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8 Common Masturbation Myths — Debunked!

8 Common Masturbation Myths -- Debunked!

May is National Masturbation Month! In years past we’ve talked about the benefits of masturbation, switching up your routine, and how to get comfortable with masturbation. This year, we wanted to cover masturbation myths.

We all know by now that masturbation isn’t going to give you hairy palms or cause blindness, but there are still myths out there that are harder to shake. Here are 8 of the most common masturbation myths we’ve heard — and why they aren’t true.

1. Masturbation is a substitute for sex with another person. Aspartame is a substitute sweetener for folks who can’t have or don’t want real sugar, and many people out there think of masturbation in the same way as aspartame — a substitute for when someone “can’t get the real deal.”

Masturbation isn’t a temporary stand-in or a step down from “real” sexual activity, though. It is a normal and healthy part of sexuality and sexual expression, and plenty of people who regularly have sex with others still choose to masturbate. Just because it is often a solo act doesn’t mean it isn’t a type of real sex. In fact, masturbation has many of the same benefits partnered sex offers (stress relief, mood boosting, fighting insomnia, feeling good about your body, etc.) but also allows you to take your sex life into your own hands — literally! Masturbation is 100% the real deal and can be just as sexually satisfying as sex with partners — sometimes even more so.

2. Masturbation doesn’t deserve as much attention as your partnered sex life. Many people, especially those socialized as women, are taught that anything we do that centers ourselves is considered selfish. That kind of thinking often leaves us as the last person we take care of in our own lives, which means many people learn how to please partners but have little to no idea what works for their own bodies. Not only can that feel disempowering, but it can also make it harder to communicate with sexual partners who want to help us feel good or reach orgasm. If we devote energy to our solo sex lives and set aside time for self-pleasure, we feel more empowered all around and we also have better partnered sex because we can let other people know what we want or how we prefer to be touched.

3. There is a wrong way to masturbate. While asking around about masturbation myths, one thing that kept coming up was that a lot of people grew up thinking there was only one “correct” way of masturbating. For people with vulvas, they often thought that anything outside of lying on their backs and masturbating with their fingers was “wrong,” and for people with penises, they thought that jerking off with one hand while sitting or standing were the only “normal” ways to touch themselves.

However, people masturbate in all sorts of ways — humping pillows, using sex toys, playing with their butts, masturbating on their stomachs, rubbing everyday objects on their genitals, cutting holes into foam mattresses and going to town — and they’re all normal! The only wrong way to masturbate is if you’re doing it in a way that violates another person’s consent (such as masturbating on a crowded bus). Beyond that, explore, have fun, and if you’re sticking anything in your ass, make sure it has a flared base or loop for easy retrieval!

4. Masturbation with fingers/hands only is “more pure” than with sex toys. Nonsense! When it comes to masturbation, it’s all about discovering what feels good and works for you personally. While many people love using their hands and fingers, billions of people all over the world, past and present, have used sex toys. For as long as humans have been humans, we’ve used objects to give ourselves and others pleasure, and there is nothing unnatural or impure about it. Some people can’t use hands/fingers to touch themselves and have a much easier time using toys, while others may simply prefer the texture, shape, or vibration that toys offer, and tons of people love having the option to choose based on their mood. However you decide to play is all good if it’s working for you.

5. If you use vibrators too much, you won’t be able to orgasm without them anymore. Firstly, using a vibrator can help many people orgasm who have difficulty reaching orgasm otherwise. Some of those people may continue to use a vibrator every time they want to have an orgasm and others are able to train their bodies and get off manually after toys have helped them become more easily orgasmic. Both are fine!

For those who were climaxing on their own without the help of toys and then started using vibrators, most report that they generally like to switch things up and sometimes get off with vibrators and sometimes get off in other ways. They choose what works best for them in the moment, and many people are into having a variety of options. Then again, many people are also into efficiency, and vibrators can be very efficient! So, some people will choose to grab their vibrator nearly every time, but it doesn’t mean they can’t reach orgasm without them anymore. It just means they might be favoring how easily orgasms come to them with vibration.

