Masturbation Satisfies Women, Men Differently, Shows Study

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Women may masturbate while engaging in partnered sex to enhance their experience, but men may usually view masturbation as unnecessary if they are already sexually satisfied. In other words, women view it as a “complementary” element of their sex lives, while men tend to see it as a form of “compensation” with respect to partnered sex, according to a new study.

Published last month in the Archives of Sexual Behavior, the research offers insights into the distinct role masturbation plays in the sexual lives of men and women.

“Despite all advantages solo sex has largely been overlooked as a relevant sexual behavior, and we still know surprisingly little about how solo sex is associated with sexual satisfaction, well-being, and pain release,” said Nantje Fischer, one of the co-authors of the study, while explaining the motivation behind the research. “One reason I became so interested in the topic of masturbation is because of its huge potential and its many advantages…it is a free and effortless way of dealing with your sexual desires. Another huge advantage of masturbation is that it is a safe sex alternative without any risks of contracting sexually transmitted infection or unwanted pregnancy.” Fischer added.

Masturbation is an essential component of sexuality, and yet little has been understood on how exactly it differs across individuals. Previous research on the activity, especially among adolescents and preadolescents, shows that those who identified as men were much more likely to masturbate than those who identified as women. The social stigma attached to masturbation, much of which is also gendered, could be among the reasons why. In India, the stigma often extends well beyond the age of adolescence, and lack of sex education and access to sex toys also play a role in differing masturbation patterns between women and men.

For the current research, the scientists — Norway-based researchers — collected questionnaire responses from a sample of 4,160 Norwegians aged 18-89 years. Apart from questions on the participants’ sexual activity and masturbation habits, the survey also asked respondents about their porn viewing habits and body and genital image issues.

Based on their responses, the participants were divided into four clusters. The first cluster comprised respondents who reported both high sexual satisfaction and masturbation frequency. The second cluster comprised participants who reported high sexual satisfaction but low masturbation frequency. In the third, the scientists clubbed data of participants who reported low sexual satisfaction while reporting high masturbation frequency. The fourth and final cluster was characterized by responses reporting both low sexual satisfaction and masturbation frequency. The first cluster contained the largest portion of the research sample: 33.1% of the respondents. The second, third, and fourth clusters contained 31.5%, 18.7%, and 16.7% of the sample population, respectively.

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