Are you asking yourself, “how often should I masturbate?” We can help you figure out for yourself how often to masturbate to feel comfortable and healthy. In this article, we’ll discuss how often people in the general population masturbate. We’ll also discuss some potential worries that people have about masturbating too much, and the benefits of masturbation. We’ll close out by helping you identify how much masturbation is right for you specifically.
So how often should you masturbate? Read on!
How Often People Masturbate: What’s Normal?
Are you wondering, “how often should I jerk off?” Well, there’s lots of data available to describe how often other people masturbate for comparison.
The most up-to-date data on masturbation frequency comes from the National Survey of Sexual Health and Behavior (NSSHB), conducted by Indiana University in 2009. An important thing to note about this survey is that it was conducted online and anonymously, which increases the likelihood that people were honest about their habits. (People are much less likely to accurately describe their masturbation habits to a researcher in a face-to-face interview.)
Mona Chalabi from FiveThirtyEight dug into the data on frequency of masturbation segmented by gender and age. Here are two tables with the numbers:
Men’s Masturbation Frequency by Age
|Not in past 12 months||Few times per year/monthly||Few times per month/weekly||2-3 times/week||4+ times/week|
|18-24 years old||18.5%||16.9%||25.0%||20.8%||18.8%|
|25-29 years old||16.5%||14.7%||25.4%||23.4%||20.1%|
|30-39 years old||20.1%||18.8%||27.0%||20.6%||13.5%|
|40-49 years old||24.0%||19.8%||25.0%||16.8%||14.4%|
|50-59 years old||28.1%||24.3%||23.7%||17.5%||6.4%|
|60-69 years old||38.8%||29.3%||18.0%||10.1%||3.8%|
|70+ years old||53.6%||23.5%||14.0%||7.3%||1.7%|
The main takeaways here are that in all of the age brackets except 70+, most of the men surveyed masturbate at least sometimes. Men in the 25-29 age bracket seem to masturbate the most, followed closely by 18-24 years olds. But men aged 30-59 seem to be pretty regular masturbators, too.
With that said, there’s a segment of men in every age group who haven’t masturbated in the past 12 months. Even in the 25-29 age group, 16% of men said they hadn’t masturbated within the past year.
So how often should you jack off? Well, the truth is that these numbers don’t really tell you. Sure, you’re in the minority for your age group if you’re 65 and you’re masturbating every day. But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t do it.
Now let’s check out the women:
Women’s Masturbation Frequency by Age
|Not in past 12 months||Few times per year/monthly||Few times per month/weekly||2-3 times/week||4+ times/week|
|18-24 years old||36.5%||28.6%||24.5%||7.3%||3.1%|
|25-29 years old||28.5%||37.2%||21.5%||7.9%||5.0%|
|30-39 years old||37.0%||30.5%||22.0%||9.0%||1.5%|
|40-49 years old||35.3%||38.3%||19.8%||5.2%||1.5%|
|50-59 years old||46.2%||36.7%||13.9%||2.6%||0.7%|
|60-69 years old||54.0%||35.7%||9.8%||0.3%||0.3%|
|70+ years old||68.6%||26.1%||4.8%||0%||0.5%|
Note here that most women under 60 masturbate at least sometimes, although it appears to be somewhat less often than the men surveyed. Smaller percentages of women masturbate multiple times per week as compared to men, but still, more than 10% of women in all the under-40 age brackets masturbate at least two times per week.
This doesn’t necessarily mean that women are naturally less interested in masturbation. Women may masturbate less due to long-standing social taboos about female masturbation. They may also be somewhat less likely to report masturbation habits than men honestly due to ideas that others find female masturbation unacceptable.
When we look at the numbers from the NSSHB on whether men and women have ever masturbated, we get another interesting picture on gender differences in masturbation:
Percent of Individuals Who Have Ever Masturbated
|14-15 years old||16-17 years old||18-19 years old||20-24 years old||25-29 years old||30-39 years old||40-49 years old||50-59 years old||60-69 years old||70+ years old|
There are marked differences in the percent of women and men who have masturbated in adolescence, with the gap closing considerably in the 25-29 and 30-39 age groups. This suggests that perhaps women tend to start masturbating at later ages than men.
You’ll also notice that the gender disparity in the percentage of individuals who have ever masturbated is far greater among older adults than it is among younger and middle-aged adults. Perhaps as we consider female masturbation more normal and natural, disparities in how many adult men and women masturbate will continue to decrease.
