Masturbation is when a person sexually pleasures themself, typically by touching their genitals or other sensitive parts of their body. The topic of masturbation can sometimes feel embarrassing or awkward, but it’s a totally normal part of exploring your body and nothing to be ashamed of. Choosing to masturbate – or even not to! – is completely up to you and what you’re comfortable with doing.
Many people masturbate, although it’s not as widely talked about because it’s a very personal process. Societal norms can make it seem like only males masturbate but people of all genders (and ages) masturbate including women and non-binary people. Masturbation can look different for everyone and there is no ‘rule’ about who does it, when they first begin, or even why they choose to.
Why do people masturbate?
Masturbation is a natural part of exploring the body and understanding one’s own sexual pleasure. For some, masturbation is a safe way to feel sexual pleasure without a partner since there’s no risk of pregnancy or sexually transmitted infection. For others, masturbating is a way to enjoy and explore feeling good.
Reasons vary, but the endorphins (happy hormones) released by the brain with masturbation can be a way to relieve stress or anxiety. Some people even report that masturbating helps alleviate period cramps!
How do people masturbate?
Masturbation can look different for everyone. Oftentimes it involves touching or rubbing genital areas such as the clitoris (on genetically female bodies) or the penis (on genetically male bodies). Some individuals enjoy penetration, which means inserting fingers into cavities of the body such as the vagina or anus. Some people also use what's called “sex toys” or “adult toys" in the genital area, which are objects designed specifically for sexual pleasure. However, there are other sexually sensitive areas – called erogenous zones – all over the body that can cause pleasure when stimulated. Some examples are the nipples, breasts, butt, neck, or inner thighs.
How often someone masturbates varies from person to person and can be based on a number of different factors such as free time, interest in masturbating, or stress. It is perfectly normal to masturbate frequently or not at all, and it’s also normal to fluctuate between both.
To masturbate safely, wash hands before masturbating to prevent the transfer of germs that could lead to an infection. And one side note few mention: keep nails trimmed and clean nails to decrease the risk of scratching or tearing the skin.
The Bottom Line
Masturbating is perfectly healthy! It’s a safe way to learn and understand personal sexual preferences.
For more information, check out our article on the clitoris here!