If you’re nervous that you’ve been relying on your vibrator too much, try taking a break from vibes for a few days and using your hands. It might take a little while to retrain your body to respond to sensations that aren’t vibration, but if you were able to come before without vibration, you should be able to come again without it.

6. If you have a partner, masturbation is cheating. Taking care of yourself and being in touch with your own body is important. Masturbating alone, even if you’re viewing porn, is not cheating. If your partner feels threatened by your masturbation habits, have a conversation about why. Perhaps they are worried that you will not have desire left for them if you masturbate (which is another myth – the great majority of masturbators still like having sex with their partners even when they masturbate often) or perhaps they feel insecure because the porn you watch leaves them wondering if you are desiring someone or something else.

If masturbation is causing issues in your relationship, communicate openly and compassionately with each other about concerns and insecurities and find a way to make sure you’re sharing physical intimacy with each other regularly.

7. Masturbation is just “a means to an end” and should be over with quickly rather than indulging in it. The great thing about masturbation is that you’re in charge, so it can last as long as you want it to last! That may mean getting off in under two minutes with a Womanizer before heading to work, or it may mean a weekend getaway where you spend most of it naked and touching yourself in as many ways as possible. Just like partnered sex, masturbation can be anything from a quickie to a full weekend of romance and savoring sensations.

If you’re a person who is often goal-oriented (i.e orgasm focused) when you masturbate, try switching it up every once in a while by slowing down and taking some extra time to explore your body in new ways and treat it as an act of self-love and self-care. 

8. Masturbation can only be done alone. While most people think of masturbation as something to do alone, it absolutely doesn’t have to be a solo act! Mutual masturbation, where two (or more) people are masturbating together, can be incredibly hot and has tons of benefits. Besides being very sexy to watch/hear, it can be a wonderful way to learn how someone else likes to be touched and a way of showing off your own preferences. Mutual masturbation is also great because it offers an alternative to penetrative play and is a low risk activity in terms of pregnancy and STI transmission. If you’ve never tried it before, consider giving it a chance. You may find that masturbating with or for someone else is one of your new favorite ways to enjoy sex!

Have you heard of any other masturbation myths that we didn’t cover? Feel free to leave them in the comments. Happy Masturbation Month, everyone!


How to become comfortable with masturbation

May is Masturbation Month, which always gets us thinking about how we can help folks celebrate. In 2011, we listed the numerous ways masturbation is beneficial to your emotional and physical health. In 2012, we gave you some ideas for trying something new during your usual masturbation routine.

This year, we’re going with a different approach. We’d like to give some tips to folks for whom masturbation doesn’t come as easily. If, for any reason, you find masturbation difficult, not pleasurable, or simply dull, we hope these tips can steer you down a happier path.

