It’s Masturbation Month and we’re debunking myths you may have heard about masturbation.
Let’s preface this conversation with some facts.
- Masturbation is a healthy sexual behaviour.
- Masturbation is a very common sexual behaviour.
Historically, masturbation (and in particular female masturbation) has been perceived as dangerous, unsanitary, unhealthy, and taboo.
This comes from a long history of white men with medical backgrounds allowing religious notions of purity to inform their conceptualisations of sexuality.
Essentially, what they felt uncomfortable discussing, they shamed.
Many of my clients will present in therapy with some kind of conditioning around masturbation as ‘selfish’, ‘an alone time thing’, or ‘wrong’.
So let’s debunk some of these myths!
Myth 1: People in relationships don't masturbate
People definitely do masturbate in relationships. Sure not everyone will, but many people do. This is because their partners are either not available for sex, are away, or they just feel like it.
Many people will also mutually masturbate, which is were you masturbate next to/with each other. This can be an alternative to other sexual behaviours.
Myth 2: Masturbating whilst in a relationship is cheating
Some people report their partners getting jealous when they masturbate, especially with toys.
I think it’s really important to remember that masturbation isn’t a replacement of the sexual relationships you have with a partner. It’s a form of sexual expression that is common and healthy.
It is not cheating. If you’re feeling threatened by a vibrator, please book in for a session because your partner is not doing anything wrong. That’s your own stuff you need to work through.
Myth 3: Masturbating with vibrators will desensitise youThis is incorrect.
The science: Nerve endings grow to where they expect stimulation. Your clitoris won’t lose stimulation, in the same way your fingertips wouldn’t lose stimulation after years of touching stuff.
Evolutionarily speaking, this would be dangerous because then we wouldn’t be able to decipher sensation in vulnerable areas.
The conditions within which you may experience a loss in sensation to sexual stimulation include erectile dysfunction (due to cardiovascular blood flow issues), or scar tissue to that area.
Myth 4: Masturbation can lead to Erectile Dysfunction
Much like the previous point, masturbating doesn’t cause erectile issues.
The main causes of erectile dysfunction are organic (cardiovascular health and blood flow), or psychogenic (performance anxiety).
Some people can become habituated to specific forms of stimulation, for example the ‘death grip’. Which requires slowing masturbation down to be less rigorous.
Myth 5: Masturbation is bad for you
On the contrary, there are so many benefits to masturbating.
Here are just a few:
Stress relief: Oxytocin levels rise, and cortisol levels drop.
Pain relief: The release of dopamine, endorphins, and oxytocin helps to lower pain sensitivity.
It can strengthen your pelvic floor muscles.
It improves sleep: Oxytocin helps you fall asleep, and norepinephrine and serotonin help you get into REM sleep.
It boosts libido: Sexual pleasure is part of the reward system in the brain. So the more you do it, the more you want it.
You learn more about your sexual response, and can explore.
It can reduce the risk of prostate cancer by 31%.
Mutual masturbation is a form of safer sex.
Myth 6: Women don't masturbate
LIES. Yes they do. According to the research, not as much as men; but they are still flicking the bean.
Myth 7: You can masturbate too much
If you’re concerned about whether you masturbate too much, answer the following questions:
Does the amount of masturbating I do cause me significant distress?
Does the amount of masturbating I do interfere with day to day activities and responsibilities like work or relationships?
If you answered yes, you may have an unhealthy dependence on masturbation.
Otherwise, if masturbation doesn’t cause you distress, or interfere with things- you’re good to go!
Myth 8: Masturbation isn't normal for children or teenagers
It is normal for masturbation and self stimulation to happen at all ages. Most children who are masturbating don’t realise it’s a sexual behaviour, it’s just something that feels nice. Please don’t shame them if you see this happening!
A study from Victoria, Australia found that 91.1% of teenagers were masturbating, with young men doing it more than young women or gender diverse folk.
Myth 9: Masturbation isn't common
We’ve also seen a rise in masturbation, and sex toy use since the pandemic hit with many locked at home, increase in self pleasure was recorded in this study by Coombe
Myth 10: Masturbation has consequences
Masturbation will not make you go blind, this is physiologically impossible.
It will not make you lose your virginity. Virginity is a social construct designed to shame sexuality- it’s bullshit.
Written by Aleks Trkulija