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What is Masturbation?

In simple terms, masturbation involves touching your genitals (or other sensitive areas) for sexual pleasure. However, masturbation is a complex subject and it’s also one that’s often not talked about. In this post, we’re going to take a closer look at this erotic topic and unpack some common myths and misconceptions about masturbation.

This article is also available in Spanish.

Types of masturbation

Masturbation varies from person to person and there isn’t one type of masturbation because everyone is different. Masturbation can involve any type of erotic touching or stimulation. For example, clitoral or nipple stimulation and anal or vaginal penetration all count as types of masturbation. 

Masturbation can be done on your own or with someone else. At the end of the day, masturbation is just another type of sex, so if you’re doing it with someone else, it must be consensual. What we find arousing is highly individual, but what’s important is that you feel comfortable. Masturbation will often involve orgasm (sexual climax), but this isn’t always the case.

Is masturbation healthy?

Yes, masturbation is perfectly healthy and it’s a normal part of most people’s lives. It’s nothing to be ashamed of or to worry about and while it’s not often talked about, most of us do it. 

Historically, masturbation has been a highly stigmatized topic. While it’s personal and we understand that you probably don’t want to shout about your sex life from the rooftops, silence on these types of topics can perpetuate feelings of shame and feed into wider knowledge gaps about reproductive health. 

Benefits of masturbation

There are actually benefits of masturbation for both our sex lives and our wider health. The effects of masturbation include:

  • Increased knowledge about our bodies
  • Increased understanding of our individual preferences when it comes to sex
  • A way to enjoy sex without risk of pregnancy or catching sexually transmitted infections 
  • A way to build trust with a partner and a safe way to share what you both enjoy
  • It’s also proven to reduce stress and can even help you get to sleep
  • Pain relief from orgasms can help reduce period cramps

Can you masturbate too much?

No. Masturbation is not at all bad for your health and how much you masturbate is up to you. Some people might do it several times a day while others might do it rarely. Anything goes! Masturbating a lot only becomes a problem if it starts interfering with your everyday life and stops you from doing other things. Some people may not feel any desire to masturbate and this is also completely fine. 

Masturbation and sex drive

How much someone masturbates can have a lot to do with their sex drive. Again, this is personal to each individual and our libidos vary significantly. Typically male sex drive tends to peak in the morning, whereas female sex drive is more specifically linked to the phases of the menstrual cycle and will likely peak around ovulation. Regardless of your gender, sex or sexual orientation, your sex drive can vary and there is no ‘normal’ libido.

Don’t get too hung up on how big or small your sex drive is because everyone is different and sex drive can vary over time depending on factors such as age, diet and stress levels. However, if you are at all worried about your reproductive health, consult with your healthcare professional for advice. 

A birth control app that’s tailored to you

Natural Cycles is the first FDA cleared birth control app. It’s 100% hormone-free and works by learning the unique pattern of your cycle to find your fertile days (that’s right, you can’t get pregnant every day of your cycle). Natural Cycles also has a handy tracking feature so you can log changes in your cycle such as fluctuations in sex drive, emotional changes, and physical symptoms like period pain. Find out if it could work for you today. 

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Written By

Jennifer Gray

Jennifer Gray is an award-winning writer with more than five years’ experience covering reproductive topics ranging from birth control to planning pregnancy. She is passionate about providing women with accurate information grounded in science they can use to take charge of their own health - while also dispelling myths that exist within the field of women’s health. She holds a Master of Science from the University of Edinburgh and currently lives in Ireland.

Jack in a suit and tie holding a microphone and giving a presentation.

Scientifically Reviewed

Jack Pearson

Dr. Jack Pearson is a previously HCPC registered Embryologist with a PhD in reproductive medicine. Prior to joining Natural Cycles leading Medical Affairs, he worked for more than 10 years in a clinical setting working at some of the busiest fertility clinics in the UK. Today he spends most of his time working with experts at the world’s leading institutions to carry out important research with the vision to further the field of female health. He earned his PhD from the University of Sheffield specializing in Sperm Metabolism and currently lives in London.

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