A Very Common Practice, Yet Still Taboo

As a sexual practice, it often begins much earlier than you might think, and is in fact recognized as a normal phase of development during childhood and adolescence. That may seem a little strange but it's true, children may experiment with masturbation from a very young age. It’s not necessarily sexual behaviour; they are exploring their bodies and simply realize that touching themselves in a certain way can give them pleasure and relaxation. Masturbation is therefore generally something that is familiar to us as we grow up, and it's how we are educated and our ability to talk about it in a positive way with people we trust that will make the difference when it comes to how we feel about it. The idea of ​​masturbating is not in line with everyone's values ​​and beliefs, we may not always realize it, but our environment (our parents, our friends, the school we go to, etc.) can have a huge influence on our behaviour and perceptions.

So it's very normal for some people to feel uncomfortable or ashamed at the thought of masturbating because the subject may be ignored or even considered taboo within their community. If you relate to this, rest assured that you’re not alone, there are many resources listed at the bottom of the article if you would like to speak to someone in confidence.

There are contradictions when we talk about masturbation: it’s a big taboo but almost everyone does it! According to several recent studies in North America, 80% of teenage boys and 58% of teenage girls have masturbated at least once in their life, and this only increases with age; on average, it is a sexual practice performed by 95% of men, compared with 81% of women. So why are the percentages lower for girls and women? (Robbins et al, 2011; TENGA, 2016).

Despite clear progress in recent years, there is still a lack of communication and education regarding women’s sexual pleasure. We talk much more openly about so-called “male” masturbation, whether its around us or in the media (TV, cinema, pornography), while women's sexuality remains more discreet, even hidden. If solo pleasure in general remains a sensitive subject, this is even more the case when it comes to  "female masturbation” as if women do not have the same capacity to experience sexual pleasure as men do...which is completely wrong!

The (Numerous) Benefits of Masturbation

Masturbating is about finding out what you like and don't like, exploring sensations that can be sexual and at the same time relaxing; we masturbate to give ourselves pleasure, to de-stress, and sometimes even just because we’re bored. There’s no shame in it!


Masturbation can also be a great help when it comes to recognizing our sexual desires; this can help us know where and when to set our limits, especially when having sex with a partner (if that happens). In the long run, knowing your body and what you want helps you move toward greater sexual satisfaction, whether its alone or with someone else.

The benefits of masturbation don't stop there:

  • Masturbating can help improve body self esteem, and therefore improve self-esteem in general.
  • Knowing yourself inside and out gives you confidence!
  • For some people with a uterus, masturbating can sometimes decrease the pain of period cramps, especially if it results in an orgasm. (Levin, 2007)
  • Problems with insomnia? Indulging in self-pleasure can help you sleep better; having an orgasm releases hormones that reduce stress and make it easier to sleep (prolactin and oxytocin). But don't worry; even without an orgasm, masturbation can help! It puts you in a good mood in general.
  • Not only do our brains produce hormones (dopamine and endorphin) that give us a feeling of pleasure, but masturbation gives us a moment to ourselves where we separate ourselves from the outside world; a winning recipe to boost our well-being and have a zen moment.


Is it normal if...

Masturbation is very personal, and everyone experiences it differently. You should know that there is no obligation to masturbate if you don't want to!
It is not an essential rite of passage and it’s normal if it's not something that speaks to you. It is more important to take the time to listen to your body, your needs and what you want. You’ll find your rhythm

Is it normal to want to masturbate even if I am in a couple or if I have one or more sexual partners?

Yes, totally! Just because you like giving yourself pleasure on your own doesn't mean that you don't want anyone else. Masturbation can be an intimate moment for you, as well as for your partner(s). It may also provide pleasure that is different from sex. Small note: whether during masturbation or during sex with another person, using lubricant (Durex offers a variety!) Can help increase your pleasure!

Is too much masturbation bad for you?

The frequency of masturbation varies from one person to another and has no negative impact on your physical well-being.If you think that it is starting to play too big a role in your life and that it is preventing you from doing other daily activities, do not hesitate to talk about it (to a health professional, a parent if you are comfortable, a resource person, etc.)!

Is it strange that I get no pleasure from masturbation?

Discovering and exploring what you like by masturbating may take some time, and it is a different process for everyone. Don’t hesitate to take small moments in private, times when you will not be disturbed, and find out how touching yourself in different ways feels. If you ever feel pain when touching certain areas (around the penis or clitoris, inside the vagina, etc.), and that worries you, you can always talk to a healthcare specialist. Just to be on the safe side.

 

Any other questions or concerns?


Here are some resources that may help you:
Tel-Jeunes (you can call or text anonymously. This team is great! Their website is full of information on masturbation and more!)
Jeunesse, J’écoute (same here!)
An intervention person or a person in nursing school.
A parent or a member of your family that you trust and feel comfortable with!

 

References
Bacque Dion, C. (2017).
The emergence of non-normative sexual behaviors during childhood.

BY: MIA LAFRANCE-CLOUTIER, CLUB SEXU

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