May is National Masturbation Month, and to celebrate we’ve answered the most frequently asked questions about masturbation, self-pleasure, and sex toys. We’re sharing these masturbation facts to give you a broad picture of how common masturbation is, how people masturbate, and the health benefits of masturbation.

What Is Masturbation?

Masturbation is defined by Merriam-Webster as, “erotic stimulation especially of one’s own genital organs commonly resulting in orgasm and achieved by manual or other bodily contact exclusive of sexual intercourse, by instrumental manipulation, occasionally by sexual fantasies, or by various combinations of these agencies.” Remember the Divinyls song “I Touch Myself?” That’s what we’re talking about. Whether you use your hands, sex toys, or the touch of a partner,  all of these methods are considered masturbation.

How Common Is Masturbation?

However common you think masturbation is, it’s probably even more widespread than that. A 2018 survey found that 92% percent of American men masturbate but Americans only think 83% of men do. The survey also found that 76% of American women masturbate, but Americans only think 66% of women do. Globally, the findings showed that 76% of people around the world masturbate.

The 2010 National Survey of Sexual Health and Behavior, conducted by the Kinsey Institute of Indiana University, found that, “a quarter of the men between the ages of 18 and 59 masturbated a few times per month to weekly,” according to the Center for Female and Male Sexual Medicine. Additionally, “roughly 20% masturbated 2 to 3 times each week. Less than 20% masturbated more than 4 times a week.” Older men were more likely to report no masturbation during the previous year. Most of the women masturbated once a week or less.

How Often People Masturbate

According to the National Institutes of Health, “More men than women report lifetime masturbation and recent masturbation; also, men report more frequent masturbation as compared to women.”

Does Masturbation Always Lead to Orgasm?

While masturbation often leads to orgasm, masturbation can be enjoyable even if it doesn’t lead to orgasm. How often a person of any gender masturbates to orgasm vs. how often they don’t will depend on many factors unique to their body and their mental and physical condition. Masturbation should feel good, regardless of whether you masturbate until you climax or not. 

Is Masturbation Healthy?

Yes, masturbation is good for you. According to The Cleveland Clinic, “Masturbation plays an important role in healthy sexual development. It’s a normal, natural way to explore your body, feel pleasure and reach the point of sexual release (orgasm).” We know that there are health benefits of orgasms, such as menstrual pain relief, strengthening of the pelvic floor, and boosting of the immune system, so it’s natural that giving yourself orgasms or simply practicing self-pleasure can also have health benefits.

Can You Masturbate Too Much or Get Addicted to Masturbation?

While any activity can be taken to extremes that derail your life, as a general rule, you can’t masturbate too much or get addicted to masturbation. Some people may need or want to masturbate more often than others based on a variety of factors. As long as you are enjoying your masturbation sessions and they aren’t interfering with your daily life, or your sexual relationship(s) with other people, there’s nothing to worry about when it comes to frequent masturbation.

What Is a Masturbation Sleeve?

A masturbation sleeve is a sex toy that, according to Kinkly, is “designed to stimulate the penis in a way that simulates manual, oral or penetrative sex. They usually consist of a soft, pliable sleeve into which the penis is inserted. The sleeve is then either moved up and down manually, or it’s designed to move or vibrate independently. A masturbation sleeve may also be known as a pocket pussy, cock sleeve, stroker or male masturbator.”

What Is a Masturbate-a-Thon?

A Masturbate-a-Thon is a fundraising event that takes place during May (National Masturbation Month) in which a group of people masturbate together to raise money for sex-positive charities. The Masturbate-a-Thon was started in 1999 by Open Enterprises. Masturbate-a-Thons have been held in various countries and have even been televised.

A man named Michael, who participated in 10 Masturbate-a-Thons, told a journalist about the experience. “I had really wanted to publicly express the joy of masturbation and why I masturbated. I was talking about how masturbation is a celebration, and we are enjoying it, so we need to help the world enjoy it. Even the camera people were applauding my statement, which was kind of nice, and then two women immediately got up to testify.”

Carol Queen, sex educator and Good Vibrations staff sexologist, said in a 2014 interview of the Masturbate-a-Thon: “At our San Francisco event at CSC, we opened the door a few years ago to a guy who wanted to compete for the Longest Time Spent Masturbating trophy. He had just flown in from Japan, he was sponsored by the Tenga line of men’s sex toys — and he brought them all along! — and he was wearing like a Nascar suit with Tenga’s logo. And he totally won that title! Nine hours and 58 minutes! People ask the secret to this sort of feat: It’s lube. And not moving too fast and friction-y. That’s great for your three minutes before bed, but it’s not what winners do.”

Is Masturbation Shown in TV and Movies?

Masturbation has been shown on television and in movies, often in ways that don’t explicitly show the self-love but either imply it or allude to it. Female masturbation has been part of the storylines of shows such as Sex and the City, Girls, Orange Is the New Black, Insecure, Ginny and Georgia, and many others. One of the most famous examples of male masturbation on screen is the pie scene in American Pie.

 Now that you have all the facts about masturbation, it’s time to go shopping! Check out our list of the best sex toys for masturbation if you need some ideas. Be sure to check out our sex tips section for more sexual health information.