For some the mere mention of the word sex elicits such a list of societal constraints and rigid rules, regulations and parameters that they turn beet red. Mention masturbation and they all but melt into a puddle of embarrassed ooze. Unfortunately societal constraints placed around the act of masturbation have created such a stigma that even in this age of continued enlightenment it can be a taboo subject.
Again as with so much to do with sexuality and the pursuit of the act itself the particular focus of stigma regarding masturbation is focused towards women. According to any theory of constraints proposed regarding masturbation men are stereotypically allowed to 'get away' with more than women. Historically many societies imposed strict guidelines, particularly those pursuing a patriarchal mindset, regarding virginity and the maintaining of such until marriage. In order for the male in question to be assured that the forthcoming progeny was indeed his-thus continuing his name and line-he had to be sure, beyond any question of a doubt that no one else had experience sexual intercourse with his mate.
Societal constraints imposed by groups of this kind are the most familiar to us existing in today's world. I'm not sure there are any societies that subscribe to the theory of constraints that would support a matrilineal focus of inheritance around anymore. When there were more groups who focused on a goddesss as opposed to a god there was more freedom from the societal constraints restricting masturbation and those people were then actually able to enjoy some of the benefits to be found.
The health and psychological effects of masturbation have been studied and many mental health officials tout the positive aspects of this solitary act. It's been found that once the chastity belt mentality of societal constraints encouraging the avoidance of masturbation has been done away with that masturbation is quite beneficial.
Masturbation can relieve depression and possibly through the release of such chemical as seratonins help improve feelings of self worth. If societal constraints don't get in the way it can also help relationships where one of the partners in wanting more sex than the other one. The partner who needs more sex can masturbate and so both partners are satisfied and at that source of friction can be done away with.
For those worried about catching sexually transmitted diseases, capable of spreading a sexually transmitted disease-and wanting to be socially responsible--or for those trying to avoid getting pregnant, masturbation may be the answer to satisfying sexual needs without the unwanted repercussions.
There are instances where physical damage, whether by accident or illness, creates a situation where actually physical relations with another person are impossible because of pain or other issues. Again, masturbation can be employed to rectify an otherwise untenable situation. Oftentimes being able to satisfy oneself or a partner sexually helps to maintain a healthier mental state not to mention keep a relationship from foundering.
Removing the societal constraints from those minds that have them firmly in place would be a helpful eventuality both from the point of view of physical health as well as from a mental health standpoint. Masturbation is as much a natural act as any other type of sexual interaction and it's probably healthier all around if it were perceived in that vien.