Research on Masturbation

I have three questions to answer:

  1. Typical age of masturbation onset (by gender).
  2. Typical age of orgasm/ejaculatory onset (by gender).
  3. Typical age of highest masturbation frequency (by gender).

So what’s up with the relative lack of research on this topic? (Yes, that was a rhetorical question, for you smart-alecks in the peanut gallery.) Here’s what I’ve been able to find, although the sparseness of the research appals me to the degree where I’m hesitant to state these numbers absolutely:

  1. Pediatrics (kind of a giant in this kind of research) says that masturbation generally starts around 2 months for both girls and boys (although in-utero masturbation has also been observed). They go on to say that masturbation (and general body/sexual interest) drops off around 4 or 5 and then picks up again in adolescence. Now, lots of people (although apparently not Pediatrics) have trouble acknowledging that child masturbation is in fact masturbation (they say it’s “different”), but come on, people. It’s masturbation. It might not end in an orgasm, but if orgasm is our benchmark for an activity qualifying as a sexual activity, the whole ballgame just got changed.
  2. For boys, it’s maybe around 12, give or take a year. But the research that provides this information? It’s sketchy. More clear is that boys typically have this vague understanding that they will one day have something squirting from their penis, but they’re not entirely certain how they got that information. Very odd. However, information is just non-existent for girls. I have no idea at what age women tend to have their first orgasm. Certainly, for some, it is during adolescence. But others never have one. So the age spread will be much, much bigger than for boys. But I’m fascinated by this lack-of-information. Also, what about self-induced orgasms vs. partner-induced orgasms?
  3. “Adolescence.” How useful is that? Oh, wait, I forgot, it’s not it all. But best guesses for boys is maybe 13 to 15 somewhere. For girls? No idea.

Okay, folks, this is just inadequate. If anyone has information in these particular areas, I’d love to hear from you either in the comments section or privately via e-mail.

So what are your masturbation stories? I’d also love to hear them, either in comments or privately via e-mail. When did you start? When did you do it the most? What did your parents tell you (or not tell you) about it?

About Karen Rayne

Dr. Karen Rayne has been supporting parents and families since 2007 when she received her PhD in Educational Psychology. A specialist in child wellbeing, Dr. Rayne has spent much of her career supporting parents, teachers, and other adults who care for children and teenagers.


  1. Hmmm. Interesting stuff. I love research… and perfect for the tail end of National Masturbation Month (May)!

    I started myself at about 8, with my first self-induced at 10 and my first partner-induced at 14.

    As far as frequency, I am now in my mid-thirties, and have never been more “active” with myself (nor have I ever been more picky about potential partners), I guess we’ll have to see if I have hit my peak. *grins*

    Good stuff. I look forward to reading other replies… and I may try to find some research to help you out.

  2. An anonymous e-mailer asked me to provide her personal masturbation experiences:

    I can remember masturbating in my crib. My parents never said anything about it one way or the other. When I was in my early teens I started doing it more, but for years I never had an orgasm and wasn’t sure I could have one. Then when I was 16, I had my first orgasm and it was Changed my life forever. Whole new world. I masturbated the most when I was 17-19, after I discovered the glorious orgasm but before I did very much with partners

    My husband had his first orgasm while masturbating in the bathtub of his step-relatives’ house when he was 12-ish. He thought it was pretty neat.

  3. Another anonymous response via e-mail:

    And as a secret volunteer for your research I am going to answer your questions :),

    1- I have been masturbating from when I was about 10, when I found it pleasing to wash my widgets with soap.
    2- I have had orgasm/ejaculations from when I was about 14.
    3- Highest infrequency of masturbation for me was when I was 17.

    Of course, I think generally it would kinda related to parental education and the community where we live to get the proper answers to such questions. It’s very interesting to see what will be the results of your research. 🙂

  4. 1. About 10 years old, if memory serves.
    2. Hmm . . . 13, maybe? Don’t remember.
    3. High school — circa age 16/17.

    My parents never stigmatized it, though we never talked about it directly. I DO remember that our youth minister addressed it in a boys-only sex-ed class at church – positive outlook, feelings/desires are normal, don’t go overboard. Even at the time, I thought he was taking a candid, sensible approach.

  5. Hi Karen,

    My first masturbation to orgasm was during the two years I was in middle school, but I don’t recall my precise age at the time.

    However, I distinctly recall having erotically stimulating fantasies about intercourse with girls when I as young as 8 (when I was in third grade).

  6. […] They will be interviewing me about the beginnings of sexuality (remember our conversations about masturbation from last week?) for an up-coming international documentary. They will also be filming a (staged) […]

  7. […] Recently I wrote about first masturbation experiences – and how little we really know about how and when people start masturbating.  This has naturally […]

  8. i started masturbating at age 7, my neighbor friend showed me how to do it,

    i orgasmed right away but no ejaculation until i was 12

    i masturbated most at age 11 or twelve before i ejaculated the first time

  9. I have been masturbating for most of my life. The earliest orgasm I can remember was in 5th grade or about 9 years old. I am not sure when I first ejaculated, but I was about 13 years old I think. I believe the most intense orgasms I had were befire I ejaculated. I remember feeling like I was in a daze. I would be staring ahead and someone would ask what was wrong.

