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What is masturbation, and how do you do it?

Masturbation is when people touch their own bodies for sexual pleasure. People masturbate in lots of different ways. Touching your own body for sexual pleasure is different for everyone. How you do it depends on what makes your body feel good.

Some people may stroke or rub their penis or may use their fingers to touch themselves on or near the clitoris, the sensitive organ that is located just above the opening of the vagina. Masturbation sometimes results in orgasm; sometimes it doesn’t.

Masturbation is a good way to learn about your body and your sexual feelings without the complications that can come when you have sex or do sexual things with someone else. Masturbation can’t lead to pregnancy or cause a sexually transmitted disease (STD) either.

People of all ages masturbate—from infants to people who are much older. Some people choose not to masturbate. A lot of people believe that masturbation is a normal, healthy thing to do. You need to decide for yourself what you believe and whether or not you want to experiment with touching your own body. If so, just make sure you have some privacy.

Masturbation Myths Debunked

Myth: You’ll run out of sperm if you masturbate too much and won’t be able to have children.

Truth: Sperm are constantly being made, so you won’t run out, and there’s no need to worry about not being able to have a child in the future. In fact, sperm only make up about 1 percent of what’s in semen.

Myth: Masturbation stunts your growth.

Truth: No credible studies have shown that masturbation causes health problems, stunts your growth, causes hair to sprout on your hands, changes the way your genitals look or any of those other outrageous myths you might have heard. No one—not even your health care provider—will be able to tell if you’ve ever masturbated.

Myth: Girls don’t masturbate.

Truth: It’s absolutely true that many girls masturbate. In fact, most people do it at some point in their lives. Surveys show that 81 percent of males and 60 percent of females between the ages of 18 and 19 masturbated during the past year. That means it’s normal if you do, and it’s normal if you don’t.

For a teen girl’s take on masturbation, check out the story “Masturbation: Girls, Let’s Admit It.”

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