Masturbation

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Bed humping = Bad habit?

Dear Anonymous,

By "bed humping," you no doubt mean masturbating with a little help from your mattress; i.e., rubbing your body/genitals against the bed, or plunging your penis (if you have one) between the mattress and box spring. You can sleep a lot easier knowing that guys and girls have been making love to their mattresses ever since they rolled off the assembly line — this is the way some experience their first orgasms. You're hard and/or randy, it's hard and ready, it's in the privacy of your bedroom, and you spend a third of your life sleeping with it. Are you abnormal? Certainly not! Do you need to introduce your form-fitting friend to anyone else? No. Will you end up marrying your mattress, giving birth to little sleeping bags, and living happily ever after without ever doing it with another human? Highly unlikely. Side effects associated with bed humping might include mattress burn and/or a restricted exit path for your ejaculate if pressure around the penis is king size. Mixing up masturbation methods increases the ways in which a person orgasms by him-/herself and/or with others. And aside from being walked in on, stains might give you guys away, but a tissue, towel, or condom can take care of this when the extra "s" is for semen.

Alice

July 9, 2012

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This is hilarious, but thank you so much for writing it. I thought I was alone in my oddness.
This is hilarious, but thank you so much for writing it. I thought I was alone in my oddness.

Auto-erotic asphyxiation

Dear Reader,

Auto-erotic asphyxiation (AEA) is the practice of cutting off the blood supply to the brain through self-applied suffocation methods while masturbating. By limiting the blood supply to the brain, AEA can induce cerebral anoxia, a deficiency of oxygen in the brain. Oxygen deficiency in the brain is thought to intensify sensations, producing feelings of giddiness, lightheadedness, or exhilaration that can heighten the orgasmic experience. It's also possible that the helplessness and self-endangerment inherent in the AEA enhance sexual gratification for some people.

Of course, this same self-endangerment that may provide a thrill to the person carrying out AEA also weakens one's self-control and judgment, which can result in accidental death. Because of taboos surrounding AEA, the practice almost always remains a secret until a person dies accidentally. Although a death from AEA may often be labeled as a homicide or suicide, It's estimated that between 500 and 1000 deaths occur annually in the United States from this type of masturbation. Both men and women can participate in AEA. 

Depending on how long the brain and body are deprived of oxygen, brain damage could occur even if death does not.  A person participating in AEA also risks lacerating, cutting, or bruising their neck, depending on the suffocation or strangulation technique used. 

Auto-erotic asphyxiation is a dangerous activity because of the risk of death and brain damage. For those interested, a safer option would be to fantasize about suffocation, rather than trying to walk the fine line between heightened sensation and serious brain impairment.        

Alice

Optimizing solo-sex

Dear Minute Waltz Boy,

You are not a Minute Boy — you are a Five Minute Man. What's wrong with that? Rather than quantifying your solo-sex as a set number of seconds, try to think about how great it makes you feel. This way, instead of worrying about a five minute countdown, you can enjoy every second of tantilizing sensation. What pleasure you'll get!

Second, it seems that those five minutes of heaven are pre-filled with anticipation and excitement. How could you expect to last any longer than that, given these parameters? Perhaps you'd like to stay in the ring for a couple of rounds. You can designate the first time to just getting your rocks off, in the best and quickest five minutes possible. Then, you can go for it again! Time number two is the time to change hands, try it with lube, change your fantasy, change your stroke, and/or change your touch points, not touching the good spots as often or as hard. Or, you can tell yourself to try to come as fast as you can and see what happens. The main point is that the more times you do it "in one sitting," the longer it usually takes to orgasm the second and third times. This goes for partner sex, too.

Last, but not least, you can try the shower, where there is more privacy. Try using soap as a lube to go to town as much as you want... minus any evidence.

Alice

Morality of masturbation

Dear Reader,

Biologically and psychologically speaking, masturbation is as right and normal as sneezing, coughing, laughing, eating, and yawning. It carries no health risks but does carry benefits. It can help alleviate insomnia, get you in touch with what turns you on sexually, and be a stress–reliever (of course, if you're worrying about the morality factor, it may not be much help with that last one).

