Masturbation:History, Motivations, Benefits, and Risks


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Capstone presentation for PC450: Advanced Psychology Seminar. Provides a historical background on masturbation before exploring current psychological research related to motivations behind and benefits and risks of masturbating.

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  • Hi guys. My presentation today will be on Masturbation, its history, perceptions of it, and consequences, both positive and negative.
  • I found this quote when I began doing my research and I feel it perfectly describes masturbation. I wanted to use it sort of to set up the framework for the rest of my discussion, especially the history part of my presentation.
  • So this is just a brief overview of how my presentation is going to run. I start with a brief survey which I repeat towards the end of my presentation. Then I talk about my inspiration for this topic, the history of masturbation along with some current statistics, motivations behind masturbation, and the positive and negative consequences of masturbation. Interspersed are two brief interludes that I hope break the tension a little bit and make you laugh. And then I end with just a brief conclusion about the topic, taking into mind the survey I run.
  • The first thing I want to do is a brief, anonymous survey just to get a sense of where you guys currently stand on some issues related to this topic. I am going to ask that you please put your heads down on the desk as this can be an awkward topic for some and I really want you guys to answer these questions honestly and without fear of what other’s might think. I am going to read 10 statements. Please raise your hand if you agree with what I have said. Statement 1: Masturbation is a normal part of human life. Statement 2: Most people masturbate at some point in their lives. Statement 3: Males masturbate more than females. Statement 4: Male masturbation is more accepted than female masturbation. Statement 5: Masturbation is immoral. Statement 6: Masturbation is less accepted than pre-marital sex. Statement 7: Masturbation offers health benefits. Statement 8: Masturbation decreases one’s likelihood of engaging in risky sexual behavior (e.g. sex without condoms, multiple partners, etc). Statement 9: Masturbation is less accepted than homosexual relations. Statement 10: People who masturbate are more likely to engage in all other forms of sexual activities.
  • Before I get to the heart of my presentation, I wanted to give you a brief background on where my interest in this topic began. At the forefront is, surprisingly, my work as a passion parties independent consultant. Though the products in our adult line compose only about 30% of all of our products, these tend to be what people first think of when they hear about what I do. Originally I was interested in looking at perceptions of the sensual product business itself. Unfortunately, I could not find much on that topic and my search kept bringing me to the topic of masturbation, specifically its benefits and use in sex therapy. So I figured I’d look into it. Once I found this pattern I realized that this interested me greatly because of masturbation’s unique status in society . Specifically, it is both taboo and commonplace. Almost everyone has done it at least once and yet few people talk seriously about it, if at all (not including, of course, the jokes made among the men). The other inspiration comes from my semi-feminist tendencies. While I do not completely agree with feminism, I do believe that female sexuality is still considered taboo in a way that male sexuality has not been treated in a long time. Its still very much swept under the rug and not discussed. Last semester in health psych, we even learned that doctors are still uncomfortable discussing these issues with patients.
  • Key to understanding the social views and perceptions of masturbation today is its history. It is long, as the quote states, interesting, and, more often than not, ambivalent. I begin with the earliest civilizations and move quickly to the modern day. Masturbation is mentioned in the Pyramid Texts from the fifth and sixth Egyptian dynasties. Furthermore, in Egyptian mythology the male gods are often reported as masturbating and even believed to occasionally procreate by masturbation alone. In Babylonia we first see traces of masturbation being used as a treatment. Men who were having trouble with erections were encouraged to masturbate as a solution. Male potency was a major issue and it was believed this helped. The concept of masturbation as uncleanly can be traced to the ancient Hebrews who believed that any emission of semen outside of the vagina was a source of contamination. Interpretation of passages in Leviticus and Genesis, specifically the story of Onan, still are used to support anti-masturbation arguments. Because scriptural passages are oftentimes up to interpretation, the true reason that Onan was struck dead after both refusing to impregnate his dead brother’s wife and spilling his seed on the ground is questionable. The debate over both the story and masturbation continue to this day, and there is much ambivalence in the Jewish writings. Any permissive or ambivalent attitudes began being silenced as Zoroastrianism began taking hold. Zoroaster (pictured here) believed that in order to achieve a sound body, which was essential for all life, one must control desires of the flesh. Sex was to be used for procreation and nothing else and masturbation was viewed as an extremely heinous act. Views from Hinduism and ancient China are both a bit more tolerant of masturbation, especially in women. From linga found in Hindu temples to Ben wa balls and dildos sold in China, female masturbation was often tolerated or ignored, if not actively encouraged.
