Masturbation

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Oxytocin

Dear Reader,

Affectionately known as the "cuddle hormone," "trust hormone," and "love hormone," oxytocin is thought to be involved in bonding and social recognition, as well as the formation of trust. Pharmaceutical companies produce synthetic forms of oxytocin, administered through injections and nasal sprays; however, you can't buy synthetic oxytocin — health care providers only prescribe it for medical purposes and in a setting where the patient can be carefully monitored for side effects. While oxytocin may still be a mysterious phenomenon to some, the following information may help you feel the love!

Oxytocin is naturally produced in the hypothalamus and released from the pituitary gland during hugging, touching, and orgasm. In fact, human blood concentrations of oxytocin have been reported to be higher amongst people who claim to be falling in love. Solo sexperts, don't feel left out — oxytocin levels peak during an orgasm, whether with a partner or during masturbation. It is also theorized that oxytocin affects generosity through increased empathy, reduces addiction to drugs and eases withdrawal symptoms, and contributes to learning and memory functions.

Oxytocin also plays an important role in breastfeeding, where it enables milk to be secreted from the nipple in lactating women. However, even if oxytocin is administered, women will not begin to lactate without the presence of a second hormone, prolactin. During childbirth, oxytocin is released in large amounts to stimulate contractions, or the dilation of the cervix. Physicians can administer oxytocin to induce contractions when a woman's cervix needs some extra help dilating during labor. Moreover, it is thought that oxytocin promotes maternal behavior, such as nurturing and caring.

Clearly, oxytocin is quite an important and multi-purpose hormone. Although you may not be able to directly measure your own oxytocin levels, it is likely that they fluctuate during different social encounters and experiences without you even knowing it. Here's to the big O — oxytocin, that is!

Alice

Religious school and sexuality

Dear the virgin who wishes she wasn't a virgin,

So you want to experiment sexually, but you're stuck in an environment where such experimentation seems hard to come by (no puns intended here). To start, it may be helpful to address some of the myths regarding sexuality among college students.

You may be surprised to hear that surveys regularly place actual college student sexual activity far below students' perceptions of what their peers are doing. For example, the American College Health Association National College Health Assessment (conducted annually) showed that the majority of survey participants had either no sexual partners or only one during the previous year. However, the common belief among the same respondents was that their peers had at least three partners during the previous year. Most thought that everyone else was more sexually active than they were. For more information about college sex statistics, check out College student sex stats: Am I the only one not doing it?

Believe it or not, many people graduate from college having no or minimal sexual experience. Plenty of people respect the decision to wait until the right person comes along. Many others find the notion of being someone's "first" to be an exciting prospect. It is, therefore, unlikely that your lack of experience is going to limit your opportunities in the future.

More important than what others are doing or what others think, is what you want to do for yourself. What do you see as your reasons for wanting to explore? Pure and simple horniness is one reason commonly cited. So is curiosity about others bodies, curiosity about the sensations, and a desire to understand what types of activities appeal to you in reality (as opposed to in fantasy). As long as you are doing what is comfortable for you, there is nothing wrong with choosing to explore or choosing not to.

If you decide you do want to explore, but a potential partner isn't around, you can always start solo. How do you feel about masturbation? Though this can be tough if you have a dorm roommate, experimenting with different types of masturbation, different fantasies, and different positions can at least be a way of letting off steam and getting to know your body better (if you can find some alone time). This also makes it likely that you'll have a more pleasurable experience your first time with another person. If you've already been doing this and it's not enough, it may be time to look off campus for a date. If you want to date someone of your same religious background, it may be worth checking to see if local churches have youth groups. Getting involved in the community by volunteering can also be a good way to meet people with similar interests, as is getting involved with local clubs (e.g. book clubs, running groups, team sports) that center around your interests. Many also create or browse online profiles at dating sites and there is likely at least one dating site that caters to your religious orientation and personal preference, if that's important for you.

Whatever you decide, do it for fun or for love, but mainly do it for you. No need to act out of fear of others judgments — you'll be just as desirable whether virgin or seasoned sexual expert.

Good luck,

Alice

Semen... or coconut oil?

Dear Reader,

Congratulations on your first, normal, healthy ejaculation through masturbation! Now, take a deep breath, read the rest of this answer, and whatever you do, don't lay out in the sun without a bathing suit on — the sun beating down on an oil-slicked penis can make for one well-done hot dog.

Make no mistake about it, that "white yellow thicky creamy liquid" was definitely 100 percent pure semen. (And if Coppertone comes out with a new lotion line next summer called, Tug 'n Tan, you'll know where they got the idea.) Semen does not mix with creams, soap, shampoo, or anything else you apply to your skin. This means that the coconut oil you used does not seep deeply into the penis — it's absorbed superficially. Good idea, by the way, to use some kind of lubricant when you masturbate — just avoid anything that might irritate your skin.

Your "tingling" brain and penis are more signs that you're in tip-top shape. You had an orgasm, which usually occurs at the time that you ejaculate, and can also happen without accompanying emissions. Orgasm is a reflex that results in intense sensations that are felt all over the body, but mostly around the penis, testicles, and anus in men. Your throbbing penis is really a result of muscle contractions that bring sperm from your testicles to your seminal vesicles and prostate, where they are mixed with fluids that result in the semen that travels up through the urethra in your penis and out the "hole" at the end called the urethral opening. Rapid heartbeat? Your heart is the engine that pumps blood into your penis to make it hard and gets the semen up and out, among other vital functions. Quicker breathing and tensing muscles are also a part of this process.

