Masturbation. It’s not just a great way to kill time, but it’s also the safest sex you can have. And it has many health benefits. (See: 5 Reasons You Should Masturbate Tonight.)
Although we can all agree that masturbation is pretty much the cherry on top of the ice cream of life, there’s more to the act than that. Here are 11 things you probably never knew about your favorite hobby.
If you thought the first time you touched yourself and realized it felt really, really good was when you hit puberty, you might be wrong. Researchers in Spain recently found that in utero masturbation is actually a thing among male fetuses, so this “gratification behavior” starts far earlier than originally thought.
“Masturbation in infancy and early childhood could be initiated when the infant discovers that certain maneuvers can bring about a pleasant and comforting sensation,” the researchers reported. “We could accept that it could be viewed in the same group as thumb-sucking, body-rocking or other behaviours that infants use to enhance comfort.”
In a recent study from Harvard, men who ejaculated 21 or more times per month had a 19 to 22 per cent lower risk of prostate cancer than men who did so only four to seven times per month. Considering roughly 220,800 cases of prostate cancer are diagnosed a year, according to the American Cancer Society, it’s worth trying.
You’ve probably noticed that you masturbate the same pretty much all the time, right? While sometimes you may use different stimulation – visual, written erotica, or something else – your physical technique probably doesn’t vary all that much.
There’s a word for this: idiosyncratic masturbation. What this means is that your body has become so accustomed to how you get yourself off, that when you’re with a partner, you might struggle to climax because your partner may not be able to recreate the exact sensation that gets you off when you’re alone. If you find that that’s the case, then you may want to consider either taking a break from masturbating in general or experimenting with other ways to get yourself off when you’re rolling solo.
You can also teach your partner the technique that you use, but don’t expect it to perfect. To quote Seinfeld’s Elaine Benes: “Being a woman, I only really have access to the equipment, what, 30 to 45 minutes a week.” So be patient with your partner. She’ll get there eventually.
A 2016 study discovered a fairly groundbreaking statistic about masturbation: Only 57 per cent of straight men masturbate on a regular basis. According to study author Dr Debby Herbenick, the reason for this can vary. Some men could just be having lots of sex with their partners. For others, it could simply be a lack of interest. While for others, a suggested 14 to 17 per cent, it’s a matter of a low desire.
It’s probably nothing to worry about if you fall into the category of non-masturbators – and ditto if you masturbate a lot. As long as your masturbation frequency doesn’t interfere with your daily life, “too much” and “masturbation” don’t belong in the same sentence.
Yep, that’s right: A study published in the Journal of Sexual Medicine suggests that men overestimate how much they masturbate, on average, but men in a good mood actually underestimate how often they yank their crank. Guys might overshoot in an attempt to confirm to gender stereotypes, but researchers don’t have an explanation for why a good mood makes self-love forgettable.
In case you haven’t marked it down on your calendar yet, May is National Masturbation Month. It was established in 1995, as a sort of eff you to the Bill Clinton Administration. On December 9, 1994, Surgeon General Joycelyn Elders was fired by President Clinton for daring to suggest – gasp! – that masturbation be part of the sexual education curriculum in the U.S.
So on May 14, 1995, San Francisco-based sex shop Good Vibrations declared the day National Masturbation Day in Elders’ honor. Soon, it went from a one day in May to the whole month. In some other parts of the world, teenagers are encouraged to masturbate. In 2009, the U.K.’s National Health Service distributed pamphlets to teens and their parents about the benefits of masturbation and the fact that choosing masturbation over sex would prevent unwanted pregnancies and STIs, The Daily Mail reported.
When we think of female masturbation, we often think of clitoral stimulation with a vibrator. But vibrators can aid in male masturbation as well. In a study in Journal of Sexual Medicine, 16.6 per cent of men reported using a vibrator alone while masturbating. Open your mind and give a vibrator a try.
You’ve probably heard of sex injuries, but how about masturbation injuries? It seems like if you’re the one behind the wheel you should know when enough is enough, but for some that message isn’t very loud and clear. A study published in the journal Trauma and Acute Care Surgery found that 60 per cent of penile fractures occur during masturbation. Other horrors include strangulation from being squeezed too tight and gangrene from infected wounds opened by excessive chafing.
It’s one thing to lose an erection during sex – thanks to a variety of things like stress, exhaustion, performance anxiety, etc. – but men can also lose their erection during masturbation. However, in this case, it could be a lot worse than simply being too stressed to keep it up and keep it going. Researchers in Italy found that 45 per cent of men were unable to maintain an erection while masturbating, and those guys had a greater risk of heart disease. While going limp during a self-love sesh isn’t a guarantee that you’ll end up with ticker trouble, erectile dysfunction is an early sign of cardiovascular issues and is absolutely something you should have checked out by your doctor.
Surprisingly, not all semen is the same. Multiple studies from the 1990s, including one by researchers in Japan, show that semen from sex contains more sperm than semen from masturbation. Your prostate may be more active during intercourse.
But not all masturbatory semen is created equal, either. In a study published in Evolutionary Psychological Science, researchers found that masturbating men produced more semen when they viewed an erotic film featuring a woman they’d never seen before than when they watched the same subject over and over.
Research may have confirmed that men masturbate more than women, but men aren’t the kings of the castle when it comes to masturbation. Although the evolutionary reason behind it is lost on scientists, animals also masturbate. Some animals like to rub their genitals against different outside sources or, if they’re flexible enough, they’ll even give themselves oral sex – for example, walruses can pull this off no problem. Other animals like moose get off by rubbing their antlers against trees, porcupines prefer sticks, and squirrels will even masturbate until they ejaculate. Then, they’ll consume the ejaculate, which might be a market they’ve cornered.
The article 11 Shocking Facts You Never Knew About Masturbation was originally published on MensHealth.com