  • In the classical traditions, masturbation was more openly discussed and prescribed. Some medical and scientific authorities believed it was necessary in order for women to stay sane. Plato further discusses the idea of a wandering womb, which leaves its traditional place in the body and wanders, causing a myriad of medical issues and diseases. Galen, a major Roman medical authority, did not believe the wandering womb theory. However, he did prescribe to the belief that women needed to have orgasms. He discussed a female semen which, if retained, would lead to “spoiling and corruption of the blood and subsequently to hysteria.” His solution? Apply warm compresses and masturbate. In Greece, both men and women engaged in masturbation and received little censure for doing so. In Rome, there was a bit more ambivalence. Masturbation was associated with the left-hand which, in many religious traditions, is the sinister or uncleanly one. Writings by authors such as Martial not only make mention of the use of the left-hand for such acts, but also show indecisiveness about the morality of masturbation. While the poet Catullus writes negatively about masturbation, the Roman god of fertility, Priapus, is not only symbolized by an erect phallus but also reports of his own masturbation in a collection of quotes called Priapeia. Finally, there are numerous Latin references to masturbation including ones made by the three authors listed here. Most of the references are favorable.
  • Now moving to Christian beliefs. The Christian church clearly could have gone many ways with their beliefs about masturbation and chose to take a rather strict path. Much of the Christian attitudes towards sexual issues were formulated by St. Augustine. Before converting to Christianity, Augustine had been a Manichaean. Manichaeanism associates sex with bodily weakness and calls for celibacy. Augustine actually struggled greatly to abstain but writes of his sexual compulsions in his autobiography, Confessions . Even after converting to Christianity, at which time he did become celibate, he did not lose all of his Manichaean beliefs about the evils of sex. Similar to Zoroaster, he purported that sex should be used only for procreation. Even more, sex could only be done in the missionary position, all other sexual acts were forbidden and sinful, and prostitution was tolerated as a necessary evil to help men who could not find or afford a wife. Medieval authorities used both Augstine’s arguments and the mistaken belief that only humans masturbate to support the idea that masturbation was sinful. Over the years, tolerance for masturbatory practices ebbed and flowed as Christian traditions such as monasticism and Christian asceticism came about. At times even involuntary nocturnal emissions were seen as immoral. Peter Damian believed that masturbation was a form of sodomy that deserved the same legal and moral punishments as those delivered to true sodomists. While many of his immediate contemporaries disagreed, viewing masturbation as only a moral offense, thinkers around the time of the onset of the Black Death returned to this view which held its own for many years. Ecclesiastical courts and marriage law encouraged penance and guilt amongst those who orgasmed spontaneously or who took pleasure out of the duty that was sex. Though the influence of these courts and laws began to decline, many secular laws continued to support these beliefs and therefore there was not necessarily a need for such courts. The views, unfortunately, are still held today. The latest version of the Catechism notes, “Both the Magisterium of the Church, in the course of a constant tradition, and the moral sense of the faithful have been in no doubt and have firmly maintained that masturbation is an intrinsically and gravely disordered action." 137 "The deliberate use of the sexual faculty, for whatever reason, outside of marriage is essentially contrary to its purpose." “
  • Some medical views of masturbation. Sexual intercourse has long been viewed as essential for help and we have also seen some cases (e.g. Galen) where masturbation was also thought to be curative. During the 16 th and 17 th centuries, new theories about medicine began arising which would challenge these ideas. Homeostasis was central to many of these theories. In its earliest form, homeostasis leads to health while a breakdown in homeostasis causes illness while the body attempts to reestablish the normal order. The other details of the theories varied from physician to physician. Most, however, held that the nervous system was particularly vulnerable and that sexual activity required a large output of nervous energy which could throw off homeostasis and thus lead to illness. These theories coincided with the rise of gonorrhea, syphilis, and mental hospitals so a correlation was drawn between those who masturbated or had frequent sex and those who ended up with these diseases. Around the same time, the effects of the loss of semen from the body became a great concern of many physicians and symptoms such as fevers, feebleness, fits, weakness, and wasting were cited as a result. Some of these possibly resulted from STDs while others are typical post-climax effects. SAD Tissot wrote extremely graphically about these dangers, leading to an age of masturbatory insanity. While all sex posed dangers, non-procreative sex and especially masturbation, were viewed as extremely dangerous.
  • Beliefs about masturbation began changing when it was discovered that bacteria and viruses, rather than just an active sex life or the loss of semen, cause diseases such as gonorrhea and syphilis. Change came about slowly and three major players helped bring us to where we are today. Havelock Ellis documented masturbation occurring in nearly every race, regardless of SES or other conditions. Max Erner conducted one of the first studies of sexual behavior in the US and discovered that masturbation was a common activity. Though initially anti-masturbation, who soon realized much more research was needed and this recognition helped form the Committee for Research in the Problems of Sex and, eventually, fund Alfred Kinsey. Finally, in 1929, Ralcy Husted Bell concluded that masturbation is no more harmful than sex. For if it were, by now the human race would be gone.
