Whether by yourself or with others, masturbation is, statistically, the most practiced sexual activity in anyone’s repertoire. According to The Center for Sexual Health Promotion, between 60-80% of adults have masturbated in the last year. With that many people engaging in auto-pleasure, one would think some of the…misguided…myths about masturbation would have been eradicated. Alas, they haven’t, so let’s bust them wide open.
Myth 1: Everyone Masturbates
Well, the statistic says that a lot of people rub one out from time to time, but most does not mean all. There are many reasons why one would choose not to masturbate: exercising control over their body, religious reasons, trauma histories, or just plain not wanting or liking to masturbate. One of the best things about being an autonomous human being is getting to make the decisions about what we do–or don’t do–with our bodies.
Myth 2: Masturbating is bad for your health
Maybe if you took a time machine back to the early days of formalized western medicine, you would find some evidence that spilling your seed was depleting your energy or the necessary cure for hysteria. Largely, masturbation is a health benefit, including such perks as; increasing blood flow to the genitals which helps maintain the integrity of the smooth muscle in the pelvic region, reducing the risk of vaginal atrophy after menopause, reducing menstrual cramping, increasing the chemicals in the brain that relieve pain and stress, and providing pleasurable, passive aerobic exercise.
Myth 3: Masturbating while in a relationship is unnecessary, wrong, or cheating.
This myth takes many shapes, but boils down to the core premise that a sexual partner means one no longer needs to take care of their own business. However, as the previous myth covers, there are a lot more reasons to jerk off than just sexual release. For some poeple, masturbating is part of their bedtime or wake up routine. For others, it is a way to work tension out of their body.
The important thing to remember when looking at masturbation in the context of relationships is that communication around sexual expectations is an important dialogue that should regularly occur. Part of this conversation can be talking about how and why partners feel certain ways about masturbation. Beyond communication, it is important for partners to realize that, for some people, masturbating is a way to take care of oneself physiologically, like showering, brushing your teeth, and going to the bathroom.
Myth 4: Masturbation makes you less likely to orgasm during sex.
This myth is rooted in fact: very few people orgasm the same way from masturbation and intercourse. If someone is expecting to feel the exact sensation they get from a Magic Wand while having penetrative intercourse with a partner, it isn’t going to happen, and not just because a partner doesn’t have the motor of a small lawnmower installed in their genitals.
First, research has shown that most people with clitorises don’t achieve orgasm through penetration alone. This means that for penetrative vaginal sex to end in an orgasm, between 70-80% of people with clits will need them to be stimulated. Someone who regularly rubs one out would be better equipped to direct a partner or provide that type of stimulation themself, either through manual involvement, toys, or positioning.
Different parts of the genitals are connected to the brain by different nerves, each of which responds to different sensations (like vibration or pressure) and reacts differently when stimulated. Additionally, when a person masturbates, they are training their body to orgasm efficiently. Sexy time with partners is usually based more on connection and communication rather than speed.
What masturbation does do for partnered sex is make it easier to know what types of sensation feel good. According to the American Sexual Health Association, “The more you explore and know your own body through masturbation, the clearer you can be about what kind of touch you enjoy.” There is also a correlation between masturbation and higher body esteem, which in turn, may lead to higher comfort levels with yourself and your partners.
While some masturbation myths have been busted, it’s important to say that the reason a lot of people jerk off is because IT FEELS GOOD. And that is a good enough reason to engage in self love. All the rest is just an added benefit.