Most Americans Are Masturbating, A New Survey Finds — Here's Why

Andrew Zaeh for Bustle

What's your motivation to masturbate? Sometimes, it's very simple: You're turned on and nobody's there. But masturbation can do more than relieve sexual tension, and sex toy company TENGA's 2019 Self-Pleasure Report shows that people are aware of that: 74 percent of respondents said they use masturbation for self-care, and 54 percent said it improves their wellbeing. In addition, 80-90 percent said masturbation had a positive impact on most areas of their lives.

These people are on to something, sex therapist Tammy Nelson, PhD, tells Bustle. "It’s true that masturbation can be healthy, both for you and for your relationship," she says. "Self-pleasuring can help you learn what makes you excited, what turns you on, and what makes you orgasm. And as a result, it can give you enough information about your body to then communicate better in bed. Letting your partner know what turns you on and brings you to orgasm is important so they can feel successful in your lovemaking."

Even if you're not having sex with anyone else, masturbation has lots of benefits just for you. "Masturbation is also good for your health — your heart, immune system, and your mood," says Dr. Nelson. "Along with regular exercise, eating healthy, and getting enough sleep, masturbation is an aspect of self-care that can also increase receptivity to pleasure and increase your interest in sex. Focusing on the erotic aspect of your life makes all of your life feel more passionate."

What else do we know about how people masturbate? Here are some other findings from TENGA's report.

1. The Majority — But Not All — Of Both Men And Women Masturbate

Andrew Zaeh for Bustle

It (hopefully?) won't come as a shock that the great majority of both men (91 percent) and women (78 percent) masturbated. So, don't feel the least bit abnormal for masturbating — and if it's not your thing, you're in good company as well.

2. People Fantasize More About Their Exes More Than Their Partners

Andrew Zaeh for Bustle

Ouch. In all seriousness, though, it kind of makes sense, because you get to experience real-life sex with your current partner. For many, masturbation is time to fantasize about the forbidden — and fantasizing about something doesn't necessarily mean you want to do it in real life. People also fantasized about celebrities, the top ones being Jennifer Lopez, Jennifer Aniston, Jennifer Lawrence, Johnny Depp, Jason Momoa, and Justin Bieber (LOL).

3. Many People Hide Their Masturbation Habits

Andrew Zaeh for Bustle

Despite how widespread and normal masturbation is, 42 percent of respondents had never talked to their partners about masturbation, and 40 percent had lied about it. If you'd like for you and your partner to be more transparent about your masturbation habits, you could start with mutual masturbation.

4. Toys Improve People's Solo Sex Lives

Andrew Zaeh for Bustle

The majority of both men and women said toys improved their orgasms, their masturbation experiences, their sexual performances, and even their emotional connections with their partners. Though keep in mind the survey was conducted by a sex toy company, so you might want to take that with a grain of salt.

5. People Consider Masturbation Among The Most Pleasurable, Stress-Relieving Activities

Andrew Zaeh for Bustle

People ranked the world's most pleasurable activity as sex (though in all fairness, solo sex is sex), followed by "being with people you love" (aw) and then masturbation (how about doing all three at once?). Masturbation was the second-most stress-relieving activity, followed only by sex.

As with any sex act, you should only masturbate if you're really feeling it, not just because a study told you to. But if it's a favorite pastime of yours, don't hesitate to keep on doing it. The benefits are numerous and obvious.