It's Normal, Healthy and Okay to Masturbate

Masturbation can be defined as “self-stimulation to cause sexual sensations”. The use of the word masturbation usually suggests that the person is manipulating his or her genitals to the point of intense pleasure or orgasm. (Orgasm refers to a period of intense excitement in which genital muscles enter in to a series of highly-pleasurable contractions or movements).

While masturbation can involve another person, most of us think of it as a very private act. According to some health care providers masturbation allows a healthy way to express & explore your sexuality and to release sexual tension without all the associated risks of sexual intercourse. Health professionals generally agree that this private touching is a natural, normal mode of self-exploration and sexual expression. Unfortunately, after the excitement of the moment has passed, many people find themselves filled with guilty and or shame.

Why All This Guilt and Shame?

A little bit of American History:
Our attitudes about masturbation have deep roots for sure. Around the turn-of-the-century, some adults were so against masturbation that they forced their daughters to wear gloves made of a steel-wool-like material (like Brillo pads) at night and to put a powder on their genitals that made them painful to touch. They made their sons wear metal chastity belts at night that made it painful to have an erection. During the 1820s male masturbation was prevented by piecing the foreskin with a wire and soldering the ends together. Boys and girls were discouraged from masturbation by the threat of blindness, madness and illness. Of course, all of these are not true.

Of course, the subject of masturbation was taboo years before the United States was created. All kinds of chastity belts and other devices were used to prevent masturbation, probably as far back in history as you can go. This will vary from culture to culture.

The Truth?
Most surveys suggest that approximately 94% of teenage males "admitted" that they masturbated and about 70% of teen females "admitted" to this also. It’s always hard to establish absolute truth in any survey on sexuality and sexual behavior, since they are influenced so much by what people think is "normal". It is important to note the word "admitted" in the results of these surveys. Doesn't that word imply something shameful about the act of masturbating? We think so. This leads us to believe that we are still suffering from the residual Victorian morals when boys and girls were discouraged from masturbating.

Teaching Masturbation, you asked? Yes, Believe it or Not!

In the 1970's and 1980's, a woman named Betty Dodson,Ph.D., achieved much fame from her approach to masturbation. She actually held classes for women to teach them how to masturbate. She thought that in order for women to overcome certain degrees of repression that she believed were instilled by the church, women needed to learn how to "celebrate" their bodies. She made the point that masturbation needed to be celebrated, and not allowed to create guilt. She admitted that overcoming guilt was very difficult -- for men & women, especially when the guilt was instilled by the voice of their mothers at an early age. Mother's told children not to touch themselves "down there" and wow, what an embarrassment if the child did that in public!

For many people the consequence of our mothers' or fathers' difficulty with our innocent sexuality when we were toddlers and infants may be the reason that the experience and enjoyment of our own bodies is taken away from us, or we are still allowed (made) to feel ashamed in some way when we feel pleasure from exploring our own bodies.

Even More Taboo.
In 1994 Dr. Jocelyn Elders, the first woman appointed to the position of U.S. Surgeon General, lost her job as Surgeon General because she dared to say that masturbation should actually be taught in schools. We think her mistake was when she said, "It's practicing for sex" . She never implied that a method of masturbation be taught, or did she? Many think she meant it was a way of keeping teenagers from becoming pregnant. The inadequate (or lack of) birth control methods taught in public schools at that time was what she was most likely referring to.

Masturbation Myths -- There Are Lots More of Course.

"Masturbation isn't "real sex" and only losers masturbate."
Not true. According to some sexuality experts people who masturbate tend to function better sexually when with a partner since they know their own body and have fulfilled sexual expression.

If you masturbate you will go blind or bald or get acne or hair on your hands -- or lots of other anomalies. None of these have any basis in truth.

People in relationships or married don't masturbate.
Wrong again. (Many couples masturbate mutually, or just enjoy masturbating alone).

"Masturbation will stunt your growth"
Nice try, but wrong again.

“If you masturbate you'll never be able to have children”
I get this question as an e-mail often, this is just not true, who started this myth? If that was true none of us would be on this planet.

None of these myths are true. And while there will always be those who make religious or moral arguments against masturbation -- if you are Catholic you may have been taught that it is “sinful to spill seed” or masturbation is “seed wasted”. So, that is something you will have to decide for yourself. When done in moderation, masturbation seems to be a common, "normal", healthy way to get sexual satisfaction. It is one that is safe and does NOT run the risks of pregnancy, STDs or incompatible sexual preferences. After all, you know what you like.

Of course use good sense while masturbating. If you are sore from spending TOO much time with yourself take a break from it and let your body heal. Getting irritated skin is not uncommon, so don't panic and use plenty of water soluble lubrication next time. (Like Astroglide ® or Wet ®). If irritation persists see your health care provider. Remember, lubrication! Especially you guys (or gals using a vibrator).

If you are spending a lot of your time masturbating and it is interfering with your school work, your job, or the rest of your life, then you might want to stop and think about why you are doing it so much. A person can become obsessed with anything.


Benefits to Masturbation?

Absolutely. Masturbation can help relieve stress and:

Relieve menstrual cramps

Help for insomnia (i.e. when a person is having trouble falling asleep)

Stimulate the immune system to help build up resistance to common infections

Release mood elevating hormones

Reduce embarrassing spontaneous erections for teen males

Reduce the number of unwanted wet dreams for young men

For more on Male or Female Orgasm, see Male Orgasm or Female Orgasm. For recommended reading on masturbation, see Female Orgasm. There are more sexuality links in there also.

How To Masturbate, A Guide for Women

For more on lubricants, see Lubricants - a masturbation must!

Your Vagina; Get to know it Better!

Recommended Reading:

Sex for One: The Joy of Selfloving
For more than 20 years, Betty Dodson has been dedicated to taking
the shame out of masturbation. Dodson explains how anyone can learn
to fully enjoy the pleasures of self-love.


The Penis Book - An Owner's Manual for Use, Maintenance, and Repair
 Designed to help men understand more about sex, and to provide practical information about the make body -- how it works and what to do if things go wrong. The book will help to allay common fears, correct misconceptions, and lead to a more physically and emotionally satisfying life. B & W line drawings throughout.






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