Your Masturbation Questions Answered, by Chantelle Otten
It's International Masturbation Month!
Since the month of May is entirely devoted to the celebration of self pleasure, we thought we'd ask award-winning sex therapist and relationship specialist Chantelle Otten to answer 7 common questions about solo fun.
From 'getting to know yourself' when you're in a relationship to orgasming (or not), here's a quick Q&A to help you win your next masturbation-themed Zoom quiz.
1. Do women masturbate too?
YES! I would put 100 exclamation marks if I could just to show how loudly I am yelling yes at my computer.
I've heard the idea many times, from many different people, that women don't masturbate. To me this comes from society not recognising that women experience, and want, pleasure!
These ideas may be really deep within ourselves and hard to ignore, but everyone has a right to pleasure, and not just pleasure with a partner. There is nothing wrong with masturbating, it's not just for teenage boys like the movies may have us believe.
2. Is it normal if I don't want to masturbate?
YES! This is also a really important point. While I am a huge fan of some self loving, it might not be everyone's cup of tea.
There are lots of people out there that may fall under the asexual umbrella – asexual refering to people that do not experience sexual desire. For these people, masturbation would make no sense!
Additionally some people that love sex just don't love masturbating, which is okay. My only 'but' would be to make sure you're reflecting on why you don't want to masturbate. If it's just because you have no desire to, don't feel like it, or tried giving it a go and it wasn't your thing, that's fine.
However, if feelings of shame or guilt are holding you back from your own pleasure, it might be time to reach out to a sexologist to help you take control of your own pleasure.
3. Am I doing it right?
If you're touching yourself in any way that feels good for you, congratulations! You're masturbating.
There is no one way of masturbation, particularly for women. Every vulva and vagina is unique, like a snowflake! And therefore, every woman is going to enjoy slightly different touch and sensations. Some may like a lot of clitoral stimulation, some might want more internal touching, others might like the sensation of humping a pillow!
As long as it's not hurting you, you're doing it right. However, I am of the mind that there is always room for improvement, even with our own hands. If you're feeling like you might want to expand your self-pleasure repertoire, I encourage you to get creative!
Try different strokes, touch yourself differently and in different places, tease yourself, maybe even invest in some exciting sex toys. Just make sure you're always going back to pleasure, as that's really the goal when it comes to masturbation.
4. Is there something wrong with me if I don't orgasm?
My instinct is to say a loud 'NO', particularly as not everyone masturbates just to have an orgasm.
Orgasming is (a very fun) part of masturbation, but it should mainly be about our own pleasure, which we can feel without having an orgasm. So many of us are super goal orientated around sex, with the goal always the same: the big O.
Why does an orgasm get to dictate our pleasure? You can still have some amazing self-pleasure sessions without an orgasm in sight.
However, if not being able to get yourself to orgasm is a problem for you, then it's something to deal with. Sometimes we have mental blocks in our minds that prevent us from being able to fully relax into our body and experience all the pleasure we could.
5. Can masturbation have any negative side effects/health risks?
If by a negative effect you mean having better sleep, better heart health, stress relief and pleasure, then sure.
6. Does masturbating affect my virginity?
Now this is a big one, and I could talk all day about it, but i will try and keep it quick! In short, no, it won't affect your virginity for many reasons.
Firstly, you can experience so much pleasure without ever putting anything inside your vagina, if that's how you view virginity.
Which brings us to the second point: what do you think virginity is? I've been told it's any sexual activity with another person for the first time, that it's anything below the belt, that it's anything without clothes, that it's anything going into a vagina and that it's the first time a penis goes inside a vagina.
As you can see, there is no one definition of virginity, because it's a social idea. It's not something medical (even though some may think this).
What defines 'virginity' is up to you – it's for you to decide what it is and when you lose it. I wouldn't think exploring our own self pleasure would influence it.
7. Is it normal to masturbate in a relationship?
It is completely normal to masturbate in a relationship, however which way you're masturbating. If you're masturbating for pleasure, for exploration, or maybe because you're just really horny today and need an orgasm STAT, that's fine.
If you're masturbating instead of being intimate with your partner, and turning your partner down to go and masturbate yourself, I would reflect on why that is. Reaching out to a professional may ease those reflections.
On the whole, though, masturbation is a healthy part of anyone's sex life, in our out of a relationship. It's about your own sexuality, which is yours to explore any time you want.
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