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Masturbation is getting sexual pleasure by self-stimulation, which may or may not result in an orgasm. As with most sex related issues, considerable myths and misinformation surround masturbation, which is largely considered to be improper, abnormal, harmful, sinful and taboo. Young people who may indulge in masturbation are often anxious and afraid, and feel very guilty about it, which in turn may affect their self esteem and sometimes, even their ability to conduct healthy relationships. They need to be informed of this phenomenon, and be made aware that masturbation is natural and normal.

Here we provide some basic information about masturbation:
Males masturbate by stroking or rubbing the penis.
Most young boys masturbate during adolescence.
Females also masturbate (though fewer than males) by stimulating their clitoris and vulva region. Some also introduce objects into the vagina to stimulate themselves to reach orgasm.
Reasons for masturbation include:
For sexual gratification, enjoyed by males and females of all age groups
In circumstances where there is an absence of partners of the opposite sex (like hostels, army camps) this is common.
Masturbation is practiced by married people too, when:
a. Spouses are separated for any reason.
b. During pregnancy.
c. As a part of foreplay.
Many practice masturbation to release sexual tension.
Individuals also resort to masturbation for fear of contracting STD/HIV/AIDS.

A common misconception being that masturbation is sinful and harmful, people who engage in it have a guilty feeling which may lead to loss of sleep, excessive sweating, inability to concentrate in work or studies, affecting his or her emotional and psychological development. It is thus the responsibility of adults to assure the youngsters, that there is no harmful effect of masturbation to their body or sexuality. It does not lead to any of the commonly attributed disorders - acne, dark circles, impotency, diminished size of penis, mental retardation or homosexuality.

Masturbation can be practiced as long as an individual finds it comfortable. However, it may pose to be a problem if it becomes compulsive, when people cannot resist the urge to masturbate and they do it even in public. In such instances, they need professional help.

One would like to reiterate that one has only touched upon some of the relevant issues and pertinent information areas here, so as to provide a basic understanding of the same. This could well serve the purpose when you would like to initiate discussions on the relevant topics with your adolescent child. While providing a range of information is essential, it is by no means enough.