Say Hell-ohhh to Masturbation May: Solo Play Confessions

Say Hell-ohhh to Masturbation May: Solo Play Confessions

by Lovehoney

on Apr 27, 2021

In celebration of Masturbation May, get the lowdown on our masturbation habits with findings from our survey, plus insights from sexfluencer Ashley Cobb.

why we should be proud to masturbate

Masturbation May is upon us. A whole month to relish in the sheer, unadulterated bliss that is masturbation. Whether you indulge in solo play or with a partner, masturbation is a great form of stress release as well as an excellent way of getting to know your body and prioritising your sexual pleasure. So why not make the most of it this May?

Masturbation is a natural and normal part of self-exploration and sex. And while many people are open about their self-love escapades, for some, masturbation can be shrouded in shame and embarrassment.

But why? Surely we live in a world that’s sexually liberated enough to banish these inhibitions?

On a quest for answers, we got under the hood of the menage-a-moi and surveyed 2,000 sexually active people in the US about their masturbation habits and sex toy use. Sexfluencer, blogger, and orgasm activist Ashley Cobb then broke down the findings with some intriguing solo-play insights.

How often do we masturbate?

Most of us (70%) masturbate at least once a month, which could be deemed too much or too little, depending on who you’re talking to. However, our solo-sessions reduce as we get older with almost a third (27%) of over 55s saying they never masturbate, compared to 4% of 18- to 24-year-olds who say the same.

“Solo sex has been proven to slow down with age,” Ashley explains, “which could be attributed to hormonal or life changes. As we age, we tend to have more responsibilities that come from work, family, and just life itself so we tend to not prioritize self-care, which includes masturbation. In addition to life, we experience hormonal changes that decrease our desire for sex itself. But as masturbation can be relieving, it’s important to prioritize pleasure.”

This dedication to ourselves was seen more so in single people with 50% jacking it several times a week compared to 1 in 3 people in new and long-term relationships.

Ashley says, “single people tend to masturbate more as sex with a partner may be not as readily accessible, while those in a monogamous relationship who see their partner regularly would more likely opt for sex with their partner than masturbating. But single or coupled, masturbation should still be a regular part of one’s self-care routine as solo sex can help us with more than just sexual satisfaction.”

Why do we masturbate?

The obvious answer would be ‘because it feels good’. But as masturbation has been found to aid with things like insomnia and stress, it seems the reasons behind rubbing one out are nuanced, personal, and far-reaching.

We found that the main reason over half of us (52%) masturbate is to relax. This was chosen above anything else, including getting aroused (38%) and helping with orgasm (32%). This could be an indication not only of the amount of stress in our lives, as Ashley mentioned, but also that masturbating to ease stress takes precedence over our sex lives. That, and the surprising realization that solo-sessions play such an important role in alleviating tension.

why do we masturbate

The release of endorphins that happens when we masturbate can not only ease stress but can help our mental health, too, by boosting our mood. This was backed by our findings, which found that 29% of people masturbate because it helps with mental health, and when asked how masturbation makes us feel, 51% said ‘happy’ and 41% said ‘more content’.

The idea that masturbation isn’t just a sexual tool is not a new concept, but it’s one that many might not immediately think of as a support mechanism when looking to improve their mental health.

How do we masturbate

In the US, 1 in 2 Americans use sex toys to masturbate (51%), however, this means that a fairly big percentage don’t use them. This may be because people prefer to use a good old-fashioned hand, or are unaware of just how big the exciting world of sex toys for masturbation is. The more we normalize talking about masturbation and sex toys, there’s no doubt those who haven’t used sex toys before will become more aware of them and give them a go.

Overall, women are more likely to use sex toys to masturbate (62%) compared to men (49%). This is because “the whole sex toy industry is women-focused,” Ashley says, which could be two-pronged: not only do women historically find it harder to orgasm than men and often need more foreplay – sparking demand for tools that help – but Ashley explains “there’s a huge stigma for around sex toys and men. Men are taught their penis is the only ‘toy’ they need, so many don’t see the need for a sex toy that enhances masturbation.”

Who knows about our sex toys?

If you’re honest about your sex toy usage, you’re not alone, as 2 out of 3 people say their partners know they use sex toys, which means a third (28%) haven’t told their partners.

While we should be honest and open about using sex toys, Ashley concludes why this might not be the case, saying that, “a lot of people hide their use sex toys from their partners as a way to protect them from feeling inadequate or threatened. The idea that a man or woman has failed at sex if they can't give their partner an orgasm is not proof of their sexual inadequacy, but could rather be the result of several underlying factors such as inability to orgasm physically or lack of connection.”

Whipping out our sex toys in front of our partners not only gets easier with age but is apparently easier the longer we’re in a relationship, too:

  • More 25- to 34-year-olds hide their sex toys from their partners compared to 45-54-year-olds who are proud to tell them.

  • 48% of people in a new relationship have told their partner about their sex toys compared to 76% of those in long-term relationships.

We get it – talking about masturbation and sex toys with friends has a different vibe than with your SO or lover. When you’re with buddies, sex toys are often seen as something to laugh about; the majority of us enjoy talking about them and often joking about using them (61% combined).

discuss sex toy with friends

Despite the majority of us being open to discussing sex toys with our friends, the majority of us put them away in our underwear drawer, a shoebox, or inside gloves. But even though we tend to keep them in places where they can’t be seen, 1 in 4 Americans say they wouldn’t mind if they were to spot their friend’s sex toys in plain sight and almost a quarter (24%) would even laugh about it.

where to keep your sex toys

These stats prove that sex toys are something to be proud of, but also, as Ashley says, “they enhance the sexual experience, can spice things up in the bedroom, and having open conversations about what we want can lead to better sex.”

Would you be brave enough to introduce the little gadgets you use to get off into a conversation? Or maybe leave your dildo out for all to see? Considering how many of us masturbate and how good it makes us feel, it seems there’s a disconnect between our love of pleasuring ourselves and sex toy shyness. So, next time the opportunity presents, why not bite the bullet (vibrator) and shout about your sex toy pride.


Written by Lovehoney. For collaborative posts between Lovehoney team members and guest authors
Covering simply everything

Originally published on Apr 27, 2021. Updated on Oct 21, 2020