Masturbation is often a taboo issue that’s usually associated with pre-pubescent teenage boys.  People don’t usually picture a husband and father when masturbation comes up.  The idea that entering a healthy sexual relationship as an adult satisfies all sexual needs is misleading.   Many believe that once sex is a regular occurrence, masturbation is “no longer needed”. Yet no matter how shocking or discrete it may be, married people do masturbate.

The first point to open this discussion is realising that masturbation isn’t a phase or something that’s cured when sex becomes regular and satisfying. People masturbate for a variety of reasons that go beyond sexual pleasure; masturbation offers stress release and a chance to experience sensations in private, without the distractions of a partner.

There are two main theories regarding the relationship between masturbation and partnered sex; the complementary theory (suggests that people masturbate in order to enhance their partnered sex) and the compensatory model (suggests that people masturbate to substitute sexual desires that are not met in partnered sex).  Alternatively, it has also been suggested that masturbation and partnered sex are two completely separate experiences that meet different needs.

Like many issues, it’s also important to realise that men and women approach the issue of masturbation and marriage differently.  Men seem to use masturbation in compensatory ways, and women use in It complementary ways.

The results of a study conducted on the topic of masturbation vs. partnered sex ( indicated that:

  • The frequency of recent sex within the relationship had little connection to the frequency of masturbation
  • People who reported being sexually content within their relationship were 30% less likely to report masturbating in the last two weeks
  • Women who are sexually content within their relationship are more likely to masturbate (33%) than women who reported not having sex in the last two weeks (21%)
  • Sexually discontent men who had no sex recently reported high rates of masturbation (79%)
  • Sexually content men who had sex 4 or more times in the last two weeks had lower rates of masturbation (60%)

Therefore, these results imply that different theories regarding masturbation and marriage fit men and women, influenced by the level of sexual contentment. Keeping the above in mind could be a useful tool in discussing such issues with a partner.  Be well informed, level-headed and open to different point of views.


Matthew Bartolo is a counsellor specialising in Sex & Relationships. He offers counselling to both individuals and couples, and runs the sex education services within Willingness. He can be contacted on

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