This Is How Often Most People Masturbate, Say Doctors & Recent Data

How do you measure up against the masturbation average...and does it matter?

A little self-love might be the ultimate form of self-care. In the era when now-middle-aged adults were young, masturbation was widely considered dirty and shameful…but today, some clinicians are actually touting the notion that masturbation is healthy for the body.

Like some other sexual activities, triggers the physiological release of chemicals like dopamine, oxytocin, and serotonin. Rachel Sommer, PhD, a sociologist and sexuality researcher, refers to these chemicals as “happiness and love hormones [that] enhance motivation, pleasure-seeking, movement, optimism, and happiness. Physically,” Dr. Sommer continues, “research has shown masturbation can improve sexual function. Emotional and mental health metrics like mood, focus, concentration, and self-esteem also respond positively to masturbation.”

Masturbation can be a way to release stress, a natural sleep aid, and can even relieve menstrual cramps, adds Sarah Wright, PsyD, CST/S from Choosing Therapy. “Regular masturbation often increases libido, and for people with a prostate, regular masturbation helps with prostate health.” Dr. Wright says masturbation can also serve as a mini workout for your heart, therefore possibly promoting cardiovascular health. Some studies have also linked masturbation with a more positive body image, while some yoga instructors suggest a regular self-love practice may support pelvic health and release tightness in the hips. Some alternative health practitioners associate pain in the hip region with emotional stress and loss of personal empowerment. From this perspective, there’s some possibility that masturbation may improve psychological health and increase an individual’s sense of personal strength.

If masturbation is considered a practice that’s good for our health, well…we know how much sleep, water, sun, and veggies we should be aiming for. So how often is it healthy to masturbate?

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How often do most people masturbate?

Much of the stigma surrounding masturbation has lifted over time, suggests Dr. Sommer, who’s also the co-founder of My Sex Toy Guide. “Like everything else, masturbation patterns have changed over generations, thanks to the transformation of cultural definitions of sexuality,” she explains. She credits greater sexual education and awareness for making the topic less taboo, and more transparency allows for people to discuss and disclose their sexual patterns. Plus, recent developments in sex toy technology make masturbation “more thrilling and animated” than ever.

“Each generation is more active with masturbation than before, with a [survey from Tenga, a sexual health and wellness company] alluding that women now masturbate about eight times a month,” Dr. Sommer says. She points to another study published in the Journal of Sexual Medicine in 2019, showing that 26% of women masturbate once a week, and 27% have a self-love session two to three times a week.

More data exists about how many people masturbate rather than how often, and “most people have masturbated, with rates for men trending higher in general than for women,” Wright says.

While self-pleasure among females is on the rise, a 2022 study published in Archives of Sexual Behavior found that most men report masturbating several times a week. In 2021, Tenga released an update to its Global Self-Pleasure Report finding that 40% of people in general say they’re masturbating more often than before. (Though, explains Wright, little data exists about rates of masturbation specifically among people who are gender queer, trans, or non-binary.)

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How often should I masturbate?

Throughout published studies, researchers point out data on masturbation habits might not be quite on-the-nose, due to the notion that self-reporting may surface questions of privacy, guilt or shame. There are other variables: Cultural and age-related differences, and even variation at the individual level based on factors like relationship status, age, lifestyle, and health.

So, while research continues to try and identify general patterns, “there’s no ‘right’ masturbation frequency,” Dr. Sommer emphasizes. “What works for you might not work for me—some people can masturbate once a week, and others five.” People with a prostate are encouraged to have about 21 ejaculates per month for ideal prostate health, Wright adds. “Other than that, listen to your body—some people may enjoy a night rub to help with sleep, others may prefer a morning jolt to start the day. Still others may opt for both.”

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Can you masturbate too much?

The Archives of Sexual Behaviors research explains that masturbation is a completely normal part of human sexuality with a range of emotional, mental, sexual, and physical health benefits. “However, if excessive masturbation interferes with your daily life and affects your productivity, it might be time for an intervention,” Dr. Sommer says. “Some people report being unable to control the urge to pleasure themselves, even in places they’d never do so—a friend’s place, work, or even school.”

Recent psychological evidence in 2020 contradicted myths that excessive masturbation triggers health risks (such as reduced sperm quality in men). Most recently, studies suggest the activity can have effects on someone’s psychological health and well-being. There isn’t a defined amount of masturbation that’s “too much.” Still, “if important activities are being given up to masturbate, if it’s causing problems in relationships, or significant shame results, it may be time to step back and take a look at things,” Wright says.

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Dr. Sommer suggests dialing it back by:

  • Avoiding pornography
  • including more physical activity in your lifestyle
  • prioritizing social connection, and
  • understanding your masturbation triggers like boredom or fear of intimacy.

“Working with a Certified Sex Therapist may be a great option to help process if this proves difficult or if behaviors are hard to change alone,” Wright says.

Still, while the joke goes that 95% of people masturbate and the other 5% are lying, some people truly never do—and that’s OK, too. But if you abstain because masturbation brings you feelings of strong guilt and other negative emotions, you may want to talk about this next time you see your doctor, or consider contacting a therapist, Dr. Sommer advises.

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Popular Videos

Sources

People:

Rachel Sommer, PhD, clinical sexologist and co-founder of My Sex Toy

Guide

Sarah Wright, PsyD, CST/S from Choosing Therapy

Websites:

Tenga: "United State(s) of Masturbation"

Tenga: "Global Self-Pleasure Report 2021"

Journals:

Sexual Medicine: "Body Image, Orgasmic Response, and Sexual Relationship Satisfaction: Understanding Relationships and Establishing Typologies Based on Body Image Satisfaction"

Journal of Sexual Medicine: "Masturbatory Behavior in a Population Sample of German Women"

Archives of Sexual Behavior: "A Seemingly Paradoxical Relationship Between Masturbation Frequency and Sexual Satisfaction"

Archives of Sexual Behavior: "Abstinence from Masturbation and Hypersexuality"

Leslie Finlay, MPA
In addition to The Healthy, Leslie has written for outlets such as WebMd.com, Fodors.com, LiveFit.com, and more, specializing in content related to healthcare, nutrition, mental health and wellness, and environmental conservation and sustainability. She holds a master's degree in Public Policy focused on the intersection between public health and environmental conservation, and an undergraduate degree in journalism. Leslie is based in Thailand, where she is a marine conservation and scuba diving instructor. In her spare time you'll find her up in the air on the flying trapeze or underwater, diving coral reefs.