Key Facts
  • Masturbating or not masturbating are both normal behaviors.
  • There are many myths (or untruths) about masturbation.
  • If masturbation is interfering with your normal activities, you should talk to your health care provider or a trusted adult.
  • Young men's version of this guide

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As you approach and enter puberty (a time in which your body and mind will sexually mature), you may notice that you will begin to have sexual desires, new feelings, thoughts, and a sense of curiosity and awareness about your body that you didn’t have when you were younger. During and after this time, masturbation can become a normal part of your life.

What is masturbation?

Masturbation is touching or rubbing your genitals. People who are assigned female at birth often touch and rub their vulva (which includes the clitoris, inner and outer labia, and vaginal opening). This may also include the vagina (which is the canal on the inside). Whereas, people assigned male at birth masturbate by touching and rubbing their penis (some will touch their testicles and also their anus). Masturbation is a normal part of sexual development, but it should always be done in a private place.

Why do teens masturbate?

Teens masturbate for a wide variety of reasons. For example:

  • For pleasure. For females, touching the clitoris and/or vagina can feel good and may eventually lead to orgasm (muscle contractions that typically cause intense feelings of pleasure).
  • To get to know their body. Masturbation can help teach you what feels good and what doesn’t. Knowing what kinds of touching bring you pleasure is empowering.
  • To relax. Since masturbation is pleasurable, some teens masturbate to relax, relieve emotional stress, or sexual tension.

Is masturbation common?

Masturbation is very common. It can become more frequent as teens get older and it’s a normal part of growing up.

When do people usually begin masturbating?

People begin masturbating at different times in their lives. Some start in childhood when they realize that touching their genitals feels good. However, children do not associate sexual fantasies with masturbation, as some teens may.

Myths about Female Masturbation: Masturbation is considered a private topic and many people feel uncomfortable talking about it. For this reason, people may hear untrue facts about masturbation and then believe them. Below are some “myths” or lies that are often told about masturbation. Talk to your health care provider, school nurse, or another adult you trust to get more facts about masturbation.

  • Only people assigned male at birth masturbate: FALSE. genders masturbate and it’s completely normal.
  • People who masturbate are more likely to have sex with multiple partners: FALSE. Being curious about your body and the pleasure it can give you is natural and normal for any teen. Feeling curious about your body and wanting to explore your sexuality is natural.
  • Masturbation will prevent you from being able to have children: FALSE. Touching your genitals does not affect your reproductive health or ability to have children when you’re ready.
  • Masturbation will affect your periods: FALSE. Masturbation doesn’t affect your menstrual cycle or other aspects of your reproductive health.
  • Masturbation will give you sexually transmitted infections (STIs): FALSE. Unlike partner sex, which can cause STIs, masturbation can’t cause them.
  • Masturbation prevents sexual intercourse from feeling good: FALSE. In fact, masturbation can help you learn what’s sexually pleasurable for you. This can make sexual intercourse feel better.
  • Masturbation will make you go blind, get cancer, causes mental illness, cause other random disease, etc: FALSE. These are older myths that people believed once long ago and were popular for all sorts of strange reasons, but this is definitely NOT true. Masturbation does not cause any health problems.
  • Only people who don’t have sexual partners masturbate: FALSE. This is NOT true. In fact, people who have regular sexual partners are more likely to masturbate. Some couples also practice mutual masturbation, stimulating each other’s genitals, as a substitute to sexual intercourse and as a way to prevent mistimed pregnancies.

Why do some people feel guilty for masturbating?

Many teens who have grown up in cultures or religious communities where masturbation is thought of as wrong or immoral may feel guilty for feeling sexual pleasure. They may also believe many of the myths above and think that masturbation is bad for their health.

Are there any benefits to masturbation?

There are health benefits to masturbation, such as:

Is masturbation dangerous?

Masturbation can sometimes irritate your genitals, but besides that, masturbation is not physically dangerous. You may be masturbating too much if it begins to interfere with your daily routine, school, and other activities. It can also become a problem if it’s associated with sadness, extreme guilt, withdrawal, or other emotional and psychological problems.

Why do some people look at pornography while they masturbate?

Although it’s illegal to buy pornography if you are under the age of 18, many teens see pornographic images on the internet or in magazines. For some teens, looking at pornography can be sexually exciting and increase sexual pleasure, but it’s important to understand that:

  • The pornographic videos and images are enhanced with special effects and edited with Photoshop and other editing programs
  • Models and actors involved in pornography may have larger than average breasts and genitals
  • They usually don’t show the actors practicing safe sex
  • The sexual positions being shown are often uncomfortable and unrealistic

Finally, pornography is about showing unique sexual interests and fantasies – not about being real or safe and creating emotionally stable sexual experiences. Viewing pornography can set unrealistic and possibly unhealthy standards for sexual relationships.

What are “sex toys” and why do some people use them during masturbation?

Sex toys are items used to enhance sexual pleasure and can be used during masturbation. Two types of sex toys are vibrators and dildos. Vibrators are hand-held and can increase pleasure by massaging and vibrating in and around the vagina or on any erogenous zones (places that cause sexual excitement when touched). Dildos, which often resemble a penis, are inserted into the vagina to mimic sexual intercourse. Both can provide unique pleasure but are not necessary to masturbate.

“I’ve never masturbated. Is that normal?”

Masturbating or not masturbating are both normal behaviors!

Although some cultures and religious practices may ban masturbation, it’s normal and healthy when done privately. If you experience sadness, extreme guilt, or feel isolated, you should talk to your health care provider and a trusted adult.