There was a time when even yoga was considered overly hippie and too "new age." But today, there's a studio on every corner, and that practice, along with many other popular ones, has created an entire culture of not just yoga, but self-care. This culture (and corresponding industry) caters to everything from meditation and healthy eating to sexual healing and masturbation as a form of self-care.
And care we have. Gwyneth Paltrow's Goop brand is worth over $250 million, in part from selling luxury vibrators. America's sweetheart Chrissy Teigen posts pictures of herself steaming her vagina in between pictures of her family. But for the everyday American in the pursuit of self-care, there's always good old-fashioned masturbation.
Perfectly natural, healthy, and even said to cure headaches, masturbation as a form of self-care has made its mark in the U.S. We surveyed 1,012 people, all of whom had masturbated before, to find out exactly how, when, where, and why the act occurs today. More importantly, we explored masturbation's ability to impact key components of happiness, working as everything from a boredom reliever to a self-confidence tool that might even boost your salary.
Sharing Is Caring
First thing's first: When we say "masturbation," we mean self-stimulation for sexual pleasure. We also mean it to be a perfectly safe and natural form of self-care – especially after hearing what our respondents had to say: Masturbation was rated the second most effective form of overall self-care, just behind listening to music.
A less sweaty self-care alternative to masturbation and exercise exists in the form of healthy eating, yet it was not adopted nearly as readily by Americans. Eating healthy, though considered an effective form of self-care by most medical professionals, was only practiced by 44.3% of Americans. Given the ongoing obesity epidemic, this makes sense. Listening to music and masturbating can feel much easier than walking away from your favorite fast-food restaurant or creating a healthy recipe, but the ultimate goal of self-care is caring for the entire self, not just pieces of it. Good nutrition is often the cornerstone of a holistic approach to self-care, so if you find yourself in the same boat as the 56% of participants who weren't eating well, seek the help of a nutritionist and make small tweaks where you can.
Eating healthy may be an obvious, well-documented fix, but masturbation may just be the most well-kept secret in the wellness community. Our evidence-based recommendation? The more masturbation, the better.
Positive body image was enjoyed more often by frequent masturbators. Nearly 59% of those who masturbated frequently (which we defined as weekly) had a positive body image. Yet only 51.6% of infrequent masturbaters (whom we defined as those who masturbated monthly or less) felt happy with the way they looked. Beyond body image, 1 in 4 frequent masturbators felt completely confident in themselves, both inside and out.
If masturbation is, in fact, a true form of self-care, most Americans jumped readily on board. Ninety-five percent of adult Americans masturbate, and 79% considered it a form of self-care. In fact, the top six terms people associated with masturbation (natural, relaxing, indulgent, helpful, liberating, and mature) were all positive. Only 7% considered self-stimulation to be immature, and just 4% considered it repulsive. Even if you're concerned with what others think, you evidently have their stamp of approval to go ahead and masturbate.
Who's Doing It?
The following statistic probably won't come as a surprise: American men masturbate more than American women. With both genders being sexual and needing self-care, this may have to do more with the imposition of gender norms than it does with any innate or natural desire. There's still a stigma surrounding female masturbation, though these and other gender barriers continue to break down.
Yes, women do masturbate – an average of six days per month, in fact. But men are still taking advantage of this habit more often – much more often. Male respondents logged over twice as many monthly masturbation sessions as women, on average. If respondents are correct in their assertion that masturbation is a highly effective form of self-care, women could be missing out on easy and free opportunities to feel better, naturally.
Millennial masturbators also "cared" more than any other generation, masturbation-wise. This generation was masturbating more often than any other generation studied, which can be explained, in part, by several phenomena. Continue reading to see exactly how age impacts masturbation habits.
Mastur of Time
Though masturbation and the millennial generation may have just appeared to go hand in hand, we took a more granular look at age's influence on the habit. Though "millennial masturbation" has a nice ring to it, age is probably more at play than any particular generational divide. For one thing, younger people have more active sex drives. Moreover, younger respondents have also had access to a wider variety of digital porn for a much larger percentage of their lives. These (and possibly other) factors all culminated in the general trend of frequent masturbation occurring most often for those aged 18 to 29 and decreasing in frequency as respondents grew older. By the time female respondents reached age 50, most of them reported masturbating monthly or even just a few times per year. Another 15.7% of this age group hadn't even masturbated once within the last year. Men, on the other hand, masturbated frequently well into their fifties: 34.5 percent of this male age group still masturbated two to three times each week.
Another important thing to remember when it comes to your self-care? Don't take it too seriously. Lighten up, and remember that things are often easier than the mind makes them out to be. Masturbation –or "pounding the bald-headed moose" – can have its humorous side. And if the word "masturbation" makes you uncomfortable, have fun clicking through our euphemism generator to find a new, more low-key nickname to suit your self-care style.
