Gender Differences in Masturbation: Men Substitute Masturbation for Sex; Women Different

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men reported having masturbated women reported masturbating

Masturbation has been a social concern and area of censure throughout history. Most religions teach that procreation is the only legitimate purpose of sexual behavior. In 1760 Samuel-August Tissot, a Swiss physician, wrote profusely about the damaging effects of self-abuse, calling semen an essential oil that when lost in great quantities could lead to insanity. His views influenced the medical attitudes in Europe and North American for generations.

Alfred C. Kinsey and his team of researchers provided the first insights into masturbation habits. Kinsey (1948) found that 93% of men reported having masturbated (p. 499), while a later study on female sexuality found that 62% of females reported having masturbated (1953, p. 142). Overall, the findings suggested that masturbation was more common than previously thought.

A more recent study, The National Survey of Sexual Attitudes and Lifestyles (Natsal 2016), used data collected from 11,161 British participants age 16-44 during 1999-2014. This study found that the gender gap in most sexual behaviors had narrowed, but remained significant for masturbation.

In keeping with Kinsey’s studies, the Natsal 2016 found that 95% of men reported having masturbated at least once, while 71.2% of women reported masturbating. The results also found that 73% of men had masturbated in the last 4 weeks prior to the interview, compared to 36.8% of women. A smaller percentage of men and women reported masturbating within the last 7 days: 51.7% of men and 17.8% of women. Other findings of this study showed that guilt experienced through religious associations were only a factor for women. The 25-34 age category was the most likely to report masturbation for all participants. Masturbation was prevalent among divorced and single men and divorced, single, and cohabitating females. One issue many sex researchers continue to debate is whether masturbation serves as a substitute for partnered sex.

The Natsal 2016 data revealed that the answer is both–the difference is whether you are a man or a woman. When asked about sex and masturbation within the last month, 33.8% of women who masturbated reported sex less than 4 times during that time period. Interestingly, 47.2% of women who reported sex at least 16 times reported having masturbated. But, the adverse is true for men.

Of the men who fell into the category of 16 or more sexual encounters 70.5% reported masturbating, while 80.8% who only experienced 4 sexual occasions reported masturbating. These findings suggest that for women masturbation is one tool in the arsenal, but for men it is a substitution.

 

Gender Differences in Masturbation: Men Substitute Masturbation for Sex; Women Different

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