Jerking Off For Safer Sex

Illustration for article titled Jerking Off For Safer Sex

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.

Study Tracks Masturbation Trends Among U.S. Teens [U.S. News & World Report]
Boys Who Masturbate Likelier To Have Safe Sex? [Reuters]

Image via Dino O./Shutterstock.



From my own experience, and from personal conversations as well as a couple years of teaching sex-ed, I've noticed a lot of young girls are terrified of masturbation because of the massive stigma on women. Hell, I remember years and years of wanting to, but fearing so drastically that if I did I would be a slut or the horrific consequences of someone found out. I remember teenage friends snarking or going 'eww' over the statistics that around 50% of women masturbated, and jokingly picking out who would (because you know, only the desperate whoreloosers *facepalms*). With that shit going on, I'm not surprised...and that was a fairly sex-positive school. Even when I started, there was such guilt and disgust with myself it was hardly enjoyable. So I'm not surprised that a lot of young women steer away.

I'm also not surprised that the number goes way up with those who are sexually active. I think the level of shame and fear I received about female masturbation was at least the same level as actual intercourse, if not worst. I imagine those who were comfortable enough to have sex would then turn to break the barrier of masturbation. I also imagine it would help a lot with the whole guilt factor.

As for the boys, it's more seen as a right of passage. Instead of the "eww how could 50% do that?!" it's "Who the hell is the 20% who's not? Haahaa liars!" I recall high school boys chatting around, even kidding about it without any fear, and pride rather than shame. It wasn't until I went off to an extremely liberal college, and surrounded myself with extremely pro-sex feminists did I experience that level of comfort about the whole ordeal. I only hope that that open attitude experience from the boys eventually spreads to the girls as well, and by the numbers I'm glad we're making some strides - but from personal experience; we have a hell of a way to go.