Do it yourself: fantastic facts about masturbation

Janina Lebiszczak
Zürich, on 05.08.2022
Translation: Katherine Martin

Sex isn’t just fun – it also makes us healthier and happier. That goes for sex with yourself, too. Time for the ultimate guide to the birds and the bees. In this first instalment of a two-part series, we’ll focus on some important background knowledge. Here are five facts you should know about flying solo.

Nasty preconceptions: why the bad reputation?

Masturbation’s bad rep clearly originates from the Bible. And, as is so often the case, the whole wretched thing is based on a misunderstanding: Although the Onan of the Old Testament used the pull-out method as opposed to masturbating, the term onanism was derived from the telling of his story. The short version of the tale goes a little something like this. Back then, if a man’s brother died childless, he had to give his widow offspring. Onan wasn’t keen, and his disobedience led God to strike him down for «letting his seed be lost on the ground».

So, at the beginning of the 18th century, masturbation had long been regarded as a sin. British physician John Marten then published a pamphlet called «Onania». In it, he warned emphatically against solo sex, claiming it led to blindness, stupidity, weakness in the bones, tuberculosis, smallpox or epilepsy. Today, we know that to be downright nonsense. I’ll report on how healthy masturbation is in part 2 of this series.

The «masturbation gap»: women are lagging behind in the DIY love stakes

We all know about the pay gap and the pension gap. A «Womanizer» poll of 6,000 respondents in 12 countries demonstrates that there’s a yawning gap between the sexes when it comes to masturbation too. «International Equal Masturbation Day» was announced to draw attention to the issue, its date varying by a couple of weeks each year. Calculated for the whole year, women haven’t masturbated until this point. The most recent findings: men do it an average of 2.8 times per week, twice as often as women at 1.4 times per week. Starting on Equal Masturbation Day, men and women masturbate equally frequently for the rest of the year.

As it happens, Swiss women are just behind the global average of 74 times per year, while their male counterparts pleasure themselves an average of 162 times annually. Austrian men do it an average of 124 times, women only 62 times, and in Germany it’s 145 times to 76 times. Now you’ll have plenty to chat about the next time you meet someone from over the border.

Unjustified shame: are men really hornier?

Keeping our attention on the large Womanizer poll for a sec, the fact that men masturbate more frequently is often explained with stereotypical arguments. That men have a higher sex drive, for example. However, the survey reveals that this doesn’t add up. Both sexes were asked to rate their own libido on a scale of 1 (very low libido) to 10 (very high libido). The result? The gender difference is far less significant than most people would suspect. Men rank themselves on average at 6.5, women at 5.4.

Johanna Rief, who conducted the survey, puts it in a nutshell: «Unfortunately, shame, social stigma and a lack of education keep many women from exploring their own sexuality. Equal Masturbation Day is symbolic of these societal barriers and is meant to remind women that closing the masturbation gap is, quite literally, in their hands.»

Ladies, we know the score: clitoral or vaginal?

According to a Swedish study, most women choose clitoral play over vaginal stimulation when masturbating. Despite it being the centre of female desire, it’s long been ignored and even omitted from anatomical drawings. Why? Gynaecology was once only geared towards reproduction, not towards pleasure. Simply put, the clitoris isn’t really necessary for baby making, even though an orgasm increases the chances of conception. This, however, was only discovered with the passage of time. These days, when using sex toys to get their rocks off, women are increasingly going for clitoral stimulators. That’s according to a survey by «Joy Club». The toys now available in a bunch of varieties – here you’ll find the classic. Anyone who’s after the best of both worlds will obviously be able to get off as well.

Masturbation fantasies: what do you think of when you touch yourself?

The following results came from the same survey: women seem to be letting their sexual imaginations run wild. For example, over half (54.1%) of them say they imagine things while masturbating that they wouldn’t try out in their real sex lives. When asked about specific fantasies, they primarily mentioned BDSM games, a threesome with two men, and very hard «submissive sex». Men, on the other hand, picture anal sex, threesomes involving two women and bog standard hanky-panky. And – sorry, not sorry – just 12% of coupled-up men and 17.7% of women in a relationship think about their own partner when they’re masturbating.

The second instalment of the fantastic facts collection is dedicated to that all-important subject, health: better sleep, less pain, and improved libido – going it alone makes you happy.

Header image: Nataliya Vaitkevich via Pexels

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Janina Lebiszczak
freie Autorin

Health, sexuality, sports and sustainability. Delve into all aspects of this life less ordinary with the right amount of curiosity, humour and a pinch of salt.

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