Masturbation Month isn’t over yet, so there’s still time to brush up on things you never knew about self-pleasure. It’s a fruitful pursuit, after all—the benefits of masturbation include increased vaginal health, better self-image and boosted mood, immunity and confidence. It can also help prep you for more intense and empowering partnered sex.
The history of masturbation is almost as interesting as the act itself, so let’s dive into a list of 20 important things about masturbation you may not have known.
- You are your safest sex partner. According to a recent NYC press release, masturbation is a great way to reduce the spread of disease, including COVID-19. The city’s health department recommended masturbation instead of partnered sex as well as tips on staying safe for sex workers. The release underscores the fact that you are always your safest partner.
- Masturbation boosts your confidence and self-image. Masturbation is a tool for self-pleasure and self-love. Exploring your body and enjoying its features and feelings is a great way to feel better about the way you look and feel. Who says you need anyone else to get that post-sex glow?
- Masturbation helps you discover sexual preferences and desires. Masturbation is a great way to discover what you do and don’t like in a safe environment free from judgement. You can learn where, how fast or slow and in what movement shapes you enjoy stimulation, making it easier to communicate with partners or just enjoy masturbation more than ever.
Masturbation helps you prepare for partnered sex. Because you learn so much about yourself during masturbation, partnered sex is better than ever. A little practice beforehand makes it much easier to ask for what you want, and how you want it. It also makes it easier to understand why and how your partner might ask for similar stimulation.
- Masturbation prevents infection and supports vaginal health. Masturbation helps prevent infection for people with vulvas because it creates more circulation in the cervix. It also strengthens vaginal muscles and can help those who suffer with vaginismus learn to relax pelvic muscles during penetration. In short, it’s good for your brain and your vagina!
- May is Masturbation Month. May has been designated as Masturbation Month for more than 20 years, after being established in 1995. May 28th is Masturbation Day, the climax of the month, if you will.
- Masturbation Month started after a health expert was fired. U.S. Surgeon General Joycelyn Elders was fired after answering a question about AIDS prevention, suggesting masturbation as an alternative to partnered sex. The White House found her words “controversial,” and activists staged protests that led to the creation of Masturbation Month.
- People used to host Masturbate-a-thons. After Masturbation Month was created, Carol Queen, PhD, began working with sex toy companies to hold Masturbate-a-thons, raising money for charity. They were intended to be a fundraiser for nonprofits, but the main point was getting people to get pledges — normalizing masturbation by treating it like a walk-a-thon. Some were private, some were held via webcast, and some were even themed parties. Over time, these events have helped ease stigma around female masturbation.
- Masturbation can help close the Orgasm Gap. Particularly in cis heterosexual couples, the orgasm gap is a real epidemic. Men orgasm during sex far more frequently than their female partners. Masturbation can help close the orgasm gap by teaching women about self-pleasure, how to orgasm and what they enjoy from male partners. Choosing positions, clitoral stimulation prompts and more can help reduce inequity for these couples. The newest sex toys for women mimic human touch, like fingers and mouths, making it easier than ever to learn what you love.
- Masturbation isn’t goal-oriented. Masturbation is a journey of pleasure and self discovery. Placing pressure to look a certain way, back arched in a Hollywood movie interpretation of orgasm, takes the fun out of it and isn’t representative of what orgasms look and sound like in real people. Ditch the baggage and just enjoy the ride!
A proper warm up is key. Just as important as removing the pressure to orgasm is taking it slow. Don’t rush yourself through the experience; stop and smell the roses. Masturbation is best with proper stimulation to your breasts, vulva, clitoris, vagina and even anus. Rushing could take the joy out and make for a less intense orgasm, when you do arrive there.
- You can masturbate with or without sex toys. Never let anyone tell you how to self-pleasure. You can use toys, or your own hands, and either is fine. Toys can feel overwhelming and complicated, so it’s okay if you’re not ready. However, when you are ready to explore, you may want to consider options like this award-winning, women-designed vibrator. It’s made by and for people with vulvas!
- The oldest known dildo is 28,000 years old. The oldest known dildo was discovered in Germany and made of highly polished siltstone. It was likely used as a sex toy and is a rare artifact because experts have found significantly more female genitalia models from the time period.
- There are no negative physical side effects of masturbation. That’s a myth! As kids, we were probably told many masturbation myths to prevent us from partaking, but they just aren’t true. Masturbation has no known side effects, and as mentioned, the benefits of masturbation are many!
- All humans self-stimulate. It’s completely normal for children and young people to self-stimulate. In fact, masturbation in teens can help reduce risky behavior, including sex. Empowering teens to safely masturbate and explore their sexuality is important and healthy.
- 80% of females masturbate at least once a month. In adults, it’s common for both men and women to masturbate. It’s not a bad thing—quite the opposite! Let go of any shame you may feel about self pleasure and know you’re not alone.
- Vibrators were invented in the late 1800s as a cure-all for multiple physical ailments. Introduced in the late 1800s, vibrators became more popular for an unintended purpose, although the idea that they were invented to cure hysteria in women is largely a myth.
The Magic Wand is one of the most iconic vibrators. The Magic Wand is one of the most recognizable vibrators and was championed by masturbation educators during the 60s and 70s, making it one of the highest-selling vibrators of all time. While there is no “best woman’s vibrator,” this model remains a top seller to this day.
- Masturbation is a healthy behavior in partnered relationships. An enduring myth about masturbation is that couples shouldn’t partake, because it’s the same as infidelity or will reduce the effect of partnered sex. That’s absolutely untrue, and as we’ve discovered, the benefits of masturbation include couples. Plus, your body is your own, and you have the right to enjoy it.
- Everybody can benefit from masturbation. No matter what your gender, orientation or physical insecurities, everyone can benefit from masturbation. You can, and should, enjoy self-pleasure!