Masturbation

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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

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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

21414

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

20638
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

20433
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.

Surprise! It's Masturbation!

Dear Reader,

Is this type of behavior common for kids? Yes. Children and infants have been known to touch or rub their genitals for pleasure. However, this type of masturbation is not sexual in nature. Touching their genitals is just one way kids learn about their bodies. Also, young children rarely have sexual fantasies, they just know what feels good.  Movements that give pleasurable sensations are common for youngsters (as well as for oldsters).

Can it cause orgasm? Yes. If the sensations are intense enough, muscle tension and/or clitoral stimulation (or penile stimulation in males) can and does cause arousal, pleasure, and orgasm.

Alice

April 16, 2004

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Alice, I remember thinking, when I was about four or five, that sitting on a fence with my legs spread and wiggling a little bit felt really nice. At the time, I had no idea this was connected to...
Alice, I remember thinking, when I was about four or five, that sitting on a fence with my legs spread and wiggling a little bit felt really nice. At the time, I had no idea this was connected to anything sexual. Anyway, it's nice to know I'm not the only one out there who did this sort of thing unknowingly as a child.

Interval training for multiple orgasms

Dear Jerky Boy,

Each of us is the only expert on ourselves. Interval training, such as described above, seemed to make sense for your friend and provide him with the results he wanted. Only YOU can tell whether this regimen will also work for you. Try it and see, and let others know your results!

Multiple orgasms for men can also be had by teaching your body to extend the period of high arousal BEFORE you ejaculate. Also called karezza, men can learn to experience peaks of pleasure without ejaculating. The way to do this is to masturbate to high arousal and then before you ejaculate, change the stimulation — switch hands, change the rhythm, the fantasy, the position, or exhale and inhale more slowly to release some muscle tension. Then when you feel the immediate pressure to ejaculate subside, bring yourself to the brink again, and then backtrack, as described.

As for your other question, force and amount of ejaculate are determined by a number of factors, including age and the length of time since the last ejaculation. So, to increase your ejaculate, you would have to wait until you got a bit older, or wait for long periods between ejaculations. However, as you probably know, if you do not ejaculate through masturbation or sex with a partner, you may have wet dreams (nocturnal emissions), since the body tends to seek its own form of release.

Have fun as you explore!

Alice

September 20, 2002

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Dear Alice, This is a response to Interval Training for Multiple Orgasms. To Jerky Boy, I'd say that trying for multiple ejaculations in a day is probably not going to do...
Dear Alice, This is a response to Interval Training for Multiple Orgasms. To Jerky Boy, I'd say that trying for multiple ejaculations in a day is probably not going to do much, except possibly make you very tired and put you off the whole idea altogether. I experienced multiple orgasms myself very recently. I didn't have them through multiple masturbations though. Instead, I took great care over the quality of attention I was giving myself. Whilst before I had tried to gain relief very quickly from a penis with very little sensitivity in it, leading to myself coming in less than 30 seconds, most of the time, I paid a little more attention to my settings. I won't go into the details, but I thought about taking it very slowly, and being kind to myself. After 25 incredible minutes, I was awarded with five consecutive orgasms. What works for your friend may not necessarily work for you. Whilst he seems masturbation crazy, and is apparently doing some serious power-jerking over there, you might benefit from just a little exploration of what you enjoy the most, and what will give you the most stimulation — conjure up a fantasy about an unusual partner, find somewhere new to touch yourself. You'll find that you'll get what you're looking for. ~Finally satisfied

Masturbation healthy?

Dear Hand boy,

Yes. Stroking the one-eyed snake, polishing your pearl, southern comfort… whatever you call it, masturbation is a healthy (and normal) sexual activity that people of any gender may enjoy. In fact, masturbation can be healthy in a number of different ways: physically, mentally, and emotionally. Masturbation can also be a healthy addition to solo, partnered, or group sexual encounters. Read on to find out why.

Masturbation is one way for you to enjoy your own body, and to give yourself sexual pleasure. It can also tune you in to your own sexual likes and dislikes. You then have the choice of sharing that information with a sexual partner(s) to enhance a sexual relationship. Mutual masturbation, when two people masturbate in front of each other, can also be arousing, and is a great alternative to intercourse without the risk of transmission of sexually transmitted diseases or risk of pregnancy.

Believe it or not, quite a lot of research has been conducted on this subject. And the overall conclusion is that masturbation is universal across nearly all cultures, and that it can have a number of healthy outcomes, such as:

  • Relieving stress and releasing tension (including the obvious, sexual tension)
  • Providing a sexual outlet for people who are not having sex with a partner (whether by choice or by circumstance)
  • Alleviating pre-menstrual symptoms in some women
  • Helping to induce sleep, or conversely, helping to start the day with an energized calm
  • Strengthening muscle tone in the genital region
  • Promoting a couples' level of sexual satisfaction in their relationship
  • Providing treatment for some types of sexual dysfunction

One study even found a correlation showing that ejaculating more often (whether through partnered sex or masturbation) led to a lower risk of prostate cancer in adult men.