  • This slide shows the current statistics for masturbation in the United States. Some of these numbers are not so current but are still cited in studies up to 2009 as being accurate. There is a decent amount of variability in this type of research due to the influence of social norms so these numbers represent averages rather than definites. As expected more men masturbate than women (90 vs 60%), they do it more often (4-9 times per month), and they started at an earlier age (54% at 11-13). The same pattern holds for those individuals living with a sexual partner, with men masturbating almost twice as much. About half as many men as women have never masturbated. The 2002 National Health and Social Life Survey was done out of the University of Chicago and provides information from a nationally representative sample. The numbers here are a bit lower than those from Kinsey’s reports but the major difference is that the NHSLS focused only on the past year. The NHSLS also looked at underlying factors which I am going to go into more detail about.
  • This table is from an article titled Masturbation in the United States which used data from the NCSLS. It describes 4 major areas that are thought to influence masturbatory practices: life course and sexualization, mental and physical well-being, partnered sex, and background conditions. I have color coded the individual hypotheses based on this study’s findings and am going to talk more about each category.
  • Hypotheses 1a and 1b deal with life experiences and sexualization of individuals. Masturbation here is viewed as part of a sexualized personality pattern in which these factors are also likely to be seen. Together they form what can be termed “a pattern of active sexuality.” Positive correlations were indeed found between each of these factors and frequency of masturbation in all studies that I looked at. Surprisingly, education has the most dramatic effect. It is not only correlated with likelihood of engaging in masturbatory practices but also with the frequency of engaging in them. 80% of men and 60% of women who have graduate degrees report masturbating in the preceding year as compared to only 45% of men and 25% of women who have not finished high school. Laumann describes how the relationship stair-steps its way down the degrees while Das offers the idea that more highly educated individuals may have less strict interpretations of sexual appropriateness. Other factors often found within this pattern of active sexuality include pre-pubetal sexual contact, an increased number of steady partners, and a higher rate of thoughts about and interests in sexual activities. Early sexual contact may indeed set up a person to be more sexualized throughout life. In a college sample, Pinkerton, et al. found that masturbation at an early age greatly influenced the frequency of masturbation during the last three months for women. The number of sexual partners was also related to this as was whether intercourse had occurred. Laumann et al notes that “cohabitating individuals, then, (and probably younger married respondents as well) are characterized by comparatively high rates of both masturbation and coupled sex activity. Michaels et al. sums the phenomenon up best by saying, “the more sex you have of any kind, the more you may think about sex and the more you may masturbate.”
  • Hypotheses 2a and 2b looked at the role mental and physical health play in masturbation. The previous literature for both of these areas was inconclusive, with strong studies supporting both sides of the argument. In studies done in the US, however, happiness was shown to be negatively related to masturbation. Those who had higher ratings of happiness were less likely to report having masturbated in the last year. Happiness also had a negative correlation with men’s masturbation, which was consistent with past research. A gender difference was found for the relationship between health and masturbation. For women, health was positively correlated with occurrence of masturbation in the past year. For men, no results were found. It has been hypothesized that poor health may affect sex hormone levels and, therefore, sex drive and the desire to masturbate.
  • The sex-drive theory basically says that masturbation is a substitute for sexual intercourse. This theory views both masturbation and intercourse as outlets into which the sex drive can be emptied so essentially one can easily fill in in the absence of the other. Here again, the results are unequivocal and take into account not just the frequency of intercourse but also the sexual satisfaction and emotional fulfillment gotten from any given roll in the hay. Increased masturbation is recorded in people who lack a stable partner, who receive physical pleasure but not emotional fulfillment, and those lacking either a long-term partner or any sex. Married individuals are less likely to masturbate at all. Age may actually come into play here. Das notes that “some recent studies on Western societies suggest that […] younger cohorts often practic[e] masturbation […] as an autonomous source of sexual pleasure complementing an active sex life” while Laumann, et al., “the frequency of masturbation has no set quantative relationship to other partnered sexual activities.” Research here is again inconsistent, with other studies whoing no differences in masturbatory desire or frequency based on relationship status.
  • Hypotheses 4a and 4b deal with background conditions such as age, ethnicity, and religion. Age does, in fact, play a role in frequency of masturbation although not necessarily in an expected way. Those 24-35 are both most likely to masturbate weekly and least likely to not masturbate in a given year. After age 50, these numbers decline. Theories about the role age plays in masturbation range from biochemical to social. Older individuals have decreased sex hormone levels and may have internalized some of the harsher views on masturbation discussed earlier. Though I did not find any research on why the youngest individuals, aged 18-23 masturbated less than those in the 24-35 category, I hypothesize that it may have something to do with decreased self-esteem and lack of convenience. Ethnicity also affects frequency of masturbation. Black/African Americans of both genders report less masturbation than their white counterparts, up to half as much. One study found a similar pattern among Asian/Pacific Islanders, although the effect for males was very small. Another noted that European Americans, as a whole, have higher levels of masturbatory desire and frequency compared to non-European Americans. Studies hypothesize that this may relate to “stronger moral proscriptions against the practice.” These moral proscriptions may tie into religious views which are also an important influence on masturbatory practices. Religion has been shown to influence masturbation with those lacking a religious affiliation masturbating the most, followed by members of nonconservative and moderate religious groups. As an interesting side note, men who had any religious affiliation were more likely than the female counterparts to feel guilt after masturbating. Females showed an opposite pattern of behavior, with those lacking a religious affiliation showing the most guilt. Other studies, e.g. Zamboni & Crawford, 2003 suggest that it is religious attendance rather than affiliation which truly plays a role. Laumann, et al. attributes the differences in masturbatory habits of different age, ethnic, and religious groups to to social location.
