SummaryRead the full fact sheet
- Masturbation is a safer form of sex that can be done individually or with a sexual partner/s with their consent.
- It’s a common sexual activity that can be done by any gender at any age.
- When a person is familiar with their own sexual responses they are better able to communicate their wants and needs to a sexual partner.
What is masturbation?
Masturbation (or self-pleasuring), is touching and rubbing parts of the body (such as the penis, scrotum, clitoris, vulva, breasts and anus) for sexual pleasure.
Masturbation is a choice that individuals can make about their own bodies (solo masturbation), but it can also happen between two or more people (mutual masturbation).
Mutual masturbation and consent
If mutual masturbation occurs with other people, everyone needs to give their consent.
Consent is given when someone agrees to a sexual activity without feeling pressured, forced, threatened, or coerced. All participants must consent to any sexual activity.
Masturbation is a common choice
Masturbation can be a healthy way for people to explore their bodies – to find out what feels good sexually, and how to achieve an orgasm.
It is common behaviour for all ages – from childhood, through the teen years and adulthood, by anyone of any gender. Younger children may touch their own genitals because it feels enjoyable for them. If you are going through puberty may notice an increased interest in sexual feelings and masturbation.
Sexual pleasure through masturbation can be a part of a person’s sexual experience, but some people will choose not to masturbate.
Frequency of masturbation
How frequently people masturbate is different for everyone. Some people might masturbate several times a day, a week or a month, or not at all.
How often someone masturbates is not a problem unless the time spent masturbating interferes with other aspects of their life – such as school, work or social activities. For some, it may be linked to an underlying health condition such as .
If you or someone you know is concerned about their frequency of masturbation, speak with a trusted adult or a health professional.
Sexual health benefits of masturbation
Masturbation is beneficial to our sexual health. Masturbation:
- Is a form of – there is no risk of or and a reduced risk of getting a during mutual masturbation.
- Releases sexual tension.
- Allows people to explore their own .
- Is available to everyone – regardless of being in a relationship or having a partner.
- Provides people with the chance to experience sexual pleasure if they are not having sex with their partner or abstaining from sex.
- Allows people to become familiar with their own sexual responses, which can help them communicate their wants and needs to their partner or partners.
- Can help with – for example, people can learn how to reach orgasm or learn control if they experience .
General health benefits of masturbation
Some of the general health benefits of masturbation may include that it:
- Helps people relax.
- Aids better .
- Helps the release of the brain’s opioid-like neurotransmitters (called endorphins), which cause feelings of physical and mental .
- Reduces .
- Increases confidence and .
Debunking myths about masturbation
Even though masturbation is a common sexual behaviour, some people may feel ashamed or embarrassed about it. This may be due to outdated beliefs.
One of the strongest myths is that masturbation is only for men or people with a penis. This is untrue. Anyone with any type of body can choose to masturbate.
Masturbation has been incorrectly blamed for a range of health problems, including:
- mental health issues
- sexual perversion
- reduced sexual function.
Sexual content online and masturbation
Some people may look at sexual content online to aid them in their masturbation. It might help bring on the sexual or pleasurable feelings that people associate with masturbation.
Masturbation will be different for different people. Looking at sexual content online is not a requirement for masturbation.
Children, young people and masturbation – tips for parents and carers
People of all ages masturbate for different reasons. For your some children and young people, masturbation may help them relax or they may be curious and want to explore their body. In most instances, it just makes them feel good.
Even at a young age, children can pick up on the attitudes of trusted adults. If they receive any negative responses to masturbation, they may become anxious and ashamed, and these thoughts and feelings can carry over into adulthood.
Young people can be reassured that interest in sex and their own bodies is not something they need to feel ashamed about.
Tips for parents and carers include:
- Try to understand that children and young people masturbate for many reasons – such as curiosity, exploration and sensory pleasure.
- Be reassured that masturbation in children is very common.
- Try to focus on the setting, rather than the activity itself. Explain that masturbation has to do with private body parts, so it is something that happens in private.
- Understand children may turn to masturbation in times of stress. If a child’s masturbation is affecting other activities, find out what is making them anxious or upset.
- Recognise adolescence is the time when young people’s bodies are developing, and they are experimenting sexually. (In Australia, over 90% of young people aged 14 to 18 report that they masturbate.)
If you’re concerned about your child’s behaviour, you should talk with your doctor or paediatrician.
Where to get help
- Your school nurse or welfare coordinator. Some secondary schools provide access to an adolescent health trained GP on site
- Your local community health service
- Your pharmacist (including after hours )
- – Victoria’s sexual and reproductive health information and phone line service Tel. 1800 My Options ()
- – or call Melbourne CBD Clinic: , Box Hill Clinic: or (free call): (Monday to Friday 9 am – 5 pm). These services are youth friendly.
- (Monday to Friday 8:30 am – 5 pm) Tel. or or National Relay Service (for people with a hearing impairment)
- Tel. or (toll free)
- , St Kilda Tel.
- (Monday to Friday 9 am – 5 pm) Tel. or email:
- Clinic for men who have sex with men. Book online or Tel. Tel.
- – book online or Tel.
- – book online Tel. or
- , Wodonga (Monday to Friday 9 am – 5 pm) Tel. and Wangaratta Tel. or email:
- Mildura (Monday to Friday 8:30 am – 5 pm) Tel. or email to:
- (no GP referral, walk-in service Tuesdays 2 pm – 6:30 pm) Tel.
- Fitzroy: Tel. and Preston Tel. (Monday to Friday 10 am – 4 pm) and after-hours locum service Tel. or Epping: Tel. (Monday to Thursday 9 am-5 pm, Friday 9 am-4 pm)
- Sexual Health Victoria, Australia
- , Planned Parenthood Federation of America Inc.
- Richters J, de Visser R., Badcock PB, Smith AMA, Rissel C, Simpson JM, Grulich AE 2014 , 461-471.
- Power, J., Kauer, S., Fisher, C., Chapman-Bellamy, R., & Bourne, A. (2022). The 7th National Survey of Australian Secondary Students and Sexual Health 2021 (ARCSHS Monograph Series No. 133). Melbourne: The Australian Research Centre in Sex, Health and Society, La Trobe University