Have you ever heard stories about masturbation giving you hairy palms? Maybe kids in school used to joke about the masturbation myth, or maybe you even heard it from a parent or teacher. Luckily, masturbation doesn’t actually have any negative physical side effects, and it certainly won’t make you grow hair in strange places. The urban legend is just that—a myth.
May is Masturbation Month, so it’s a great time to debunk some of the most common masturbation myths and misconceptions. In fact, there are many benefits of masturbation, including feeling more confident and empowered, and understanding what your body enjoys while aroused. Although it’s great for your body and mind, masturbation is still somewhat taboo for many people, so these masturbation myths persist despite having no factual basis.
1. Masturbation isn’t unhealthy—it won’t cause blindness or hairy palms. Masturbation can’t, and doesn’t, cause unwanted physical side effects. This myth may have persisted as a joke among children and students, or because adults wanted to discourage their offspring from partaking, and didn’t have other good reasons for telling them not to. In fact, orgasms can reduce stress, boost your mood and immunity. While orgasms shouldn’t always be the goal, it’s good to know masturbation is actually very healthy and can help improve overall wellness.
2. Masturbation isn’t infidelity or cheating. This masturbation myth might be born of shame, insecurity or purity culture. But masturbation isn’t cheating or infidelity. It’s a journey of self-discovery and self-pleasure and should be encouraged for couples and married partners. Masturbation is a normal expression of human sexuality and is not the same as partaking in intercourse outside of your relationship.
3. Masturbation isn’t sinful or shameful. Despite taboo and stigma, there’s nothing shameful about masturbation. Masturbation Month is an important reminder of the work activists have done for years to encourage the public to accept masturbation, especially for women and femmes. Many times, women and femmes are told their sexuality is shameful, and Masturbation Month was born out of protest, a pushback against a culture that relegated sex and sex education to the shadows. After Dr. Joycelyn Elders promoted masturbation as a solution to the AIDS pandemic and was subsequently fired for her “controversial” words, Masturbate-a-thons were held around the world.
4. Masturbation won’t make it harder to achieve orgasm. Some people believe that masturbation, especially clitoral stimulation, can make it harder to orgasm or experience pleasure during partnered sex. In fact, quite the opposite is true. Masturbation is a great way to explore your body and desires, which makes it easier to communicate with your partner exactly what you like and how you like it. Masturbation is a tool both for self-pleasure and increased enjoyment during partnered sex and can even strengthen pelvic muscles and reduce chances of infections. Both partners should be encouraged to learn more about their likes and dislikes.
5. Masturbation doesn’t mean your relationship isn’t loving. Masturbation doesn’t mean you aren’t satisfied with your current partner. Ask yourself—how often do you get turned on at the thought of having sex with your partner? It’s normal to want to pleasure yourself while fantasizing about your significant other, and it’s also normal to enjoy masturbation without those thoughts. Either way, self-pleasure doesn’t mean you don’t enjoy sex with your partner. As mentioned above, it can actually help make partnered sex better than ever.
6. Masturbation isn't bad for young people. This is perhaps the most common masturbation myth of all. Many teens and young people are told masturbation is bad and are discouraged from doing it, but in fact, masturbation can help keep young people safe. It teaches them that their bodies should feel good, and that masturbation is a private act, usually done alone in their bedroom. All children self-stimulate, so allowing them control of their bodies and normal human urges is important. It can even reduce sexual activity and risky behavior as they grow older.
7. Masturbation shouldn’t be orgasm-focused. You can enjoy all the benefits of masturbation without ever having an orgasm. While orgasms are great, remember not to pressure yourself or feel obligated to climax. It may not happen, and that’s okay! Enjoy the ride and explore your body without worrying about what you look like, sound like, or whether you “finish.” The real finish line is feeling more comfortable in your own skin.
Masturbation can be enjoyed in many ways, including with toys. Some of the best sex toys for women and femmes involve either clitoral stimulation, G-spot stimulation, or both. Toys are made differently, too, offering features like vibration or clitoral suction. And while you shouldn’t feel pressured, some orgasm toys for women help you achieve blended orgasms, making both areas feel intimately cared for at once.
Masturbation Month continues, a celebration of human sexuality and pleasure! The best news is there’s still plenty of time to celebrate the holiday all month long, including Masturbation Day on May 28th, so drop the baggage of masturbation myths and take some time to enjoy yourself.