Masturbation refers to the sexual stimulation of a person's own genitals, usually to the point of orgasm. The stimulation can be performed manually, by use of objects or tools, or by some combination of these methods. Masturbation is a common form of autoeroticism and is usually performed in order to experience sexual pleasure or orgasm in the absence of a partner. When with a partner, the act is called mutual masturbation and can be performed as an alternative to sexual intercourse.
Males and females have techniques and characteristics in common, but also have specific preferences in the ways they like to masturbate. Studies have found that masturbation is frequent in humans of both sexes and all ages, although there is variation. Various medical and psychological benefits have been attributed to a healthy attitude to sex in general and to masturbation in particular, and no causal relationship is known between masturbation and any form of mental or physical disorder. Acts of masturbation have been celebrated in art worldwide since prehistory. While there was a period (from the late 18th to the early 20th century) when it was subject to medical censure and social conservatism, it is considered a normal part of healthy life today. There have been masturbation marathons and health service slogans such as "an orgasm a day keeps the doctor away". It is commonly mentioned in popular music as well as on television, in films and in literature.
Animal masturbation has been observed in many species, both in the wild and in captivity.