During puberty many young people begin to masturbate or touch their genitals to feel sexual pleasure. People of all ages and genders masturbate, even very young children, married people and seniors. Younger people—babies, toddlers and young children—may touch their genitals because it feels good and comforts them. During puberty, the body starts to produce more sex hormones, and one of the results can be a greater interest in and curiosity about sexuality. Masturbation is a very common way that people relieve sexual tension and experience sexual pleasure, such as orgasm. Generally, it is more socially acceptable for boys to masturbate than girls, but that is slowly changing as awareness of female sexuality—including the importance of knowing one’s body and experiencing pleasure—is increasing.
It is important that parents and guardians provide accurate information about masturbation. Young people may hear myths about masturbation, including that it will cause them to run out of sperm, grow hair on their palms, go crazy and go blind or that masturbation will have an impact on their menstrual cycles or their ability to keep an erection. You can ensure that your children know that masturbation cannot hurt them by speaking honestly with them.
Generally masturbating even a few times a day does not present a problem and actually has some health benefits. If a person finds that they are masturbating so frequently that it has an impact on their normal daily routine, they should talk with a parent or trusted adult to explore what might be underlying that habit.
Masturbation, while very common, also engenders a wide range of cultural and religious beliefs, which can sometimes lead people to feel guilty or shameful. It’s a good idea to talk with your children about masturbation and your family’s beliefs, as there are a wide range of ideas about masturbation from different cultures and faith traditions.
Topics like masturbation may not come up in regular conversation, but it’s important to bring them up anyway. During puberty children begin to have new sexual feelings, and some begin to masturbate. It is normal if they do and normal if they don’t.