The morality of masturbation, as it relates to your religious, cultural, or spiritual beliefs, is something you will have to decide for yourself. Many people seek the help of family, friends, books, life experience, and/or clergy or other religious leaders. You mention feeling too embarrassed to talk to your priest about it. Is there perhaps another individual you would feel more comfortable tos talk with who also shares your religious beliefs or background? The answers don't have to come today, but arriving at conclusions about sex-related matters that you can live with may be one way to say good-bye to guilt.

On guilt, psychiatrist R.D. Laing said "True guilt is guilt at the obligation one owes to oneself to be oneself. False guilt is guilt felt at not being what other people feel one ought to be or assume that one is." What do you suppose makes you feel guilty about masturbating? For many people, societal or family messages about masturbation being "wrong" or "dirty" can stick in our consciousness even when we "logically" no longer believe such declarations. Others may have had a parent "discover" them masturbating at a young age and still carry shame from a disapproving parental reaction. If your religion says masturbation is wrong, what are the reasons given? And how do those reasons sit with you?

If it turns out that nothing about masturbation seems to "rub you the wrong way," it may be worth working through the guilt so that you can continue to enjoy this pastime that is enjoyed by so many others. But if it begins to feel morally questionable to you, stopping may be the best route for you. On such decisions, Sting once said: "Let your soul be your pilot. It'll guide you well."

Alice

Beatless in Seattle: Masturbation stops when relationship begins

Dear Beatless In Seattle,

It's great that you are in a relationship in which you're sexually satisfied! Your thoughts (thanks for sharing) touch on a couple of issues. Masturbation is not mandatory — you may choose not to "beat off" while with your current girlfriend or with future partners, but doing so is not "silly" or dirty. Masturbating and being in a loving relationship are not mutually exclusive, and many people in relationships use masturbation, alone or with a partner, as a healthy release of sexual energy — just as they did when they were single.

Solo sex is not a shameful betrayal of one's partner and is not reserved for one gender. Rather, masturbation is one of the many kinds of sexual activities that people enjoy. Like intercourse, masturbation is healthy, enjoyable, and normal. Of course, if masturbation replaces sex between partners without mutual consent, or if its popularity with one partner leaves the other sexually dissatisfied, partners may need to talk about what would constitute a sexually satisfying relationship.

Guilt before, during, and/or after masturbation is not uncommon among "beaters" of all ages, and may stem from moral, religious, and/or social doctrines that disapprove of it. Breathing a huge sigh of relief when you have a new partner because it replaces a need for self-pleasuring may be problematic. After all, the frequency of sex with a partner may vary widely in cases of illness, stress, or even travel that separates partners. When a partner is not in the mood, or when your mate is "away," it doesn't mean that your dominant hand shouldn't play. As such, you may want to consider asking yourself some questions that may help you better understand why you came (pun intended) to the conclusion that you did about self-gratification:

  • What were you taught about masturbation? Who taught you about it?
  • When did you first discover masturbation?
  • How did you feel before, during, and after masturbating, i.e., guilt, excitement?
  • If applicable, how does your community (social, religious, etc.) regard masturbation?

Finally, you may want to consider discussing this issue with your girlfriend. Does she share the same beliefs about masturbation? What does she think about masturbation in a relationship? How would you (and your girlfriend) feel about including mutual masturbation during sex? Having this discussion is up to you, but you may find that discussing desires and new ways of giving pleasure may positively affect your sex life with your girlfriend.

Perhaps it would be helpful to learn more about masturbation and other ways of achieving sexual pleasure. You may want to check out the responses in the Go Ask Alice! sexuality archives (there is a section devoted to masturbation).

