Masturbation Habits Affected by COVID-19

Good Vibrations and Babeland Masturbation Month Survey Yields Insights into Self-Pleasure

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Another Masturbation Month has come and gone, and sex-positive adult toy companies Good Vibrations and Babeland have joined forces to see where masturbation stands today, in the time of COVID-19 and quarantine. Good Vibrations staff launched National Masturbation Month, celebrated every May, in 1995; thanks to the two companies working together to survey customers and social media followers, the May 2020 research represents their largest-ever collection of relevant data.

Masturbation Month Survey Results

In all, 1760 people responded to the survey, sharing information about their experience with self-pleasure–starting off with respondents letting us know just how often they masturbate.

    ● ~8% do it more than once a day
    ● ~16% masturbate daily
    ● ~46% self-pleasure a few times a week
    ● ~9% do it weekly
    ● ~13% masturbate a few times a month
    ● And ~6.5% less frequently than that
Asked for comments, many people wanted to sketch in more detail. Some mentioned that their masturbation timing was associated with their menstrual cycles. Mood, age, medication, and privacy all played a role for various poll respondents.

Then there’s the reality of living in a pandemic. While some respondents said that their masturbation habits have increased during shelter-in-place– “I didn’t used to but quarantine is making me a little tense…”–factors like stress and lack of privacy, especially for those quarantined with family or roommates, has caused a decline in that kind of “me time” for some. “COVID-19 world is not a sexy world,” one respondent wrote.

Masturbation Month Survey Results

When asked, “Has your masturbation changed in the time of COVID-19?” respondents replied:

    ● Around 14% cited decreased duration/ability due to setting change (quarantined with friends/family etc.)—a few specifically mentioned having privacy issues
    ● ~20% agreed that they are experiencing increased duration or ability due to a setting change (work/school from home, quarantined with partner, etc.)
    ● About 24% affirmed that their libido has decreased due to stress, though close to 19% said the converse—their libido has increased due to stress
    ● Close to 39% are seeing no real effect as far as masturbation goes
“My libido has increased yet it seems to fizzle out faster. So it’s both an increase and decrease at the same time,” said one. “Only somewhat decreased ability–I have privacy in my bedroom, but can’t do anything that makes noise. So, vibrators are out, dildos are in,” said another. Another “can’t see any of my partners and really depressed about it.” “Exhaustion from constant parenting,” said yet another respondent, and another confessed, “The change in libido has been shocking and distressing for me.” Others were making the most of things: “I think in part being deprived of touch (I live alone) makes me want to do it more often,” said one, and “I have more time to think about sex, so I find myself masturbating more and taking my time,” said another. (Others also mentioned taking longer.) “’Stimulus’ check paid for toys lol,” said yet another respondent. And: “There’s nothing better than a good strong orgasm to release the stress!! I keep all my toys on the chargers now, nothing worse than having your favorite toy die mid-orgasm!!!”

And respondents shared words of insight: “Initially experienced a decrease in libido due to stress/depression, but recently experienced an increase due to (I think) craving more physical connection,” said one thoughtful respondent. “Quarantine has changed my maturation habits a bit–lately less about getting hyped up (either for myself or a date), & more often as self-soothing,” said another. And this: “5+ orgasms/week keeps the doctor away, and always has. No decrease in libido, nor a marked increase. The marked increase in longing is for another’s touch.”

Masturbation Month Survey Results

Respondents were asked “How do you get yourself aroused before / while masturbating?” Many common options were offered for survey-takers: watching porn videos, looking at photos / nudes, reading written erotica, sexting with a partner, pure imagination, or other. For all these options, people could choose Always, Often, Sometimes, Rarely, or Never.

    ● When it comes to porn videos, of our respondents, ~11% always watch to get going, almost 32% often do, about 29% watch sometimes, about 16% rarely do, and ~10% never tune in to turn on.

○ One person replied with the caveat that they only like the personalized porn their partner sends of themselves. Another doesn’t need to loop in a partner or find a video: “Watching myself in a mirror” does the trick.

    ● Only 2.5% always use photos / nudes for inspiration, while over 16% often do, just over 29% sometimes do, ~29% rarely do, and almost 24% never do.
    ● Respondents who always turn to written erotica for inspiration number ~3.5%, ~20% often read to get aroused, ~31% sometimes do, amost 24% rarely do, and almost 21% never reach for a book or story to get in the mood.

○ Others cited video game worlds they find sexy, blog feeds like Tumblr, and fanfiction.

    ● Sexting assumes that you have a partner to sext with, and not all our survey respondents do. Of those that responded, ~3% told us they always sext before or during masturbation. Almost 14% often do, ~27% sometimes do, a little over 24% rarely do, while almost 32% never sext, at least in this context. One responder prefers “good old-fashioned phone sex.”
    ● Pure imagination—call it fantasy if you like—has plenty of fans. Almost 18% of respondents always rely on this powerful aphrodisiac. Just about 34% often engage in it to get aroused, about 29% sometimes do, while almost 14% rarely do. Nearly 5% say they never fantasize to get worked up for masturbation.
When we asked what other tactics turned respondents on, several mentioned audio erotica; others cited masturbating with partners and getting turned on in that context; various kinds of “masturbation foreplay” activities were cited too, like Tantric meditation and ASMR. One responsive respondent said, “I just get after it with my toy, no foreplay… What gets me in the mood is something I may be watching on tv, reading, see online, or a text of other communication exchange with someone. So I let what I’m doing in my daily round decide when I masturbate.” Others mentioned yoga and self-massage. And some don’t feel the need for anything to help them work up to masturbation.

