Almost Everyone Is Masturbating, But We're Still Not Talking About It, Survey Finds

There's no denying communication is essential to a healthy sex life. But why should we just limit that to talking about sex with a partner? There's so much shame in society around peoples' sexual fetishes, desires, STIs, and sexual dysfunctions that keeping quiet about it isn't doing us any good for our sex lives or our well-being. So where do we start feeling more comfortable with the topic? Let's start with someone everyone is doing, whether they're solo or attached, gay or straight, a Millennial or a Baby Boomer — masturbating.

"I think there are three main ways talking about [masturbation] can be beneficial," Sexologist and author Dr. Nikki Goldstein tells Bustle. "First of all to normalize it, especially for woman. The more we talk about it the more we start to understand that everyone does it or at least has the desire to. The other is swapping secret and tips. Masturbation shouldn't just be straight forward. There are so many ways to do it and to make it feel good. If we defined it as self-pleasuring instead of masturbation we also might be able to help people expand the ways they experience it. It is also important that couples discuss it as often one or both people in the relationship define masturbation as cheating. Masturbation in a relationship can be very healthy but to get to that point there needs to be a certain amount of discussion first."

From July 13-19, TENGA, a designer of pleasure products for men, interviewed 1,200 Americans to understand their perception of masturbation, how they masturbate, how it affects their relationship, and what they really think about sex toys. In their survey exclusively shared with Bustle, they found that gender, age, marital status, geographic location, and political affiliation determine how you feel about masturbation. Most importantly, they discovered we're pretty much all masturbating, but we're still uncomfortable talking about it. Even our estimates about how much our fellow Americans are masturbating are totally off. Here are some of the interesting stats, along with an infographic below. Think of this as a much-needed masturbation reality check.

1. Yes, Most Men AND Women Masturbate

Eighty-eight percent of all respondents have masturbated, including 95 percent of men and 81 percent of women

2. How Many Times A Month?

Men masturbate an average of 15 times per month versus fewer than eight times for women.

3. Millennials Do It Most Often

Millennials reported masturbating 15 times per month, while Gen X was at 12 times monthly and seven times a month for Boomers.

4. Singles Versus Those In Relationships

Does your relationship status matter when it comes to solo sex? Singles report masturbating 16 times monthly and those in relationships masturbate 10 times per month on average.

5. Why Do People Masturbate?

The most common reasons for masturbating? The survey found the top three reasons were: relieving sexual tension, stress and desire to achieve sexual pleasure. Sounds about right!

More Millennials reported masturbating to relieve stress (63 percent versus 51 percent of Gen X and 46 percent of Boomers). Hey, we have a lot going on and a lot of new social media platforms to keep up with.

6. We Underestimate How Much People (Especially Women!) Masturbate

When it comes to our masturbation perceptions about the public, the survey says we've got it all wrong. Maybe we're just all bad at math, but we're actually masturbating much more than we perceive — and that goes for both men and women.

Eleven percent more men masturbate than respondents expected, and respondents thought 68 percent of women masturbate, when in actuality, 81 percent of women masturbate. LGBTQ respondents were more likely to estimate closer to the reported numbers.

7. Half Of People Have Masturbation Routines

Fifty percent of Americans have a masturbation routine, which makes sense, because why fix something that isn't broken? So what's in these routines? Sixty percent use porn, 58 percent use their imagination, 34 percent think of a past experience, 26 percent look at pictures, and 19 percent use sex toys.

8. The Celebs We Think about

While only 17 percent of us are getting off to celebs, here are the most frequently mentioned as objects of fantasies during masturbation.

9. We Also Fantasize About People We Know

So, who are we thinking about? The survey found that fantasies are mainly about real-life people, with one in five saying they think about their significant other. Singles are much more likely to masturbate to previous partners than respondents in committed relationships, which for some may be an 'aww', and for others an eye roll emoji.

10. Toys Are Enhancing Our Solo Sessions

In the U.S., 42 percent of women own sex toys versus 20 percent of men. And as a suprise to no one who's ever owned a sex toy, most people who have them say their toys enhance masturbation.

11. Most People Just Aren't Comfortable Discussing Masturbation

It may be something we're doing regularly, but you won't find most Americans bringing up masturbation at the brunch table. The survey found that 54 percent of people feel uncomfortable discussing masturbation, but among all generations, Millennials are the most open-minded to talking about it.

Why the resistance to talk about solo sex? Respondents cite embarrassment and privacy as main reasons. Plus, 57 percent of people just don’t think it is culturally acceptable to discuss masturbation.

12. Who Do We Talk About It With?

Millennial males and LGBTQ respondents are most comfortable talking about masturbation overall. Respondents said they were only comfortable discussing masturbation with their friends or partners, if anyone. Forty-one percent have been asked about masturbation, including 30 percent who have been asked by a partner and 20 percent by a friend.

13. But We're Lying About It

Due to embarrassment and fear of being judged by friends, family, and romantic partners, 29 percent of people admitted to lying about masturbation, including 36 percent of men and 22 percent of women.

Take a look at more stats below, and use it as inspo to get the convo started:

Images: Andrew Zaeh for Bustle; TENGA