  • Unlearn negative thoughts. No matter where you picked up any negative cultural scripts that play in your head surrounding masturbation, banish them. There is absolutely nothing shameful or wrong about masturbation. Read our post about the benefits of masturbation; among other things, masturbation can boost your mood, relieve stress, fight insomnia, and strengthen your sexual relationship with yourself and others. Once you unpack and undo the negative messages, they won’t be able to hold you back anymore.
  • Read an empowering book or blog, such as Big Big LoveTranscending AnatomySex for One, The New Male SexualityGender Outlaws, or For Yourself, which address body image issues as well as sexuality. There are also more matter-of-fact guides specifically about orgasm, such as Becoming Orgasmic and The Elusive Orgasm. If you have dealt with any sort of trauma, Healing Sex is an irreplaceable resource.
  • Watch an empowering (and hot!) film. Erika Lust’s Barcelona Sex Project and Buck Angel’s Sexing the Transman show folks having authentic solo pleasure. For more of an instructional film, try Tristan Taormino’s Expert Guide to Female Orgasm, which includes a workshop portion followed by several partnered scenes.
  • Do kegels. Kegel exercises, aside from strengthening the PC muscles (and thereby improving orgasms), can also help you get in tune with your body. These exercises can be done at any time, or you can purchase a specifically-designed kegel exercisor. Read our guide for more info!
  • Don’t masturbate when you’re in a bad mood. A negative mental state will impact the experience and only cause frustration. If you’re stressed, preoccupied, upset, or feeling guilty, it can be difficult to feel sexual pleasure, let alone orgasm. So when you’re ready…
  • Relax and get comfortable. It’s important to feel safe and at ease — whatever that means to you. That might mean taking a bath, playing music, and lighting a candle, or it may just mean blissful silence and a set of freshly-washed sheets. In any case, get rid of distractions as best you can: turn off your phone, lock the door, and send the kids and pets away! Preparation, aside from setting a comfortable scene, can help build anticipation and excitement for what’s next.
  • Explore your body, not just your genitals. There are many more erogeneous zones to stimulate! Begin by stroking and caressing your ears, neck, arms, nipples, hips, thighs, perineum… wherever your hands take you.
  • Spend time on arousal. When you’re aroused, your body will become far more sensitive and receptive to touch. So fantasize, watch porn, and/or read erotica to get the blood pumping first. Then, by the time you touch your genitals, your body will be primed for pleasure.
  • Lube is your friend. Lube can enhance masturbation quite a bit. Stroke 29 and Boy Butter H20 are specially formulated for stimulating a penis, while Yes and Sliquid Sea are wonderful for vulvas. You could also try a stimulating gel. When applied to the clitoris or head of the penis, Stimulating O Gel or ON Clitoral Arousal Balm can bring sensation to the area, helping you focus.
  • Follow what feels good. Despite what Cosmo may have you believe, there is no formula here. Everyone’s different and will respond differently to stimulation. Vary your speed, rhythm, pressure, and grip, as well as the location you’re pleasuring. There are some great alternative masturbation techniques for trans women and trans men. Try various positions — on your back, sitting up, on your stomach — as sensations will change. Take your time. You will find that certain techniques trigger more pleasure than others. Follow those cues!
  • And don’t overthink it. It’s really important not to let stressful thoughts creep in and sabotage you. At the same time, don’t completely zone out and disconnect from the experience. Strike a balance.
  • Introduce a toy. Sex toys can provide sensations that fingers often aren’t capable of. We have a guide to buying your first vibrator that can give you an idea of what’s out there. Other options include dildos, sleeves, and anal toys. Any of these can help enhance masturbation and add variety.
  • Orgasm isn’t always the holy grail. Constantly worrying about orgasm will distract both your mind and your body, which will work against you. If you can accept that you may not always have an orgasm, it will relieve the pressure you put on yourself.  Think of masturbation as pleasure for its own sake, not just an end result.

Switch up your masturbation routine!

May is Masturbation Month, and of course, we encourage everyone to celebrate — as often as possible! Last year, we recounted all the ways masturbation is beneficial to your emotional and physical health. This year, we thought we’d give you some ideas for trying something new during your usual masturbation routine.

