6 Reasons Why Sex By Yourself Is Normal, Healthy & Hot
This week on #hotgoss, Olivia and Oronde gave fans and friends the low down on self-love and self-pleasure. Keep scrolling for some seriously sex-positive tips about masturbating and gettin' down with your bad self.
Masturbating is part of healthy sexuality!
Here's 6 reasons why...
Before we get into it: What is masturbating? For the purpose of this article, we define masturbation as the act of a person stimulating their own genitals, usually for sexual pleasure. Masturbating doesn't always have to lead to orgasm, and it can happen solo or with a partner(s). What others call masturbation, others may call sex. Work with the definition that works for you!
So why should you do it....(if you wanna)?
1. Literally the City of New York told you to, so....
Yep, that's right, "You are your safest sexual partner," says this wicked progressive guide to sex during the COVID-19 outbreak. Apparently it is legally advisable to jerk it...safely, consensually, and in an appropriate time and place!
2. So many people do it! They just don't always talk about it.
There's no shame in giving yourself a little love! In fact, according to one source, more than half of people between the ages of 18-49 report masturbating at least once every 3 months. According sex toy company TENGA's 2019 Self-Pleasure Report, 84% of Americans have masturbated in their lifetime. Plus, more than half of those who do masturbate say they do it weekly. Masturbating is the most common sexual activity for 14-17 year olds of any gender.
People masturbate for all different reasons. According to TENGA, the top three reported reasons for masturbating are: to satisfy sexual urges, feel pleasure, or relieve stress. But people also reported that they masturbate out of boredom, to help get to sleep, figure out sexual interests/desires, or to feel more comfortable in their body. In fact, 74% of Americans report masturbation as being a form of self-care!
Some people think only single people masturbate, or that it's a sign of loneliness or the inability to find a sexual partner. That just isn't true! In fact, people in partnered relationships tend to masturbate more than those who aren't.
It's important to note that if you don't masturbate that's also okay! Everybody has different sexual needs and desires, and some people don't feel the urge or desire for sex or to masturbate. Check in with yourself: are you not masturbating because you are ashamed of the act? Do you not know how, or are not sure what feels good in your body? Is masturbating too intense? Or are you just not really into it? All of these are totally valid. Figuring out your own relationship with self-pleasure and what shapes your desire is what's important about this conversation--not doing something because you feel like you should. At the end of the day, figure out what you like!
3. There are so many benefits to self-love!
There are lots of benefits to masturbating...and very few downsides! We promise you won't get hairy palms, your junk won't curve or shrink, nor will any of the myths that surround the act come true. People often don't talk about masturbation because it's still taboo, especially for women, to talk about sexual pleasure. But masturbation can and should feel great!
Not only can it feel great--masturbating is the safest sexual act. Unless you are interacting with another person's sexual fluids or sharing sex toys, even masturbating alongside a partner has a low-to-no risk of STI transmission or pregnancy. Wash your hands and use lube to reduce friction. Then you should be good to go-go-go!
Masturbation increases blood flow to sensitive areas and releases endorphins, so chemically it can help you relax and feel good. Also, it has been proven to ease menstrual cramps, insomnia, and can even improve body-image issues and some sexual dysfunction issues. Plus it's a great work out for your pelvic floor, so it's almost like going to the gym, right? 🙂
People of all ages masturbate, and in fact, for people with vulvas and folks who are going through menopause, it has been shown that masturbating can increase blood flow and relieve vaginal narrowing and dryness that often occur as folks age.
Plus, people who masturbate reported feeling more confident sexually than those who didn't. So, that's hot.
4. As long as you're doing it consensually, there's really no wrong way to do it.
You can masturbate alone, or with a partner. In person or over video chat. You can use a hand, or a toy. (Just make sure to clean your toys!) You can use all different kinds of lube.
The right way to masturbate is in a way that feels good to you and doesn't harm yourself or others. Context matters! Take in to consideration time and place. It's probably not okay to masturbate in the living room while your roommate is trying to read a book or say, on a camping trip when you're sharing a tent with your friends. Not because there's shame about masturbating, but because everyone in the room needs to consent to being involved in your sexual act, even if they're just bystanders.
We encourage you to talk openly as possible with your partners about masturbating, and if you're comfortable you can even invite a partner in to your practice if they want. If you live with your partner, communicate about how and when you might need alone time: This article from The Cut has some great advice about setting boundaries for live-in partners and communicating about self-pleasure. Contrary to what a lot of people think, masturbation is not a sign of sexual dissatisfaction with partnered sex, so if you have questions about your partners' masturbating patterns, #justask!
Using a vibrator can be healthy and fun for people of all genders and with all genitalia. More than half of all women between ages of 18-60 in one study had used a vibrator, and that use correlated with higher arousal and lubrication and more orgasms. 45% of men in the study had also used a vibrator, though the majority with a female partner. Similarly, they reported better erectile function and more pleasurable sexual experiences.
If you are looking to experiment with vibrators, start small. Try one out with low or variable settings. You can test a vibrator before you buy it by touching it to the tip of your nose; those nerves mirror your genital sensitivity. Our genitals are tender and need to develop sensitivity to vibrators over time. If you find your vibrator is too intense, you can also put a clean sheet or other fabric between you and it to soften the sensation.
Some folks worry about masturbating too much, and that's a valid concern. However, generally it isn't possible to 'over-masturbate' unless you experience physical or mental signs of distress as a result. If you are experiencing redness, irritation or swelling, take a break, be gentler, or try to stimulate different parts of your body in addition to your genitals.