  • Two additional factors that were found to be important motivators in a collegiate sample are social forces and perceived please. I touched on social norms above in relation to age’s influence on an individual’s likelihood of masturbation but here I look at it as its own influence. Pinkerton, et al., notes that little research has examined social influences. What we do know is that masturbation is often accompanied by guilt and performed alone, in secret. For college males, frequency of masturbation has been shown to be most influenced by respondent’s beliefs about other males’ masturbatory habits. For females, social norms also played a role, perhaps by normalizing the behavior and making it more acceptable. Pleasure is another motivating factor that often goes ignored in literature. Pleasure is a complex variable to look at because it plays both motivating and resulting roles. The desire for pleasure may lead one to masturbate (2 nd highest percentage in table 3) and both physical and psychological pleasure can be derived from masturbating. This crosses both genders. It is interesting to note that in a national sample, the physical pleasure response was especially common in college-educated individuals. This trend is highlighted by Pinkerton, et al who notes that perception of pleasure from masturbation led to an increased frequency of masturbation. For women a strong correlation was seen and, for men, a trend. The table shows some additional motivations for masturbation which I have not discussed. These are from a national sample. If I had to choose three factors which most influence the likelihood and influence of masturbation it would be social norms, perceived pleasure, and sexual behavior, ranging from number of partners, to age at initiation of masturbation. And now for another brief interlude!
  • Many studies focus on correlations between psychological factors and masturbation in females. I did not find much research in this area for males. In 1993, Hurlbert and Whittaker’s comparative study of female masturbators and non-masturbators found that those who had experienced masturbatory orgasm reported higher levels of self-esteem, sexual satisfaction, and sexual arousability (Zamboni & Crawford, 2003). Unfortunately I could not access this study so I can only report the findings used by various of my studies. Body image is another factor to which masturbation has been linked. Ethnic differences are noted for baseline comparisons between African and European-American women. African American women have been shown consistently to have higher body satisfaction than European American women while European American women consistently report high rates of masturbation. In their landmark study examining body image and masturbation, Shulman and Horne discovered that a weak but significant positive correlation is found between body satisfaction and frequency of masturbation for European American women only. They note that self-pleasuring among African Americans may be more related to cultural, social, and religious issues, as discussed above. Though this relationship is weak, it does support past research with clinical populations, specifically women suffering from anorexia and bulimia. Those with relatively low body dissatisfaction were more likely to have masturbated and to have begun doing so at an earlier age. Relatively high body dissatisfaction were more likely to have never masturbated and, among those who did, to have started at a later age. This result was found even after controlling for actual body size. Wiederman and Pryor note that this result is not surprising in light of the distorted feelings of disgust bulimic women often have with their bodies and their avoidance of pleasure-giving activities, from massage to masturbation. They conclude, “The results of the current study extend the apparent relationship between negative body image and decreased sensual pleasure among bulimic women to the realm of sexual self-pleasuring” (1997). Furthermore, in both anorexic and bulimic women, the severity of caloric restriction was inversely related to having ever masturbated. This relationship was most pronounced for anorexics and held true even after controlling for BMI. Weiderman, Pryor, and Morgan note, “It appears that the mentality surrounding severe caloric restriction (asceticism?) is related to interest in masturbation beyond the physiological effects of restriction” (1996). In other words, the lack of masturbation among anorexics implies that their motivation for restricting their eating goes beyond a desire to feel sexually attractive. Interestingly enough, it has been found that bulimics are more likely to masturbate than anorexics. This may relate to the fact that bulimic women tend to begin dieting and/or purging to feel more sexually attractive and therefore may actually get the result they desire.
