Skip to main content

Masturbation: Is it normal or not?

psychologist, sexologist
  • Published:
    08 August 2022
  • Updated:
    06 November 2023

Masturbation is the act of stimulating someone’s own genitals and erogenous zones with hands or by other means to get sexual satisfaction (orgasm).

Social attitudes towards masturbation have been and continue to be controversial.

People have been masturbating since a very early age of our civilization. There are some ancient cave paintings that confirm this fact. Masturbation also takes place among animals; it is common to nearly all mammals that are unsuccessful in finding a mate. It is found, for example, among rams, camels, elephants, bears, goats, horses, and ferrets, as well as among pets, such as cats and dogs.

Most cultures historically have had a positive attitude towards masturbation and considered it a worthy and godly act (ancient Egypt, Greece, Rome).

However, during the Middle Ages, during the spread of Christianity, masturbation was condemned, considered sinful, and remained a serious taboo in society until the early 20th century. It used to be believed that masturbation can cause severe mental and physical disorders, including insanity. At that time, masturbation was combated by different methods: tying up with sheets, wearing” chastity belts”, male circumcision, castration, and removal of the clitoris — for women.

Nowadays, masturbation is no longer considered undignified and is accepted as an alternative to having a sexual partner. Masturbation is an element of normal psychosexual development.

What is the acceptable age for masturbating?

It is perfectly fine, to start masturbation at any age when the need arises. There is nothing unnatural or harmful in child and adolescent masturbation. 

During someone’s life, there are periods of time when masturbation is highly relevant.

For instance, when a child is learning and exploring his/her body. Stimulation of the genitals during this period is a normal developmental stage. It is important to approach the situation sensitively. Teaching your child to be ashamed of masturbation can have a negative permanent impact on their psyche.

During adolescence, a hormonal surge, and an increased interest in the opposite sex (in some cases, their own) occurs. Adolescents are discovering masturbation as a means for experiencing their first conscious orgasms. 

Masturbation can replace a sexual partner in adulthood (compensatory masturbation) when a partner is absent or unavailable for some periods of time when there is a mismatch in sexual habits or frequency needs for sexual relations. Masturbation is also considered normal, in combination with regular sexual encounters in adulthood, as an expansion of someone's sex life.

Download SEQUOIA
Start improving your sexual health with
a no-risk 3-day trial
Try Sequoia Today

facebook linkedin twitterinstagram threads