Do People Masturbate Less Than We (I) Think?

My wife and I had an interesting conversation last night about how often we thought people masturbated.  We’re both pretty sexually liberal and real, really like sex, so our assumption was that pretty much everyone masturbates pretty regularly.

Maybe not as much as we thought.

We started our search for answers with some of the websites we like best.  Jezelbel did a survey finding that 92% of women masturbate. Mic Network puts the figure in the high 80s.

This was pretty much what we were expecting. But then we considered.. are these really the most objective sources.  These are pretty edgy, sex positive sites.  What if we looked at more traditionally-oriented sources.

Psychology Today – a very respectable main stream publication – cites a very significant University of Chicago study that found only 61% of men and 38% of women had masturbated during the previous year.  Huffington Post – a mainstream and even slightly left of centre news outlet reported similar results.

So, only 60% of men and 40% of men had masturbated during the last year.  This was a surprise.  Until we thought about it more.  As much as my wife and I love sex, we are often flabbergasted at how ambivalent some/many of our friends seem to be about sex.  We are often amazed (and a little disappointed) at how often our friends come up with statements like

  • Sex just isn’t a big part of my life anymore
  • I don’t have the time or energy for sex anymore.. so it has just kind of gone away
  • I don’t really connect anymore with my wife/husband, so my desire for sex is kind of gone
  • Sex… too complicated.. I’m over it

While I’m aways a little saddened when I hear something like this, the truth is I hear it quite often.  For them, the small (or big) pleasure that is sex has become lost to them.  So, while sad, it is a reality for many.

So, when we stated discussing these numbers, while I suspect masturbation is somewhat underreported in surveys, the figure of 60 and 40 percent of men and women masturbate… likely not too far off.

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