Masturbation has always been a controversial topic. Over the centuries, the subject has provoked a number of unfounded (and often ridiculous) myths and old wives’ tales, from causing insanity and blindness to the loss of genitals. Thankfully, the times have changed and we now live in an age where an entire month is dedicated to appreciating and spreading awareness about masturbation! To commemorate International Masturbation Month, we bring you 18 surprising and less-known facts about masturbation. By the time you’re done with this list, you’ll be armed with an assortment of facts that you can use to weird out (and educate) your loved ones.
Warning: NSFW content and images.
1. By age 17, about 80% of males have masturbated, as opposed to 58% females. According to the National Survey of Sexual Health and Behaviour, those who engage in regular masturbation are more likely to have sex and use condoms.
Both male and female adolescents were surveyed by the NSSHB (with parental permission) on the frequency of their masturbation over the prior three months, over the past year and over the course of their lifetime. Masturbation with a sexual partner and condom use was also noted. In addition to the general statistics, the more an adolescent engaged in masturbation, the greater the odds were of getting into sexual relations with a partner, compared to those adolescents who did not masturbate. In boys, it pointed to a higher likelihood of engaging in oral sex and normal intercourse, while for girls it was linked to higher odds for all forms of intercourse, along with partnered masturbation.(source)
2. Every year, up to 1000 people die while trying to strangle themselves during masturbation – an act known as Autoerotic Asphyxiation.
When the brain’s supply of oxygen is cut off temporarily (asphyxia), you experience a euphoric high in the seconds before consciousness is lost. Autoerotic asphyxiators chase this high in order to take their sexual experience to the next level of thrill, often strangling themselves with cords, ropes, scarves, and ties. Sometimes, they may even resort to sealing their heads in plastic bags. Due to the taboo nature of this sexual variance, medical professionals, and psychologists refrain from addressing the issue to avoid giving young and potentially clueless people dangerous ideas. Sexual asphyxiation comes with many dangers like cardiac arrest and coma, and doctors opine that as such, it should only be left to fantasy play.(source)
3. Some countries, like the U.K., encourage their teenage population to masturbate.
In 2009, along with other European nations, the United Kingdom made a pro-masturbation move to detract teenagers from engaging in risky sexual behaviour that could end in STDs or unwanted pregnancies. Pamphlets containing pertinent information about masturbation were distributed to parents, teenagers and youth workers.(source)
4. Animals like deer, monkeys, walruses and squirrels have been documented masturbating. Scientists have also observed that female apes used sticks for added pleasure.
The evolutionary benefits of masturbation in animals have been long debated by scientists over the decades. Studies show that many animals engage in masturbatory activities like rubbing their genitals against objects or performing self-fellatio. Studies show that porcupines prefer sex toys, and moose get off by rubbing their antlers on trees. A 2010 paper published in the journal PLoS ONE, Jane M. Waterman of the University of Central Florida found that male squirrels masturbated to ejaculation and consumed the ejaculate.(source)
5. If you masturbate too hard, you can fracture your own *ahem* ding-dong.
Yep. Before you tug at it too hard, keep this one in mind. Although there are no bones in there, the cracking sounds, excruciating pain, and swelling/bruising are identical to the fractures that occur in bones. Striking a partner’s pubic bone during sexual intercourse, rolling over at night with an erection and unusual (or extreme) forms of masturbation can lead to fractures. Unless treated immediately, the likelihood of gaining an erection after enduring a fracture is very low.(source)
6. The inventor of cornflakes, Dr. John Kellogg, published books on anti-masturbation, believed that red meat increased sexual desire and advocated the consumption of Kellogg’s cornflakes to prevent masturbation.
What’s worse? This anti-masturbation campaigner prescribed ridiculous and sadistic methods to help keep his patients away from masturbation, namely: 1) By eating Kellogg’s cornflakes. 2) By sewing the foreskins of young boys with silver wire. 3) By proposing to burn women’s clitorises with carbolic acid. Did we mention that he also pumped several of his patients’ anuses with yogurt using his enema machine?(source)
7. Graham Crackers were originally invented to treat and prevent masturbation.
Because good ol’ Kellogg wasn’t batshit enough. Presbyterian minister Sylvester Graham invented Graham crackers in 1829, originally conceived as a health food to prevent “self-abuse”, a.k.a. masturbation, as it was called at the time. Graham’s theory was that one could curb unhealthy sexual desires by eating bland foods.(source)
8. In 1994, the Surgeon General of United States Joycelyn Elders was forced to resign after saying that masturbation is natural and should be taught.
During the United Nations conference on AIDS, Elders was questioned about the appropriateness of masturbation awareness among young people to prevent them from engaging in riskier forms of sexual activity. She replied,
“I think that it is part of human sexuality, and perhaps it should be taught.”
The remark (among others) was greatly controversial and ultimately contributed to the loss of the White House’s support. Chief of staff Leon Panetta of the White House said,
“There have been too many areas where the President does not agree with her views. This is just one too many.”
