Masturbation is, in all likelihood, the most frequently performed sexual practice in the world. But just try mentioning it at the next party you attend. The ear-splitting silence you’ll hear is a powerful indicator that while most of us do it, we still feel some degree of shame admitting to our autoerotic practices…
Not that there’s anything wrong with discretion, but lack of open communication has allowed false. ideas about masturbation to fester in our collective consciousness. Considering the value of solo sex – it’s healthy, fun and poses no risk of pregnancy or STDs – isn’t it time we set the record straight?
MYTH #1: Masturbation is not normal
FACT: According to Cathy Winks and Anne Semans, authors of Good Vibrations: The Complete Guide to Vibrators despite a wide range of cultural taboos, there is nothing unnatural about masturbation. Children do it with no instruction and often before they’re even talking, because it brings them physical pleasure, just as scratching an itch would.
See? Perfectly normal and biologically natural. And popular! Researcher Alfred Kinsey estimated that 92 to 97 percent of men and 60 to 64 percent of women have tried it (and we suspect the female numbers have greatly increased since the invention of the shower massage). In short, solo sex presents an ideal way for people to validate and celebrate their sexuality.
MYTH #2: Once I start masturbating, I will become addicted.
FACT: What a wonderful world this would be if every addiction was good for your body and soul, improved your disposition and confidence and cost nothing to satisfy. While there is such a thing as sex addiction-a condition where an overpowering drive to have sex interferes with normal activities, such as holding down a job – most people who masturbate do not become addicted.
Playing with yourself several times a day doesn’t lead to skulking down alleys in a trench coat. If something feels good, it’s natural to want more, and orgasms feel wonderful. Many people have their first orgasms alone. Enjoy the thrill of discovery. You deserve it. And listen to your body as you go. If you get tired or sore, you may have overdone it.
MYTH #3: Compared to doing it with a partner, masturbation is not real sex.
FACT: Masturbation is most assuredly real sex, offering excitement, intimacy and orgasm. Even people without partners can enjoy sex. You might even come clean about your do-it-yourself hobby. No, not in the middle of Thanksgiving dinner with the folks (honesty works best if you don’t use it as a weapon), but discuss it whenever an appropriate occasion arises. Your confidence will inspire others.
Speaking of others, how about “keeping it real” with your significant other? Masturbation need not always occur in isolation. Doing it together can be incredibly hot and can help build intimacy and trust between lovers.
MYTH #4: If I have orgasms from masturbation, it will be harder to reach orgasm with a partner.
FACT: While a person can have a perfectly healthy sex life without masturbation, many women never have an orgasm until they teach themselves how single-handedly.
(Let’s face it, the missionary position can be rather impractical when trying to hit that elusive joy buzzer, the clitoris.) Female genitals are less obvious than men’s, so for many women, masturbation provides the best opportunity to learn how to use their sexual equipment.
Some in-depth study with fingers, lube and possibly a vibrator can provide a woman with the tools she needs: a working knowledge of what feels good and a means of showing a partner. Similarly, men who wish to ejaculate less quickly can learn how to slow things down through solo play by becoming familiar with the sensations signaling the approach of orgasm.
During partner sex, they can repeat the same slowing method. Like most self-awareness, gaining sexual self-knowledge leads to increased confidence when with others, which can only enhance mutual pleasure.
MYTH #5: If I have orgasms with a vibrator, I won’t be able to get off any other way.
FACT: Well, as long as you keep paying your utility bill every month, you should be fine. Actually, you haven’t become addicted to your vibrator, just acclimated to one type of sex. If this bothers you, there are a few things you can do. A gradual switch might be easiest.
You can try alternating between your hand and the vibrator and gradually use the vibe less and less until you can get by without it.
A more challenging but potentially more fun way involves going cold turkey. Hide that thing in the bottom drawer and promise yourself you won’t pull it out again until you’ve had no less than 10 homegrown orgasms.
This forces you to be creative and also gives you a head start because you will be a little sexually obsessed even before you begin. You’ll have to find a new fantasy, video, story, toy, position or (gasp!) orifice to play around with until you meet your goal.
By that time, the reward of a vibrator orgasm might seem a little passÃ©, but go ahead and treat yourself – and revel in the long-term rewards of greater creativity and flexibility, which will serve you wherever your sexual journey leads.
MYTH #6: Masturbating once I’m married is cheating.
FACT: Masturbation often does more to bring couples together than drive them apart. Most notably, it can increase sexual satisfaction. The more you discover about your sexual responses (see Myth #4), the easier it is to get your beloved involved in turning you on.
If your partner resists your desire to masturbate, it might be wise to gently dig down a bit and find out where his or her concern is rooted. Does he feel insecure because it’s easier for you to come by yourself than with him? Ease his mind by showing him how to hold the vibrator or touch you during lovemaking, and praise his every attempt, even if you don’t see stars the first few times.
Does she take your “alone time” as a personal rejection? Most couples live in close quarters. It’s vital for partners to respect each other’s need for solitude – not just so they can masturbate, but so they can preserve a sense of individuality – assure your lover that while you deserve some privacy and have a right to a healthy fantasy life, she or he is still the one with whom you choose to spend reality. Demonstrate this with a romantic evening together.
With honest communication, masturbation gets promoted from “dirty little secret” to “couple’s little helper.” She’s gotta have it every morning, but you’re happiest going at it three times a week? Show up with a smile on Monday, Wednesday and Friday, then turn her loose with the Magic Wand and your blessings the rest of the week.
Your supportive attitude will be rewarded with her trust and appreciation. Move forward together, with compassion and attention to each other’s needs, and you’ll be surprised at the positive impact this solo activity can have on your time together.
MYTH #7: If I catch my kids masturbating, I shouldn’t embarrass them by mentioning it. They’ll know I don’t mind.
FACT: Many of us grew up in households with telepathic parents who shared this school of thought.
Silence can imply disapproval or distaste. Children need and want their parents I approval, even about sex. If you start talking freely when your children are quite young, you won’t have to have The Talk with a squirming sixteen-year-old. Tell your kids it’s fine, normal and natural to masturbate. Don’t just endure it, encourage it!
Explain that this behavior is only appropriate in private – and follow through by ensuring them time and space in your home that feels safe and protected. Privacy is so important to kids that those who lack it may become secretive. By giving them space, you considerably reduce the risk of their hiding things from you, especially as they get older. Through it all, remind your kids that you love them and support them. Then get out of their way.
MYTH #8: If masturbation is healthy, I can do it whenever I want.
FACT: One word: consent. If everyone in your carpool or on the elevator requests that you masturbate in full view, it’s fine. But if you neglect to ask them and do it anyway, you’re committing a serious faux pas.