In 1995, Good Vibrations started celebrating National Masturbation Month as a reaction to then-Surgeon General Dr. Jocelyn Elders losing her job after stating that masturbation should be included in sexual education for youth. It was astonishing to see such harsh repercussions for such a casual and obvious statement. National Masturbation Month was founded to create a positive discussion around a universal and natural self-love phenomenon, and also attempted to reduce stigma around not just the action itself, but the entire conversation around the action!
Since one of my biggest passions is being dedicated to disseminating sexual education in order to enrich and improve sex lives, as well as raising awareness about health and other issues, I’ll address some common questions that people have about masturbation, and then list a few tips and tricks to have a successful self-love session!
Isn’t masturbation bad?
Not at all!
There are common misconceptions surrounding masturbation, many mixed messages people receive, and some very strange myths about how masturbation can damage a person’s health or ruin their life. However, masturbation is actually quite healthy and very safe! In fact, masturbation is one of the most safe ways to have sex, because there is no chance of pregnancy or sexually transmitted infections!
Then why does it have such a bad rap?
Well, for many different reasons!
Whether it comes from a society that is rather tight-lipped when it comes to sex and sexual pleasure, or from this overarching myth that sex is shameful, people have viewed masturbation as “less-than” or not as valid as partnered sex. People can be nervous talking about masturbation or admitting to it, because it is so stigmatised. But it shouldn’t be stigmatised and it certainly isn’t a less valid form of sexual expression! Single people and people in relationships masturbate! People of all ages and genders masturbate! Some people masturbate a few times a day, once a day, a few times a year, or don’t masturbate at all! All of this is normal! And yet, even though 94% of men and 85% of women (no numbers on nonbinary individuals) admit to masturbating, people don’t find it easy to discuss openly, because of the fear of being how they may be perceived. But the more we talk about masturbation, the more our culture will normalise self-love as a valid and affirming practice.
So, what are the benefits of masturbation?
Besides being a decent sleep aide, as well as a quick cure for cramps and stress, it is also a really important activity to help you navigate and learn your body better! The more time you spend getting to know your own body, the easier it is for you to be aware of your responses to stimuli, and to know what works well for you and what doesn’t. In the future, or even in a current relationship, this can help you tell a partner what you like (because you know!) and what you don’t like, and this leads to better communicative and more fulfilling sex.
Aside from it being a great tool overall for self-exploration, discovery, and quick stress relief, there are plenty of health benefits! It can help prevent cervical infections, prostate cancer, urinary tract infections, increase resistance to yeast infections, and even increase endorphins to help battle sadness and depression.
Do I have to masturbate?
Even though masturbation is a radical act of self-love and discovery for some, we understand that not everyone enjoys masturbation or finds it personally useful. I, personally, don't find masturbation to be helpful or necessary for myself, which is something I am very vocal about in my activism. The sex-positive movement can leave many people out (another thing I love being vocal about, considering my target communities), and with many messages about how sex is the greatest and orgasms are the be-all and end-all of happiness and contentment, it can feel really bad when you just aren’t able to or aren’t interested in it. You can start to feel left out and broken, or start to worry that you’re doing it wrong! But know that just because it works for other people doesn’t mean it has to work for you! Just because it feels good for some folks does not mean that if it doesn’t feel good for you, you need fixing. Just because it has health benefits doesn’t mean that if you don’t masturbate, you will get cancer and die. You are valid and normal as well! But if you feel like you want to try it out, or that you may have been doing it wrong (there is no “wrong” way to touch yourself -- but there are ways that may inadvertently harm our bodies, so be careful with sharp or jagged fingernails or using products that might have irritants), definitely keep reading!
Okay, so now that we’ve addressed some initial questions about masturbation, how can we treat ourselves to an amazing one-on-one with ourselves?
Setting the scene
Setting some time aside for your private session is important, and a large part of self-care! Make sure you have a good chunk of time where you won’t be worrying about things you have to do, or an event you have to attend, and allow yourself to really relax. In bed, find a comfortable position that works for you -- pillows can help. You can use aides like erotic books or videos (check out our in-store collection) to get an idea of a certain fantasy you want to imagine, or even just work up your arousal. If you don’t feel comfortable lying on your couch or in your bed, or still feel really tense, draw yourself a bath! Although electronics and books might not be a good idea here, you can utilize other aides, such as adding in some massage/bath oil to the water for scent and a good soak. You can also grab a waterproof toy to help you out!
Speaking of toys
Though one’s own hands can be a great stimulant, sometimes hands get tired, cramp up, or can’t reach where we really want to, and so toys are a great way to enhance our alone time! (They can also vibrate, which our fingers can’t do just yet!)
I'm not going to go too in-depth on different toys, just because there are so many, and I don't want this blog post to turn into toy review after toy review. Just know that there are many different types of masturbation sleeves -- some with vibration, and some without-- and for those with vulvas, there is no shortage to dildos, as well as external clitoris vibrators, as well as fantastic beginner vibes for penetration as well as external stimulation, or even rabbit-style dual stimulators!
And of course, there are toys for anal masturbation as well! There are all sorts of butt plugs -- ones that vibrate, ones that hit the prostate just right, ones that help you size up, ones that are great for the shower -- so the world is your oyster!
I will note that even though some toys can be pricey, it's important to search for phthalate-free toys, or for "body-safe" toys. If you're not sure whether a toy has phthalates or not, try searching for hard plastic toys, toys that are 100% silicone, or alternative materials such as wood, stone, glass, or metal.
Even if these toys don’t seem to be your cup of tea, and you’d really just prefer to stick to your own two hands, a little lubricant helps masturbation go a long way! Also buying some sexy lingerie to make yourself feel good is a fantastic way to get in the mood for some self-love!
Don’t set a finish line
For whatever reason, some people insist that the goal of masturbation has to be an orgasm. Putting this unnecessary stress on your body will actually make it a lot more difficult to achieve this goal because you will get tense and maybe even upset when you don’t hit climax by the time you thought you were “supposed” to! Take it one step at a time, and reframe the way you think about each self-pleasure session. If you learn something new about your body, or get a little pleasure out of it, that’s still a plus! That is still progress, even if this time you didn’t hit the Big O. Give yourself permission to stop, start over, or try again later!
So go ahead, put the sign on the door, put on the Divinyls (or other soothing music that can simultaneously make you feel less self-conscious that your neighbors will hear you), and let the thrilling exploration into self-love begin!