College courses on human sexuality include materials and discussion of masturbation, and many parenting manuals deal with ways to affirm a child's self-pleasing habits rather than degrading or punishing the child.
Some sex therapists believe that girls who do not masturbate miss an important step in their sexual development, since masturbation provides an opportunity to learn how one's body responds to erotic stimulation.
The most common form of masturbation, especially in circumcised males, is to wrap one or both hands or several fingers and thumb around the erect penis and stroke it up and down until ejaculation.
Masturbation allows a healthy way to express and explore one's sexuality and to release sexual tension without the associated risks of sexual intercourse, according to many healthcare providers.
The discussion of masturbation has been controversial for hundreds of years and still is to some extent in the early 2000s, more so in the United States than Europe and other Western nations.