Masturbation is a natural sexual activity that most people do at some point in their lives. It can reduce tension and provide some sexual release. It can also help people become more familiar with their bodies and discover their sexual likes and dislikes.
Some people masturbate more than others. There is no “normal” frequency. Some do it daily, some weekly, and some rarely. Some never do. But if a person masturbates so much that it affects daily life, that is a cause for concern.
The National Survey of Sexual Health and Behavior, conducted by the Kinsey Institute of Indiana University, gives us some clues on how frequently people masturbate. In 2010, the institute published the results of its survey on sexual behaviors in the United States. The 5,865 respondents, who ranged in age from 14 to 94, answered questions on whether they masturbated and how often.
According to the study, respondents of all ages masturbated. For adolescents and people age 70 and over, masturbation was more common than sex with a partner.
As for frequency, about a quarter of the men between the ages of 18 and 59 masturbated a few times per month to weekly. Roughly 20% masturbated 2 to 3 times each week. Less than 20% masturbated more than 4 times a week. Older men were more likely to report no masturbation during the previous year.
Most of the women masturbated once a week or less.
Reasons for masturbation and satisfaction with one’s current sex life might play a role in frequency.
In March 2017, the Archives of Sexual Behavior published a study involving over 15,000 men and women between the ages of 18 and 60.
The researchers discovered some differences for men and women when they considered how sexually content the participants were. Women masturbated more when they were having frequent sex and happy with their sex lives, thus “complementing” the sex they currently had.
In contrast, men masturbated more when they were having less sex and were less satisfied with their overall sex lives. In this way, they “compensated” for the sex they were missing.
Should a person worry about masturbating too much? The answer depends on the person. Masturbating more than four times each week is not necessarily a problem. But when the activity becomes compulsive; interferes with one’s work, social life, and relationships; or irritates the genitals, it is time to talk to a healthcare provider or see a sex therapist.