  10. First Masturbated (that I can remember): 11
    First Orgasm: 11, the very same time.
    Most Often: Now, actually

    Well, considering I’m a teen (15) I like my privacy, so I usually masturbate in the shower, with the water pressure beating against my clitoris, occasionally putting a finger in my vagina. Today, I actually found my G-spot and had the best orgasm EVER.

    As for my parents… They don’t know, as far as I’m aware. However, I want my mom to know, because I want to get a vibrator.

    And I agree: there should be more research into masturbation, and teens should be informed about it. My school doesn’t even have sex ed anymore. Schools just want to teach you about math and science, such as the Pathagreon Therom (sp?) and how cells reproduce, which you will NEVER come across when you go grocery shopping or something. They should teach valuable information. Sorry, I get really into that kind of topic. =-)

  11. I never really masturbated as a child. I would get erections and touch my penis, but I never did any actual masturbating where I was stroking my penis or rubbing on something.

    I was 12 the first time I masturbated. I’ve heard about it, but I wasn’t sure exactly how to do it. I knew the gesture and that stuff would squirt out of my penis. But I wasn’t sure how it would feel or exactly how to make it come out. So one day in the shower, I tried it. I remember it feeling very intense and I felt lightheaded. I didn’t actually see myself ejaculate, but my hand was sticky. The next time I tried it, I did it outside the shower and I actually saw myself ejaculate.

    I would say that I was pretty frequent between the ages of 12-18. I did it pretty regularly. I think most teenage boys do it almost every day.

  12. The first time I masturbated, I was 13. I watched a porno at my friend’s house and actually seeing a guy ejaculate was a surprise. When I went home, I tried masturbating and I ejaculated for the first time.

    When I was 14 was the first time I ever sucked my own penis. I’m well endowed and I think all guys have tired to suck their own penis and one day I could. So technically that’s also masturbation.

    I probably masturbated the most between the ages of 13-16, on average once a day. Then I started having sex, so I didn’t need to masturbate as often.

  13. I began masturbating at 13. I was naked after a shower, in my room, I had an erection of the penis, and I reached down and began stroking my penis, slow, up and down while sitting on the edge of the bed. It felt better and better until it felt like I was going to urinate. I let go of my penis as I felt it jerk up and down as fluid squirted out in spurts. After that, I played with myself every day before my parents got home.
    My parents had a medical book that had a picture of a real womans vagina and breasts. For some reason the nipples on the womans breasts turned me on while I masturbated.

  14. 1st time, age 12 in boyscouts with a friend who instructed me how to do it. Now I’m 77 and still jackoff at least once a day. I’m bi-sexual so also enjoy oral sex and jackoffs with other men.

  15. The first time I can remember masturbting to orgasm was 5th grade. I must have been 9 and did not ejaculate yet. I felt like I was in a daze and staring ahead. Sometimes I was caught in the act and told to stop it. This was usually when I had to go to urinate but did not want to miss my favorite show ending. Doing so would feel great and I could wait for the next break in the program.

  16. I started a age 7 and I orgasmed without ejaculation.

    Ejaculation started at age 13. First it was a little but quickly developed to full potential.

    Was most frequent from 13-17 when I sometimes did it up to 5 times per day.
    I also loved the stop start method and was able to carry on for hours.

  17. My first orgasm was a few months before I turned 5 – just after I started Kindergarten.

    I had noticed that my penis would get really hard sometimes, but I didn’t know why. One time, I decided to touch it. That felt really good, so I touched myself some more. A few more seconds of this felt so good – I could hardly stand it. I stopped, but the feeling got even stronger, and a few seconds later, I had my first orgasm!. It was extremely intense. I screamed and almost passed out! My whole body jerked so hard, I nearly fell out of my bed! I had no idea what had just happened to me, but I knew that I wanted to feel it again. I started touching my penis some more. I experienced my second orgasm just a few seconds later! Again, it was so intense that I nearly fell out of the bed! But….it felt so, so good! I brought myself to orgasm 10 times that day! From that point on, I masturbated to orgasm around 4-5 times a day throughout my childhood. Back then, I could bring myself to orgasm quickly – 1 or 2 minutes at most. My orgasms were usually very, very intense. When I was in 1st grade, I learned from my best friend that I wasn’t the only one who had these “special feelings”. (Until then, I had thought that maybe I was the only one.) Throughout my childhood and adolescence, I remained very interested in masturbation and enjoyed experimenting with various techniques. I often experimented with delaying & prolonging my orgasms. I also tried to ‘think’ my way to orgasm many, many times. I was only able to do that once – when I was about 12.

    My first clear ejaculation was when I was around 11, and about a year later, I had my first ‘milky’ ejaculation. I continued to masturbate to orgasm at least once or twice per day throughout my adolescence and early adulthood. For me, the intensity of orgasm was greatest before I reached puberty. They’re still great – just not the ‘knock-me-off-the-bed’ orgasms I had during my childhood years.

