Masturbation is one of my favorite things!
So, I’m excited that May is masturbation month but I wanted to pull together what I’ve shared about masturbation recently so you can celebrate any time.
If you want to learn about how masturbation month got started, check this post out. I won’t be going into that here.
What I’ll be covering is lots of awesome info about:
The benefits of masturbation.
Myths and misunderstandings about masturbation that can get in the way as well as the truth/facts.
Specifically, how masturbation can help you with sexual communication.
31 ways to celebrate masturbation month (ways to enjoy self-pleasure).
How to bring your senses into solo sex.
And various words and phrases for masturbation, including what I see as the difference between masturbation, self-pleasure and solo sex.
So have fun reading and implementing!
I mentioned that there are many benefits of masturbation. One of the benefits is that spending time with yourself can help you clarify or become aware of your sexual desires.
And this is true even if you think you already know what your desires are!
This was the case for me …
A few years ago, I was feeling unfulfilled and not satisfied with my sex life. I felt frustrated because what I wanted wasn’t happening in reality, but I felt ashamed of what I wanted and kept it all silent inside my own head.
I eventually got to a point where I decided that I wanted to talk about what I really wanted but at the time, I didn’t know how to do that. In fact, whenever I would try, the words felt like they got stuck in my throat.
So, what did I do?
I did a few things.
But one thing was that I searched for stuff that would help. I found an activity about different types of touch and I started playing around with that on my own first, and later with my partner.
I soon realized that I really … like REALLY … loved super light touching … like almost not even touching my skin.
The energetic feeling of it and the anticipation of it was SO intense.
I shared the activity with my partner and we played around together with different types of touch and not only do we now know more about what we like and don’t like, but it opened up communication about sex in a way that felt really fun and easy (more about that coming up).
So, the point is that masturbation, solo play and self-exploration can blow your freaking mind in terms of helping you get to know what you want in the bedroom (or wherever!), even if you think you already know.
Now, let’s talk more about how masturbation can make it easier to talk to your partner about what you want in your sex life.
Sexual communication is ESSENTIAL for a healthy and satisfying sex life.
As Masters and Johnson said, “Sexual communication is critical to the development and maintenance of healthy sexual function.”
Studies have shown that sexual communication positively impacts:
And overall sexual function
It can even reduce pain.
Basically, being able to communicate your desires, preferences, boundaries, needs, values (and more) to your partner(s) can lead to better (and even awesome) sex.
Studies have also shown that a lack of communication contributes to sexual difficulties and dissatisfaction (like my story shows).
It’s like there’s a loop where communication improves function and satisfaction … and improvements in function and satisfaction positively affect further communication.
So, even though it’s hard, it’s important to learn how to talk to your partner about sex.
But if you’re like so many other people (and like I was with the words getting stuck in my throat because of shame and fear), you struggle with sexual communication because of societal influences, fear, shame, not knowing how to talk about it and many other reasons.
One way to make talking about sex easier is through getting to know yourself … and one way to do that is through masturbation.
But how can it actually help with sexual communication?
Here are a few ways:
Like I mentioned, masturbation can help you get to know yourself, your body and your preferences. Sexual communication is about expressing all of your uniqueness. By exploring your body (everywhere, not just your genitals) and experimenting with different techniques, you can learn what feels good to you and what doesn't. Then you can more easily communicate those likes and dislikes to your partner(s) so they’re aware of what turns you on, too.
It makes having those conversations with your partner(s) feel less uncomfortable because you’re more confident about what you like and don’t like. If you SHOW your partner how you like to be touched, it can make it feel even less awkward. And if you bring in fun games and activities (like my example above), it can make it feel easier.
Being clear about what your turn ons are and what’s a no for you, helps you to feel more confident about sharing those boundaries and talking about what you’re open to exploring and what you’re absolutely not open to right now. Consent is key in your sex life and masturbation helps you discover what you want to consent to and helps you communicate that honestly and clearly with your partners.
One huge reason why talking about what you want sexually is so hard is because of beliefs and myths out there in society.
Do you remember the “I’m out!” episode of Seinfeld? Or have you heard of it? It’s my favorite episode (of course!).
In the episode, Jerry, George, Elaine and Kramer made a bet about who could last the longest without masturbating.
Kramer was the first one out.
Him coming into Jerry’s apartment, slamming his money down on the counter and saying, “I’m out” has become a classic in my house and I still laugh about it to this day.
One of the things that was emphasized during this episode was negative perceptions of masturbation.
