MONDAY, Aug. 1 (HealthDay News) -- A new nationwide look at data on masturbation among U.S. adolescents finds that boys do it much more often than girls, and they also tend to start earlier.
In addition, masturbation in adolescence appears to be tied to other types of behavior, including both a greater likelihood of engaging in sexual relations with a partner and increased condom use.
The finding is based on an analysis of 2009 data on sexual behavior involving more than 800 teens, aged 14 to 17 years, responding to the National Survey of Sexual Health and Behavior (NSSHB).
"Much attention today is given to adolescent sexuality, but few studies have focused on masturbation," noted study lead author Dr. Cynthia L. Robbins, from the section of adolescent medicine in the department of pediatrics at Indiana University in Indianapolis. "Many adolescent boys and girls masturbate, and among sexually active teens masturbation is associated with other sexual behaviors and condom use," she said.
"It is important to recognize that masturbation is an important and normal component of adolescent sexual development," Robbins added.
Her team reported their findings online Aug. 1 in the Archives of Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine.
With parental permission, the NSSHB survey asked both male and female adolescents (as well as their adult guardians) to recall how often they had masturbated over the prior three months, over the past year, and over the course of their lifetime. Those polled were also asked how often they masturbated alone versus with a sexual partner. Condom use was also noted.
The results: boys were found to masturbate more often than girls, both overall and across all measured time frames.
For example, while nearly three-quarters of boys surveyed reported having ever masturbated, that figure was slightly less than half among girls.
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