Massage is “the therapeutic practice of manipulating the muscles and limbs to ease tension and reduce pain. Massage can be a part of physical therapy or practiced on its own. It can be effective for reducing the symptoms of disorders of or pain in the muscles and nervous system, and it is often used to reduce stress.”1

“Massage therapist” is a common term for a professional (certification and licensing vary by state) who provides therapeutic and non-sexual massages. “Massage therapists work in an array of settings, such as spas, franchised clinics, physicians’ offices, hotels, and fitness centers,” according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Some masseuses provide sexual massages. Such massages are known as happy endings (bringing a client to orgasm manually or otherwise), erotic massages, exotic massages, illicit massages or a rub-and-tug. Other names for massages related to sexuality are tantric and yoni.

Some believe that a sexual massage is therapeutic and helpful for various reasons (also see the Sex Surrogates Topic) but most massages when sex and money are involved are legally problematic.

The sourced articles below should provide more information for those interested in learning more about the differences among massages, both legal and otherwise, what to expect during a session with a massage therapist, and what is and may not be acceptable during a massage, depending on the client’s taste and wishes.

Footnote: 1., accessed 5/23/2018

  1. Middle-Age Erection Changes: What Couples Need To Know

    “Men don’t need erections to have orgasms. Different nerves govern erection and orgasm. Even if erection nerves become severed (paraplegia, prostate cancer surgery), orgasm nerves usually remain intact. In an erotic context filled with kissing, cuddling, fondling, massage, oral, and sex toys, men with semi-erect or even flaccid penises can enjoy orgasms as intense as any they ever experienced.”

    Michael Castleman, MA,, 1/15/2019

  2. Occupational Outlook Handbook: Massage Therapists

    “Massage therapists work in an array of settings, such as spas, franchised clinics, physicians’ offices, hotels, and fitness centers. Some massage therapists also travel to clients’ homes or offices to give a massage.”

    Online Resource,, accessed on 5/15/2018

  3. Illicit Massage Businesses

    “Polaris does not conflate these illicit businesses with legitimate massage businesses and massage therapists. We recognize and appreciate the health benefits and improved well-being that massage can provide. Polaris seeks to collaborate and align our efforts around human trafficking with massage industry associations and leaders and support the positive reputation of the industry as a whole.”

    Online Resource,, accessed on 5/14/2018

  4. 21 Things You Need To Know About How To Give A Tantric Massage

    “The goal of tantric massage is not orgasm, but to please your partner. …

    [1.] Set aside some time. …

    [2.] Know that there’s no pressure to orgasm for you or your partner. … 

    [3.] Take the time to prepare the area. … 

    [4.] It’s not just about genital massage. … 

    [5.] Don’t forget to breathe! … 

    [6.] For Lingam massage: …

    [7.] Get some oil in there! … 

    [8.] Gently massage his testicles but make sure that you’re not going too hard and hurting him. … 

    [9.] Try different techniques when massaging his penis. … 

    [10.] Find his ‘Sacred Spot.’ … 

    [11.] If you sense that he’s about to orgasm, lower the dials on your Lingam mastery a little until he levels out again. …

    [12.] When you finish the Lingam massage: … 

    [13.] For Yoni Massage: … 

    [14.] Get some lube in there! … 

    [15.] Gently massage the vulva and outer labia majora. … 

    [16.] Try different techniques when massaging the labia. … 

    [17.] ‘Massage’ her clitoris. … 

    [18.] Insert your middle finger into her vagina. … 

    [19.] If she’s okay with it, you can add two fingers too. … 

    [20.] Ride the wave. … 

    [21.] When you finish the Yoni massage: …”

    Carina Hsieh,, 2/22/2018

  5. Across The US, Many Illicit Massage Parlors Avoid Police Detection

    “The now-closed Hadley Massage Therapy is one of hundreds of erotic massage centers described on in Massachusetts alone — and there are some 7,000 nationwide. … One sex buyer, a Boston-area businessman who requested anonymity to protect his family’s privacy, described spending tens of thousands of dollars on illicit massage parlors all over the world. He would have done it anyway, he said, but the internet made it much easier.”

