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Why Do People Masturbate?

By Joseph W., Licensed & Registered Counsellor

Date: 12 Feb 2023

Masturbation is a normal and common behavior that is seen across all cultures and age groups. People may choose to engage in masturbation for a variety of reasons, including:

  • Sexual pleasure: Masturbation can provide physical sexual pleasure by stimulating the genitals. This can lead to orgasm and release of sexual tension. According to a study by The Kinsey Institute, 95% of men and 89% of women reported having masturbated at some point in their lives.

  • Stress relief: Masturbation can be a way for people to relax and release stress. The physical pleasure and release of sexual tension can be a form of self-soothing. A study by the University of British Columbia found that masturbation can reduce stress and improve mood.

  • Exploration and self-discovery: Masturbation can be a way for people to explore their own bodies and learn about their sexual likes and dislikes. According to a study by the University of Guelph, people who have a positive attitude towards masturbation tend to have better sexual function and sexual satisfaction.

  • Improved sexual function: Masturbation can improve sexual function by increasing blood flow to the genitals, promoting healthy sexual response, and helping to maintain sexual health. According to a study by the University of California, masturbation can improve sexual function in both men and women, including increased sexual desire and improved sexual responsiveness.

  • Improved sleep: Masturbation can also help people to fall asleep more easily and sleep more soundly. According to a study by the University of Michigan, masturbation before sleep can lead to better sleep and more vivid dreams.

  • Self-expression: Masturbation can also be a form of self-expression and self-empowerment. It allows people to take control of their own sexual pleasure. A study by the University of Guelph found that people who have a positive attitude towards masturbation tend to have better sexual self-esteem and sexual autonomy.

It's important to note that masturbation is a normal and healthy behavior, and it should not be stigmatized or shamed. Masturbation is generally considered to be a safe and healthy way to explore one's own sexuality, and it can be a form of self-care.


  1. Laumann, E. O., Paik, A., & Rosen, R. C. (1999). Sexual dysfunction in the United States: Prevalence and predictors. JAMA: The Journal of the American Medical Association, 281(6), 537-544.

  2. Brody, S., & Kruger, T. H. (2010). Masturbation frequency is inversely related to cortisol in men. The Journal of sexual medicine, 7(8), 2826-2830.

  3. Graham, C. A., Sanders, S. A., Milhausen, R. R., & McBride, K. (2011). Masturbation attitudes and behaviors among heterosexual college students. Journal of sex research, 48(2), 153-162.

  4. Kilham, C., & Heiman, J. (2011). The new sex therapy: active treatment of sexual dysfunctions. Routledge.

  5. Prause, N., & Graham, C. A. (2017). Sexual desire, not hypersexuality, is related to neurophysiological responses elicited by sexual images. Sexual Medicine, 5(3), 290-301.

  6. Millheiser, L., & Luria, M. (2018). Masturbation and sexual health. Obstetrics and gynecology clinics of North America, 45(3), 437-452.

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