, or social events
- Interrupt their daily functioning
- Affect their relationships and responsibilities
- Create an escape from relationship issues, or a substitute for real-life experiences
- In rare cases, some people might masturbate more than they want to. This can:
Masturbation is a natural part of the human experience, and nearly everyone in the world has at least tried it. Unfortunately, shame and guilt have kept it out of open conversations for a long time, but an increase in societal open-mindedness is changing that.
- Healthline, 2022. An article medically reviewed by Jennifer Litner, Ph.D., LMFT, CST, that analyzes the definition of masturbation and its effects on individual health.
- PR Newswire, 2018. An article analyzing the results of a global 2018 survey on self-pleasure conducted by TENGA on over 13,000 adult respondents from 18 countries.
- TENGA, 2016. An article reporting masturbation data in the U.S. from a survey of 1,200 American adults.
- International Society for Sexual Medicine, unspecified. A medically-reviewed article on masturbation frequency that uses data from a Kinsey Institute study of 5,865 individuals aged 14 to 94.
- FiveThirtyEight, 2014. An article on masturbation frequency that uses data from a 2009 survey conducted by the National Survey of Sexual Health and Behavior.
- Online Doctor, unspecified. An article on self-reported masturbation statistics using a survey of 979 American and European adults.
- Web MD, 2022. An article medically reviewed by Carol DerSarkissian, MD, that describes the health characteristics of female masturbation and uses data from the Kinsey Institute.
- Public Library of Science, 2017. A cross-sectional nationally representative probability survey of 2,021 adults about their sexual behaviors.
- The Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine, 2011. A cross-sectional nationally representative survey of American adolescents ages 14 to 17.
- Bespoke Surgical, 2019. An article written by Dr. Evan Goldstein on masturbation frequency in the U.S. that uses data from a survey of 1,040 American adults.
- Archives of Sexual Behavior, 2017. A study on if and how masturbation can replace sex conducted in 2017 on 7,648 men and 8,090 women aged 18 to 60.
- ABC, 2009. An article on the characteristics of female orgasm and the number of women who need different methods to achieve it.
- Adam & Eve, 2003. An article on masturbation characteristics and facts using data from an online survey of 178 women, among other sources.
- Planned Parenthood, unspecified. An article debunking the myths of masturbation and providing insight on the health and sexual benefits.
- European Urology, 2016. A study on the effects of ejaculation on the risk of prostate cancer conducted by Harvard University on 31,925 men.
- British Journal of Urology International, 2003. A study of men over the age of 70 with prostate cancer to determine a link between sexual partners, ejaculation frequency, and their illness.
- Journal of Sex Education and Therapy, 2015. A comprehensive study analyzing how masturbation impacts female sexual satisfaction in marriage.