In case you're curious, there is also a great deal of information about who masturbates. The short answer is people of all kinds. But to flesh it out a little more (excuse the pun):

  • Infants — while not necessarily erotic, many infants touch their genitals once they learn that the stimulation feels good.
  • Children — again, not necessarily erotic, but many children also find self-stimulation pleasurable.
  • Adolescents — perhaps the classic group associated with masturbation. Many males and females masturbate regularly in their pre-teens and teens.
  • Adults — married, partnered, or single, adults ages 18-59 are actually more likely to masturbate than adolescents. What's more, people with regular sexual partners are more likely to masturbate than singles.
  • And then there are many people, from all age groups, who rarely or never masturbate.

While masturbation itself is normal and healthy, there are times when a person might have a negative relationship with solo sex. Certain cultures or religions place such a stigma on masturbation that some people feel guilt or shame after pleasuring themselves. On a different note, a few people feel the compulsion to masturbate so often that it begins to interfere with other life events and duties, such as working or going to school. For people who are concerned about masturbation, it may be helpful to discuss any quandaries with a counselor, health care provider, religious leader, or trusted friend.

To maximize your pleasure and safety, here are some tips to consider when getting a grip on yourself:

  • If you're using any objects to help get the job done (sex toys, cucumbers, what have you), throw a condom on first — especially if that object will be shared with someone else or enter more than one orifice (use a new condom for each "destination").
  • Plenty of lube = maximum comfort (and less chafing) — water-based lube is a universally good choice. Some men prefer using lotion on their penis, however women should avoid inserting lotion, oil, petroleum jelly, and anytying oil-based, into the vagina to avoid risk of vaginitis (irritation and/or infection in the vagina).
  • Masturbate when it's enjoyable to you. If you don't feel like it, don't worry about it. If you want to do it again, go ahead.
  • Try different techniques, positions, times of day, mood music, etc. to learn more about what feels best.

People sometimes wonder if a person can masturbate "too much." To this concern, the answer is: not likely. As long as you are still able to participate in your normal daily activities, you can feel free to masturbate none, one, or multiple times per day.

Alice

Mutual masturbation

Dear Handy,

Many a person's first sexual activity, masturbation isn't only for solo play — it may be even more fun with company! Masturbation with more than one person together is often referred to as mutual masturbation. Whether solo or social, this activity is one of the safest forms of sex play. Yet there are a few precautions helpful in prevention of pregnancy and STIs.

For pregnancy prevention, try to avoid ejaculating on or near the vulva. Watch out for precum, too. Although the risk of pregnancy is significantly reduced if semen comes into contact with only the external parts of the vulva, there remains still a potential risk of pregnancy. Contact with mucous membranes (such as the inner labia, clitoris, vagina walls, or anus) allows for risk of transmission of STIs. Drying your hands before touching your partner's genitals with tissues is likely to be effective. Fresh sperm carry the risk of still impregnating your partner. Washing and drying your hands thoroughly may be better, but if this isn't practical, keep a towel by the bed (instead of tissues) and dry your hands thoroughly. It may be beneficial, as you mentioned, to wait an additional few minutes, which you may creatively spend exciting your partner without your hands.

Mutual masturbation has many loyal fans, yet many others haven't discovered its magic. So what's so great about it?

  • STI and pregnancy prevention. So you and your partner want to get it on, but have no condoms or dental dams? This is a great option.
  • Orgasmic precision. Mouths, tongues, and other body parts may be a lot of fun. But hands have skills and dexterity unmatched by many other body parts. For many, manual stimulation produces the strongest orgasms, mainly because hands are best able to apply the right pressure, speed, and timing. They often have excellent stamina, as well.
  • Main course or side dish. This activity is quite versatile: it may be served as foreplay or it may finish things off. It may be the primary activity you build up to, or it may be one of many adventures you have during your tryst.
  • Sick of the same old thing. Because of all the shame and secrecy surrounding masturbation, this activity is a well-kept secret. Many couples have never tried it. If you're in need of new fun activities, this is a good one to try. You may learn a thing or two of how to please your partner, too.
  • What's in a name? Hand job, JO (jerk off), rubbing, massage, stroking, shaking hands with Ms. or Mr. Happy, firing the Surgeon General...the list is endless. Perhaps it has so many names because it has spread so much joy.

Its versatility doesn't stop there. Don't forget, it may involve more than two people, role-play, fantasy, and/or toys. So try to get out your lube, turn down the lights, warm up your hands, and grab your towels. It's likely to be a fun and safe time.

Here's to the 5-Digit Disco,

Alice

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