She was subsequently fired by President Clinton in December of that year. Elders refused to quit, however, and has appeared on several TV shows and news channels to talk about taboo and controversial topics like child abuse, contraceptives, teenage sex education and drug legalization.(source)
9. If you were in 17th-century Connecticut, you could incur the death penalty for masturbating.
Prior to Swiss physician Samuel-Auguste Tissot’s claims that masturbation caused: “a perceptible reduction of strength, of memory and even of reason; blurred vision, all the nervous disorders, all types of gout and rheumatism, weakening of the organs of generation, blood in the urine, disturbance of the appetite, headaches and a great number of other disorders,” law books in the 17th-century Puritan colony of New Haven, Connecticut made masturbation punishable by death. Also on that list were blasphemers and homosexuals.(source)
10. The Japanese word for male masturbation is “senzuri”, which translates to “a thousand rubs” while the word for female masturbation is “shiko shiko manzuri” which means “ten thousand rubs”.
The Japanese sure know how to be efficient with their language.(source)
11. Doctors during the Victorian era believed that masturbation was a disease. They even went so far as to wearing a Pollutions Ring (a steel clip with serrated teeth) to prevent themselves from engaging in the act.
There are lots of things that are wrong with the 21st century, but at least our doctors don’t wear torture devices on their genitals. The Pollutions Ring, also called a Jugum Penis, was an anti-masturbatory device that could be clipped onto the member to prevent unwanted erections. It was one of the many (sweet mother of god) Victorian era devices that were designed to treat masturbation, or spermatorrhoea as it was called then.(source)
12. In 1879, Mark Twain gave a lecture in Paris on masturbation in which he openly criticized those who shunned masturbation in a comedic way.
Twain was the real MVP. When he was 44 years old, he delivered a lecture titled “Some Thoughts on the Science of Onanism,” at a men’s club in Paris. Onanism is masturbation, termed after the Bible’s Onan, who spilled his semen on the ground and was killed by God for the sinful act. In true Twain fashion, he doled out these satirical statements in response to the severe anti-masturbation culture that existed at the time.
“Of all the various kinds of sexual intercourse, this has the least to recommend it. As an amusement it is too fleeting; as an occupation it is too wearing; as a public exhibition there is no money in it. It is unsuited to the drawing room, and in the most cultured society it has long since been banished from the social board…
So, in concluding, I say: If you must gamble away your life sexually, don’t play a Lone Hand too much.
When you feel a revolutionary uprising in your system, get your Vendome Column down some other way— don’t jerk it down.”
13. More than 7 million units of Fleshlight (male sex toy) have been sold worldwide.
Meaning 1 in every 1000 people have one. Founded in 1995 by Steve Shubin, the brand has gained a penchant for being adventurous with its products. For example, they have a whole range of Fleshlights moulded from the vajayjays of popular adult movie stars. There’s something for everybody; the Freaks collection consists of Alien, Cyborg, Blade and Frankenstein-themed Fleshlights.(source)
14. Statistics reveal that 53% of American women use toys while masturbating.
Funded by Church and Dwight Co. Inc. (makers of Trojan) the studies surveyed more than 2,000 women and 1,000 men (ages 18 to 60) on the use of vibrators. The results were published in the Journal of Sexual Medicine in 2009, and conclude that more than 50% of women and 45% of men used vibrators during masturbation and sexual intercourse.(source)
15. 70% of married people admit to masturbating, and only 46% of women report having an orgasm within three minutes of masturbation.
Contrary to popular stereotypes, however, masturbation does not always happen because of the failure to obtain a sexual partner. According to Dennis Coon and John O. Mitterer’s Introduction to Psychology: Gateways to Mind and Behavior, masturbation has no effect on a marriage or reflect in any way on the nature of the marriage. In fact, mutual masturbation with a married partner benefits the couple psychologically in many ways.(source)
16. Masturbation prevents cervical infections in women, reduces depressions and can even strengthen your immune system.
University of Sydney’s Anthony Santella and Spring Chenoa Cooper explain that masturbation can keep several illnesses from cystitis, diabetes to prostate cancer at bay. In an article for The Conversation, they write:
“For women, masturbation can help prevent cervical infections and urinary tract infections through the process of “tenting,” or the opening of the cervix that occurs as part of the arousal process.
Tenting stretches the cervix, and thus the cervical mucous. This enables fluid circulation, allowing cervical fluids full of bacteria to be flushed out.”
The Australian scientists also claim that it can help prevent depression, due to the production of ‘happy’ endorphins and the hormone cortisol, which may give the immune system a healthy boost.(source)
17. Masturbation is a natural way to ease menstrual cramps and lowers the risk of type-2 diabetes.
Due to the release of natural chemicals such as dopamine, endorphins, and serotonin into the bloodstream during the orgasm, masturbation can induce pleasure-enhancing and pain-relieving sensations. Among the list of things it can cure, hiccups, headaches and pre-menstrual cramps in women. Engaging in self-pleasure can even reduce the risk of type-2 diabetes (apart from maintaining overall good health), according to a study conducted by the University of Sydney.(1,2)
18. Masturbating more than 21 times a month can actually decrease your chance for prostate cancer. This was discovered after testing to see if increased masturbation was linked to an increase in prostate cancer.
The average number of ejaculations (included sexual intercourse, nocturnal emissions, and masturbation) per month of 29,342 men between the ages of 46 and 81 in young adulthood (ages 20–29), in mid-life (ages 40–49), and in the most recent year were recorded in this study. From 1992-2000, the subjects also provided an encompassing health and lifestyle data report to the researchers. The scientists found that men who ejaculated more than 21 times a month had a 33% lower risk of prostate cancer when compared to men who only had 4 to 5 per month. According to the researchers, there is no scientific evidence showing that masturbation has dangerous side effects, in both men and women.(source)