For example, the thing that caused the bet in the first place was that George's mom discovered him masturbating in her house. She thought there was something wrong with him and that he needed to see a psychiatrist.
Also, Jerry's girlfriend walked out on him after he told her about this bet and she said he and his friends were sick.
Unfortunately, there have been many other negative views of masturbation “out there” in the world, including many myths like these:
Myth: masturbation isn’t normal.
The truth is that it’s TOTALLY normal to discover that touching yourself in certain places feels good and then to continue to explore that pleasure.
Myth: It’s bad, evil or wrong.
The truth? This belief comes from religious beliefs and societal influences (but keep reading for more on this) but outside of that, there isn’t anything wrong about masturbation. It’s a normal, healthy practice with many benefits (those are coming later, too).
Myth: you’ll go blind.
The truth is that there is no causal link between masturbation and blindness.
Myth: you’ll grow hair on your palms.
It hasn’t happened yet! And the truth is that it won’t.
Myth: people in relationships don’t masturbate (or shouldn’t).
This can be a personal values choice and it usually is formed from societal influences of various kinds. But people who are single or in any relationship structure masturbate and it’s potentially good for your relationship because it can improve sex when partners gain awareness of preferences through masturbation. Besides, mutual masturbation is awesome.
Myth: women don’t masturbate.
This one does! But, seriously. The truth is that women do masturbate. Studies vary but on average, 50% of women masturbate regularly.
Myth: it’s harmful.
The truth? It’s actually beneficial (benefits coming up) and the truth is that as long as you consider safety (e.g. clean any toys you use), it does not cause infertility, disease or illness and it does not cause erectile dysfunction as many myths state.
Myth: the Bible says not to.
The truth is that the Bible actually says nothing about masturbation. The one verse about Onan that’s typically used to show that masturbation is wrong is actually about something else entirely (refusal to fulfill his obligation of levirate-marriage).
Myth: it has to be done in secret (or alone).
The belief that masturbation has to be done in secret comes from societal shame and influences, but the truth is that it’s actually healthy to talk about it openly and also to masturbate with others, not just alone.
Myth: there are no benefits.
I know you’ve been waiting for this one! The truth is that there are many benefits to masturbation, including relaxation, better sleep, stress reduction, increased self-awareness, improved self-confidence, reduced body shame, connection to your body, better mood, improved sex with a partner or partners and pleasure.
Myth: you won’t orgasm in other ways (or you’ll become dependent on it or on toys).
The truth? You may prefer one way of coming to orgasm, but it doesn’t become the only way that it’s possible. Masturbation can help you learn what you like and don’t like. If you have a partner or partners, you can then communicate what you like to them to improve sexual satisfaction in those contexts as well.
Myth: you can masturbate too much.
Nope! At least not in general. The truth is that there is no such thing as too much masturbation unless other factors come into play, such as interfering with daily functioning.
What’s a negative view or myth that you’ve heard? Have you heard of any myths about masturbation that I didn’t include? And were you surprised by any of the benefits I listed?
Now, I want to move into the 31 ways to celebrate masturbation month … any month … and I’m sure this is what you’ve been waiting for most in this post!
Here are 31 ways to engage in masturbation or spark up your solo sex life:
If you always use toys, masturbate with your hands (or vice versa).
If you always masturbate one way, try a different way (e.g. on your front or back, with a pillow).
Masturbate in a different location than usual (e.g. shower, bath, outside, washroom at work).
Create and plan a whole pleasure session rather than quickly rubbing one out.
Buy a new toy (buy from a gender-inclusive store).
Masturbate with a partner (each of you touching yourselves).
Masturbate with a partner (each of you touching each other).
Have an orgasm a day all month (use some of these ideas).
Or do some form of self-pleasure a day all month and use some of these ideas (not necessarily to the point of orgasm and not necessarily involving genitals).
Experiment with temperature (e.g. ice, candle wax, cold glass toy).
Experiment with touch (e.g. tapping, slapping, caressing, tickling, feathers, claws, etc.).
Experiment with smell (e.g. scented candles, lube).
Experiment with visuals (e.g. watch ethical porn).
Experiment with sound (e.g. play music, make noise yourself, listen to audio erotica on Dipsea). A reader shared: “There’s a sensual story based app called Dipsea that I really like! You can pick what type of story you want to listen to, varying narrator voices, if the narrator uses first, second, or third person, and diverse relationship types such as LGBTQ + more!”
Experiment with taste (e.g. foods, flavored lube).
