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It’s totally normal to masturbate (touch yourself for sexual pleasure) whether you’re sexually active with other people or not. Masturbation even has health benefits, like reducing stress.

Do most people masturbate?

Lots of people masturbate! Even if they don't talk about it, it’s common for people of any gender or age to do it. Even before puberty, children sometimes discover that touching their genitals feels good. If you have kids and notice them touching their genitals, let them know that masturbating is completely normal, but something they should do in private.

People masturbate for different reasons — it helps them relax, they want to understand their body better, they want to release sexual tension, or their partner isn’t around. But most people masturbate because it feels good. Many people think that masturbation is only something you do when you don’t have a sex partner. But both single people and people in relationships masturbate.  

Some people masturbate often, others rarely, and some people don’t masturbate at all. Different people masturbate in different ways, for different reasons. Masturbation is a totally personal decision, and there’s no “normal” way to go about it.

Is it OK to masturbate if you’re in a relationship?

Definitely. Lots of people in relationships masturbate. Masturbating when you’re in a relationship doesn’t mean your partner isn’t satisfying you. It’s a great way to figure out what you like and what makes you have an orgasm. Then you can show or tell your partner what feels good. Talking about sex with your partner can make it more fun and can even make your relationship stronger. Some people masturbate at the same time as their partner. It’s a way to be sexual together without having any risk of STDs or pregnancy.

More questions from patients:

What are some masturbation tips?

Masturbation is a great way to get to know your body. It’s totally healthy and normal — most people masturbate at some point in their lives.

There are tons of myths meant to scare you into thinking masturbation is wrong or bad. The truth is, it’s perfectly safe. Masturbating won't make you blind, crazy, or stupid. It won’t damage your genitals, cause pimples, or stunt your growth. It doesn’t use up all your orgasms or ruin other kinds of sex.

Here are some masturbation tips:

  • Wash your hands before touching your penis, vulva, vagina, or anus.

  • Use a good lubricant. It lowers friction, which helps prevent small tears in your skin and makes things more comfortable.

  • Clean your sex toys. Otherwise bacteria can build up and cause an infection. The best way to protect sex toys is with a condom that you change whenever the toy is passed from partner to partner or from one body opening to another — mouth, anus, or vagina. If you don’t use condoms, clean sex toys before and after every use. Read the instructions on the package for how to clean your toy.

  • Don’t share sex toys with multiple partners without cleaning/using new condoms every time. They can pass along STDs.

Is there a difference between male and female masturbation?

There are more similarities than differences between male and female masturbation. That’s because everyone masturbates differently and there’s no single “right” way to do it.

You might think that guys are the only ones who masturbate. But that’s just not true!

Regardless of your gender, masturbation is totally healthy and normal. It’s a great way to get to know your body and what feels good. It’s also 100% safe — no risk of pregnancy or STDs.