As some of you know, May is Masturbation Month! What does that mean? What is masturbation? Why do people masturbate?
Masturbation is defined as the act of stimulating oneself for sexual pleasure. That's a very vague definition, I know. The reason for this vague definition is that there is such a wide variety of ways to masturbate that creating a succinct definition would be exclusive. Given that different people have widely different erogenous zones that are not limited to their genitals, that also creates a need for a wide definition.
To give you some history, the sex shop Good Vibrations started celebrating Masturbation Month in 1995, after the Surgeon General of the USA was fired for recommending masturbation be a part of all youth's sexual education curriculum. Since then, May has become celebrated worldwide as Masturbation Month!
There are a lot of misconceptions about masturbation. Plenty of people have the belief that they will go blind, get hairy palms, or be sent to Hell for engaging in masturbation. Thankfully, for billions of people around the globe, all of these are myths. To combat some of these, and promote Masturbation Month, I'm going to share some facts and benefits of self-stimulation!
People of all different ages and gender identities masturbate!
It's a common misconception that masculine-type folks are the ones who masturbate, while our feminine friends don't engage in such dirty activities (unless it's in porn). Many research studies that look at masturbation in different gender identities do show that men tend to masturbate more frequently than women but these have mostly been attributed to cultural pressures. However, as more studies are being done and cultural resistance to masturbation becomes weaker the rates of female masturbation are going up!
Masturbation can have all sorts of health benefits!
Many folks feel as if orgasm through masturbation can be like a reset for their emotions. It clears their head and fills them with energy, much like exercise. If a masturbation session includes orgasm, that orgasm releases oxytocin into the bloodstream, an endogenous hormone that has been linked to calmness and positive mood.
In addition, the hormones released from orgasm during masturbation (or any sexual activity) can also relieve headaches and menstrual cramps. Granted, it can be difficult to get in the mood to masturbate if you are in pain, but if it's something you want/are comfortable with, it can be an added benefit!
There are also some research studies that say regular masturbation (that includes orgasm) in folks over fifty who have a prostate can prevent the development of prostate cancer! It's nothing conclusive, but it's a reason to add to the pile if nothing else.
People in all different cultures masturbate!
Masturbation is not limited to modern Western cultures. While in some countries it is still against the law to masturbate (along with other restrictive laws surrounding sex), the majority of the world's cultures across time have engaged in masturbation. It's safe to say that you aren't the only person thinking about self-pleasure.
Masturbation can help you figure out what you want out of sex.
It can be daunting to go into a sex act that you have never tried before. Masturbating while fantasizing about a new activity or trying something out on yourself is a great way to figure out if you want to bring it into partnered sex!
Masturbation is also a great way to figure out what sensations work for you and to discovering erogenous zones for yourself. There are do many folks for whom genital stimulation just doesn't do it, but that doesn't have to prevent self-pleasure sessions! Your entire body can be involved in discovering what sensations and areas of the body you like to touch and be touched. Genitals can be a part of it, but are by no means necessary for pleasure.
People in relationships masturbate! (And that's OKAY!)
It is commonly believed that if you are in a relationship and you masturbate, the sex you are having is bad or not enough for you. This is simply not true! Comparing sex to masturbation is like comparing pie to cake! Both are delicious and satisfying to the sweet tooth, but they are completely different experiences.
The regularity with which you masturbate is healthy!
It's completely okay if you never masturbate, masturbate once a week, once a day, or ten times a day; masturbation is a healthy way to interact with your body. There are common myths that if you masturbate more than what's "appropriate" or "normal" that it's unhealthy. This myth falls down in several places. First, that the amount which is considered normal and appropriate changes based on who's telling the story and the person they are talking about. Secondly, there is such a wide variety of ways to masturbate and frequency that averages are really just that, averages. It can still be healthy to be at the high or low end! The only time masturbation can be problematic is when it interferes with your ability to function in everyday life.
To sum things up: there is no right or wrong way to masturbate. Everyone CAN masturbate, it's just a matter of whether you want to. There are nearly endless benefits to engaging in self-pleasure, and the power to begin is in your hands!