Self stimulation of one's sexual genitals, to the point of achieving an orgasm.
Achieving an orgasm, by one's own devices. This generally refers to ejaculating using one's hand, or in the case of the more talented, by actually orally satisfying their needs. Masturbation can involve the use of devices such as Dildos and other objects, to help one attain an orgasm, without the need of a partner.
The word, Masturbation, is actually the 'medical term' used to describe this act.
According to Oxford English Dictionary, the term being from the Latin term 'manu stuprare' which translates to 'to defile by the hand' is conjecture. More likely the word is derived from either Greek 'mezea' or the Latin 'manus = hand' and 'turbare = to disturb'.
Early cave pictures show both male and female masturbation, giving the conclusion that it was not unusual, even then, or was considered wrong.
In Ancient Egypt, it was thought that the God ATUM, had created the world, through ejaculation. It was further thought that the ebb and flow of the Nile, was due to the frequency of his ejaculations.
The Greeks believed that self ejaculation was a way to relieve tensions, and is attributed to their God Hermes, who taught it to Pan, who was pining for Echo, who he could not have. It was used to help him accept his loss, which in turn was supposedly taught to the Shepherds by Pan.
Various Religions have differing views on masturbation. Roman Catholics believe that masturbation, among married couples is acceptable, but is NOT ALLOWED outside of those circumstances. Yet even the Evangelical Movement accepts masturbation as being non threatening, or in violation of God's wishes.
Philosopher Immanuel Kant in 1797, believed it was an immoral act, and should be highly discouraged. Others believe it is a healthy release of tension, of sexual desires even. It supposedly is a way for one to satisfy their needs, without engaging in other acts that might be considered immoral, or criminal even.
History (Legend): In the early 1700's, Masturbation was medically considered abnormal, and risky. Noted Swiss physician, Samuel-Aguste Tissot published a work (L'Onanisme - 1760), detailing the horrors frequent masturbators were inflicted with.
At the time, it was accepted as a work of science, even influenced people like Voltaire, and led medicine to perceive of masturbation as being a serious dilapidating illness for two centuries.
During the Victorian Era, it was the basis for discussion of designing pants for younger males, so that hands in the pockets could not touch the genitals. It was also the basis for not allowing women to ride in a normal saddles, as such would inadvertently stimulate the female rider.
There are several techniques used, to masturbate.
It can be as simple as grasping the penis, and stroking it until ejaculation occurs. This can be with both hands, one hand, or simply the thumb and finger.
While that is the basic procedure, most make it a bit more involved. This involves the use of pornographic materials such as magazines, or videos, to capture the person's focus.
Some methods involve the use of one hand grasping the penis, while the other hand stimulates other parts of the body, such as the playing with the nipples, or inserting the finger into the anus, to prod the prostate gland. It can include the insertion of a dildo or vibrating dildo, to heighten the feelings, stimulating one's ejaculation.
Other techniques involve simulating intercourse, whether with fake toys such as a fleshlight, a rubber doll, or simply just rubbing one's self on a soft object, such as a pillow.
This form of masturbation is common among younger persons, referred to as 'rubbing'.
There are many 'techniques' used by men. There is no right or wrong way, though men who are circumcised tend to use more lubricant while self masturbating. Men with Foreskin, tend to not require such added lubrication.
Practice (Associated Acts): Masturbation prior to intercourse with a female, is believed to help produce 'fresh sperm' that could aid in the impregnation of the female partner. It is thought that by ejaculating first, it expels older produced sperm, that would be less fertile than fresh.
Noteworthy: In many Mental Health Circles, masturbation is considered helpful in relieving depression. It is also supposed to improve one's self worth feelings.
A small study has shown that masturbation resulted in a lower level of blood pressure, reducing the stress on the heart. Sexual Intercourse was also found to create a similar result.
In some Cultures, masturbation is encouraged, and is a particular rite of passage. Some, such as the Hopi in Arizona, and others, not only encourage masturbation, but also its frequency and with other male members of the tribe. In certain Melanesian Communities, it is expected among older males with the younger males. Some tribes, such as the Sambia of New Guinea actually frown on masturbation alone, instead prefer fellatio, as they are of the belief that semen is powerful medicine, not to be wasted by simple ejaculation.