Indiana’s National Survey of Sexual Health and Behavior (NSSHB) recently crunched some data that allows us a few insights into the nation’s masturbation, broken down by age, gender and frequency. Their methodology: 5K+ Americans, ages 14-94, with data collected March to May 2009. (Data science site FiveThirtyEight made a fun graphic illustrating the results, pictured above.)
Here’s what we can glean from the findings:
Around age 40, the number of women who haven’t masturbated within the past year begins to exceed 35%, and keeps climbing up. (The 30-39 bracket topped out at 37%, but then sank to 35% for the 40-49 bracket.) The older brackets grow between 8-12 percentage points. Why is this? This could point to the fact that women of earlier generations were conditioned to think that masturbation was dirty, and don’t touch themselves on a regular basis, if at all.
Across the board, women in the 2-3 times a week and over 4 times a week fall into the minority. This could indicate achieving a comfort level with their bodies, resulting in knowing exactly which buttons to push (so to speak), and/or a higher-than-average libido.
The numbers for me only hit single digits with men ages 70+ masturbating 2-3 times a week, and men ages 50-59, 60-69, and 70+ masturbating over 4 times a week. It’s probable that the decreases are inversely correlated with age.
What’s surprising is that the highest percentages weren’t in the 18-24 age range: We hear so much in popular culture that boys masturbate most frequently (at least from anecdotal evidence of any mom with at least one son). But this study shows that the largest percentages for frequency are really falling within the 30-39 and 40-49 age brackets.