If you have concerns about over-masturbating, look at your impulse to masturbate and your habits and how they may affect your day to day, rather than the frequency. Is your pattern affecting your ability to sleep, work, or socialize? Do you feel out of control? You may want to connect with a doctor or therapist to talk about these and figure out a healthy pattern and relationship with self-pleasure that works for you.
For many people porn and masturbation go hand in hand. (Pun intended.) Research is mixed about whether porn helps or hurts arousal across genders. Similar to inspecting you desires and patterns with masturbating, it's important to take a look at how porn shapes your relationship to self and partnered sex. Are you having trouble getting aroused when with your partner? Are you watching increasingly graphic or violent porn and worried that might affect your relationship to another person or to yourself? According to Peggy Orentsein in her new book Boys & Sex, there's a difference between sexual arousal and our body's response to sexual information: so just because you're into one thing while masturbating alone to porn, doesn't mean you're into that thing with another person. We suggest taking a look at the tried-and-true Scarleteen guide for Porn Literacy to learn more about your own relationship with porn and about how porn is made, and take some of those learnings back to your solo-sex time.
5. Masturbating can be a really fun way to discover new desires!
Masturbating is a great way to learn what makes you feel good and even what makes you climax or approach orgasm. Sex educators frequently suggest folks engage in self-sex so they can better understand their own bodies and pleasure, and therefore better express their desires and needs to partners. As we say here at Speak About It, "You gotta learn how to drive your own car before lending it to someone else."
While there is no one recipe for masturbating 'correctly,' we think an essential ingredient for success is: Mix it up! Masturbating is a great way to discover and learn about your desires, so if you're feeling in a pleasure rut, shake things up!
If you always wear your PJs, try going in the buff or romance yourself with some sexy lingerie. If you always masturbate to porn, try using your imagination instead. Try a new vibrator or a different position. USE LUBE!! Seriously, your doctor, WebMD said so. If you're a bedroom masturbator, what if you tried a nice sexy bath? Do you masturbate solo? What if you invited your partner to do it with you? Your favorite will always be there, so see what else is on the menu!
6. Speaking about masturbation openly and honestly leads to guilt-free self-love!
Masturbation is a legitimate sexual activity. When it comes to sex, many people seem more comfortable talking about their crushes, hook-ups, and turn-ons, yet they are less willing to open up about masturbating or even admit that they do it at all. But if we can all speak about masturbating with less shame, we can all take more pleasure in self-pleasure.
Plus, in talking about masturbating and naming it as a legitimate form of sexual expression, we can expand our definition of sex and sexual activity. Lots of queer folks and people who aren't into penetrative sex feel left out when masturbation is considered 'less than' or 'not real sex.' Masturbation is a sexual activity that is just as valid as oral, penetrative or any other kind of sex! Masturbation is not just a valid experience, but also an important, pleasurable and complete experience for so many people.
Don't be afraid to take your time with self-pleasure and learn about what your body wants. If you're feeling guilty or ashamed, you're more likely to rush through your masturbation routine. Figure out how you can be honest with yourself, and therefore honest with partners about what you like and how you like it. The more comfortable you are knowing and feeling that self-pleasure is a valid and valuable part of your sexuality, the easier it can be to talk about it with others.
If it still gives you the willies to have a conversation about masturbating with other people, try practicing with yourself first. Seriously, look at yourself in the mirror and rehearse what you might say: What are the words that feel comfortable to you? What information are you okay sharing or knowing, what would you rather not? Why?
It can be powerful to demystify masturbation, but do so in a way that is consensual. Everyone has different comfort levels, and just because a group of rowdy feminists are cool with all the gorey details doesn’t mean your friends are. Demystifying masturbation can look a lot of different ways: From explaining to a friend with little kids that it's totally normal for a young child to have curiosity about their genitals, to giving a roommate or a pal space to masturbate on their own, to sharing erotica with a friend who asks what you're into, to offering it “on the menu” with a partner. There's lots of healthy ways to have the conversation, it's just important to do exactly that: have the conversation!
So there you have it! Masturbation is totally normal, totally healthy, and totally hot. People of all ages do it, whether it's tied to sexual urges, pleasure, curiosity, boredom, relaxation or self care. So go forth, and love yourselves! With consent!
~Looking for more information about how to have a healthy relationship with masturbating? Check these out:
Pleasure Activism - adrienne marie brown. This book is about pleasure and finding it in all forms, but has a great chapter about self-pleasure and sex!
Come As You Are - Emily Ngoski is the oft cited expert on arousal and orgasm, and has some great information about how self-pleasure can open up personal understandings of your own unique sexuality.
We LOVE this 30 Day Masturbation Challenge. R29 paired up with sex therapist Vanessa Marin to provide some step-by-step tips that actually show you the nuts and bolts of how to get down with yourself. It's awesome!
Our pals at AstroGlide are full of good advice, check out their Handy Guide to Solo Sex here.
Check out this masturbating guide for women and femme folks!
O.school has a lot of videos and guides for all different aspects of sex and sexuality. We like their "Is Masturbation Normal?" article because it's thoughtful, well researched, and offers lots of links to practical advice!
Speak About It is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization that partners with high schools and colleges to educate, entertain, and empower students to create positive change within their communities, advocate for and practice healthy relationship habits, and prevent sexual violence.
Copyright 2016 Speak About It, Inc. Website by Alexandra Valleau