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What is masturbation?

  • Wanking or masturbating is the act of touching your genitals in a way that makes you feel good. It may or may not lead to an orgasm.

  • Masturbating isn’t just for men despite what you may hear or see in the media.

  • Wanking or touching yourself is a normal and healthy way to explore and enjoy your sexuality.

Masturbation is a bit of a tricky subject. Everyone does it (ok most people)  but we rarely talk about it, which makes it really tough to know what’s normal, or ask questions about it. 

If you or someone you care about is struggling with their mental wellbeing because of masturbation, you can talk to someone about it. Contact the CALM helpline here.

Is masturbating normal? 

The good news is, that whatever you’re doing, the chances are it’s normal. Sex, and sexual pleasure isn’t one size fits all. Everyone likes different things, in different ways, at different times. You could say there’s no such thing as normal when it comes to sexual preferences. Some like a lot of sex, some aren’t fussed – the important thing is to not judge yourself (or other people) for what they get up to.

There are a few things you might want to talk to someone about. CALM’s free, anonymous and non-judgemental helpline is there to chat about whatever’s getting you down. You might want to talk to someone if: 

  • You’re masturbating so much that it doesn’t feel good or is getting in the way of your everyday life
  • You are wanking in a public place, or around someone who is not aware of your actions.
  • You can’t stop thinking about masturbating in a way that’s unwanted or intrusive, and is affecting your day-to-day activities.

Why do people masturbate?

Simply? Because it feels good. Masturbation begins with arousal – that could be watching porn or thinking sexual thoughts.You can find our more about sexuality here. Masurbating is completely normal, and for many is the first sexual experience they have. It’s a good way to learn about your sexual needs and desires, but studies have shown it can also help you sleep, relax, and even boost your self-confidence. As long as what you’re doing is safe, don’t worry about what other people say about mastubating. There aren’t any negative physical or mental effects, so nope it won’t affect your eyesight, it doesn’t mean you’re odd or disgusting, and it won’t make you bad at sex.

Where can I find help?

Talk to CALM from 5pm to midnight everyday. Our professional helpline workers are there to talk and to help you find ways to move forward. Calls and webchats are free, anonymous, non-judgemental and confidential. 

Outside of these hours, calls the Samaritans on 116 123

Contact your GP for an appointment

Self-refer yourself to NHS Psychological Therapies here

Talking about masturbation

Masturbation is a very private thing, so it can be hard to talk about it. If you’re worried about masturbation, it might help to talk to a trusted friend or family member. Sometimes, talking about masturbation may not be appropriate, so make sure the person you are speaking to is comfortable and consents to the conversation. The CALM helpline is there to talk about whatever is getting you down from 5pm to midnight everyday.

“Can I talk to you about masturbation/sex? I’m not sure about ______ and it’s making me feel low. ”


5pm-midnight | free | confidential | Anonymous

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Worried about someone? Find information and advice for someone you care about here.