    Phillip Martin and Jenifer McKim,, 2/19/2018

  6. How To Spot Illegal Massage Parlors Possibly Peddling Sex In Your Town

    “They’re often open at odd hours, or all hours of the night. They might have no windows, boarded up windows or back-alley doors with few, if any, markings. Visitors might find they charge below-market prices because they rely on big tips. The workers are very often all women of foreign descent, and may speak very little English. These are all signs that a massage parlor — even those with legitimate business filings — may be engaging in illegal activity and fueling the sex and human trafficking trade, according to a recent report by the Polaris Project, an anti-human trafficking advocacy group.”

    Erin Petenko,, 2/5/2018

  7. What I Found In My Search For A ‘Happy Ending’ Massage For Women

    “From male escorts to sexologists, I tested the market of sexual services for women in an attempt to pay a man to make me cum.”

    Karley Sciortino,, 1/24/2018

  8. U.S. Sex Trafficking Industry Makes $2.5 Billion A Year Through Illegal Massage Parlors, Study Shows

    “The U.S. trafficking industry makes an estimated $2.5 billion annually from forcing women to have sex with massage parlor customers, according to a report released Wednesday by Polaris, an anti-slavery nonprofit. The business is the second largest U.S. human trafficking industry behind escort services, the report stated.”

    Taylor Swaak,, 1/19/2018

  9. ‘Sickened’ Massage Envy CEO Pens Open Letter To Customers After Dozens Of Sexual Assaults Are Reported At The Chain’s Spas

    “Massage Envy’s CEO has broken his silence following a bombshell report on sexual assault and harassment at the massage chain. … Reporter Katie J.M. Baker uncovered allegations of massage therapists touching women’s genitals or breasts without consent, as well as other instances of sexual assault, such as grinding against or ejaculating on customers. On Thursday, Massage Envy CEO Joseph Magnacca sent out an email to customers, apologizing for the claims of sexual misconduct and promising that the company planned to make changes.”

    Kate Taylor,, 11/30/2017

  10. What’s Normal – & Not Normal – During A Massage?

    “If you are getting a massage for therapeutic or relaxing purposes, it is never acceptable for the therapist to touch the client’s genitals. … There is one exception to this, though: Getting a breast massage after a mastectomy. But according to Agakian, before getting this type of treatment, the client needs a referral from a doctor and should ensure they are working with a therapist who has been trained in this specific type of massage. … What to do if something inappropriate happens
    First and foremost, know that either the therapist or the client can end a session at any time, whether it’s because of clear sexual misconduct or because one party feels uncomfortable. If that happens to the client, they can get dressed and immediately remove themselves from the situation. It is also important to note that sexual misconduct is not something massage therapists, managers or even owners are necessarily equipped or trained to handle, … “

    Elizabeth Yuko,, 11/28/2017

  11. Illicit Massage Parlors Prolific And Lucrative, Study Finds

    “Unlike legitimate massage studios, the so-called IMPs sometimes simply refuse women customers. Entrances often have odd security doors or barriers that block the view to massage rooms. Employees often appear to live on-site – mattresses, refrigerators, suitcases and cooking facilities are commonly seen by inspectors. ‘No legitimate (massage) business should have a mattress,’ [Assistant County Attorney Celena Vinson] said.”

    Lise Olsen,, 10/11/2017

  12. No Happy Endings: Massage Therapists Sick Of Sleaze

    “The [Australian] massage therapist simply wants her profession not to be sexualised. … The Prostitution Regulation Act means sex workers in the Territory can legally work independently or with licensed escort agencies, but they must take their trade to private residences or hotels.”

    Lauren Roberts,, 9/21/2017

  13. 22 Brutally Honest Confessions From A Massage Therapist

    “So-called ‘massage’ parlours only tend to massage dicks, which gives real massage therapists a bad name. It also means we’re always having to deal with guys who expect a hand job during a session. If they ask for a ‘happy ending’, we show them the door. … We love our jobs, and we love knowing that we’re helping people to relax, work through their issues, improve their general quality of life, and reduce their pain. We’d really appreciate it if you could stop getting your dicks out, though. Thanks.”

    Hilary Mitchell,, 7/28/2017

  14. What Is Sensual Massage?

    “Sensual massage is the use of hands and body to stimulate the sense of touch of a partner. It is considered a way to simultaneously relax and excite both members of a couple, and is commonly thought of as a healthy way to enhance a couple’s sex life. Benefits include improving intimacy between the couple and improving lovemaking.”