How often should you masturbate? As we alluded to before, these numbers don’t really tell you any particular amount of times you “should” masturbate. These just tell you what people are doing. It doesn’t tell you why they are masturbating or how they feel about it. To help you figure out, “how often should I masturbate?” we need to investigate more about how masturbation actually impacts people.
Can You Masturbate Too Much?
Wondering how much masturbating is too much? The truth is that just so long as it’s not interfering with your ability to accomplish the necessary tasks of life like working, sleeping, and socializing, you can masturbate as much as you want!
If you have a masturbation routine that works for you and that you feel good about, it’s probably fine (even if that routine involves masturbating multiple times a day). You may be in the statistical minority if you’re jerking the gherkin or polishing the pearl eight times a week, but that doesn’t mean there’s anything wrong with your behavior or that you necessarily need to cut down on your masturbation so your habits more closely resemble other people’s.
There are a few reasons why you might be wondering how much masturbation is too much. We’ll address these reasons here:
Can Masturbation Hurt Me?
You may have heard that masturbation can cause you to get hairy palms or go blind or break your genitals or make partnered sex bad forever or any number of other consequences to your health and well-being. (In the 1800s, people in Europe believed masturbation made you insane! True story.) But none of this is true. The worst health consequence of masturbation that you’re likely to encounter (assuming you’re practicing sex toy safety with any devices) is some minor chafing or irritation if you’re particularly vigorous. Add some lube to the proceedings and chafing should go away.
Can Masturbation Make Sex Worse?
Some people are also worried that if they masturbate too much, that it will make partnered sex less satisfying. Not a lot of research has been done on this issue, but we’ll review some of the concerns here.
There are some anecdotal reports that using a vibrator a lot can be temporarily desensitizing to the clitoris and other sensitive tissues of the vulva. However, if you spend some time away from the vibrator, masturbating only with your fingers, you will return to your baseline sensitivity and eventually be able to orgasm from just your fingers again. The issue here isn’t over-masturbation per se, it’s just overuse of the vibrator.
Note that some women can’t orgasm at all without a vibrator, which is totally fine. There’s nothing wrong with including a vibrator in partnered sex!
People also report becoming so used to orgasming by a particular, unusual technique that they cannot orgasm any other way, which makes partnered orgasm difficult. For example, some men masturbate with extreme speed and force that can’t be replicated during intercourse. As with the vibrator, you can change your technique and re-habituate yourself to sensations more congenial to partnered encounters.
Just so long as it’s not a pathological behavior, masturbating can actually really good for your sex life because it helps you learn what you like, which is valuable information you can pass on to your partner (more on this in the next section). This can help make partnered sex more pleasurable—not less!
Is Masturbation a Sin?
Some people also feel guilt about masturbation, because they were raised in religious traditions that present masturbation as sinful, wrong, or shameful.
I certainly can’t dictate your religious feelings, but I can assure you that masturbation is a very normal and biologically healthy behavior that humans engage in throughout the lifespan. For many people, residual guilt about masturbation is far, far more harmful and disruptive than the masturbation itself. This is something you can discuss with a sex-positive therapist trained to discuss sexual health issues.
Is Masturbation Cheating on My Partner?
Some couples have conflict about masturbation because they have mismatched views on the role of masturbation within a relationship. If one partner thinks masturbation in a relationship is fine, but the other partner is bothered by it, it can cause real problems.
Your partner may be worried that your masturbation reflects dissatisfaction with partnered sex in the relationship. If you are avoiding partnered sex and only using masturbation for sexual release, that probably indicates an underlying problem. However, in general, masturbation is a perfectly healthy behavior for those in relationships; there appears to be little correlation between frequency of masturbation and frequency of partnered sex. In fact, people in relationships who masturbate may be more sexually satisfied overall than those who don’t at all.
Very disjointed views about masturbation between partners may reflect very different views about sexuality overall, which can be a point of conflict for couples. If you do have this kind of disagreement with your partner, it’s worthwhile to discuss your overall views about sex and sexuality.
Masturbating Too Much: The Bottom Line
The only way you can really masturbate too much is if it starts interfering with your quality of life in a material way. If you’re slipping into bathroom stalls at work to rub one out, that’s definitely an issue. If you’re staying home to jerk off for hours instead of hanging out with other people, that’s another issue. Are you using masturbation as a coping mechanism to avoid stress or boredom instead of addressing your problems head-on? Then it’s time to seek professional help. Talk to a licensed sex therapist to discuss your issues and work on developing more productive coping strategies.
Should I Masturbate More?
While not as common of a concern, you may actually be worried that you aren’t masturbating enough. First, let me assure you that if you have no desire to masturbate, that’s totally fine. There’s nothing wrong with you if you just don’t want to and if you never do it.
