Prevalence, frequency, and associations of masturbation with partnered sexual behaviors among us adolescents

Cynthia L. Robbins, Vanessa Schick, Michael Reece, Debra Herbenick, Stephanie A. Sanders, Brian Dodge, J. Dennis Fortenberry

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

36 Scopus citations


Objective: To assess masturbation prevalence, frequency, and associations with partnered sexual behaviors. Design: Cross-sectional survey. Setting: The United States of America. Participants: Nationally representative samples of adolescents aged 14 to 17 years. Main Outcome Measures: Solo masturbation, partnered sexual behaviors, and condom use. Results: Across age groups, more males (73.8%) reported masturbation than females (48.1%). Among males, masturbation occurrence increased with age: at age 14 years, 62.6% of males reported at least 1 prior occurrence, whereas 80% of 17-year-old males reported ever having masturbated. Recent masturbation also increased with age in males: 67.6% of 17-year-olds reported masturbation in the past month, compared with 42.9% of 14-year-olds. In females, prior masturbation increased with age (58% at age 17 years compared with 43.3% at age 14 years), but recent masturbation did not. Masturbation was associated with numerous partnered sexual behaviors in both males and females. In males, masturbation was associated with condom use, but in females it was not. Conclusions: Sexual development is a dynamic process during adolescence, and masturbation is an enduring component of sexuality. Fundamental differences appear to exist between male and female sexual expression. Health care providers should recognize that many teens masturbate and discuss masturbation with patients because masturbation is integral to normal sexual development.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1087-1093
Number of pages7
JournalArchives of Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine
Issue number12
StatePublished - Dec 2011

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health

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