    I’m now in my 50s. I still masturbate around 4 to 8 times a week. As a supplement to orgasm via intercourse, my partner I & often bring each other to orgasm via mutual masturbation. She had her first orgasm when she was 9. It was ‘accidental’ – it happened while she was riding her bike. She tried to masturbate to orgasm after that, but couldn’t bring herself to orgasm until she was 18.

    My most active period of masturbation was from age 4.5 through age 13.

    1) When I was young, I could usually bring myself to orgasm in just a minute or two.

    2) My orgasms were very, very intense before puberty.

    3) Consecutive orgasms were common for me back then. I could nearly always achieve a second orgasm & sometimes a third – simply by continuing to masturbate for couple minutes or so after the first one. My 2nd & 3rd consecutive orgasms felt great, but were usually less intense than the first one.

    4) As I approached puberty, I seemed to gradually lose the ability to achieve successive orgasms. I found that I usually had to wait for my erection to subside before I could orgasm again. When I did manage two in a row, the second one didn’t feel anywhere near as good as when I was younger.

    5) I noticed that as I got older, it took more time for me to reach orgasm via self-masturbation. By the time I was in high-school, it usually took 5-15 minutes – about the same as it takes nowadays.

    These are the reasons why my I masturbated much more often when I was younger.


    First self-induced orgasm: age 4 1/2
    First clear ejaculation: age 11
    First ‘milky’ ejaculation: age 12
    First pubic hair: age 13
    Most active period of masturbation: age 4.5-13

  18. i started about 2 days ago the day before thanksgiving 09 i am 11 and its awesome 🙂 longest was proly in my shower…it is fun yes yes yes be right back………(00)
    (( )________ _
    ___ ok i am back and very very happy :):):):):):):):):):):):):):):):):):):):):):):):):):):):):):):):):):):):):):):):):):):):):):):):):))::):):

  19. see comment given without the name

  20. I think my first orgasm was in Girl Scouts. No boys or dads are allowed so my leader taught us that it is not lesbian if there is no choice but girls. Everyone got naked wearing a long tshirt too sleep in and my leader did all of us to show us how to do it that night. We stayed up I think until 2 doing each other because it not being lesbian if there is no other choice than girls.

  21. Fortunately, I can pinpoint the weeks before and after my 14th birthday quite clearly.

    Up to that time I had ‘played’, but never all the way to orgasm. I had just arrived at a new boarding school, and a new friend in my class began talking to me about sex, and he asked if I had had a wet dream. I relied in the negative and he suggested that when it happened i should tell him.

    The wet dream happened soon after when the conversation was still fresh in my mind. I told my friend of it, and he said to me that “I would now start pulling myself”. Sure enough within days I had this extreme urge to play with my erect penis in the top bunk in my dormitory. I knew instinctively what I had to do and I gave NO thought to the shaking bed the boy in the lower bunk must have noticed.

    They were my first of many 1000s of ejaculations (coitus and masturbation) over the past 58 years of wonderful sexuality.

    My most frequent time was at about 16, when I realised that I was masturbating 3 times a day on average, and the thought of it going to 4 and 5 or more scared me. I literally knelt down beside my bed and prayed for help in getting it down to 1 per day – FAILED!!!

    I did not gain any control over the frequency until I was over 19.

    At 72, I still masturbate about every 4 to 6 days, in bed, in the shower, or at the computer with XXX, it keeps me sane!

  22. @ above comment by “nookie”:

    my leader did all of us to show us how to do it

    It’s one thing for girls to experiment with each other but for a girl scout leader, i.e., an adult, to do what you described is not acceptable. If there is any way you could still report this woman, I would urge you to consider doing so.

  23. First masturbated when I was 11. Achieved orgasm, but no ejaculation. Masturbated most days after the first time. Started to ejaculate a little clear liquid after a few months. Quantity of liquid quickly increased and liquid became milky. Had access to an old microscope and looked at my semen sometime a few months before 13th birthday. Lots of live sperm. Quite a weird feeling looking at them wriggling about.

    Orgasms were gentler before I started ejaculating, like waves of intense pleasure washing over me, with centres of pleasure in my feet, thighs, chest and stomach. After I started ejaculating my orgasms became more intense and centred around the groin.

    Muliple orgasms were possible before I started ejaculating. Impossible afterwards.

    Not sure about when I’ve been most frequent. Maybe late teens: three times a day max. Usually once. I’m 45 and I still have quite an appetite sometimes. It varies. In spring and summer I’m pretty horny.

  24. I’m so glad I found your column. I’m a single father with an 18 yr. old daughter. I heard her bed making a familiar sound the other night so although I never imagined girls masturbate as much as boys at that age I can’t deny it any longer.
    I had another question. I’m so glad you mentioned people may masturbate in the crib because when I used to change my daughter’s diapers and you know look at her hoo ha and what not I could have sworn she would slam her knees together! I thought it was modesty but she’d open them again right away and even ‘assume the tush cleaning position’. I thought I was nuts.
    I’m so glad for this chance to get this off my chest. Whew!
    I brought myself to orgasm when I was twelve with my best friend, btw.

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