However, if you are interested in masturbating, I have some good news: masturbation can actually provide a lot of potential benefits to your health and well-being. Here are six major benefits of masturbation:
Stress Reduction and Relaxation
Masturbation (especially to orgasm) releases tons of hormones into your bloodstream. These include dopamine, oxytocin, and endorphins, which can help relieve stress and promote relaxation. In fact, according to Carol Ellison in her book on female sexuality based on a large study of women, almost 40% of those studied reported masturbating to relax.
In addition to dopamine and oxytocin, orgasm releases a whole bunch of other hormones that help you fall asleep and sleep more deeply. You may also feel drowsy after orgasm because of the release of prolactin, another hormone (although prolactin release appears to be more pronounced after partnered sex than after masturbation).
The release of oxytocin and endorphins caused by orgasm may help relieve pain of various types. There’s some evidence that orgasms can relieve headaches, and women report masturbating to relieve menstrual cramps.
A Stronger Pelvic Floor
During masturbation, your pelvic floor muscles get quite the workout from all the involuntary muscle tensing during the plateau phase of the sexual response cycle. There’s also muscle activity during orgasm. The resulting strengthening of your pelvic floor can decrease urinary incontinence, give stronger orgasms, and lead to stronger erections!
Masturbation helps you to learn about your own body and sexuality. It’s a great way to explore your fantasies and learn what you enjoy in a safe, low-risk environment. Cultivating a healthy and enjoyable sexual relationship with yourself is a great end unto itself! But this can also help you have more satisfying sexual encounters with partners. If you know what you like, you’ll be able to communicate that to others.
Addressing Sexual Difficulties
Have difficulty achieving orgasm? Need to treat a condition like vaginismus? Masturbation, potentially with specific techniques, will likely be part of the treatment regimen. We can’t go in-depth on these issues here, but specifically for women with difficulty reaching orgasm, the books Becoming Orgasmic and Come as You Are are both great resources.
But how often should you jerk off to reap these benefits? Read on!
How Often Should You Masturbate?
Should you masturbate once a week? Once a month? Twice a week? Every day? How many times should you masturbate in a day?
The truth is that there’s not really a universal optimum masturbation schedule for everyone. People have different libidos, sexual preferences, privacy levels, and so on. So the answer to the question, “how often should you masturbate?” is going to be individual for every person. But here are some helpful questions for you to figure out how you feel about your current masturbation levels:
Here are some signs you are masturbating the right amount for you:
- You feel happy with the level of masturbation in your life.
- It’s not stressing you out.
- You view masturbation as a positive, pleasurable outlet in your life that doesn’t impede your activities and goals.
Here are some signs you aren’t masturbating enough for you:
You want to masturbate more often! Seriously. If you don’t feel the need to masturbate more than you already are, don’t feel like you have to. But if you want to masturbate more, go for it! Just find some privacy, block out your schedule, and go to town.
Here are some signs you may be masturbating too much for you:
- You feel masturbating is distracting you from important responsibilities.
- Masturbation is interfering with your social life.
- You feel compelled to masturbate even when you don’t feel you genuinely desire to.
Finally, here are some signs you (and/or your partner) have some underlying issues in your views about masturbation to work out:
- Intellectually, you don’t think masturbation is wrong, but you find yourself feeling guilty, dirty, or ashamed afterwards.
- You have conflict with your partner about masturbation.
If you are worried you are masturbating too much, or you have complicated feelings about masturbation, talk to a sex therapist.
Thus, how often should you jack off (or jill off)? You’ll have to figure out what feels best for you. You can always experiment with your current masturbation levels and see if you feel better, worse, or otherwise different if you increase or decrease your masturbation frequency.
The Bottom Line: How Often Should You Jerk Off?
You arrived here wondering, “How often should you jack off?” We discussed how often other people masturbate—and it runs the gamut in both sexes.
We discussed whether you can masturbate too much—and the answer is, not really, unless it’s interfering with your quality of life. If it is, see a therapist to learn more productive coping mechanisms.
We also discuss some potential benefits of masturbation, including:
- Stress reduction and relaxation
- Better sleep
- Pain relief
- Stronger pelvic floor muscles
- Greater sexual self-knowledge
- Addressing sexual dysfunction
How often should you masturbate? Now you know that’s something only you can answer. If you feel comfortable with your current levels of masturbation, great! If you want to masturbate more, you can hopefully make that happen with some increased privacy and the right setting and schedule. And if you’re worried you’re masturbating too much or have feelings of guilt or shame around masturbation to work out, see a therapist trained to discuss sexual health issues.