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Study Tracks Masturbation Trends Among U.S. Teens
Date:8/1/2011

both sexes, the likelihood of engaging in masturbation appeared to increase with age. Among boys between the ages of 14 and 17 the percentage of those who had masturbated at least once rose from about 63 to 80 percent. Among girls, those figures were lower but still followed an upward slope, rising from about 43 percent to 58 percent across the same time-frame, according to the report.

Yet while boys also were increasingly likely to say they had "recently" masturbated as they got older (rising from 43 percent at the age of 14 to almost 68 percent among 17-year-olds), the same observation was not made among girls.

Boys also engaged in masturbation more frequently than girls: about half of the boys said they engaged in the activity at least twice a week, but that figure fell to about 23 percent among girls. An estimated 46 percent of girls reported masturbating only a few times per year.

In addition, for both boys and girls, engaging in masturbation was associated with a greater odds of engaging in sexual relations with a partner, compared to adolescents who did not masturbate. For boys, masturbation was linked to higher odds of engaging in oral sex and vaginal intercourse, while for girls it was linked to higher odds for oral sex, partnered masturbation, and both vaginal and anal intercourse.

Lastly, the study authors found that condom use was linked to masturbation among those boys (but not girls) who also engaged in vaginal intercourse.

Robbins and her team concluded that "the association of masturbation with other sexual behaviors indicates that masturbation is an important component of adolescent sexuality rather than an isolated or transient phenomenon." In that regard, they urge that teens be educated and reassured that the act is a "normal" part of growing up.

Commenting on the study, Alan Hilfer, director of psychology at Maimonides Medical Center in Brooklyn, N.Y., said he supports the notion that teens should be encoura
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