The idea that there’s a ‘normal’ amount to masturbate is an incredibly common assumption. This is evidenced by the fact that ‘how often should you masturbate?’ is one of the most popular Google searches about self pleasure.
It’s not surprising that people want to know the answer. Although masturbation is a pleasurable and healthy act, it is nevertheless still stigmatised on many fronts. There may be pressure from sex-positive spaces to masturbate regularly, at the same time as there’s pressure from religious or other societal influences to curb your masturbation as much as possible. You may have seen articles about the mental and physical health benefits of masturbation, which often appear in the very same feeds as posts about porn or sex ‘addiction’.
So we thought we’d set out to tackle this question once and for all: how often should you masturbate? Is there any reason to be worried about how regularly you masturbate? Here’s our answer…
Masturbation is personal and individual
For the vast majority of people, masturbation is a healthy, enjoyable way to spend a bit of your spare time. Unless you masturbate so regularly that it is seriously interfering with the rest of your life, it’s likely your masturbation habits are entirely appropriate for you. That applies if you’re wanking once a day, or five times a day, or only occasionally.
If you do enjoy masturbating, chances are your enjoyment of it will wax and wane depending on a number of different factors. An especially busy week at work might leave you too tired to masturbate as often as you usually would. Or a stressful week at work may lead to you masturbating more, as a way to relax. If you’re having other kinds of sex, your desire for solo sex may go down because your needs are being satisfied in other ways. Or you might find your wanking skyrockets because you keep having sexy flashbacks to all the hot stuff you’ve been doing. All normal.
Things that can affect how often you masturbate
As well as mood and lifestyle, a number of other things can affect how often you masturbate. These include (but definitely aren’t limited to!):
- Living situation
- Relationship status
- Whether you have the sex toys that work for you
- External factors such as job stress
- Societal pressure/stigma or peer pressure.
There are many more here! It’s important to note that none of these things necessarily have to affect how often you masturbate, but they might, depending on your individual responses. The bottom line here is that there is no ‘right’ amount to masturbate, only the ‘right’ amount for you.
How often should you have solo sex?
We use the terms ‘masturbation’ and ‘solo sex’ fairly interchangeably on this blog, but in fact ‘solo sex’ may be a more helpful term than ‘masturbation’. Although the latter is more frequently used in Google searches (which is one of the main reasons we use it) the former is a term used by two of our favourite sex educators – Meg-John Barker and Justin Hancock. In their fabulous advice book ‘Enjoy Sex: How, When and If You Want To’, Meg-John and Justin explain that thinking in terms of ‘solo sex’ may be more helpful than seeing masturbation as an entirely separate category of sexual pleasure:
A lot of sex advisors cover solo sex, but generally only as a way of ‘practising’ for the ‘real thing.’ For example, they suggest that people engage in self-touch to figure out how they like to be touched, or ‘learn how to last longer’ during sex with another person.
It’s important to let go of this idea of what is ‘proper’ and to focus instead on what you find is enjoyable. Part of that is seeing solo activities as just as legitimate as activities with another person.
If you’re concerned about how often you masturbate, one of the trickiest things to do is separate out your feelings as they relate to your personal needs from your feelings as they relate to what you have been told you ‘should’ or ‘should not’ do. One of the things Meg-John and Justin recommend in their book is to “reflect for a moment about the cultural messages you’ve heard about solo sex, and your own early experiences with it, if you have any. Also think about how you – and the people around you in your life – view it now.”
Am I masturbating too much?
The main reason to reflect on societal stigma surrounding masturbation is because if you’re worried you’re masturbating too much, it may be that some of these stigmas are the cause of your worries. It could be that your habits are perfectly normal, perhaps beneficial to you, but the problem comes from others putting pressure on you to stifle your sexual desire.
However, we don’t want to dismiss your concerns if you feel like your masturbation is getting in the way of other things in your life. It may be that you find yourself compelled to masturbate so frequently that you are no longer able to perform other important tasks, or that it no longer provides you with pleasure. If this is the case, we recommend you speak to your GP who may be able to help you, or refer you to someone who you can speak to about your concerns in a private and non-judgmental space.
Am I not masturbating enough?
This may be a less common worry, but it is no less valid or real. Just as societal stigma can make people worry they’re having ‘too much’ solo sex, so the drive to overturn this narrative and point out the benefits of masturbation can lead to some people feeling pressure to have more solo sex.
If you previously enjoyed solo sex but you’re worried that your sex drive or sexual response has gone, you may want to speak to a GP. If you have recently started taking medication, or have health issues in other areas, these may be having an impact on your libido. Reduced sex drive, erectile dysfunction and reduced sexual response can all be symptoms of a variety of health conditions, so getting your health checked out is a good idea.
If you just don’t want to masturbate, then we have very good news: that’s absolutely fine. Masturbation is not compulsory, and no one should ever be pressured to have a particular kind of sex if they don’t want to. It may be that you are asexual, or you may just prefer to have partnered rather than solo sex. You might enjoy solo play but not solo touch – instead enjoying sexual fantasies but without the orgasms or physical pleasure.
So… how often SHOULD you masturbate?
Perhaps the best way we can end this guide is to point out that our assumptions and beliefs about what’s ‘normal’ permeate every single aspect of our lives. So much so that even the question itself is loaded with assumptions.
‘How often should you masturbate?’ implies that you should masturbate in the first place. But in reality, you don’t need to do it at all if you’d rather not. The important thing is that you listen to what your body needs, question the things you’ve been told you ‘should’ do, and speak to an expert if you still feel you have cause for concern.