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History of Masturbation

Throughout history, masturbation has been viewed through countless lenses of religions, laws and cultures. There have been long periods when masturbation was considered to be wrong and harmful. It was even seen as a sin.

There have never been facts supporting these cultural views, and regardless of the views of each era, masturbation has always been the most common human sexual experience.

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As our knowledge has evolved, we now know that almost everyone masturbates. Still there are taboos and misconceptions about what masturbation is and if there are negative consequences from masturbation.

Modern science tells us masturbation doesn’t cause any harm, either physically or mentally. Instead, it is completely normal and extremely common. Masturbation is part of life and a component of healthy sexuality.

Embrace your solo sex life without shame or guilt!

​If you'd like to boost you masturbation pleasure with a sex toy, see the Fleshlight guide to find the best masturbation sleeve.

To learn more about basics of masturbation, check also the following articles: What Is Masturbation & How to MasturbateIs Masturbation WrongBest Male Masturbation TechniquesMale Masturbation Facts, and History of Masturbation.

For more information about masturbation go to the main male masturbation page.​

history of masturbation infographic
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History of Masturbation Infographic Transcribed
Prehistoric time

Prehistoric rock paintings around the world depict male and female masturbation.

Ancient Greece

The god Hermes taught his son Pan, who was frustrated in his seduction attempts, to masturbate to ease his suffering.

1st Century AD

Christianity defined masturbation as a “mortal sin”.

700 AD

The Anglo-Saxon Canons of Theodore define the punishment for masturbation to be abstaining from meat for four days.

1760

A Swiss physician Samuel-Auguste Tissot argued that extracting semen would cause reduction of strength, blurred vision, rheumatism, loss of appetite and many other disorders.

1812

Benjamin Rush, a founding father of the US, wrote how excessive eating and drinking and idleness lead to masturbation.

1897

English physician Havelock Ellis questioned the prevailing views about health effects of masturbation and set out to disprove the earlier claims.

End of 1800s

Dr. John Harvey Kellogg, of the breakfast cereal fame, claimed how “neither the plague, nor war, nor small-pox, nor similar diseases, have produced results so disastrous to humanity as the pernicious habit of onanism.”

1940s and 50s

The famed sexologist Alfred Kinsey started to demystify masturbation and push forward the modern view that masturbation is instinctive and natural behavior for both males and females.

1994

The US surgeon general, Dr. Joycelyn Elders, was forced to resign after she said that schools should teach that masturbation is safe and healthy.

Today

​We know that almost everyone masturbates. Still there are taboos and misconceptions about what masturbation is and if there are negative consequences from masturbation.

Modern science tells us masturbation doesn’t cause any harm, either physically or mentally. Instead, it is completely normal and extremely common. Masturbation is part of life and a component of healthy sexuality.

Embrace your solo sex life without shame or guilt!

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