Now there are even more reasons for teens to confront their fears about blindness and hairy palms, and start touching themselves with abandon. Teenagers who engage in solo sex are more likely to have a partner to have sex with too. Plus, there's a greater chance that boys who masturbate will use a condom when having sex. Curiously, the same is not true for girls.
The study, which appears in the Archives of Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine, is based on data from more than 800 teens ages 14 to 17 that was collected as part of the 2009 National Survey on Sexual Health and Behavior. According to U.S. News and World Reports, subjects were asked about how often they'd masturbated by themselves, with a partner, and if they practiced safe sex. Unsurprisingly, in every category, boys were more likely to masturbate than girls. U.S. News reports:
Among boys between the ages of 14 and 17 the percentage of those who had masturbated at least once rose from about 63 to 80 percent. Among girls, those figures were lower but still followed an upward slope, rising from about 43 percent to 58 percent across the same time-frame, according to the report.
Yet while boys also were increasingly likely to say they had "recently" masturbated as they got older (rising from 43 percent at the age of 14 to almost 68 percent among 17-year-olds), the same observation was not made among girls.
Boys also engaged in masturbation more frequently than girls: about half of the boys said they engaged in the activity at least twice a week, but that figure fell to about 23 percent among girls. An estimated 46 percent of girls reported masturbating only a few times per year.
Of course, these statistics are skewed because despite strides made by the Divinyls, girls are still less willing to admit that they touch themselves. Are we really supposed to believe that though more girls masturbate as they get older, there wasn't an increase in recent solo sessions? Apparently while teen girls are comfortable saying they touch themselves, they'd like researchers to believe this was just something they experimented with a few times when they were young and stupid — like, a year ago.
Aside from the obvious benefits like knowing your own body and not relying on a partner for sexual satisfaction, the study found there's another reason girls should be encouraged to masturbate. Reuters reports that 86 percent of boys who used a condom the last time they had sex had also masturbated in the last year, compared to only 44 percent of boys who didn't masturbate. This is just a link, and doesn't mean that something about masturbation makes dudes have an epiphany about teen pregnancy and STDs. Lead author Dr. Cynthia L. Robbins says it does suggest that, "masturbation is an important component of adolescent sexuality rather than an isolated or transient phenomenon." We had a hunch that an activity that often ends in an orgasm had something to do with sexuality, but the study emphasizes that being more sexually self-aware makes teens have healthier sex lives. That's something girls shouldn't be missing out on just because society tells them masturbation is shameful.
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