Masturbation refers to sexual stimulation, especially of one’s own genitals (self masturbation), often to the point of orgasm.The stimulation can be performed manually, by other types of bodily contact (short of sexual intercourse), by use of objects or tools, or by some combination of these methods. Masturbation with a partner (mutual masturbation) is also common. Animal masturbation has been observed in many species, both in the wild and in captivity.
Ways of masturbating common to members of both sexes include pressing or rubbing the genital area, either with the fingers or against an object such as a pillow; inserting fingers or an object into the anus; and stimulating the penis or vulva with electric vibrators, which may also be inserted into the vagina or anus. Members of both sexes may also enjoy touching, rubbing, or pinching the nipples or other erogenous zones while masturbating. Both sexes sometimes apply lubricating substances to intensify sensation.
Reading or viewing pornography, or sexual fantasy, are often common adjuncts to masturbation. Often people will call upon memories during masturbation. Masturbation activities are often ritualised.
Some people get sexual pleasure by inserting objects into the urethra (the tube through which urine and, in men, semen, flows). Other objects such as ball point pens and thermometers are sometimes used, although this practice can lead to injury and/or infection.Some people masturbate by using machines that simulate intercourse.
Men and women may masturbate until they are close to orgasm, stop for a while to reduce excitement, and then resume masturbating. They may repeat this cycle multiple times. This “stop and go” build-up can achieve even stronger orgasms.Rarely, people quit stimulation just before orgasm to retain the heightened energy that normally comes down after orgasm.
Female masturbation techniques include a woman stroking or rubbing her vulva, especially her clitoris, with her index and/or middle fingers. Sometimes one or more fingers may be inserted into the vagina to repeatedly stroke its frontal wall where the g-spot is located.Masturbation aids such as a vibrator, dildo or Ben Wa balls can also be used to stimulate the vagina and clitoris. Many women caress their breasts or stimulate a nipple with the free hand, if these are receptive areas for sexual stimulation. Anal stimulation is also enjoyed by some. Lubrication is sometimes used during masturbation, especially when penetration is involved, but this is not universal and many women find their natural lubrication sufficient.
Common positions include lying on back or face down, sitting, squatting, kneeling or standing. In a bath or shower a female may direct tap water at her clitoris and vulva. Lying face down one may use the hands, one may straddle a pillow, the corner or edge of the bed, a partner’s leg or some scrunched-up clothing and “hump” the vulva and clitoris against it. Standing up a chair, the corner of an item of furniture or even a washing machine can be used to stimulate the clitoris through the labia and clothing. Some masturbate using only pressure applied to the clitoris without direct contact, for example by pressing the palm or ball of the hand against underwear or other clothing.
Women can sexually stimulate themselves by crossing their legs tightly and clenching the muscles in their legs, creating pressure on the genitals. This can potentially be done in public without observers noticing. Thoughts, fantasies, and memories of previous instances of arousal and orgasm can produce sexual excitation. Some women can orgasm spontaneously by force of will alone, although this may not strictly qualify as masturbation as no physical stimulus is involved.
Sex therapists will sometimes recommend that female patients take time to masturbate to orgasm, especially if they have not done so before.
Male masturbation techniques are influenced by a number of factors and personal preferences. Techniques may also differ between circumcised and uncircumcised males. Some techniques which may work for one individual can be difficult or uncomfortable for another person.
The most common male masturbation technique is simply to hold the penis with a loose fist and then to move the hand up and down the shaft. This type of stimulation is typically all that is required to achieve orgasm and ejaculation. The speed of the hand motion will vary from person to person, although it is not uncommon for the speed to increase as ejaculation nears and for it to decrease during the ejaculation itself. When uncircumcised, stimulation of the penis in this way comes from the “pumping” of the foreskin, in which the foreskin is held and slid up and down over the glans head, which depending on foreskin length, is completely or partly covered, and then uncovered, in a rapid motion. During this time, the glans itself may widen and lengthen as the stimulation continues, becoming purplish in colour, while the rapid sliding motion of the foreskin over the glans reduces friction. For circumcised males, on whom the glans is mostly or completely uncovered, this technique creates more direct contact between the hand and the glans. To avoid soreness from this resulting friction, some males prefer to use a personal lubricant during masturbation.
