Mainstream Masturbation: What Are The Masturbation 'Norms' In The US?

In 2020 TENGA surveyed over 1,000 men and women aged between 18-54 in the US alone in our 5th annual TENGA Global Self Pleasure Report. This survey inquired about their habits related to sex, masturbation and sex toy usage, and revealed some pleasant results. We found that this year, more than any previous year we've conducted this survey, America is becoming more open towards masturbation and sexuality! What does the ‘average’ masturbation session look like in the US, though? Let’s take a look at the average masturbation habits in the US.


The State Of Masturbation In The US

First off it’s important to note that 84% of US Adults 18-54 have masturbated before, so you can rest assured that you’re not alone! It’s also perfectly normal to masturbate if you have a partner, with 4 in 5 masturbating by themselves even while being in a relationship. As for the frequency of masturbation, more than half of those who masturbate do so at least once a week. Men have a higher masturbation frequency, with 30% masturbating several times a week. Women, however, are more likely to masturbate less than once a week. 

We also found out that most Americans who masturbate do so to mostly relax, satisfy their (very natural!) urges, or to just get some self-pleasure. It isn’t just sexually motivated reasons, however, with nonsexual reasons like “To help me sleep” and “Because I’m bored.” also being included. This makes sense when you consider the health benefits of masturbation, which we also covered here

How about the length of each masturbation session, though? Around 52% report masturbating for an average of 10 minutes or less per session, and only 6% report an average session lasting longer than 30 minutes. So if you tend to finish fast when masturbating, don’t worry, you don’t need to aim for the Guinness World Record every time! An interesting fact is men are more likely to view pornography or use images than women while they masturbate. Women tend to use their imagination/fantasize and are more likely to use sex toys.

The Use Of Sex Toys


Since the Global Survey was conducted by TENGA, we obviously wanted to learn about sex toy usage. It turns out half of US Adults 18-54 report having used a sex toy previously! However, while most women and LGBTQIA+ have used a sex toy, most men and Gen Z have not. That being said, 2020 saw a slight rise from 2019 in the perception that sex toys are equally useful or more useful for men. A great thing to hear in our mission to revolutionize sexual pleasure!

Once people have used sex toys, it seems most don’t turn back. Of the women who had used a sex toy, 61% remain current users, with a slightly smaller percentage of 55% of men reporting the same. In the LGBTQIA+ community, respondents are more likely than their non-LGBTQIA+ counterparts to use sex toys to orgasm and enhance their masturbation sessions. Even so, non-LGBTQIA+ respondents are more likely to use a sex toy to try something new.

While the percentage of men using sex toys is lower, 40% of men who have used sex toys report using them at least once a week, compared to only 28% of women. This could be due to the higher frequency of masturbating men reported. Interestingly, of the 50% of respondents who have never used a sex toy previously, the majority claim they have “never considered using sex toys”. This might change though, as an apt 69% of Americans are open to buying a sex toy in the future. 

People's Perception Of Masturbation


People's perception of masturbation seems to be taking on a more positive light. Most US adults aged 18-54 agreed that masturbation is a natural thing to do. Others agreed that masturbation is good for your health and that it is a form of self-care or “therapy”. It seems the younger you are, the less you feel that masturbation is private or taboo too, with 48% of Gen X strongly agrees that masturbation is a private matter, compared to 43% of Millennials and 33% of Gen Z.

Americans, on the whole, tend to disagree with moral or religious objections to masturbation with the majority at least somewhat believing that taboos surrounding masturbation need to go and that society would benefit if people discussed sexual topics more openly. That being said, there was still a general feeling of reluctance to talk about these issues themselves, as most disagreed that “It is important to talk about masturbation with people I am close with.”. 

Most Americans did agree that masturbation has positive effects in areas such as health, mood, self-confidence and sex appeal. This is something we can agree on, with this blog we wrote about detailing the many great benefits! Regular masturbators tend to be more comfortable and confident when it comes to sex and masturbation. Not to mention being more satisfied with their sexual experiences overall. So if you want a boost to your self-confidence and sexual experiences, it may be time to masturbate more.

Masturbation During Quarantine

Early in 2020, we saw the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic, which forced hundreds of thousands of people into quarantine. We asked recipients questions about their experience during the COVID lockdowns and found out some interesting answers. Within the 90% of US adults between 18-54 who self-isolated, quarantined, and/or social-distanced during the COVID-19 pandemic, nearly one-third of those in a committed relationship found themselves isolated from their partners or spouses. 

Around 71% of those who self-isolated, quarantined, and/or social-distanced during the COVID-19 pandemic agreed that “sexual pleasure [helped them] feel better or act[ed] as a form of ‘self-care’ during self-isolation or quarantine.”. A staggering 37% of people also said that they had increased their frequency of masturbation during this time as a form of stress relief among other reasons. That includes people who isolated with or without their partners. Interestingly (and significantly, for us!), around 54% who masturbated more during self-isolation said they will continue to do so. 

Lastly, masturbation and sex toys have been a lifeline during the COVID-19 quarantine. Around 2 in 5 Americans masturbated more during isolation, particularly those in relationships but not isolated with a partner. It turned out that half of those surveyed used a sex toy during quarantine, with men more likely to say they purchased one specifically for use during that time. It looks like this new habit will continue, with the majority of those surveyed saying they will continue increased use of their sex toys even after the COVID lockdowns end!

Mainstream Masturbation In The US

Just a short read of the Global Survey shows first and foremost that almost everybody masturbates, mostly for relaxation but for many reasons, and masturbating whether you’re in a relationship or not is fine. With the majority of Americans, regardless of sexual orientation, report having masturbated before, it’s becoming much more mainstream. We’re hoping that these positive trends continue into 2021 and go on to improve in the years to come. 

Featured Contents