Masturbation Month Survey Results

Respondents were asked, “How long do your masturbation sessions usually last?” Combining “always,” “often,” and “sometimes,” 59% take 0-5 minutes; 5-15 minutes is clocked in by almost 84% of our respondents, while over 16% rarely or never finish in that amount of time (some likely take more time and others less). Almost 66% of respondents (combining always to sometimes) masturbate for 15-30 minutes, while almost 32% take around an hour (we are in quarantine)—while just about 68% rarely or never masturbate for that long.

And then there are those who masturbate for one hour or longer, a combined almost 17%, while ~83% rarely or never spend longer than an hour on solo sex. One respondent said, “There are those few times, maybe once a month where I masturbate all day but I take breaks in between due to sensitivity or eating/napping.” Another shared, “This depends on my allotted time, if I’ve the house to myself for the day, I’ll make it last forever, if I have a half hour, I’ll fill the half hour, five minutes I’ll fill the five minutes. I really fit my masturbation to work with what I’ve got!”

Masturbation Month Survey Results

Survey respondents were asked, “Have you ever masturbated on camera / video chat for a partner?” Almost 38% of our poll respondents said yes; “Sorta,” said another almost 11%. Just about 25% replied “Not yet!” while another almost 25% said “Not my thing.”

“I would love to, but video chats are really easily hacked and I would only want my partner to be watching,” said one user. Another reminisced: “My boyfriend was Army training and we had to show that we missed sex somehow.”

Masturbation Month Survey Results

We asked, “Do you still masturbate when you’re in a sexual relationship?”

    ● A little over 26% said “Yes, but only when alone/apart.”
    ● ~1.5% said “Yes, but only together.”
    ● Almost an additional 58% of the mutual masturbation fans replied “Yep, alone and together.”
    ● “It depends on the relationship,” said ~11% more.
    ● 1.65% don’t indulge in masturbation while they have a partner.
    ● Quite a few people said “I’ve never been in a sexual relationship” or were asexual, with no interest in sex with another person, while one had an asexual partner.
“My husband and I have started masturbating together more often, we’re enjoying adding this to our foreplay,” said one respondent. “This very thing has been a real ‘bone of contention’ in past relationships,” said another. One person said they masturbate “usually only when alone, but i haven’t been in a relationship in a long time… and wouldn’t mind incorporating masturbation into a relationship– seems like a surefire way everyone who wants to orgasm can[.]”

Demographic information: Around 15% of respondents were age 18-24; ~34% are 25-34; almost 22% are 35-44; over 15% are 45-54; ~9% are 55-64; and ~5.5% of respondents are 65 and over. Over 60% identify as cis female; almost 28% as cis male; and ~2.5% as nonbinary or gender non-conforming. 0.41% identified as agender; 0.7% as transfeminine; ~2.5%) as transmasculine; while 2.1% of respondents felt that those selections didn’t accurately reflect their gender/s.

“As these respondent’s replies indicate, there is no right or wrong way to engage in solo sex, or prescribed number of minutes one should take to do it,” says Good Vibrations Staff Sexologist Carol Queen PhD, who used her background in sociology to analyze the survey results. (Andy Duran developed the survey.) “These thoughtful responses offer a snapshot of the variety associated with self-love in the time of Coronavirus. And as the NYC Department of Health reminds us, one excellent way to stay safe is by staying home and masturbating!”

About Good Vibrations
Good Vibrations is the premiere sex-positive sexual health and wellness toy retailer in the US. An iconic brand and one of the world’s first sex toy shops to focus specifically on women’s pleasure and sexual education, Good Vibrations was founded by Joani Blank in 1977 to provide women with a safe, welcoming and non-judgmental place to shop for erotic toys. Still a feminist-owned business, Good Vibrations has since expanded to include all people across the gender spectrum, and is a place where customers can come for education, high quality products, and information promoting sexual health, pleasure and empowerment. Customers can shop Good Vibrations’ expertly curated product selection across any of its ten retail locations or on the GoodVibes.com website, where they can also find a wealth of information pertaining to sexual pleasure, exploration and education.

About Babeland
Babeland is one of the nation’s leading women-principled sex toy retailers, providing a welcoming and non-judgmental shopping experience for all people. Founded in 1993 as a safe place for women to shop for sex toys and gain access to proper sex education, Babeland has since become an institution in both Seattle and New York City, offering top quality products, a pleasant place to shop, and accurate information and encouragement for people who want to explore their sexuality. Today, customers can visit Babeland in stores or browse the retailer’s robust online shop and educational resources at Babeland.com.