Is it true that men masturbate more than women?

Research suggests that it is more common in boys than girls – the ratio is 8:1. Physical differences make it much more likely that boys will mastur-bate. The penis is something which can’t help but be noticed, especially as it hardens spontaneously. A boy soon finds that stroking it until it goes hard produces pleasant feelings. Female sexual organs are less obvious, however, so that girls may never discover the pleasure which they can get from self-stimulation.

Many women learn to masturbate as they grow older and may only get around to doing so in adult life. Men tend to masturbate a great deal in childhood and adolescence and then less and less as life goes on. In-research, over 90 per cent of adult men say they have masturbated at sometime. The numbeT o( women who admit to masturbating is lower – about 60 per cent However, since many people are shy about revealing their sexijaJ behaviour- and some don’t even Know what masturbation is – these figures may be lower than is really the case.

How normal is it for people to masturbate?

Masturbation simply means someone stimulating their own sex organs- it’s a perfectly normal way of relieving sexual tension. From the earliest months, babies may learn to masturbate while exploring their bodies. They soon find that the sex organs are more sensitive and therefore much more fun to explore than the rest of their bodies, and touching them becomes a source of comfort and relaxation. Babies of both sexes may masturbate by rubbing their thighs together ancl pressing against something hard. Sometimes this reaches a climax with the baby ‘thrusting’ in asexualwayand crying, then relaxing, contented. Men usually masturbate by stroking the penis – by hand, while women stimulate the clitoris -either direcdy by hand or by pressing down on something hard.

Some women use a false penis to stimulate the vagina, or they may reach a climax just by rhythmically squeezing the thigh muscles.

Almost everybody masturbates at some time, and yet worry about masturbation is common. In fact it often causes more trouble than worries about sexual intercourse. The old idea that it’s something dirty or harmful is certainly dying out, but many people still don’t realize it is an absolutely normal stage in sexual development, which may continue to be a common part of people’s lives.

Why is masturbation an important part of sexual development? People who understand their own sexual funcdons through masturbation are more likely to have a fulfilling sex life. What they learn about themselves can play an important part in working out a good sexual relationship with a partner. The normal stages in sexual development start with masturbation then progress to petting with a partner. When two people know each other’s bodies and needs, they can achieve the sexual closeness which most people hope for and need.

Once children develop sexual needs, mastur-bation may be the only outlet Boys and men are highly likely to know about masturbation and they tend to discuss it with one another- even if it’s only in a joking way. But many women who masturbate regularly never discuss it with any-body else, while some women don’t even know what masturbation is. Women who masturbate in childhood, however, are far more likely to achieve orgasms during sexual intercouse than women who have never masturbated.

In this sense, masturbation could be seen as a kind of training for full sexual response, so it is an important part of sexual development.

Unfortunately, some parents still think that masturbation is sinful and must be stifled, and this often means that a child is smacked for touching his sex organs. Children who are punished and lectured about masturbation can certainly develop hang-ups about it which can spoil their adult sex lives. The taboos surrounding masturbation are so strong that the guarded way in which people talk about it – or usually avoid mentioning it at all- reinforces any sense of guilt caused by previous punishment or tickings off.

These kinds of attitudes can be one of the factors which inhibits normal sexual development but many sexual difficulties can be helped by therapy. Many of the remedies for certain sexual problems actually use masturbation as a starting point, as part of a treatment programme supervised by a special therapist Talking about practising masturbation can help people to deal with the sense of guilt which has caused many of their problems.

Of course some of the problems associated with ‘frigidity may run very deep, and there are no ‘mechanical’ solutions, but it’s also been found that therapy involving masturbation can help a frigid woman to build up a normal sex life. By first examining her own sexual organs, she is made familiar with her own sensations, and she can then progress to enjoying them with a partner. The doctor who introduced a mirror to women with sexual problems made a great breakthrough! What is mutual masturbation?

It’s usually called’ heavy petting5 – in other words a couple touching and stimulating each other’s sensitive parts without actually having intercourse.

