For many people, masturbation or self-pleasure is a taboo topic. There are many harmful myths that exist about masturbation that may cause people to feel uncomfortable. And society, as well as the media, does a great job of contributing to the taboo, stigma, and negative messages that surround conversations about sexuality. Advertisers teach us that our bodies are dirty and disgusting. Constantly being inundated with such messages, beliefs, attitudes and feelings like these contribute to the unhealthy behaviors that put women at risk for HIV and other sexually transmitted infections. It also puts us at risk of victimization, abuse, body image issues, unhealthy relationships, mental health challenges and so much more.
In some cultures and religions, masturbation is considered sinful. This can lead to guilt or shame about engaging in the act. Negative messages and feelings about masturbation can threaten our health and well-being. People who receive negative messages about masturbation when they are young often carry feelings of shame surrounding sexuality into adulthood, which can ultimately affect the way we interact in relationships and experience sexual pleasure.
In order to fully experience and appreciate your sexuality, you have to move past the shame and peel back the negative and unhealthy layers of intergenerational patterns that surround it. While masturbation was once thought of as a perversion and a sign of a mental problem, masturbation is now regarded as a natural, healthy sexual activity that is pleasurable and safe. According to various studies, masturbation is a very common behavior, even among people who have a sex partner. According to one national survey, 95 percent of males and 89 percent of females reported that they have masturbated, and here are some reasons why.
The clitoris connection
Women have been equipped with their own special pleasure spot. Did you know this spot is the only organ in the human body with the sole function of providing pleasure? With more than 8,000 nerve endings, it’s no wonder women can achieve multiple mind-blowing orgasms. According to some researchers, stimulation of this organ accounts for 50 to 75 percent of most orgasms. In fact, most women usually experience their first clitoral orgasm through masturbation. When you know what you need to bring yourself pleasure and to orgasm, you strengthen your connection to your body, in addition to experiencing many other health benefits through masturbation.
You learn more about your body
In order to experience pleasure, you have to be intimately acquainted with your body. Understanding your sexual response cycle and how your body changes during each cycle is the hallmark of sexual pleasure. Masturbation is a great way to learn all about your body, your sexual response, and sexual triggers. Learning about what feels good to you can increase your chance of experiencing sexual pleasure with partners because it enables you to communicate what works for you with them.
It creates an intimate bond
Some partners use mutual masturbation to discover techniques for a more satisfying sexual and intimate relationship. Through mutual masturbation, you learn about body mapping. This method helps you figure out what spots, various strokes and techniques you should use to please your partner and vice versa. Also, mutual masturbation is a safer way to explore sexual activity with another person because it lowers your risk for unintended pregnancies, HIV, and other sexually transmitted infections.
It increases confidence
There is a correlation between sexuality and confidence. Knowing how your body works, and what you’re capable of helps to increase your confidence. The more confident you are, the more likely you are to make better decisions, create stronger boundaries and facilitate healthier relationships. When you can bring yourself physical pleasure, you don’t need someone else to validate you. This, unsurprisingly, leads to higher confidence and an increased level of self-care that transcends beyond the bedroom.
Added health benefits
- creates a sense of well-being
- enhances sexual experiences with a partner
- increases the ability to have orgasms
- improves a relationship and sexual satisfaction
- improves sleep
- increases self-esteem and improves body image
- provides sexual pleasure for people without partners
- provides treatment for some sexual dysfunctions
- reduces stress
- relieves sexual tension
- relieves menstrual cramps
- strengthens muscle tone in the pelvic and anal areas
- serves as a useful learning tool
Pleasuring oneself is one of the most powerful sexual experiences. The freedom to give yourself the permission to explore your body, the time and space to feel pleasure, and to know that you are worth giving and receiving pleasure are some of the most powerful steps to becoming sexually empowered and liberated! And in the words of RuPaul, “If you can’t love yourself how the hell you gonna love somebody else?”
At the end of the day, only you can decide what is healthy and right for you. If you feel ashamed or guilty about masturbating, consider talking with a sex therapist, educator, counselor, and/or clergy member to explore your beliefs and attitudes regarding sexuality.
For more personal insight on masturbation, check out Deja Jones’ piece here.
Dr. TaMara loves nothing more than talking about sex! At the age of 13, she told her mother she wanted to be a Sex Therapist! Her passion is deeply rooted in spreading messages about healthy sexuality. Dr. TaMara is a certified clinical sexologist, sex therapist, best selling author and powerful motivational speaker with more than 20 years of experience speaking, writing and teaching about sexuality. She travels the country helping individuals embrace and honor their sexuality. Dr. TaMara has published numerous books and articles. She is the owner of L.I.F.E. by Dr. TaMara- Live Inspired Feel Empowered LLC-LIFE. Dr. TaMara is also the Editor-in-Chief of Our Sexuality! Magazine. Our Sexuality! is the premiere magazine for women’s sexuality and sexual health. Dr. TaMara is a “Thought Leader” for the Association of Black Sexologist and Clinicians. She is also a member of the American College of Sexologists International. Follow her on Twitter, Facebook at LIFE by Dr. TaMara or Instagram, or her Live Inspired Feel Empowered (L.I.F.E.) blog http://www.drtamaragriffin.com. Join Dr. TaMara movement of Healthy Sexuality #HowDareINot #ISaveLives http://www.howdareinot.com