Remember, partner sex may rock your world, but this doesn't mean that beating off needs to take a beating…

Alice

Erection detection

Dear J,

Simply put, no. Neither your past masturbation and porn viewing, nor your refusal to sexually stimulate yourself again (despite your possible desire to do so) is directly causing your erections. Your body is paying attention to emotional and physical stimulation — and you're right, sometimes you don't even have to be consciously thinking about sex in any way for an erection to arise. This also means that getting an erection shouldn't mean to you (or your partner) that sex is your goal. Erections — frequent or few-and-far-between — mean that you're mentally and physically responsive, chock full of naturally produced, stimulating hormones, alive, and, yes, very normal! For sure, releasing your sexual energy by going back to masturbation may reduce the frequency of your erections when you are with your partner — but of course, that decision is up to you.

When, or if, you tell your partner that your hard-ons hardly mean sex, you might suggest that she take them as a compliment — evidence that you're truly happy to be with her. If you're not up for chatting about your excitements just yet, you might make them less obvious by wearing brief-style underwear that allows for preventive penis positioning. In other words, when an erection comes, your pants will bulge like an igloo, instead of a tee-pee.

Underwear monitoring, as well as suggestions to think about your school work, something sad, or another turn-off that encourages flaccidity, seem like a lot of energy to expend on something that's as natural as yawning when you're tired. Your belief that masturbation is wrong — when in or out of a relationship — may produce tension within yourself, and between you and your partner. Perhaps some of that anxiety is encouraging your immediate concerns about erection detection. To help decide potential directions for the future, you may also want to take a look at the related questions. Regardless of how you choose to proceed, remember that you're quite normal. Happy dating!

Alice

Dr. Do Diddle: Pre-med masturbation and productivity

Dear Reader,

You don't have to be a doctor to know that masturbation (whether once per week, or once per hour) does not cause memory loss, decreased brain power, fatigue, or depression — that is, unless you're doing it instead of school work, socializing, eating, sleeping, bathing, etc. Your stress about your normal masturbation pattern, combined with the energy you use "trying not to do it," might even decrease your productivity far more than playing doctor with yourself would. It would be surprising to learn that Einstein, Curie, and Spock didn't take stimulating study breaks themselves. And look what masterful work they accomplished!

Remember, energy is neither created nor destroyed. So go ahead and release that sexual energy. You might even be able to convert it into an "A" on that anatomy test!

Alice

Masturbating roommates

Dear straight,

You have strong friendships, you're in school, you're able to feel and express affection, and you can clearly consider and communicate your feelings. And sometimes you masturbate with your roommate. You're as normal as a one-dollar bill. In fact, your willingness to reach out for information is evidence that you are able to address with your concerns in a healthy way.

Are you the only straight masturbating friends on earth? Well, since this topic has been raised by plenty of past Go Ask Alice! readers, the answer is clearly NO. The fact of the matter is that masturbation is normal and healthy, whether you're next to your roommate or solo. However, considering the negative messages that many people receive about masturbation and homosexuality, your angst is understandable. It may help to consider why you are concerned about masturbating with your roommate. Could your concern stem simply from guilt you feel about masturbation itself, whether it's alone or with someone else? (The guilt issue is discussed at length in the masturbation section of the Sexual and Reproductive Health archive.) Or, are you wondering whether you might now, or later, be bi or gay? You could also be wondering what your roommate and best friend thinks of your dual diddling; have you had a chance to discuss it with him?

Keep this in mind: normal, monkey-spanking men come in all sexualities. Normal, monkey-spanking roommates also come in all sexualities. If you enjoy masturbating with your roommate, and it's not interfering with your friendship, school, or work, go ahead. If you stop enjoying sharing this type of activity, you can stop. Either choice would be normal and healthy, as long as you feel comfortable.

Alice

December 15, 2008

21501
Thanks a lot Alice.

You saved my friendship. Very recently, me and my friend were watching porn together and got so excited that we both started masturbating together. But after that, both of us...

Thanks a lot Alice.

You saved my friendship. Very recently, me and my friend were watching porn together and got so excited that we both started masturbating together. But after that, both of us were feeling guilty and out of embarrassment we were not talking to each other. After reading this article I felt a great relief and talked about it to my friend. Now both of us are back in our normal relationship. Thanks a lot once again.

March 7, 2008

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Thanks Alice.

I was worried about this until I read your advice. My roommate and I stopped hiding our masturbation from each other out of necessity. Our need is very big but our room is...

