big masturbation study shows unhappiness with masturbation

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More masturbation correlates with greater unhappiness.

More happiness in a relationship correlates with less masturbation.

And big surprise, LOL (irony here), if people have a lot of partner sex, they tend to masturbate very little.

Who knew???


Although the NFSS does not track respondents over time, and did not ask the key question in quite the same manner as the 1992 NHSLS or the 2010 Indiana University sex study, there is nevertheless reason to believe that the frequency of masturbation among young adults is increasing.

Here’s why: the NHSLS data noted that 29 percent of men aged 18-24 reported masturbating at least once a week.

The NFSS, meanwhile, finds that 35 percent of 18-24-year old men report having masturbated in the past day—either today or yesterday. When expanded to encompass the past six days, that figure rises to 68 percent.

Although the measures are not directly comparable—and social desirability concerns may have diminished some over the past 20 years—it nevertheless suggests not a mere uptick in masturbation but rather a possible surge in the practice among men.

Something similar has likely occurred among women as well.

Whereas nine percent of 18-24-year-old women reported masturbating an average of once a week in the 1992 NHSLS, past-week masturbation was reported by 36 percent of same-age women in the NFSS. To be sure, some portion of this may be due to increasing comfort in admitting masturbation, but to suggest that a 300-percent-increase is due solely to ease of admission seems unlikely, especially given the tight association of now-ubiquitous pornography use noted in the regression tables. In 1992, there simply was no online pornography. While bona fide demand for masturbation could have increased in 20 years, the technological stimulation and social encouragement of demand certainly has increased.



Thanks for posting this

I like the authors' cautious conclusion too:


Given the inverse associations documented here and elsewhere between masturbation and emotional and relational well-being, evidence of increasingly-frequent (rather than sporadic) masturbation ought to give us pause. While masturbation boasts no apparent public health risks, it yields no widespread emotional and relational benefits, and may possibly extract costs.

Discerning the causal order of which occurs first does not much matter, actually, since they likely foster and reinforce each other, and—from the numbers—are co-occurring in greater numbers of young adults than ever. Indeed, heightened pornographic stimulation and concomitant masturbation—both obvious in the NFSS—are increasingly being realized not simply as social facts of the 21st century but as new challenges to human flourishing. Some theorists assert that these correlated twins foster a state once identified as “acedia,” a listlessness or apathy more often found in solitary acts that yield boredom, sadness, and a rejection of the personal and social goods typically located and experienced within relationships (and, by extension, within sexual intercourse). Although survey data limits our ability to explore this, the evidence presented herein hints in such a direction.

These two articles are perhaps relevant here too:

Masturbation, Recovery and Sexual Health - SASH The Society for the Advancement of Sexual Health

Rethinking the Wonders of Adult Masturbation | Your Brain On Porn

Are any other researchers

Are any other researchers mentioning acedia? The acedia literature is dense, especially without a deeper understanding of Christian texts. It seems few can define acedia in a way that makes is a useful label.

A problem with this notion is that it doesn't filter out other aspects of modern life which might themselves lead folks toward acedia.

Masturbation makes us unhappy since orgasm changes perception

I have always intuitively felt that masturbation makes us unhappy.

I have never masturbated because the culture I grew in did not tell me I should masturbate. Neither did my parents or siblings and friends masturbate. I was born in early 80s in the Soviet Union and while growing up we did not have a computer or internet. I created my very first email account in a computer lab when I was almost 19. So I guess - fortunately - my sister and I just did not learn how "beneficial" the masturbation is.

I might not be able to contribute anything on masturbation, but I do on the detrimental nature of orgasm, which is the product of masturbation.

Already as a teenanger/young adult I came across some literature (mostly of esoteric type) saying that the orgasm is detrimental for my health and general wellbeing. Since my relationships were very unsatisfying anyway and I was constantly in poor health, I decided in my early 20s to give up dating altogether and live celebate. Then I spent 5-6 years wondering what was going on: I was single, I did not masturbate, but my emotional state and my health did not improve at all, I was depressed, anxious, had really bad mood fluctations, several nervous breakdowns and my endocrine system was collapsing, even though I was really willing to get well (without taking drugs).

Suddenly it struck me that I might be having orgasm in sleep. Then I started to pay attention to my genitals while sleeping and fortunately was able to recognize contractions (orgasm). It took me several years more to regonize the whole orgasmic cycle in my body and see clearly what was going on.

The conclusion I came up with is very similar to what Marnia came up (cf. "The cupid's poisoned arrow").
No matter how our body produces orgasm, it triggers the feeling of separation and alienation (not only with a partner, but with all of life), mood fluctations and change in perception (in negative direction). It is clear to me now that my body needs about 2 weeks to recuperate from an orgasm. The longer time without orgasm, the better quality of life I experience. After about 6 weeks of being "clean" my perception gets very refined and I experience a lot of inner peace. And my health is finally ok.

Relationships are also important

Celibacy has its own pitfalls and health risks. Certainly the ancient Chinese Daoists thought it was unhealthy. In multiple cultures celibacy required careful management, perhaps to lessen some of the health drawbacks. For example, muliple traditions taught techniques for circulating and spreading sexual energy to improve health. See Energy Circulation Practices.

The focus of my work is that relationships contribute powerfully to wellbeing, and orgasm can be an unsuspected contributor to disharmony. My goal wasn't to vilify orgasm, but to encourage people to experiment so they could understand more about its effects.

I agree

Nothing against relations, of course it is nice to be in a healthy relationship. To be honest, I did not read all of your book... I just read the parts about orgasm...

And certainly relationships, especially romantic ones, contribute powerfully to wellbeing. My friendships and relationships mean a lot to me, and my family memebrs of course too.

Thanks for the link, I am currently doing the Pranayama energy circulation practice, but it looks like there are many more. There are also these breathing techniques called Masdasnan that are popular here in Germany, but I have not learned them yet.

I'm struck

at how I stopped a life of constant masturbation cold turkey with virtually no effort and no looking back.

Replaced it with frequent Karezza and naked cuddling with my wife instead.

Masturbation is impossible now really. I have had no interest in it for years, and the circuitry that I used to employ brain-penis isn't really alive anymore. I get erections sometimes for various reasons but masturbation isn't one of those reasons and it's very difficult to get an erection with touch.

I found a study that shows Oxytocin can increase non-touch arousal and I believe this to be true.

But I also believe that nothing is MORE important to us humans as frequent contact with a romantic partner, sexual and otherwise. Not talk, but contact.

I think masturbation is depressing and I always thought so but didn't know there was an option.