Masturbation During Our Life – By Nadine Thornhill

Did you know that May is National Masturbation Month? Fapping, wanking, polishing the pearl, greasing the pole…whatever you call it, masturbation can be a fun, healthy part of our sexual experience.

According to International Society for Sexual Medicine, most of us get down with ourselves at some point in our lives. That having been said, it’s also important to remember that there is no “right” or “normal” frequency when it comes to masturbation. Some folks do it often, others once in awhile, and some, well…they’re just not that into it.

Solo-sex can have some great benefits. I’ll share lots of masturbation pros throughout this article, but straight off the top, some positives include:

  • Reducing stress
  • More restful sleep
  • Guaranteed play. When you’re in the mood, you’re not going to turn yourself down.

For those of us who enjoy it, the ways and reasons we choose to masturbate can change throughout over the course of our lives.


Young children, and sometimes even babies, may discover that touching their genitals feels good. Generally when kids masturbate, it’s not because of erotic desire. They’ve just discovered a pleasurable physical sensation and want to enjoy it. Masturbating can also help little ones self-soothe if they’re feeling a little anxious, bored or restless. And as with adults, some kids find it helps them relax and fall asleep.

If you catch your child masturbating, yelling or using phrases like “nice girls don’t do that,” and “that’s nasty!” can leave kids with the idea that they or their bodies are shameful and bad.

On the other hand, addressing the behaviour calmly, assuring them that it’s normal to enjoy touching our bodies, can help them maintain positive relationship with their bodies and build trust between you and kiddo.

Young children don’t understand that for teens and adults masturbation is usually a sexual act. They also may not realize that in our culture touching genitals is something to do privately. It’s not unusual for little kids to masturbate openly. If you notice your child doing it again, you can gently correct them and let them know your boundaries/expectations around masturbating.

“This is only something we do in our room.”

“This is only something we do when we’re alone.”

“ This isn’t something we do in our family.”


The stereotype is that teen boys masturbate constantly. But teens of other gender also touch themselves. The mental, emotional, hormonal transitions of adolescence can include some very intense erotic, sexual arousal. Some teens worry that if they touch themselves a lot, they’re going to hurt themselves – which isn’t true. As long as it isn’t interfering with school, extra curricular activities, work or relationships, there’s no such thing as masturbating too much.

For teens, masturbating can be a great way to relieve sexual tension without the risk of unintended pregnancy or sexually transmitted infections. It can also help them learn about their bodies and what feels good for them. Mutual masturbation, which is masturbating with a partner, is a way for teens to experience the intimacy of a sexual relationship with no pregnancy or STI risk.


Masturbation can be an extremely pleasurable sexual activity whether we’re single or in a relationship. While some people use masturbation as a sort of “substitute” for partnered sex, other folks find solo sex fun and satisfying in its own right.

Hormonal transitions, pregnancy, illness, injury and normal aging change our bodies as we grow older. Those changes often affect our sexual function.  What gets us off sexually at 45 years old is often different than what we liked when were 25. Masturbating helps us keep in touch (pun intended) with our changing sexual response.

Long-term partners don’t always have matching sex drives. One of us is horny and one of us just wants to watch Scandal. If we’re the less aroused person but we want to give sex a try, a few minutes of masturbation may help us warm up. But there are also those times when we know it ain’t happenin’. If we’re chill with our partner enjoying some sweet solo sex when we aren’t game it can take a lot of pressure off us and our relationship.

How do you feel about masturbation? Let me know in the comments!

Nadine Thornhill, Ed.D is a sexuality educator from Toronto, Ontario, Canada. When she isn’t teaching people about bodies, relationships, pleasure and consent, she enjoys trash tv, biographies about dope people, and hanging out with her partner and their son.

2 responses on “Masturbation During Our Life – By Nadine Thornhill

  1. Yara

    Growing up Muslim from Arab descent it was assumed, understood and he’s d that masturbation is not appropriate. Only now as an adult am I somewhat open to learning that is healthy and normal. It takes time and effort to unlearn something. I am also a mother and I am coming to terms with how I want to approach masterbatiom with my young daughter. Thank you for sharing this in a way that promotes positive physical, emotional and sexual well-being.

    1. Nadine Thornhill

      Hi Yara,

      I love that you’re developing a positive relationship with masturbation. You’re absolutely right that reframing our attitudes about sexuality – especially those that come from our childhood – takes time and effort. It’s also wonderful that you’re thinking about what you want to teach your daughter about masturbation. She’s lucky to have you as a parent.

      Thank you for reading and your comment!