Thanks Alice.

I was worried about this until I read your advice. My roommate and I stopped hiding our masturbation from each other out of necessity. Our need is very big but our room is very small. We became very comfortable with it and sometimes even help each other out now. Sadly for him, he often has difficulty reaching orgasm and needs help. This has also helped me enjoy masturbating much more. I was very unsure of myself but he assured me it was very common among roommates and had nothing to do with sexual preference. I see he was correct. I thanked him for helping me see this and allow myself to enjoy it. Thank you too.

May 9, 2004

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Alice, on masturbating roommates: i am a nineteen-year-old male. my roomie and i masturbate each other. we have no problems. we are both str8. we are just best buds and want...
Alice, on masturbating roommates: i am a nineteen-year-old male. my roomie and i masturbate each other. we have no problems. we are both str8. we are just best buds and want to make each other feel good.

May 9, 2004

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Alice, In the first place, there's a lot of masturbation in college dorms all over the country, not just here. Guys who are roommates generally develop an understanding about this. My roomie and I...
Alice, In the first place, there's a lot of masturbation in college dorms all over the country, not just here. Guys who are roommates generally develop an understanding about this. My roomie and I are comfortable enough with each other so it's no big deal. We are both straight, real-guys who deal with the realities of nature together. Stuff like that is endemic on every college campus. Greg, 19

June 14, 2002

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I was worried and read MASTURBATING ROOMMATES and several responses. I was worried because I did this, too. I did it regularly with my bunkmate at summer camp. He was much...
I was worried and read MASTURBATING ROOMMATES and several responses. I was worried because I did this, too. I did it regularly with my bunkmate at summer camp. He was much older and knew a lot more, so he made me feel comfortable about it. But later, I felt guilty and thought it might mean I was gay or strange since I enjoyed it so much and so often initiated it. I have been doing it with a neighbor after school all this year. Knowing how common, normal, and even healthy it is has lifted my doubt and guilt. I am enjoying my need and sharing the experience with a friend of similar need. Thanks.

Masturbating stats: Are there gender differences and why?

Dear Wants to learn more,

Many women masturbate, but they haven't beaten the men when it comes to solo sex frequency... at least not yet. Statistically speaking, various studies of the sexual behavior of men and women detailed connections between gender and self-stimulation. The authors of The Social Organization of Sexuality (Edward O. Laumann, John H. Gagnon, Robert T. Michael, and Stuart Michaels; University of Chicago Press, 1994) gathered information about masturbatory practices from face-to-face interviews and self-administered questionnaires of 2,969 men and women ranging in age from 18 to 59 years. The researchers found that 41.7 percent of women and 63.3 percent of men masturbated during the year studied. According to The Janus Report on Sexual Behavior (Samuel S. Janus and Cynthia L. Janus; John Wiley & Sons, Inc., 1993), based on a large-scale, nationwide survey of adult Americans ages 18 and up conducted between 1983 and 1992, 10 percent of women reported masturbating frequently (several times weekly or daily) vs. 25 percent of men. Similarly, 38 percent of women reported masturbating on a regular basis (monthly to daily) in comparison to 55 percent of men. The Kinsey Institute also published statistics about gender differences in masturbation. They were compiled from renowned sex researcher Alfred Kinsey's studies on the sexual behavior of men and women. According to Dr. Kinsey's 1948 and 1953 studies, based on detailed interviews with white American adults, 92 percent of men and 62 percent of women reported that they had masturbated.

Several reasons have been suggested to account for the lower percentage of women (vs. men) who have ever masturbated. Women are considered "good" when they adhere to their traditional sex role: to be sexually passive, naive, and dependent -- basically, to be nonsexual. Sexually experienced and independent women are frequently seen as threatening and "loose."

In addition, in many cultures, women are raised to believe that their genitals are repulsive and inferior to those of men. They're also encouraged to repress their sexual feelings until marriage, when sex is for the purposes of procreation and pleasing their husband. A woman learns that she is to receive sexual pleasure only from sexual intercourse (not from touching or oral sex, and especially not from masturbation) with her husband (not with anyone else or by herself). If a woman with a partner masturbates, it is often seen as though there's something wrong with her relationship. Likewise, if a woman is without a partner, masturbating is seen as an act of loneliness.