Not only is your body developing in exciting ways, but clearly your brain is growing up, too. It takes maturity and courage to ask questions about yourself. There's not one of us reading this Q&A who hasn't, at some time, lost sleep over "mysterious" lumps and liquids when getting to know our changing bodies. Sometimes we think we're somehow supposed to know about everything that's going on inside of us, but the truth is that learning about ourselves is a life-long process.

Best of luck as you continue to explore your body,

Alice

''Masturbator's elbow'': Does self-stimulation affect athletic performance?

Dear Reader,

Maybe a repetitive motion injury could result from frequent and vigorous solo sex, but, in this case, your guilt about masturbating is much more likely to put a crimp in your game. As a sportsperson, you know how vital it is to concentrate on practicing and playing your sport. If concerns about masturbation are distracting your attention, then your game will surely suffer. The desire to stimulate yourself, and the handball match itself, are a normal part of human sexuality. Choose to accept this fact (of course, many cultural and religious teachings make this a difficult challenge), and you've won the mental match. After that, masturbating might release tension, allowing you to more fully focus on your tennis game. In this way, solo sex is probably performance enhancing. Alice would bet 200 rupees that your friends are masturbating, too. In fact, their teasing may be their way of covering up their own guilty feelings. It's your game and match, so play on.

Alice

Father and son talk masturbation

Dear D,

Worry NOT. Your son's occasionally-stinging and veiny penis is almost certainly due to the friction and pressure he applies when he masturbates, and not to any health problem or irreversible damage he's caused himself over the past year. Suggest to your son that he loosen his grip when he masturbates with his hands, try some lube, and use mild soap when in the shower. If he's right-handed, switching to his less-dominant left hand (or vice-versa) can also minimize or prevent the irritation and discomfort he's feeling. This advice goes for both circumcised and uncircumcised guys of all ages.

The above implies what you probably know already: Alice believes that masturbation is normal and healthy at any age, while respecting one's choice not to masturbate, for whatever reason. Talking about sexuality with kids, partners, health care providers, and/or others whom you trust, as opposed to putting up walls of silence, secrecy, and shame, is another belief Alice holds dear.

You're an awesome dad! You and your son were embarrassed by your "discovery;" you're not so comfortable with masturbation; and, you didn't know whether it was causing him physical harm. Yet, you mustered the courage -- and, hopefully, the calm -- to talk about it rationally. You may not think the conversation went very well, but Alice bets that your supportive actions, plus your willingness to get answers without embarrassing him further, helped him a lot more than you realize. It sounds like you didn't yell at your son, punish him, or tell him that what he was doing was bad, despite the fact that your father or mother might have done this had he or she walked in on you. You're a model of what to do in these situations, and remember that your first conversation doesn't have to be the last on this topic.

For more information to use in future father-to-son chats, read some of Alice's Q&As about masturbation and penis veins/bumps in her Sexuality and Sexual Health archives.

Alice

Here cums the bride... but where's the groom? (Fiancee masturbates in ''secret'')

Dear Reader,

People's masturbation patterns are pretty unique to them. Some masturbate less when they have a partner, some do it more, and still others go on masturbating at the same rate they did when they were single. Solo sex is often independent from partner sex . In other words, if your fiancee is satisfied with the quality and quantity of the sex she has with you, (you might want to pop her this question, too), her masturbation may have nothing to do with you.

Have you thought about talking with your bride-to-be about the sex you share? If her masturbating is supposed to be a secret, perhaps confronting her about it wouldn't be the best way to get answers to your questions. If you believe your sex lives with each other are happy and healthy, then why is her private pleasuring a problem? It would surely be interesting to learn more about her thoughts on some or all of these subjects. Your fiancee may have new things to tell you about herself, and might even share feelings she has about you. Since she is someone you are planning to marry, it might make sense to take the risk and talk with her about these important relationship issues -- including what you both think of as "public" or "private."

Alice noticed that you call your partner's masturbating behavior a compulsion. Perhaps it's just a pattern, something she's done for years -- maybe long before she met you. Related to the compulsion thing: if you are the one initiating sex five or six times a week -- sometimes twice a day -- is it possible that your fiancee thinks you have a compulsion for partner sex? Just something to think about....

Alice

Enthusiastic masturbation causes swelling?

If your penis does not go back to its usual condition in a few days, by all means, see a doctor. In the meantime, know that when you give your penis a high intensity workout, your penis may respond to all that vigorous, enthusiastic attention with redness, irritation, and/or swelling. Try using a water-based lube, pump yourself up, and then see what happens!

Alice

Boy masturbates in women's clothes -- okay?

Dear Reader,

Alice thinks it's okay, but you have to be the one who is comfortable with it. Your masturbation fantasies and methods are yours, and as long as they don't hurt anyone else, using them to predict your future only takes away from the pleasure of self-stimulation. If now, or down the road, you want to talk further with someone about your feelings/behavior, you might consult peer hotlines, professional counselors, friends, or relatives with whom you feel comfortable.

Alice

January 28, 2013

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I agree Alice and I think it is up to you to do what feels the most comfortable.
I agree Alice and I think it is up to you to do what feels the most comfortable.
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