  • Interestingly enough, modern medicine has shown that masturbation offers physical and mental health benefits, contrary to age-old beliefs that the loss of semen or vaginal fluid could lead to numerous maladies and diseases. Here I briefly examine some of the physical health benefits for both men and women. In males, ejaculation has been shown to maintain fertile spermatazoon, potentially decrease prostate cancer risk, although studies are rather contradictory in their findings, and increase leukocyte counts, especially of NK cells. Other WBCs were unaffected and a similar study was not discussed in the review that I found. In females, masturbation often leads to more intense orgasms that coitus. It is important to note that this is separate from psychological and emotional satisfaction. The intensity of orgasm is related to the intensity of uterine contractions, thought to be mediated by oxytocin. The release of oxytocin for both males and females leads to feelings of relaxation and comfort. Some studies have noted that orgasm from masturbation may lead to relief of painful menstruation, back pain, and labor pains, as well as an increase in one’s pain threshold. Both males and females also benefit from the increased blood flow and oxygenation to the genital area which occurs during both masturbation and coitus. In his review of the benefits of sexual activity, Levin notes that these increases help maintain the integrity of genital smooth muscle. He also mentions a study from the 1980s in which the vaginal atrophy found in post-menopausal women can be overcome if coital activity is maintained.
  • Benefits of masturbation also include a few clinical applications. Masturbation is used to treat premature ejaculation, female sexual disorder, and may be a good treatment option for hypoactive sexual desire disorder (HSDD). Although I found many references to the use of masturbation to treat premature ejaculation, finding an actual source was difficult. In his leading comment to volume 13, issue 1 of Sexual and Marital Therapy, Tiefer notes “masturbation is widely recommended in the treatment for men’s premature ejaculation” as if it is common knowledge. Common references are made to Seman’s start-stop method in which a man is brought to the brink of ejaculation and stalled by removal of the stimulation (in the article he referred to the wife’s duty although this can be generalized to masturbation as well. References were also made to the role of masturbation in treating female orgasm disorder, a disorder defined by the DSM as a “persistent or recurrent delay in, or absence of, orgasm after a normal sexual excitement phase” (Meston, C. M. in Goldstein, I & Davis, S. R., 2006). Directed masturbation is one of the cognitive-behavioral approaches to treating female orgasmic disorder, especially primary anorgasmia where a female has never experienced an orgasm under any circumstances, including masturbation. The chart above shows how directed masturbation is done. The women is encouraged to learn about her only body using a mirror and educational materials. Once she successfully identifies the sensitive parts of her genital area both visually and manually, she is encouraged to apply pressure with the goal of achieving orgasm alone. After this goal is reached, a partner may be introduced. At first the presence of the partner serves to desensitize the woman to anxiety concerning sexual interactions with the partner. As the patient becomes more comfortable experiencing pleasure in front of her partner, the main purpose of the partner becomes observing how to effectively stimulate the patient. HSDD is a third condition that uses masturbation as a treatment. HSDD is marked by a lack of sexual desire and is an extremely common disorder. Zamboni and Crawford looked at whether masturbation might be used to treat HSDD by increasing sexual fantasies and, therefore, sexual desires and activity. They found that masturbatory desire and frequency have close relationships with sexual thoughts, fantasies, and desires. Their research with college students also supported the pathways shown above, specifically that sexual fantasy can lead to sexual desire both directly and through masturbatory desire. The end result is sexual activity. This research supports the hypothesis that sexual fantasy precedes sexual desire.
  • As with all things in life, there are risks associated with masturbation. Coming from the point of view that people who masturbate fit into a sexualized personality pattern, it can be hypothesized that other sexual activities are also more likely to occur. Pinkerton, et al. found that the age of onset of masturbation was positively correlated with HIV risk in both men and women. For women only, the frequency of masturbation also followed this pattern. Those who begin masturbating at a younger age may have had more partners which, in turn, increases one’s risk for all STIs. In their study of low-income African American women, Robinson and colleagues found that, contrary to popular beliefs, masturbation does not correlate with safe sex practices. Women who masturbated were more likely to have multiple partners, be in a non-monogamous relationship, and engage in high-risk sexual behaviors. Though condom use, as a separate variable, was not found to be related to masturbation behavior, the definition of high risk sexual behaviors includes both being involved in a non-monogamous relationship AND inconsistent condom use and was found to be related. Robinson and colleagues note, “The direction of these findings was contrary to what we expected to find based one […] the notion popular among sex therapists that masturbation is uniformly a sign of sexual health.” Such findings go against the popular belief that masturbation fills in for other forms of sexual activity and is a sign of sexual health.
  • Now that I have gone through my whole presentation, I want to ask you the same questions as I did at the beginning of the presentation. So head’s down and please raise your hand if you agree. Statement 1: Masturbation is a normal part of human life. Statement 2: Most people masturbate at some point in their lives. Statement 3: Males masturbate more than females. Statement 4: Male masturbation is more accepted than female masturbation. Statement 5: Masturbation is immoral. Statement 6: Masturbation is less accepted than pre-marital sex. Statement 7: Masturbation offers health benefits. Statement 8: Masturbation decreases one’s likelihood of engaging in risky sexual behavior (e.g. sex without condoms, multiple partners, etc). Statement 9: Masturbation is less accepted than homosexual relations. Statement 10: People who masturbate are more likely to engage in all other forms of sexual activities.
