The exact reason isn’t known for an association between young men’s condom use and masturbation. One simple possibility is that masturbation allows young men to become more familiar with their own penis when it is erect. Using condoms is pretty easy, but knowing what to expect, and some practice, can make it really easy.
Another possibility is that young men who masturbate may be more comfortable with their sexuality. We’ve begun to learn in the past few years that young people who are comfortable with their sexuality are often more careful in protecting themselves and others. It may be that masturbation and condom use are both ways by which people express their sexual health.
A final important point about the study you read is that it shows that people still masturbate even after they’ve started having sex with others. In fact, we know that many men and women continue to masturbate even into their 60’s and 70’s. Even if masturbation isn’t for everyone (isn’t it nice to be able to choose?), it certainly seems that masturbation is a part of people’s expression of their sexuality, no matter how old.
–J. Dennis Fortenberry, MD, MS