Studies have found that masturbation is frequent in humans of both sexes and all ages, although there is variation.
Various medical and psychological benefits have been attributed to a healthy attitude toward sexual activity in general and to masturbation in particular.
In the Western world, masturbation in private or with a partner is generally considered a normal and healthy part of sexual enjoyment.
Animal masturbation has been observed in many species, both in the wild and in captivity.
No causal relationship is known between masturbation and any form of mental or physical disorder.
Masturbation has been depicted in art since prehistoric times and is mentioned and discussed in very early writings.
Men and women may masturbate until they are close to orgasm, stop for a while to reduce excitement, and then resume masturbating. This "stop and go" build-up, known as "edging", can achieve even stronger orgasms.
A variation on this is to place the fingers and thumb on the penis as if playing a flute, and then shuttle them back and forth.
Lying face down on a comfortable surface such as a mattress or pillow, the penis can be rubbed against it.
The English word masturbation was introduced in the 18th century, based on the Latin verb masturbari, alongside the more technical and slightly earlier onanism. Suggested derivations include an unattested word for penis, *mazdo, cognate with Greek mézea μέζεα, "genitals", or alternatively a corruption of an unattested *manusturpare ("to defile with the hand"), by association with turbare "to disturb".
were common in early modern times and are still found in modern dictionaries.
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