  • In conclusion, masturbation is an action which has a long and sordid past, full of false beliefs that continue to shape society’s views on the topic to this day. Coleman notes the power of masturbation with this quote, which again highlights the peculiar status this activity has in society. Much more research is needed on masturbation and its potential psychological and physiological benefits and risks. Though the current research exists in some abundance, it is greatly limited by the use of self-report measures and the fact that many studies simply replicate past research rather than address the limitations found in that research. In order to do this research, however, the stigma attached to masturbation, especially female masturbation, must be overcome. Education is a vital part of the de-stigmatizing process but a balance must be found so that proper information, and all precautions, can be made available to individuals. Your results!
  • Masturbation:History, Motivations, Benefits, and Risks

    1. 1. Masturbation: History, Motivations, Benefits, and Risks Kait Scalisi 3 March 2010
    2. 2. Masturbation is… <ul><li>… manual stimulation of the genital organs (of yourself or another) for sexual pleasure” </li></ul><ul><li>… to be understood [as] the deliberate stimulation of the genital organs in order to derive sexual pleasure.” </li></ul><ul><li>… as old as the first humans but it remains a subject little researched and often misunderstood. Few forms of sexual activity have been as frequently discussed, so often condemned, and yet so universally practiced.” </li></ul>
    3. 3. Overview <ul><li>Introduction </li></ul><ul><li>Definitions </li></ul><ul><li>Survey – Round 1 </li></ul><ul><li>Project inspiration </li></ul><ul><li>History and Statistics </li></ul><ul><li>Motivations </li></ul><ul><li>Benefits </li></ul><ul><li>Consequences </li></ul><ul><li>Survey – Round 2 </li></ul><ul><li>Conclusion </li></ul>
    4. 4. Survey - Round 1 <ul><li>Statement 1: Masturbation is a normal part of human life. </li></ul><ul><li>Statement 2: Most people masturbate at some point in their lives. </li></ul><ul><li>Statement 3: Males masturbate more than females. </li></ul><ul><li>Statement 4: Male masturbation is more accepted than female masturbation. </li></ul><ul><li>Statement 5: Masturbation is immoral. </li></ul><ul><li>Statement 6: Masturbation is less accepted than pre-marital sex. </li></ul><ul><li>Statement 7: Masturbation offers health benefits. </li></ul><ul><li>Statement 8: Masturbation decreases one’s likelihood of engaging in risky sexual behavior (e.g. sex without condoms, multiple partners, etc). </li></ul><ul><li>Statement 9: Masturbation is less accepted than homosexual relations. </li></ul><ul><li>Statement 10: People who masturbate are more likely to engage in all other forms of sexual activities. </li></ul>No peeking!
    5. 5. Inspiration <ul><li>Passion Parties </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Perceptions of sensual product business </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Unique status </li></ul><ul><ul><li>“ Masturbation has the peculiar status of being both highly stigmatized and fairly commonplace.” </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Laumann, et. al., 2000 </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><li>Female sexuality </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Male vs. female masturbation </li></ul></ul>
    6. 6. A Brief History: Early Civilizations <ul><ul><li>“ Pictorial representations of the practice exist from preliterate cultures and references to it can be found in the earliest of writings.” </li></ul></ul>
    7. 7. Greco-Roman Views <ul><li>Plato </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Masturbation and sanity </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Wandering womb </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Galen </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Female semen </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Masturbation as a cure </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Hysteria </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Greece </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Men and women </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Rome </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Martial </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Catullus </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Priapus </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Latin references </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Ovid </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Herodotus </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Pliny </li></ul></ul>
    8. 8. Christian Beliefs <ul><li>St. Augustine </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Manichaeanism </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Missionary only </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Prostitution > masturbation </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Medieval Authorities </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Unnatural </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Peter Damian </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Sodomy </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Ecclesiastical courts and marriage laws </li></ul><ul><li>The Catechism today </li></ul><ul><ul><li>“ disordered action” </li></ul></ul>
    9. 9. New Medical Views <ul><li>Intercourse is essential </li></ul><ul><li>New medical theories </li></ul><ul><ul><li>16 th and 17 th centuries </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Homeostasis </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Vulnerability of the nervous system </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Gonorrhea </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Syphilis </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Mental illnesses </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><li>Hermann Boerhaave </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Loss of semen = bad </li></ul></ul><ul><li>S. A. D. Tissot </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Age of “masturbatory insanity” </li></ul></ul>
    10. 10. Change at Last <ul><li>Germ theory </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Bacteria  illness </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Havelock Ellis </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Everyone does it! </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Max Exner </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Serious research is needed </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Ralcy Husted Bell </li></ul><ul><ul><li>“ masturbation[…] is not more harmful than the co-operative act between mates. Why should it be? Certainly, if it were, the race would have destroyed itself ages ago” </li></ul></ul>
    11. 11. Current Statistics <ul><li>Men > women </li></ul><ul><ul><li>90% vs. 60% (lifetime data) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>4-9 times/month vs. 2-4 times per month </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Living with a partner: 85% vs. 45% (preceding year) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Never: 5% vs. 11% </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Age of initiation </li></ul><ul><ul><li>age 11-13: 54% men and 25% women </li></ul></ul><ul><li>2002 National Health and Social Life Survey </li></ul><ul><ul><li>61% men and 38 % women (preceding year) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Underlying factors </li></ul></ul>
    12. 12. Underlying Factors Das, A. (2007). Masturbation in the United States. Journal of Sex & Marital Therapy, 33 (4): 301- 317. TABLE 1. Summary of Hypotheses about Correlates of Masturbation Individuals will be more likely to report any masturbation over the preceding year if they: Life course and sexualization: 1a. experienced any sexual contact before puberty, are more educated, or have had more stable sexual partners over their lifetime 1b. have more frequent sex thoughts, or more sexual interests Relationship to mental and physical well being: 2a. are less happy 2b. are in poor health Relationship to partnered sex: 3. do not lack partnered sex or satisfactory partnered sex Background conditions: 4a. are younger 4b. are not black or Asian-American, or belong to less conservative religious denominations