Again, an age difference may be at play here in affecting masturbation habits. Democrats skew younger, which may be one driving factor behind their more frequent masturbation habits as compared to Republicans. Nearly 22% of Democrats found themselves masturbating more than four times per week, while only about 14% of Republicans said the same. In fact, Republicans were just as likely to masturbate just a few times each year as Democrats were to masturbate four times or more in just one week.
One driving factor of the political divide may be related to the different ways each party thinks about masturbation and what it means for them. Thinking of masturbation as self-care was more common among Democrats, with their party being 10.5 percentage points more likely than their Republican counterparts to think that masturbation could actually be a way to take care of yourself.
Tricks of the Trade
The No. 1 most popular way to masturbate in the U.S. is with pornography. Some financial experts claim that the porn industry has an even bigger economic influence in the country than Netflix or Hulu, and maybe masturbation is why. After all, masturbating to "BoJack Horseman" or "Orange Is the New Black" sounds unlikely.
Nevertheless, it's difficult to know exactly what participants are watching while they self-stimulate, as 45% of the people we asked said they had lied about their masturbation habits at some point, most likely due to the aforementioned stigma.
Though most (84.3%) said they masturbate simply to satisfy their sexual urges, some more emotional and consequential reasons came to light. For instance, 67.6% said they masturbate to help relieve stress, which is an obvious and important tie-in to self-care. Another 14.3% of Americans claimed masturbation actually made them feel more comfortable with their own body, while 10.3% said it helped them to learn more about their body.
We mentioned previously that 1 in 10 respondents are engaging in solo sex to learn more about their own bodies. In this "discovery" period, respondents may find information worth sharing with current and potential romantic partners to achieve more satisfying sex. In fact, 81% of frequent masturbators achieved orgasm during sex, compared to just 70% of infrequent masturbators. This just might be because they're self-taught.
Ultimately, orgasms and masturbation aren't all it takes to achieve a completely satisfying sex life. Less than half of Americans considered their sex lives to be satisfying, though 95% of them are masturbating. And frequent masturbators were even less likely to feel sexually satisfied. In fact, people who masturbated less often were more likely to be satisfied with their sex lives, though this may be an obvious result of cause and effect: Does being in a healthy sexual relationship leave you with less time and less of an urge to masturbate? Possibly.
Watch the Mastur at Work
As it turns out, those who masturbate more may be creating their own big work energy. People who masturbate frequently (remember that's every week or more) were more likely to excel in almost every way in the workplace: They were more likely to be employed, more likely to hold management positions, and more likely to earn higher salaries.
The boost in self-confidence that masturbation was previously shown to cause may be one major contributor to higher paychecks, for it can take a certain amount of confidence and bravery to ask your boss for a raise. And those who masturbated often were eight percentage points more likely to have what it took to ask for a raise. Taking this a step further, could masturbation be influencing the gender pay gap? If frequent masturbation makes you more likely to ask for a raise, and women are less likely to be frequent masturbators, the answer would seem to be yes!
In other words, masturbation may be correlating with the self-confidence boost needed to ask your supervisor to pay for what you deserve.
Become the Mastur of Your Own Life
If you thought masturbating was just good for sexual pleasure, you thought wrong. Masturbating is a great form of health care and self-care, demonstrating medicinal-like qualities. The habit correlates with everything from decreased stress to higher body confidence and even higher salaries – what other medicine can do that?
Remember that self-care, of course, goes beyond just masturbation. A more holistic (and highly recommended) approach would urge you to take care of your physical health and skin as well. Your skin – the largest organ in your body – is tricky (but important) to care for, so do yourself a favor and leave it to the experts. At Univia, your skin's health is our absolute top priority. We'd be happy to help you find the right products and techniques to maximize the health of your skin and the success of your journey toward overall self-care.
Methodology and Limitations
For this study, we administered online surveys to 1,012 Americans via Amazon's Mechanical Turk – a virtual crowdsourcing marketplace. The survey's sample consisted of 518 women, 486 men, and seven respondents who identified as neither male nor female. To ensure data accuracy, we used attention-check questions to eject respondents who weren't reading questions and answer choices in their entirety. Outliers were removed to maintain statistical accuracy, specifically where monthly masturbation frequency and annual income were questioned. Questions and/or answer choices were grouped and relabeled for conciseness and/or comprehensibility; in these cases, the new labels aimed to represent our respondents' initial intentions. In some instances, percentages may not total 100 due to rounding.
Frequent masturbaters were defined as respondents who engaged in the habit weekly; infrequent masturbaters were defined as respondents who masturbated monthly to yearly, or not within the past year. Like all surveys, this campaign's main limitation is that claims rely on self-report. Self-reported data face an abundance of issues from attribution to exaggeration and bias errors. Efforts were contributed to reduce the chance of bias throughout the questionnaire.
Fair Use Statement
In spite of the growing interest in self-care, masturbation is a too-often forgotten form, especially considering how effective it can be. So feel free to spread the self-love and share this article, so long as it's for noncommercial purposes and you link back to this page.