Most people masturbate. Regardless of gender and age, pretty much everyone has experienced some sort of self-pleasure. While most people feel they can have open conversations about having sex with themselves, the topic is still fraught with stigma and shame, especially for people with vulvas. Whether you're an experienced masturbator or brand new to having sex with yourself, you probably have a question or two you may not feel comfortable asking or simply haven't had the opportunity to ask. Therefore, we have gathered and answered ten questions that are often asked in connection with masturbation.
Curious about how others masturbate? Read more in The Handbook by Julie Ralund.
1. Does everyone masturbate?
Everyone has experienced masturbation at some point in their lives. Some masturbate several times a day, while others hardly or not at all. Masturbation is common across gender and age.
2. Is it normal to not want to masturbate?
While some people have a very high sex drive, others naturally have a lower sex drive. Your desire also fluctuates periodically and changes over time. If you don't feel like having sex with yourself, it's not a problem - as long as it's not something that feels like a problem to you. If you're experiencing a drastic change in your sex drive, it could be due to a number of things and may be worth talking to your doctor or other healthcare professional.
3. Is masturbation cheating?
The idea that masturbation in a relationship is somehow a form of infidelity is both a confusing and very common question. Cheating is defined differently, but in general terms, it involves breaking mutual agreements and overstepping your partner's boundaries - usually with a third party. Cheating on your partner can be both sexual and emotional. If your partner thinks masturbation is unfaithful, it might be a good idea to have a conversation about it. Your sexuality is yours alone, and is separate from your partner's - nurturing your sexual self is a healthy form of self-care that you of course can practice
4. Should masturbation lead to orgasm?
The short answer is: no. Masturbation can be a great way to explore your body, and it's definitely not a quest for an orgasm. If you're struggling to reach orgasm, it doesn't mean there's anything wrong with you. There can be many reasons why you can't - it can be hugely frustrating, but we encourage you to be curious about your own body. Additionally, not reaching orgasm can be caused by stress, anxiety, depression, hormonal imbalance or conditions associated with painful sex, such as phimosis, vylvodynia and vaginismus.
5. How much masturbation is too much?
While it's possible to turn just about anything into an addiction, including masturbation, this is rarely the case. As long as you listen to your body and masturbate because you want to - and not because you feel it's a duty or compulsion, you're likely to be in a good place. That said, there are some aids to masturbation that can be addictive, such as pornography. Therefore, it's a good idea to vary the ways you masturbate so that you're not always using the same kind of stimuli when you masturbate.
6. Do you lose your virginity by masturbating?
The concept of virginity is a complex one. Unfortunately, many people still associate virginity with the idea that a barrier must be broken, and sex must hurt when people with vulvas have sex for the first time. This is a myth - when you're horny and wet, the vagina can expand a lot and you avoid tearing. You can read more about the virginity myth here. You can think of masturbation as having sex with yourself - but you don't lose your virginity - neither by penetrating yourself with your fingers or a dildo, for example, nor by being penetrated by others.
7. Can you masturbate when you're menstruating?
Some people feel extra horny when they are menstruating. If you want to have sex with yourself when you're bleeding, go for it. It may be recommended to masturbate to reduce any menstrual cramps. If you use sex toys while masturbating, you need to pay extra attention to hygiene and cleaning afterwards, as blood is a good place for bacteria to grow. You can read more about cleaning in our guide here.
8. Can masturbation cause infections or diseases?
Yes and no. Masturbation itself is completely harmless - however, there are some precautions regarding bacteria and STIs that are important to consider. The STIs chlamydia, gonorrhea and syphilis are all bacteria. This means that they are localized and not spread throughout the body. If you have one of the STDs, for example, anally, you can infect yourself on the penis/vulva if you do not pay attention to hygiene when having sex with yourself or others. Make sure you get tested often, and if you have anal sex, remember to get tested anally as well. Also, make sure to wash your hands and sex toys before you start masturbating so that you don't risk ending up with a fungal infection.
9. Does masturbation make you less sensitive?
Masturbation cannot affect the sensitivity of either the vulva or penis. Sex toys can't make you less sensitive - in fact, they can help increase your sex drive. However, it's a good idea to be clear about how you masturbate. If you masturbate the same way every time, your body quickly becomes accustomed to it, which is why you may experience less sensitivity to the same stimuli over time. Therefore, it's a good idea to be mindful of not always using the same sex toy at the same intensity level. Challenge and explore yourself by occasionally masturbating in new ways and at different speeds.
10. What do people get out of masturbating?
There are many benefits of masturbating.To name just a few: enjoyment, getting to know your body better, your sex life with others can improve, you develop your sexuality, you strengthen your pelvic floor muscles. You can read more about good reasons to masturbate in our article here.
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