Masturbation

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Masturbation inhibits growth?

Dear Reader,

Nope, masturbation does not stunt growth. Neither your penis or vulva, nor any other part of your body, including your height, is affected. Masturbation also does not cause blindness, hairy palms, or insanity, as some people have heard.

In fact, masturbation is normal and even healthy! While masturbation can be many different things to many different people, typically, it causes pleasurable, soothing, exciting, orgasmic, and, ultimately, relaxing sensations.

For more information on masturbation, check out the Go Ask Alice! masturbation archives.

Love,

Alice

Masturbating friends

Dear Masturbating friends,

It’s terrific that you have a friend with whom you may be yourself and explore your personal needs. Your question’s a great example of individuals being comfortable with their own sexuality. So, yes, simultaneous self-stimulation, also known as mutual masturbation, is "normal," natural, healthy, and safe whatever your sexual orientation, gender, or age.

It’s very common for someone in her or his late teens and early twenties to explore and define her or his sexual identity. This may include experimenting, either by yourself or with someone else, to discover what feels good and what doesn’t. As long as your sofa squirting doesn't surf from an occasional sideline sport to a full-time hobby that preempts work, school, exercise, dating, or any other activities from which you might benefit, playing with your remotes will likely bring you continued high ratings.

It may often seem like some moral, social, or ethical rules prohibit or shun masturbation (including the idea of touching yourself in the presence of others), but it isn’t considered abnormal, harmful or illegal as long as it’s consensual and done in a private space (i.e., someone’s home, and not a shopping mall, school, or any other public place). If those rules are followed, you may rest assured that it’s still okay to play with your friends!

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! Masturbation section of the archives (yes, an entire section devoted to self-pleasure!).

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,

Ahh… classic reflections on erections. Simply put, the answer to your question is no. Neither your past masturbation and porn viewing, nor your decision to stop sexually stimulating yourself is directly causing your erections. These uninvited arousals may be frustrating, but your body is simply paying attention to emotional and physical stimulation. Plus, the fact that you’ve got a special gal in your life who makes you (and your body) so excited may not be such a bad thing! Although erections can certainly be a cue for doin’ the deed, all they really mean is that you're mentally and physically alert, chock full of naturally produced, stimulating hormones, alive, and, yes, very normal.

For sure, releasing your sexual energy by choosing to masturbate may reduce the frequency of your erections — but that decision is entirely up to you. The good news is that you’ve got a whole arsenal of options for those times when you find yourself unexpectedly “standing at attention” downstairs. For example, if your girlfriend ever does notice a suspicious bulge, you could always spin it as a compliment: your erection is a reflection that you’re truly happy to be with her. If gabbing about gonads isn’t quite your style, though, a few other options you could consider include:

  • Wearing brief-style underwear that is a bit tighter to your body could keep your erection “under cover” (so that it would bulge more like an igloo instead of a tent).
  • Strategically placing a nearby bag, notebook, or other item on your lap or wearing a longer shirt or sweatshirt could help keep it out of sight.
  • Thinking about your school work, something sad, or another turn-off can encourage flaccidity.
  • When all else fails, divert her attention with a romantic (yet distracting) musing. Saying something like “Look at how beautiful the stars are tonight (they’re almost as beautiful as you)!” could keep her eyes averted elsewhere for a few precious moments, and also win you some sweet-guy brownie points.

It may also be worth thinking through how you and your girlfriend feel about erections and masturbation. You said that you’re not planning to have sex until marriage, but you might consider having an honest conversation with each other about what that will mean. For example, you can explain to her that just because you’re getting erections doesn’t mean that you’re trying to “get it on” with her at that very moment. Perhaps opening up with her about your past history with porn and masturbation could also help take some of the pressure off you (and your “manhood”). Keeping your feelings to yourself could lead you to only feel more emotionally (and sexually) frustrated. If you choose to masturbate, consider reading Beatless in Seattle: Masturbation stops when relationship begins to explore ways to think and talk about what role masturbation could play in your life even when you’re in a relationship. In the end, remember that spontaneous erections are a part of being a warm-blooded and healthy male.

Alice

Save own cum?

Dear Stroker,

It's always better when it's wetter! As far as the research goes, there are no scientific studies on the preservation of pre-cum for masturbation lubrication. However, bacteria does live on the human skin and in the air at all times. Because of pre-cum's exposure to skin and air, it would be an ideal medium for bacteria to proliferate if stored in a container over time. This bacteria could then be transferred to your penis (or more specifically, openings in the head such as the urethra) during masturbation, potentially causing a urinary tract or urethral infection. Instead, why don't you splurge and try a consumer water-based lube? Greasing the wheels with a touch of this stuff will leave your engines roaring. And you may be happy to know that "a little dab'll do ya good" — that is, you won't need much to do the trick!

Alice

Dry hump on chair

Dear In love with chair,

Looks like you've discovered a pleasurable way to shine the wood! This method is perfectly normal. In fact, the dry-hump method of masturbation is used by many men. There is no risk to your groin area (unless, of course, you're rubbing against spiked furniture). Every once in a while, though, you may want to masturbate manually with your hand and a lubricant, so that if or when you have intercourse, you will know the feeling and be able to be stimulated in the more "usual" way. It is possible to get so used to one method, that a particular stimulation becomes necessary for your enjoyment. You may want to check out the related Q&As for more information. Keep on groovin'!

Alice

Wants girlfriend to masturbate

Dear Argh,

Research shows that women learn to masturbate later than men, often during or after college rather than during puberty. This process includes two parts: learning to orgasm and learning to feel good about it. In the 1970s, women would meet in women's groups with safety, humor, and support to talk about many things, including orgasm -- having them, not having them; how to have them, how to have them more frequently; what works, what doesn't work; how to have them with partners; and, their feelings about orgasm. Ironically, this is not happening today. So for similar information, she can check out some of the materials, videos, and books available at woman-sensitive, sex-positive bookstores, such as Eve's Garden based in New York City and Good Vibrations in San Francisco.

Your girlfriend is not alone. There is plenty that she can do to learn (you can learn, too!), if this is truly a path your girlfriend wants to take! She may need privacy and time alone to explore her own body and to experiment, learning for herself what sensations are pleasurable. Sometimes, a nonallergenic lotion, a lube, or a vibrator can make a difference. Practice, information , and pleasure go a long way in minimizing feelings of "dirtiness" and guilt.

Alice noticed that you signed your letter "argh" and wondered about that. What is causing your frustration? Why is it so important to you that your girlfriend learn to feel comfortable masturbating? What would change in your relationship if she were to masturbate? What would change for you? What would change for her? (These are questions to ask yourself, and the answers may prove interesting.)

If your girlfriend doesn't have an orgasm when she's with you, or has never had an orgasm in her life, read the following questions found in Alice's Sexuality archives: No orgasms for girlfriend, No orgasms with boyfriend, Am I having an orgasm?, No orgasm with intercourse (female), and Easing orgasms for women.

Alice

March 22, 2012

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Alice. When you asked why it was important that his girlfriend learn to masturbate, that actually struck a small chord with me. I would like my girlfriend to do that, too. She and I have had this...
Alice. When you asked why it was important that his girlfriend learn to masturbate, that actually struck a small chord with me. I would like my girlfriend to do that, too. She and I have had this discussion before. She has no idea where any of her "spots" are, and it crosses my mind that it could possibly make it easier for both of them to reach a "mutual climax", aside from a physical one, if they both knew what they were doing and "where" to go. I think Argh wants this because it could possibly bring him and his girlfriend closer, it could be a turn on, and it really could help him to get to "know" his girlfriend, too. Sincerely, ~Low Flyer
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