In the second week of International Masturbation Month, we are going to address some myths that surround masturbation.  These will not be the old, cliché myths such as hairy palms and acne; but will tackle some misconceptions surrounding one of our most intimate moments.  So let’s start:

Masturbation is something only adolescents do. While masturbation is often the first sexual behavior most individuals do, and often around the age of 13, masturbation is a life-long behavior.  In fact, about one-third of women, and about one-half of men over the age of 70 reported masturbating within the past year (NSSHB, 2010).  What this tells us is that masturbation is a safe and healthy form of sexuality that men and women continue to do no matter their age.  

There is such thing as masturbating too much. This one is kind of tricky, as it has two answers: yes and no.  No, there is nothing physically unhealthy with masturbation.  Additionally, people masturbate for a variety of reasons: fun, stress reliever, aid in sleep.  It’s not unheard of for people to participate in a masturbate-a-thon, in which he or she tries to masturbate as many times as they can in a given period.  Again, there is nothing physically wrong or unhealthy about frequent self-loving.  Where this myth gets sticky is when we talk about life outside of masturbation.  If you are shirking responsibilities (work, school, family or friends) in order to masturbate, your masturbation patterns may be unhealthy.  

Masturbating is only for people who can’t find someone to sleep with. This is a common misconception: that masturbation is for the chronically single individual.  That sentiment couldn’t be further from the truth.  While the numbers are slightly lower, in reality, masturbating with a partner and masturbating within a relationship is relatively common behavior.  Between 15%-25% of individuals reported masturbating with a partner in the past month (NSSHB, 2010).  Though often a solo activity, masturbating with a partner opens up new opportunities for shared pleasure.  Watching your partner or having your partner watch you masturbate is not only sexy, watching lets you (or your partner) know what you like done and how you like it.      

Everyone masturbates the same. Masturbating is a private activity, one in which individuals often don’t have the ability to open and honest about their experiences.  Therefore, every person likes different things, uses different objects, and has different hand motions. Different strokes for different folks.  How people masturbate differs just as much as the people themselves.  This is why masturbating a partner (giving a hand job) can be both fun and frustrating.  Hand jobs can be fun and sexy, especially when the sensations are different than the way you or your partner masturbates regularly. However, this is where it can become frustrating as well. If you or your partner has a set way of masturbating, giving or receiving a hand job may get you nowhere.  If you find yourself faced, or handed, this situation a solution might be to masturbate with your partner.  Moreover, have one person sit between the legs of the other so the same view is given.  You (or your partner) can take over once he/she has learned how to please you!

Masturbation ends in orgasm. Not all the time. The purpose of ALL sexual behaviors is different for everyone and for each sexual experience.  Often times we are orgasm/ejaculation-oriented when engaging in sex.  While this sexpert cannot and will not define what your purpose of sex should be, knowing what is important for you and your partner is important.  Many people derive pleasure and satisfaction even without orgasm. This holds true for both solo and partnered sexual activities. Here is something fun you can do, whether you are alone or with a partner, and whether you are masturbating or engaging in a variety of sexual behaviors: if you have the time, and will power, try a prolonged edging (holding back on cumming until it’s impossible to hold back any long).  Try this prolonged edging for a few hours or a whole day if you’re able. Doing this can act as a tease, increasing sexual responsiveness and making the orgasm more powerful and satisfying.

The final topic we will discuss is not so much a myth or a conception, but rather a preference choice: to use lube or not.  The use of lubricant or masturbating “dry” is a personal choice and might be made out of availability. Many youngsters do not have access to lubricants (or may use handy things like lotions or cooking oils, which are great in a pinch if you aren’t using condoms) and therefore learn how to masturbate without lubricants.  Using lubricants, if you are used to dry, can give you a different feel and increase sensation.  Further, you can try different lubricants to test what they feel like: the differences between water-based and silicone-based, lubricants that are cooling or warming, and ones that tingle.  Additionally, this is a great chance to learn about condoms.  It may sound strange… masturbating, with a condom. However, using a condom alone, learning how to properly adorn one, and what it feels like to be stimulated through a condom will help you learn and be more confident when the time comes.  You can check out the Better Boink condom locator on this website, so you can pick up plenty of different kinds of condoms and lube and really go to town!