Not only is there a taboo for women to masturbate, but there's also a greater taboo against talking about it. No doubt, for some women (and some men), talking about sex can also be awkward, so shyness, as you mentioned in your question, may be another, though lesser, factor. It doesn't have to be this way. Masturbation is a healthy and natural part of sexuality. It enables people to learn about their own bodies and genitals as well as to recognize and develop their sexual responses or orgasms. It also helps to foster communication in intimate relationships by making it easier for partners to identify and express what feels good physically and sexually for them and to each other. Candid discussions about sexuality and sexual pleasure can help free women (and men) from the historically negative influences that have bound and prevented some women (and some men) from discovering, exploring, and enjoying their sexual selves. These conversations can make it easier to break the taboos and myths about masturbation and can encourage women (and men) to reach their healthy, sex-positive goals.

Here are some resources for more information:

Sex for One: The Joy of Self-Loving, by Betty Dodson

For Yourself: The Fulfillment of Female Sexuality, by Lonnie G. Barbach

Yellow Silk: Erotic Arts and Letters, by Lily Pond and Richard Russo (editors)

Alice's Sexuality archive (with a section about masturbation)

Alice

January 22, 2013

522166
Ha! I always wish I could be part of these studies! I'm a 26 yr old woman, and I've known that my genitals produced much pleasure ever since I was 5. Obviously, it wasn't really sexual til I got my...
Ha! I always wish I could be part of these studies! I'm a 26 yr old woman, and I've known that my genitals produced much pleasure ever since I was 5. Obviously, it wasn't really sexual til I got my period at age 10...then the feelings changed from "always relaxing" to "usually intense". For the past 6 years or so, I've masturbated at least 5 days a week. I'm very highly sexed...but my lover's job keeps him traveling a lot. Even when he is home, he thinks my masturbating is sexy, so we usually incorporate it into our regular sex sessions. Of course, I love watching him too! In my opinion, 62% of women admit to masturbating.

January 17, 2013

521844
This is the perfect blog for anyone who wants to know about this topic. Thank you for sharing!
This is the perfect blog for anyone who wants to know about this topic. Thank you for sharing!

June 29, 2009

21570
Dear Alice,

I am a female and I masturbate quite regularly, sometimes twice a day. I believe that women pleasure themselves often but just do not talk about because it has been percieved by...

Dear Alice,

I am a female and I masturbate quite regularly, sometimes twice a day. I believe that women pleasure themselves often but just do not talk about because it has been percieved by society as "dirty" for women whereas for men it's a given because society feel men are more sex focused then women.

September 25, 2006

21128
Alice,

I had such a rocky time when I discovered masturbation at the age of thirteen — I thought it was something dirty, and I was terrified that someone would walk in on me. I also was convinced...

Alice,

I had such a rocky time when I discovered masturbation at the age of thirteen — I thought it was something dirty, and I was terrified that someone would walk in on me. I also was convinced that I was the ONLY girl in the world who did masturbate and that made me even more ashamed of it. I don't even think I had a word for it the first year or so I was doing it.

In sophomore year, about four close friends of mine were sleeping over at my house, and as these things usually go, we didn't really sleep. Instead, we talked the entire night in my basement. That night, I discovered, to my great surprise, that every single one of my friends masturbated regularly. One of them had been doing it since she was a little kid and was amazed when she heard that I thought it was strange. Another was actively looking for new ways to find orgasms, and another had just recently started and was quite shy about it.

That was several years ago. I don't feel ashamed about masturbation anymore — why should I? There is absolutely nothing wrong with wanting to feel good — I often find that it relaxes my body and my muscles. It just feels wonderful.

I think that the ignorance and taboo that surrounds female sexuality is a definite problem. It pains me to think of other girls going through all that crap I put myself through because no one ever talks about women masturbating.

March 9, 2006

21042

Alice,

RE: Masturbating stats...