Combine multiple sensations at once.
Safely use "pervertibles" (household or daily items as sex tools/toys).
Explore solo BDSM (e.g. nipple clamps, flogger, electric play).
Explore kinks (e.g. latex, leather).
Use a mirror and watch yourself.
Try a tech tool (e.g. OMGYES, the Mon App).
Try different techniques like edging and learn through OMGYES.
Try anal stimulation.
Talk to your partner about masturbation.
Talk to a friend about masturbation.
Engage in virtual mutual masturbation.
Try group masturbation.
Practice mindful masturbation.
Use a game with yourself and follow the instructions on dare cards.
My favorite one is number nine because daily self-pleasure is awesome and it doesn’t always have to be about the goal of orgasm.
What’s your favorite or which one are you going to try first?
It's so easy to get into a rut with masturbation and do the same-old, same-old all the time ... which is often a quickie to get off.
One way to add a spark and increase pleasure is to take the time to intentionally focus on adding in elements that stimulate various senses.
Experiment with the senses and ideas you're able to, combine multiple sensations together, or even play with all of them at once if that works for you!
Masturbate in the shower or bath and enjoy the sensations of water.
Try different intensities of touch (e.g. barely touching, light, medium, hard).
Use various items (e.g. claws, feathers, latex, satin, toys, paintbrushes).
Play with types of touch all over your body (e.g. tapping, slapping, sucking, caressing, tickling, vibrating).
Experiment with temperature (e.g. ice, candle wax, cold glass toy).
Use a blindfold.
Watch ethical porn.
Look at pictures or have sexual or sensual art in your space.
Fantasize and use your imagination.
Experiment with different lighting (e.g. full light, dimmed light, candles).
Listen to audio erotica.
Create a masturbation playlist or just play some music.
Allow yourself to make noises/sounds.
Listen to the sounds of scenarios or places that turn you on.
If you're masturbating with a partner, ask them to talk dirty to you or if you're alone, imagine dirty talk or talk dirty to yourself.
Use scented lube.
Enjoy your partners' scents (in mutual masturbation or with an item of theirs if you're alone).
Enjoy your own scents.
Use scented massage oils.
Burn scented candles or use a diffuser.
Play with foods (e.g. chocolate, fruit, candy).
Incorporate taste from drinks (e.g. wine, flavored water, tea, hot chocolate).
Use flavored lube.
Taste yourself (e.g. skin, various body parts you can reach, fluids).
Play with different tastes on your mouth, lips and tongue.
What will you try next in your self–pleasure? And what ideas do you have that aren't on these lists?
NOTE: I specifically referred to bringing the senses in, versus the five senses, because all senses aren’t available to everyone in the same ways and masturbation isn’t necessarily accessible to everyone despite the many headlines that say it is. Disabilities, chronic illness or pain, body dysphoria, trauma and shame may impact how solo sex is experienced.
You may have noticed that I use a few terms interchangeably when I talk about masturbation.
I recently asked people this question and I heard a variety of responses. I’m curious to know what you think. Are these the same things or are they different things?
I heard answers like:
There’s no difference/they’re the same.
I’ve never heard of those terms (other than masturbation) but I’d say they’re the same.
Solo sex is having sex with yourself, not just relieving the pressure. Masturbation is relieving the pressure and the feeling of needing to get off. Self-pleasure can mean a lot of things.
I don’t ever talk about it.
I’ve never heard of solo sex but it strikes me as different from masturbation and self-pleasure.
Those two are the same.
Personally, I think they’re different and here’s how I would briefly define them:
Masturbation: solo-sex, typically for the purpose of reaching orgasm and most often in a quick manner.
Solo-sex: an entire scene or session or experience of sex with yourself, not necessarily leading to orgasm, but full of self-pleasure, enjoyment and exploration.
Self-pleasure: any form of self-pleasure from caressing to solo sex or solo BDSM to a hot bath with candles; enjoying yourself in whatever way you enjoy or want to experiment with.
So, even though I use them interchangeably, I think they have a different focus and intention.
What do you think?
There are also a LOT of other words or phrases for masturbation.
Here are some I’ve heard from you and others as well:
Play with yourself.
Rub one out.
Choke the chicken.
Flick the bean.
What words do you use that aren't on this list?
Regardless of what you call masturbation, it’s awesome for so many reasons … like the ones I’ve shared here.
And there are many unique and fun ways to practice it.
So, have fun exploring when May, which is masturbation month, comes around … or any month!