    13. 13. Life Course & Sexualization <ul><li>Hypothesis 1a </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Early sexual contact </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Positive relationship </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Age at initiation (women) </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Education </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Positive relationship </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Dramatic effect </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Number of partners </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Positive relationship </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><li>Hypothesis 1b </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Sexual thoughts/interests </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Positive relationship </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Higher level of sexual desire. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>The more you get, the more you want! </li></ul></ul></ul>
    14. 14. Mental & Physical Well-Being <ul><li>Hypothesis 2a: Happiness </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Previous contradictory results </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Negative relationship </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>“… at least among some men, depression or anxiety may actually increase sexual interest” </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><li>Hypothesis 2b: Health </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Hormones </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Gender difference </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Women: Positive correlation </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Men: no relationship </li></ul></ul>
    15. 15. Relationship to Partnered Sex <ul><li>Hypothesis 3: Partners </li></ul><ul><ul><li>“ Sex-drive” theory </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Yes and no </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Frequency of intercourse </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Sexual satisfaction </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Emotional fulfillment </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Age </li></ul></ul>
    16. 16. Background Conditions <ul><li>Hypothesis 4a: Age </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Popular belief vs. research results </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Hormones </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Social norms </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Hypothesis 4b </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Ethnicity </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>European American vs. non-European American </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Religion </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>No religious affiliation </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Moderate vs. fundamentalist </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Religious attendance </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><li>Argument for the influence of “social location” </li></ul>
    17. 17. Additional Factors <ul><li>Social Forces </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Secrecy, shame, guilt </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Social beliefs </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Perceived pleasure </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Physical </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Psychological </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Outcome </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Motivation </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Conclusion </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Social norms </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Perceived pleasure </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Sexual behavior (overall) </li></ul></ul>‘ Reprinted from: Laumann, E. O., Gagnon, J. H., Michael, R. T., & Michaels, S. (2000). The Social Organization of Sexuality: Sexual Practices in the United States . Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press. Table 3.3 Reasons for Masturbation by Gender Gender of Respondent (%) Reasons for Masturbation Men Women To Relax 26 32 Relieve sex tension 73 63 Partners unavailable 32 32 Partner doesn’t want sex 16 6 Boredom 11 5 Physical pleasure 40 42 Go to sleep 16 12 Fear of AIDS/STD 7 5 Other 5 5 Total N 835 687
    18. 18. Benefits: Psychological <ul><li>Self esteem </li></ul><ul><li>Sexual satisfaction </li></ul><ul><li>Body Image </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Ethnic differences </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Clinical populations: </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Anorexia and bulimia nervosa </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><li>24.2% vs. 51.0%, </li></ul></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><li>No difference in age of onset </li></ul></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Masturbation and… </li></ul></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Body dissatisfaction </li></ul></ul></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Caloric restriction </li></ul></ul></ul></ul></ul>
    19. 19. Benefits: Physical <ul><li>Male </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Maintenance of fertile ejaculate </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Prostate cancer? </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Increased leukocytes </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Female </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Greater physical satisfaction </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Pain relief </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Dysmenorrhoea </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Back </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Labor </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><li>Both </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Oxytocin release </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Increased blood flow and oxygenation </li></ul></ul>
    20. 20. Benefits: Clinical Applications <ul><li>Premature ejaculation </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Start/stop method </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Female orgasmic disorder </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Directed masturbation </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Primary anorgasmia </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Hypoactive sexual desire disorder </li></ul>Sexual fantasy Sexual desire Masturbatory desires Masturbatory activity Sexual desire Sexual activity Dyadic sexual activity Visual exploration Visual and manual identification of anatomy Targeted manual stimulation Introduction of partner Mirror Educational Materials Orgasm Desensitization Learning
    21. 21. Risks <ul><li>“ The direction of these findings was contrary to what we expected to find based one […] the notion popular among sex therapists that masturbation is uniformly a sign of sexual health” (Robinson, Bockting, and Harrell, 2002). </li></ul>HIV risk Multiple partners and non-monogamous relationships Inconsistent condom use
    22. 22. <ul><li>Statement 1: Masturbation is a normal part of human life. </li></ul><ul><li>Statement 2: Most people masturbate at some point in their lives. </li></ul><ul><li>Statement 3: Males masturbate more than females. </li></ul><ul><li>Statement 4: Male masturbation is more accepted than female masturbation. </li></ul><ul><li>Statement 5: Masturbation is immoral. </li></ul><ul><li>Statement 6: Masturbation is less accepted than pre-marital sex. </li></ul><ul><li>Statement 7: Masturbation offers health benefits. </li></ul><ul><li>Statement 8: Masturbation decreases one’s likelihood of engaging in risky sexual behavior (e.g. sex without condoms, multiple partners, etc). </li></ul><ul><li>Statement 9: Masturbation is less accepted than homosexual relations. </li></ul><ul><li>Statement 10: People who masturbate are more likely to engage in all other forms of sexual activities. </li></ul>Survey - Round 2 No peeking!