    Bridget Coila,, 7/18/2017

  15. Massage Therapist Or Masseuse?

    “Another reason for the increased use of massage therapist is that during the latter half of the 20th century, the term massage parlor came into use as a euphemism for a place of prostitution. As the term masseuse came to be associated with these illicit operations, many bodyworkers chose to use the term massage therapist for its more professional clinical connotations with physical health.”

    Brandon Twyford,, 7/11/2017

  16. Shady Massage Parlors Are A Major Source Of Human Sex Trafficking

    “Officials in New York City say poor enforcement of immigration laws is aiding the human trafficking business. Women are often kidnapped from other countries and subsequently brought to the U.S. Their lives and the lives of their families are threatened in order to terrorize the victims into obedience.”

    Steve Birr,, 5/15/2017

  17. How Massage Helps Ease Rheumatoid Arthritis Pain

    “Moderate pressure massage is among the massage therapies that can help relieve rheumatoid arthritis pain. Know what to look for and what to avoid when adding this therapy to your treatment plan.”

    Madeline R. Vann, MPH,, 1/17/2017

  18. A Tantric Masseuse On Sexual Healing

    “Rachel has been hesitant to share what she does outside of her inner circle — she’s wary of her family’s response and the legal ramifications if she takes her work public. Despite her noble intentions, exchanging money for sexual contact is illegal in New York.”

    Hannah Pechter,, 12/6/2016

  19. Massage And Pregnancy – Prenatal Massage

    “Although most massage training institutions teach massage therapy for women who are pregnant, it is best to find a massage therapist who is certified in prenatal massage. The APA works with some massage therapists who are trained to work with pregnant women, but it is still important to ask about qualifications.”

    Online Resource,, 9/2/2016

  20. Women Have Started Booking Vagina Massages: And No, It Has Nothing To Do With Orgasms

    “The words ‘vagina massage’ will probably conjure up an image of a seedy establishment that promises a happy ending. But there’s none of that in this form of massage – in fact, the vagina massage is becoming increasingly popular for women, and it has nothing to do with an orgasm. Also known as a ‘yoni massage’, this treatment is about releasing tension and becoming more comfortable with touch – thereby resulting in a hotter sex life. Intrigued? Here’s how it works…”

    Abbi Malbon,, 5/22/2016

  21. Why Are Women Booking Appointments For Professional Vagina Massages?

    “Well, as it turns out, ladies are now getting special vagina massages (also known as yoni massages) without the goal of scoring an O. Instead, they’re after a hotter sex life post-treatment.”

    Bianca Mendez,, 5/17/2016

  22. How To Give Your Partner A Happy Ending Massage

    “Happy ending massages sound kinda hot in theory, but, as we’ve been told, the real deal doesn’t usually follow through on the fantasy (as in, they often involve a darkly lit back room in a sketchy part of town). However, you can totally go the DIY route with your partner for a super-hot night in. All you need are a few sexy tricks up your sleeve.”

    Krissy Brady,, 3/24/2016

  23. What It’s Really Like To Get A Happy Ending Massage

    “Every time a happy ending massage is featured in a movie or on TV, it always involves some guy going to a seedy part of town or an illicit trip to Thailand. But how do happy ending massages actually happen? In this week’s Sex Talk Realness, spoke with two anonymous women to find out what it’s really like to get a post-massage hand-job from a stranger.”

    Lane Moore,, 11/20/2015

  24. Massage Etiquette: 10 Do’s And Don’t’s Of Getting A Massage

    “DON’T even joke about sex!
    Just don’t. It’s not funny, it’s offensive. I don’t need you telling me that you have a big tip for me if I want to earn it … If you intentionally touch or grope me during your massage, that is sexual assault. … I also don’t want to hear your jokes about happy endings and massage parlors. Keep them to yourself. Do not tell me you are ready for your massage and have me walk into the room to find you sitting or lying face up on the table stark naked after I instructed you to start face down under the sheet. You should always be UNDER the sheet. The best case scenario for you here is that I end the massage, and you have to pay for your whole session regardless of when it ended. The worst case scenario is that I call the police and press charges for sexual assault, indecent exposure, solicitation, etc. Just don’t.”

    Online Resource,, 7/24/2015; (Broken link removed 9/2022)