  • Try a different position — Most people get used to masturbating in a favorite position. Break out of the mold and try a new one, such as lying on your side, sitting up, on your back, on your knees, or on your stomach. You’ll find that the usual sensations will feel different just from making this change.
  • Find a new locale — If the bed is your usual masturbation domain, try masturbating somewhere else — such as the couch, at your desk, or in the bath or shower (if you bring a toy, make sure it’s waterproof!). You could even set up your own little masturbation nest on the floor with pillows and blankets.
  • Use your toy(s) in a new way — If you have an anal toy or dildo with an unusual shape, try flipping it around. If you own a dildo made of a soft material, hold a vibrator against its base for added buzz. If you have an insertable vibrator, perhaps it could be used clitorally?
    Any vibrator can also be used on a penis! Or make your masturbation sleeve into a hands-free device by tucking it between your mattress and box spring. And many toys out there — dildos, waterproof vibes, anal toys, and masturbation sleeves — can be warmed or chilled before use by placing them in a bowl of water in your desired temperature.
  • Lube it up — Lube makes everything glide more easily, so it can enhance masturbation quite a bit. Stroke 29 and Boy Butter H20 are specially formulated for stimulating a penis, while Yes and Sliquid Sea are wonderful for vulvas. Stimulating gels, like Stimulating O Gel or ON Clitoral Arousal Balm, can be especially fun. (Just don’t use silicone-based lube with a silicone toy!)
  • Watch or read porn — If you’re not a regular erotica reader or porn watcher, consider giving one of them a whirl. My Erotic Adventure is a fun and interactive intro to the world of written erotica, and Erika Lust’s Barcelona Sex Project DVD is chock-full of alluring folks eager to share their masturbation techniques with you.
  • Fantasize — If porn doesn’t do it for you or you already read/watch it regularly, try fantasizing instead. This can be an excellent way to explore erotic scenarios that you may or may not act out in real life. Try thinking about a hot past sexual experience, a sexy movie scene, or just let your mind wander into the realm of your deepest, most hidden desires.
  • Engage your senses — Make it into a truly epic experience by delighting as many of your senses as possible. Listen to music. Light a candle or dim the lights. You could even eat something delicious, making your masturbation session a literal feast for the senses!
  • Make some noise! — There’s no need to keep quiet during masturbation unless you have to. If you’re able to vocalize your pleasure, let loose! It can be very freeing to be able to experience that release.

Is your mind racing with ideas yet? Good! Now go on… celebrate Masturbation Month!


The benefits of masturbation

Every month is Masturbation Month to us, but since it’s official in the month of May, we suggest you take some time for yourself and celebrate. The benefits of masturbation are numerous, and range from the physical to the emotional. Here are just a few reasons why masturbation rocks.

  • It’s fun, and it feels good. Couldn’t leave this one out! Sexual gratification is pretty awesome, if we do say so ourselves.
  • It’s up to you. The act of masturbation can be a private act governed by you and you alone. You are free to relax and do what feels right without having to worry about anything or anyone else.
  • It strengthens your relationship with yourself and others. By exploring what you like sexually, you build self-confidence and improve your body image. Sharing your sexual discoveries with a partner can enhance your relationship both physically and emotionally. If two partners have a difference in sex drive, masturbation is also great for creating balance and harmony within the relationship.
  • It boosts your mood and relieves stress. During arousal, the mood-enhancing hormones dopamine and epinephrine go wild. Post climax, the calming hormones oxytocin and endorphins are released. All in all, this leads to a sense of well-being and contentment.
  • It fights insomnia. Those same feel-good hormones also create a soothing afterglow effect. This can help you relax and fall asleep more easily.
  • It improves pelvic floor strength. Especially during orgasm, the pelvic floor gets quite a workout. Toned pelvic muscles can lead to stronger orgasms, and can also prevent involuntary urine leakage.
  • It eases premenstrual and menstrual symptoms. Cramps and muscle tension, for instance, can be alleviated by masturbation thanks to an increase in blood flow to the pelvic region.
  • For folks with vulvas, it can prevent urinary tract and cervical infections. Orgasm causes the cervix to open, allowing old fluid to move from the cervix into the vagina. This process flushes out infection-causing bacteria.
  • For folks with penises, it promotes prostate health. Masturbation can build resistance to prostate gland infection, and if done frequently, it may even reduce the risk of prostate cancer.

We carry a ton of products that can be used during masturbation, so it’s hard to narrow it down and suggest just a few. But we are pretty excited about the new Form 4 vibrator and Tenga 3D masturbation sleeve. And don’t forget lube!

Now go… celebrate!

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She Bop is a women-owned sex toy boutique specializing in body safe products and education. Our mission is to promote healthy and safe sexuality by offering quality products and educational workshops in a fun and comfortable environment. She Bop welcomes people of all genders and sexual orientations.

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