Actual and Desired Masturbation Frequency, Sexual Distress, and Their Correlates

Sijia Huang*, Thomas Nyman, Patrik Jern, Pekka Santtila

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

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Abstract

We investigated the prevalence of problematic masturbation using different criteria. We also investigated if masturbation-related distress was associated with sexual abuse history, family attitudes towards sexuality during childhood, and depression and anxiety symptoms. Here, 12,271 Finnish men and women completed a survey reporting masturbation frequency, desired masturbation frequency, sexual distress, childhood sexual abuse, sex-positive family background, as well as depression and anxiety symptoms. Among both sexes, those whose masturbation frequency did not match with desired frequency experienced more sexual distress. Different conceptualizations of problematic masturbation resulted in different proportions of individuals categorized as having it (i.e., 8.3% of men and 2.7% of women experienced self-perceived problematic masturbation, that is masturbating more than they desired and experiencing sexual distress; 2% of men and 0.6% of women masturbated more frequently than average and meanwhile experienced self-perceived problematic masturbation; 6.3% of men and 2.1% of women masturbated less frequently than average but still experienced self-perceived problematic masturbation). Moreover, among both sexes, self-perceived problematic masturbation was positively associated with childhood sexual abuse, depression, and anxiety, while negatively associated with a sex-positive family background. Our results point to the complexity of defining problematic masturbation. Causes of sexual distress related to masturbation need to be carefully examined case by case to choose an appropriate clinical approach.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)3155-3170
Number of pages16
JournalArchives of Sexual Behavior
Volume52
Issue number7
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2023
MoE publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed

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