    23. 23. Conclusion <ul><li>“ One of the sexual behaviors that have the power to produce pleasure and healthy sexuality or to induce guilt and shame and sexual pathology is masturbation” (Coleman, 2003).” </li></ul>
    24. 24. References <ul><li>Bullough, V. L. (2003). Masturbation: A historical perspective. Journal of Psychology & Human Sexuality, 14 (2): 17-33. </li></ul><ul><li>Coleman, E. (2003). Masturbation as a means of achieving sexual health. Journal of Psychology & Human Sexuality, 14 (2): 5-16. </li></ul><ul><li>Das, A. (2007). Masturbation in the United States. Journal of Sex & Marital Therapy, 33 (4): 301- 317. </li></ul><ul><li>Laumann, E. O., Gagnon, J. H., Michael, R. T., & Michaels, S. (2000). The Social Organization of Sexuality: Sexual Practices in the United States . Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press. </li></ul><ul><li>Levin, R. J. (2007). Sexual activity, health, and well-being: The beneficial roles of coitus and masturbation. Sexual and Relationship Therapy, 22 (1): 135-148. </li></ul><ul><li>Metson, C. M. &quot;Female orgasmic disorder: Treatment strategies and outcome results“ in Goldstein, I. & Davis, S .R. (2006). Women's sexual function and dysfunction: study, diagnosis and treatment . Boca Raton, FL: Taylor & Francis Publishers, pp.449-461. </li></ul><ul><li>Pinkerton, S. D., Bogart, L. M., Cecil, H., & Abramson, P. R. (2003). Factors associated with masturbation in a collegiate sample. Journal of Psychology & Human Sexuality, 14 (2): 103-119. </li></ul><ul><li>Robinson, B. E., Bockting, W. O., & Harrell, T. (2003). Masturbation and sexual health: An exploratory study of low income African American women. Journal of Psychology & Human Sexuality, 14 (2): 85-102. </li></ul><ul><li>Semans, J. H. (1956). Premature ejaculation: A new approach. Southern Medical Journal, 49 (4): 353-358. </li></ul><ul><li>Shulman, J. L. & Horne, S. G. (2003). The use of self pleasure: Masturbation and body image among African American and European American women. Psychology of Women Quarterly, 27 : 262-269. </li></ul><ul><li>Tiefer, L. (1998). Masturbation: Beyond caution, complacency and contradiction. Sexual and Marital Therapy, 13 (1): 9-14. </li></ul><ul><li>Waldinger, M. D. (2008). Recent advances in the classification, neurobiology, and treatment of premature ejaculation. Advances in Psychosomatic Medicine, 29 : 50-69 in Balon, R. (2008). Sexual Dysfunction: The brain-body connections . Basel, Switzerland; Karger Publishers, pp. 50-69. </li></ul><ul><li>Weiderman, M. W., Pryor, T., & Morgan, C. D. (1996). The sexual experience of women diagnosed with anorexia or bulimia nervosa. International Journal of Eating Disorders, 19 (2): 109-118. </li></ul><ul><li>Wierderman, M. W. & Pryor, T. (1997). Body dissatisfaction and sexuality among women with bulimia nervosa. International Journal of Eating Disorders, 21 (4): 361-365. </li></ul><ul><li>Zamboni, B. D. & Crawford, I. (2003). Using Masturbation in Sex Therapy. Journal of Psychology & Human Sexuality, 14 (2): 123-141. </li></ul>