Masturbation. The word itself sends waves of discomfort, embarrassment, or shame, depending on who you ask. But why? Sex talk has been taboo, especially when its surrounding an act known to be done in privacy.
Let’s break down why it’s taboo:
-Done in privacy
-Frowned upon by religions: has been expressed as sinful, hedonist, an act of lust
-Due to a lack of education/awareness
-Education given is limiting/reinforces stigma of fear and shame
-Often part of a joke
Common myths about masturbation include : infertility, erectile dysfunction, libido (sex drive) murderer, unhappiness with relationship, sex addiction, stamina decrease, depletion of semen, penis shrinkage, blindness, etc. All myths for a reason: all proven wrong.
I’d also like to add that there is a heavier weight of shame when it comes to masturbation and female-identifying folx. Masturbation seems to be expressed as more normal for male-identifying folx. Wet dreams, unwanted boners, etc, are common topics when classic puberty curriculum is discussed with young boys. However, the topic of masturbation is completely ignored when the puberty talk comes up with prepubescent girls.
The Pink Protest, a UK-based activist group (that has been a part of changing two UK laws) covered this issue in their 2018 campaign “#GirlsWankToo.” Despite the hashtag, they made it clear it was an inclusive movement that welcomed involvement from cis women, trans women, non-binary folx, and men alike. They did and are doing some really great work, especially with this topic. Check it out: https://www.pinkprotest.org/girls-wank-too
The truth is, most everyone regularly masturbates. And according to a study titled, “Prevalence, Frequency, and Associations of Masturbation With Partnered Sexual Behaviors Among US Adolescents” by Cynthia L. Robbins, MD, Vanessa Schick, PhD, and Michael Reece, PhD, MPH, masturbation frequency only increased with age.
And according to a former professor of mine, her kid got boners at the ripe age of 1 year old, and started jerking off 2 years later. Now, I don’t have kids, nor do I have a penis, but it doesn’t surprise me that the hard-ons come that early. I myself was caught humping my stuffed animals (maybe it’s a security thing? File under: things to discuss with my therapist.) probably around 5 years old. And after sharing this with some close friends recently, I found out I wasn’t the only one.
After being caught, the single thing I remember my mom asking was why I did it. Um, because it felt good? Duh?
But besides feeling good, there are several other reasons why we touch ourselves. The body is aware of the benefits, whether we consciously are or not.
INSIDER magazine recently chatted with Jessa Zimmerman, MA, Sex Therapist and Author. In the interview, she noted the following benefits of masturbation: https://www.insider.com/masturbation-health-benefits-2018-9
Enhanced Sleep Quality
"After orgasm, we're normally more relaxed,"
"We're also bathed in endorphins and oxytocin, the feel-good hormones that can help us get to sleep easily and sleep more deeply."
Improved Heart Health
"Similar to exercise, masturbation gets your blood pumping,"
Reduced Risk of Prostate Cancer
Men [who masturbate] have a reduced risk of prostate cancer, presumably through flushing of toxins through ejaculation," “According to a Harvard Health Professionals study, men who ejaculated 21 times or more in a month experienced a 33% lower risk of prostate cancer compared to men who ejaculated four to seven times a month.”
Strengthened Pelvic Floor
"The contractions that occur with orgasm strengthen your pelvic floor muscles, helping with urinary issues like incontinence and erectile function”
Reduced Risk of Vaginal Infection
"The tenting of the cervix that happens with orgasm is thought to reduce cervical infections and UTIs in women”
Immune System Boost
"Orgasm results in a small increase in cortisol, which stimulates your immune function”
Honorable mentions not included in interview:
-Boosts mood/reduces stress (hi, endorphins!)
-Relieves menstrual cramps (muscle contraction can help move along the shedding of the uterine lining)
-IMPROVES sex (learning what you like and don’t like, what gets you off, learning how your body works)
In conclusion, masturbation is mentally and physically good for you. So, flick the bean, wank, jerk off...whatever you call it, do it. If you want.