To the 72-year old gentleman, I hope that me and whatever woman I am with when I am 72 have as great of a sex life as you and your wife!! I'm already...

Alice,

RE: Masturbating stats...

To the 72-year old gentleman, I hope that me and whatever woman I am with when I am 72 have as great of a sex life as you and your wife!! I'm already jealous of you. In regards to masturbation though, us guys usually don't talk about that sort of thing, we all know we do it, but we will generally deny it because it's always a topic of joking/fun-poking/insults, etc. All of the girls that I've dated denied that they masturbate, so I think females are very unlikely to admit it in social settings, or even to a partner. To all the women out there, if you like to flick your bean, don't lie about it to your man! Tell him, he won't be disappointed. I personally think a woman who is comfortable enough with her body to masturbate and admit it is very sexy.

September 29, 2005

20977
Dear Alice,

Your assessment is correct in regards to the female's perceived historical roles. But, things are changing! I am 72-years-old and have masturbated all my life. My wife is open-minded...

Dear Alice,

Your assessment is correct in regards to the female's perceived historical roles. But, things are changing! I am 72-years-old and have masturbated all my life. My wife is open-minded, but from a sheltered upbringing, had never masturbated. We have an open and healthy sex life. I started by teaching her how to have an orgasm with my hand, then suggesting she try it. Very reluctant at first, but she did it and enjoyed later. Now she has a vibrator! Every time we have sex is a combination of intromission, masturbation, and sex toys. She is having the best sex of her life with multiple orgasms and free of HANG UPS!

January 24, 2003

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Dear Alice, I want to make a comment about MASTURBATING STATS: ARE THERE GENDER DIFFERENCES AND WHY?. I have always been curious about masturbation and what others thought about it. I have talked to...
Dear Alice, I want to make a comment about MASTURBATING STATS: ARE THERE GENDER DIFFERENCES AND WHY?. I have always been curious about masturbation and what others thought about it. I have talked to my friends about it (we're all girls) and it seems that I'm the only one who thinks it's totally normal. Some have said that they thought it was gross and said that masturbation was only ok for guys. These girls aren't religious either, so it's not that kind of thing affecting them. I've talked to my mom about masturbation and she's been really cool about it (she even bought me a vibrator!). Unfortunately, none of the eight people I've talked to about it, besides my mom, think that it's normal. They could have been lying because they were uncomfortable by the question, so I don't know. My best friend and I were talking about it one day and she told me that she wouldn't know how to even start masturbating because she doesn't know where anything is. I gave her a basic anatomy lesson and some tips, so maybe she has become better acquainted with herself by now. I am still so surprised that the general opinion among my friends is that masturbation is bad, gross, dirty, or whatever. Girls, feel free to masturbate! Touch yourself, find out what you like, have a good time. Also, don't worry if you don't orgasm your first couple of tries. I tried sporadically for a few years until I had an epiphany with one of those detachable showerheads. So, fellow females, try, try, try and practice makes perfect. Go and conquer your nether-regions with pride! :)

Masturbation: It's still okay

Dear Reader,

Assuming that by, "relieving oneself," you mean answering sexual urges then masturbation is a great way to experience self-pleasure. There are a lot of myths out there about the harm that masturbation can cause – excess hair growth on your hands, it will ruin “real” sex, or cause insanity – but these are just not true. There are no harmful side-effects to masturbation.

In fact, masturbation has health benefits. Masturbation may:

  • Reduce stress and tension
  • Be a safer sex option to help prevent against pregnancy and sexually transmitted infections (just make sure to clean any toys or objects between uses)
  • Allow you to learn more about your body and what feels good to you
  • Reduce pre-menstrual and menstrual pain and tension in women (if using a tampon, you will want to remove it if you are going to insert an object or toy so it does not get pushed too far into the vagina)
  • Help you fall asleep
  • Be an option for those who don’t want to have vaginal, anal, or oral sex

As long as masturbating is not getting in the way of activities like going to school or work, spending time with friends or family, or eating and sleeping, then there is no harm in masturbating.

Hope this helps,
 

Alice

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