There are a lot of misconceptions about what really goes on when men and women masturbate. If someone were to believe the media about self-love, they might think men did it all the time and women hardly at all. If a woman were to masturbate, it would only be in the bathtub or with picture-perfect lingerie on.

In reality, masturbation may be far more common and casual. Beyond feeling good, masturbation may be able to prevent depression, reduce the risk of cervical and prostate cancer, and ease the pain of menstrual cramps. And, of course, there’s always the bonus of an orgasm. 

To learn more, we polled over 900 Europeans and Americans about their masturbation confessions. We wanted to clear the air on just how often they got down with themselves, what people used to get in the mood, and whether self-pleasure really led to better orgasms (with or without another person involved). Read on to see what we learned.

All’s Fair in Love and Masturbation

According to our survey, 88 percent of women and 96 percent of men masturbated. This sexual self-gratification might not be a rare occurrence, either. 

On average, women masturbated twice a week for an average of 13 minutes each session. While men had similar durations (14 minutes), they masturbated twice as often, averaging four days a week. That’s 27 hours every year spent finding new (or familiar) pleasure points for women and 46 hours for men. Studies suggest women start to masturbate later in life compared to men because their sex drives differ, and the pressure to be “more modest” could be another roadblock to sexual exploration.  

If these numbers seem high for men, consider this: The National Health Services (NHS) found men who ejaculated at least 21 times a month appeared to lower their risk of prostate cancer.

A Combined Effort

Just because masturbation is often perceived as a private activity doesn’t mean it can’t include a little extra inspiration or accessory. Forty percent of women and 10 percent of men said using sex toys made for better orgasms. One survey found more than 12 percent of men and women own three sex toys each, and over 80 percent of people said these toys helped improve their sex lives overall. There are even options for couples looking to introduce sex toys into their relationship for mutual satisfaction

Women’s turn-ons while masturbating were more adventurous as well. While more than 2 in 3 men and 38 percent of women said porn was their go-to source for stimulation, more than 10 percent of women admitted to relying on sexual fantasies about their significant other, erotic literature, or fantasies about strangers to reach moments of peak pleasure. Erotic stories may be more popular among women than men, although experts suggest anyone could benefit from reading (or writing) erotica to understand their desires and fantasies better.

Hot and Bothered

Sexual fantasies aren’t uncommon, although some people may have the wrong impression about what really gets their partner excited. 

While 52 percent of women suggested men preferred porn videos, close to 67 percent of men said porn was their biggest turn-on while masturbating. In contrast, fewer women (38 percent) than men predicted (44 percent) identified porn as their titillation of choice. Still, research shows “sex” is the most commonly searched word online, and over 2 in 3 young men and nearly 1 in 5 young women look at porn on a weekly basis. While arousing, experts suggest porn can create a misconception about what people perceive as normal or expected in their own sexual situations. 

Further, roughly 1 in 4 men and women believed their partners were most turned on by fantasising about them, compared to the nearly 6 percent of men and around 14 percent of women confirming that perception. No matter what stage a relationship is at, communication is often key to healthy and satisfying sex. It may not be entirely comfortable at first, but understanding what gets a partner going takes effort on both sides and can lead to more pleasurable and entertaining sex in the future.

Love Thy Self

Whether it’s a matter of getting to know yourself, going at our own pace, or even finding sexual fantasies that push us over the edge, 24 percent of women and 16 percent of men preferred masturbating to having sex. Additionally, 56 percent of women and 19 percent of men said they had better orgasms when masturbating compared to having sex

Pain during sex (which more than 7 percent of women experience) could be a contributing factor, although online communities aimed at helping women find sexual satisfaction through masturbation could also be having a positive effect on this trend. Despite long-standing stigmas about masturbation (particularly towards women), even mainstream media have gotten on board with conveying more positive messages about self-pleasure. 

There are plenty of health benefits associated with masturbation and especially with regular orgasms. New studies suggest the unsung perks of regular self-love could be just as good for your work-life as they are for your sex-life. Want to boost office productivity or enhance creative flow? Masturbation could be the answer on both counts.

Feeling Yourself

The secret is out – even some of the biggest celebrities in Hollywood are opening up about their masturbation mannerisms. Even if it doesn’t come up in regular conversation very often, a majority of Europeans and Americans masturbate multiple times each week on average. While men might be participating in these self-loving sessions twice as often as women, porn was the leading turn-on for people polled regardless of gender. Despite how natural these personal moments of passion were, some men and women had the wrong impressions of what their partners preferred to get off to. 

Ready to start exploring your sexual satisfaction a bit deeper? Superdrug Online Doctor has everything you need to protect and explore that experience. Whether you want to go it alone or bring someone else along for the ride, Superdrug has everything you’ll need to cover health concerns ranging from STIs, contraceptives, and erectile dysfunction. Don’t let anything get in between you and orgasmic bliss (whenever the mood strikes). Visit us at onlinedoctor.superdrug.com to learn more. 

Methodology

We collected 979 survey participants which included Europeans and Americans from Clickworker. 84% of our participants were European, and 16% were American. Participants ranged in age from 18 to 72, with a mean of 33.5 years and a standard deviation of 10.9. Hypotheses were not statistically tested. 

Limitations

The data we are presenting relies on self-report. There are many potential issues with self-reported data. These issues include, but are not limited to: selective memory, telescoping, attribution, and exaggeration.

Fair Use Statement

Having a moment? That’s OK, we don’t judge. Feel free to share any of the graphics or information from this study with your readers for any noncommercial use. To play fair, just make sure to link back to this page, so our contributors earn credit for their work too. Have a question? Feel free to email us at [email protected] with any comments or concerns.