Masturbation. It’s something that most people do, but we rarely talk about, unless it’s in a negative sense. When someone says the word “masturbation” to me, it conjures up images of teenage boys surrounded by heaps of tissues; strict conservative adults frowning and someone yelling “wanker” at a person who has done something rude.
It’s odd because things that I think I *should* associate with it are: self-empowerment; good feelings; orgasms; discovering how one’s body reacts to sensations and investigating our own sexuality. Which surely are all really good things?!
Okay, so this might really shock you… I MASTURBATE. A 23 year old woman who has a long-term partner. But guess what? I’ve been masturbating for a long time. Probably since I was about 13 years old. I’m not sure that I was really thinking about sex in particular then, I just knew that touching “down there” (yes, I am in possession of a vagina, shocker) felt deliciously good.
Don’t get me wrong – masturbating does not mean that someone is ready to have sex with another person, but it is natural and healthy. But I don’t really understand why it’s never talked about when we kinda all do it? Especially how we never hear about women masturbating. When I first started touching my clitoris and vagina, I had no idea what I was actually doing. I didn’t know it had a word. I didn’t know what it was. But I thought it couldn’t really be *normal* because no one was talking about it. And as I’ve grown up and gotten older, I still haven’t been able to talk about it apart from with a few of my close female friends, and even some of them still cringe when I mention masturbation and vibrators etc.
Speaking of vibrators, I recommend everyone to try one – I can’t vouch for how it feels if you are biologically male, but I know for a fact they make your vagina feel GREAT if you have one, especially when you find the right vibrator for you (I recommend Ann Summers, they have lovely staff members who can help you with this).
Every woman is different. Some masturbate. Some don’t. But BOTH are fine. It’s essentially the exact same as with men – some people just have higher sex drives than others, and this is regardless of gender. Certain people would have you believe that girls are prudish and don’t enjoy sex, while sex is all that men ever think about. Personally, I have a really high sex drive and masturbate regularly, whereas I have known men who are the opposite. It really just depends on the individual, and there’s nothing wrong with being “prudish”, or “horny”, or not enjoying sex at all or enjoying sex a lot.
Masturbation is really an easy and safe way to satisfy these normal sexual urges. If you are in a position to have consensual sex with another person that is pleasurable to you both and makes you happy, then that’s great. But sex with someone else is not the be-all-end-all: you can have amazing orgasms by yourself too. And that can also give you a huge sense of freedom and empowerment.
Some people say that women don’t watch porn. I call bullshit. Some people say that not many women masturbate. I call bullshit. Some people say that masturbation is bad. I call bullshit. Masturbation is a great way to safely explore what turns you on and makes you feel good.
If I still haven’t convinced you, it has been proven that masturbating improves your health. If you are male, masturbating increases fertility by improving the quality of sperm and also increases white blood cell count (these are the cells that fight off infections). If you are female, masturbating can reduce your menstrual pain via the release of endorphins (hormones that reduce pain). And you may have noticed if you have dabbled in masturbation or are a long-time self-lover, whatever your sex, that you just feel happier and sleepy after doing the deed. This is because dopamine is released during masturbation, which reduces stress and is known as the “happiness hormone”, as well as prolactin which aids sleep. This gives you extra incentive to have a happy little diddle before bed!
Don’t be afraid to interact with your own body, and express how you feel about it. I’m not talking about whipping out your new dildo at dinner to show your grandma – I’m saying talk to your partner about how you masturbate, talk and swap tips with your friends and don’t perpetuate the myth that women don’t enjoy sexual pleasure.