Mutual masturbation allows two people to get close and to find out one another’s needs before getting down to full intercourse. It helps a man to discover that a woman’s ‘equipment5 is very different from his, and that it may take her much longer to become responsive than it does for him to get aroused. There are special nerve endings in the vagina and clitoris which only become sensitive when the blood supply to the area increases and the glands in the vulva produce the secretions to moisten the delicate mucous mem-branes. In the man, the same sort of nerve endings become sensitive when the penis is stiff and the end becomes hard and moist. His erection is obvious; the woman’s equivalent is less so, but nonetheless real. Couples who go through this petting stage learn these extremely important facts, and lay firm foundations for a happy sex life together.

Children, too, may sometimes get involved in a kind of mutual masturbation – sexual games like ‘mummies and daddies’ and mutual sexual curiosity are far more common than most adults like to believe. Children are only damaged by these ‘games’ if they are forced into them, or if they are found out and punished, or are made to feel guilty about them.

The realization that it may be harmful to stop children from masturbating is one which is spreading slowly. If someone is prevented from exploring their natural sexual reelings, it may well create other hang-ups which can cause physical as well as emotional problems. A more relaxed and understanding upbringing can prevent many of these ever developing.

Not really. Surveys show that at least a third of girls don’t masturbate before they have sex, and about 5 per cent of men don’t ever masturbate. Some or these people have sexual dreams or fantasies instead. Many people have simply never heard of (or thought of) it, and don’t feel the need to stimulate themselves.

Some people, however, feel so guilty about masturbating when they’find what it is, they stop doing it and suppress what are generally normal sexual feelings. It’s hardly surprising that this happens – as a society we’re still suffering from a hangover of the Victorian attitude that masturbation is an evil thing which could have terrible consequences.

Masturbation is only unhealthy when it leads to unhappiness. This kind of unhappiness is usually a result of feeling guilty. The problem usually begins in early life. A child who is unhappy because he is deprived of love or rigidly over-disciplined, or perhaps upset by parental quarrels, may find that masturbation is the only satisfaction he can get in life. He masturbates mainly because he needs reassurance, but this may anger the parents who then punish the child. An unhappy child who craves attention may think that even punishment is better than being ignored, so he continues to masturbate, undeterred. This sets up a vicious circle – the punishment meant to stop the masturbation just makes it more and more necessary.

As an adult he may continue to masturbate to relieve unhappiness. He feels guilty about it, becomes unhappy because of his guilt and so has to masturbate again and again – it all becomes rather obsessive.

This cycle can only be broken if he has a sympathetic partner who doesn’t regard mactur-bation as sinful, but often it’s only one half of a couple who sees masturbation as a normal part of their lives. Sometimes the other partner may feel rejected. ‘He isn’t interested in me, and I know he goes into the bathroom to masturbate. It’s disgusting!’ a woman might say, or T feel such a failure.’ When quizzed as to why she regards a normal event as disgusting she’ll admit to feeling ashamed of masturbation. If she can lose this inhibition and make it a mutual sexual activity, the barrier that has developed could be broken down.

For some individuals, masturbation become an obsession. Brian’s father died when he was three. He had a very religious and repressed mother who taught him that masturbation was extremely sinful and would lead to all sorts of terrible illnesses. She warned him that God would see and tell her if he either masturbated or discussed sex. Not surprisingly, Brian grew up horrified at his own sexual development and he never talked about it to anyone. He developed elaborate rituals to avoid masturbating, but sometimes he was driven to it and couldn’ t resist. Afterwards he would’wash his hands again and again to try and clear his guilt.

He married a girl who shared his mother’s narrow views about sex, had never masturbated and thought it was thoroughly sinful. She was shocked and unsympathetic when Brian owned up to masturbating occasionally, and was no help to him. Only after his attempted suicide did she realize that Brian’s problems were hers too, and that if she wanted to save the relationship she would have to accept and try to understand his needs, and come to terms with them.