Another technique used by both circumcised and uincircumcised males is to place just the index finger and thumb around the penis about halfway along the penis and repeatedly slide the shaft skin up and down. A variation on this is to place the fingers and thumb on the penis as if playing a flute, and then shuttle them back and forth. Another common technique is to lie face down on a comfortable surface such as a mattress or pillow and rub the penis against it. This technique may include the use of a simulacrum, or artificial vagina.
There are many other variations on male masturbation techniques. Men may also rub or massage the glans, the rim of the glans, and the frenular delta. Some men place both hands directly on their penis during masturbation, while others use their free hand to fondle their testicles, nipples, or other parts of their body. Some may keep their hand stationary while pumping into it with pelvic thrusts in order to simulate the motions of sexual intercourse. Others may also use vibrators and other sexual devices more commonly associated with female masturbation. A few extremely flexible males can reach and stimulate their penis with their tongue or lips, and so perform autofellatio.
The prostate gland is one of the organs that contributes fluid to semen. As the prostate is touch-sensitive, some directly stimulate it using a well-lubricated finger or dildo inserted through the anus into the rectum. Stimulating the prostate from outside, via pressure on the perineum, can be pleasurable as well. Some men also enjoy anal stimulation, with fingers or otherwise, without any prostate stimulation.
Frequency of masturbation is determined by many factors, e.g., one’s resistance to sexual tension, hormone levels influencing sexual arousal, sexual habits, peer influences, health and one’s attitude to masturbation formed by culture.
It is held in many mental health circles that masturbation can relieve depression and lead to a higher sense of self-worth. Masturbation can also be particularly useful in relationships where one partner wants more sex than the other – in which case masturbation provides a balancing effect and thus a more harmonious relationship.
Mutual masturbation, the act by which two or more partners stimulate themselves in the presence of each other, allows a couple to reveal the “map to [their] pleasure centers”. By watching a partner masturbate, one finds out the methods they use to please him- or herself, allowing each partner to learn exactly how the other enjoys being touched. Intercourse, by itself, is often inconvenient or impractical at times to provide sufficient sexual release for many people. Mutual masturbation allows couples to enjoy each other and obtain sexual release as often as they need but without the inconveniences and risks associated with sex.
In 2003, an Australian research team led by Graham Giles of The Cancer Council Australia found that males masturbating frequently had a lower probability to develop prostate cancer. Men who averaged five or more ejaculations weekly in their 20s had significantly lower risk. However they could not show a direct causation. The study also indicated that increased ejaculation through masturbation rather than intercourse would be more helpful as intercourse is associated with diseases (STDs) that may increase the risk of cancer instead. However, this benefit may be age related. A 2008 study concluded that frequent ejaculation between the ages of 20 and 40, may be correlated with higher risk of developing prostate cancer. On the other hand, frequent ejaculation in one’s 50s was found to be correlated with a lower such risk in this same study.
A study published in 1997 found an inverse association between death from coronary heart disease and frequency of orgasm even given the risk that myocardial ischaemia and myocardial infarction can be triggered by sexual activity.
That is, a difference in mortality appeared between any two subjects when one subject ejaculated at around two times per week more than the other. Assuming a broad range average of between 3 to 5 ejaculations per week for healthy males, this would mean 5 to 7 ejaculations per week. This is consistent with a 2003 Australia article on the benefits against prostate cancer. The strength of these correlations increased with increasing frequency of ejaculation.
A 2008 study at Tabriz Medical University found ejaculation reduces swollen nasal blood vessels, freeing the airway for normal breathing. The mechanism is through stimulation of the sympathetic nervous system and is long lasting. The study author suggests “It can be done [from] time-to-time to alleviate the congestion and the patient can adjust the number of intercourses or masturbations depending on the severity of the symptoms.”
Masturbation is also seen as a sexual technique that protects individuals from the risk of contracting sexually transmitted diseases.
Sexual climax, from masturbation or otherwise, leaves one in a relaxed and contented state. This is frequently followed closely by drowsiness and sleep – particularly when one masturbates in bed.
Some professionals consider masturbation to function as a cardiovascular workout. Though research is still as yet scant, those suffering from cardiovascular disorders (particularly those recovering from myocardial infarction, or heart attacks) should resume physical activity (including sexual intercourse and masturbation) gradually and with the frequency and rigor which their physical status will allow.