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Friday, January 23, 2009


Masturbation means producing sexual arousal (and often orgasm as well) by manual stimulation of the genitals. Generally, the word indicates self-stimulation, but it is worth noting that in 2005 some sexologists use the expression to indicate pleasuring of another person by hand, in phrases such as ‘the husband can masturbate the wife to help her achieve a climax'. However, in this article we shall deal only with self-stimulation.This is the form of sexual behaviour that most of us learn first – quite instinctively. And, until recently, it was probably the type of sex least talked about. In fact, in the early part of the last century masturbation was widely considered to be a sin - and something to be avoided at all costs. Gradually society became more tolerant of it as an activity, but it still had shameful connotations and was generally seen as a bit sad. Even in 2005, there are loads of bad jokes or disparaging remarks featuring the word 'wanker', which is of course a slang word for masturbator.Till far into the 20th century, there were many doctors, educators and youth leaders who strongly disapproved of masturbation, and who wrote books which claimed that it had terrible health consequences – like insanity! This was all nonsense. But until around the 1960s, there were doctors and pundits who advised people to avoid masturbation. They suggested that it was immature or undesirable and that if someone got fixated on it, they might not learn more 'grown up' responses.Nowadays, experts have a completely different view of masturbation - and a very much more positive one. One of the reasons for this is the big change in people's lifestyles.In this 21st century, most of us can expect to have a much more changeable and flexible life than our grandparents did. We will live longer and we'll almost certainly have far more sexual and co-habiting relationships.But between these relationships we will find ourselves returning to single status. During these single periods, we'll most probably continue to have normal sex drives - and the most obvious form of sexual relief and satisfaction available to us at those times will be masturbation.So masturbation needs to be seen in this modern context, and viewed as an activity that is pleasant, fulfilling, acceptable, normal - and very safe. In fact, masturbation is the safest form of sex there is, and very much safer - and often more satisfying - than one-night stands.The only time masturbation is not safe is on those rare occasions when young men decide to experiment by masturbating with potentially harmful objects - such as a vacuum cleaner! This is extremely dangerous, and definitely not to be recommended.Men and masturbationThe vast majority of men masturbate - even if they're in a long-term and happy sexual relationship.Masturbation comes pretty naturally to most guys. Let's face it; a male child discovers that his penis feels good before he can talk! So it's not surprising that boys fondle this area of their bodies a lot, and then, at the age of around 14, discover that masturbation can lead to orgasm and ejaculation - all of which they find extremely exciting and pleasurable.There are some men who don't masturbate, but these are mainly people who don't want to do it because of religious reasons, or because they're a bit uptight about sex. Also, some guys who have a fairly low sex drive don't masturbate.Some men - mostly from eastern cultures - try to avoid masturbating, as they believe it depletes their energy, and may shorten their lives. But there is no truth whatsoever in this belief.Most men masturbate by rubbing the penis with their ‘dominant’ hand - slowly at first and then more vigorously. Many guys grasp the shaft of their penis by wrapping their whole hand round it. Others grasp it between their thumb and first or middle finger. But however they do it, they don't usually have much doubt that they'll achieve orgasm as a result. This is quite a contrast to women, who may experience considerable anxiety about whether they will actually 'make it'.Some young men worry that they masturbate too much. The fact is that it's almost impossible to do this. Obviously, if a young guy is staying home and masturbating on the hour every hour, one might want to try to persuade him to get out more! But when a teenager first discovers sex it's quite common for him to want to masturbate several times a day, on some days. And this certainly won't do him any harm. ( However, masturbating constantly over a period of hours can produces some swelling or ‘puffiness’ of this penis. This is called ‘oedema’ and is due to fluid leaking into the tissues; it will disappear after some hours, as the fluid goes back into the bloodstream.) Other boys will masturbate quite rarely, especially if they don’t have a high sex drive - but that is normal for them.Some men in their 70s and 80s are still masturbating several times a week, but in general terms, men masturbate most in their teens and gradually do it less and less as their life progresses - depending partly on whether or not they have a partner at the time.As we have already indicated, many men still like to masturbate even when they are involved with a partner. They often feel that the orgasm they achieve through masturbation is less complex and more locally intense than climaxes achieved through sexual intercourse. Furthermore, they can control the pressure and speed of movement very accurately.In recent years, we have encountered a number of couples who achieve considerable satisfaction through the woman watching the man masturbate in front of her (or vice versa). Also, this practice is certainly helpful when – for some medical reason – intercourse is difficult or impossible. Masturbation and pornographyAt some point in their lives, almost all men will masturbate while looking at newspaper pin-ups, top-shelf magazines, or sexy videos.For a single guy, this is seen as a pretty normal activity nowadays. Some single men do worry that they might get fixated on porn, but the majority of them have no trouble in transferring most of their sexual focus to a real, warm, sexy female when they meet one.Masturbation using porn is more of an issue when a guy who is in a committed relationship. Some of these men worry that what they're doing is wrong - even if they don't want to stop. And of course many female partners have a problem with this sort of activity and can feel bitterly rejected and threatened by it.However, most men who are in relationships are able to compartmentalise this kind of sexual behaviour. They may only do it occasionally, and they feel it has no bearing whatsoever on their love and desire for their partners.But - and this is important - this kind of sexual indulgence ceases to be normal when a man actually prefers it to having sex with his partner. When this happens, the relationship is usually in some trouble. Today, it is increasingly common for Internet porn to create that kind of relationship problem (see below).In such cases it's not uncommon for men to use porn more and more for relief, rather than face up to sorting out sexual or relationship difficulties. This kind of avoidance behaviour almost invariably worsens an already problematic situation.If a man wants to save his relationship, but feels increasingly dependent on pornography, then he should seek help. (See Further information for more details.)Masturbation and the InternetSince round about the beginning of the 21st century, more and more men have been masturbating while using the Internet. When this involves viewing the sort of pornographic images you can also get on video, then the situation is much the same as it is when the guy uses magazines or blue movies – in other words, he’s not getting involved with anybody else.However, when the activity involves masturbating to orgasm while 'talking' by use of the keyboard with another person, then this cannot honestly be judged as a solo activity, or as simple masturbation. In fact, it can be seen as an act of infidelity - if the man in question is married or committed to a serious sexual relationship.Male masturbation and its use in helping sex problemsTwo of the common sex problems that men experience can be helped to some extent by masturbating.Premature ejaculation (PE), which is the condition where the man ejaculates too quickly when he has sex with a partner, is an enormously common problem.PE usually needs some sort of specialist help, but some men are able to help themselves to some degree by gaining more control over their climaxes while masturbating.What such a man should do to is to practise beginning to masturbate and allowing himself to get almost to the point of no return, but then stopping and calming down a bit, before carrying on. If a guy can do this several times before giving in and having a climax, it might well help him to develop the necessary control he's been lacking to delay his climax during intercourse - especially if he practises this stop-start technique on a regular basis.The other male sex problem that can be helped to some extent by masturbation is 'delayed ejaculation', 'ejaculatory incompetence', or as it's also called, 'retarded ejaculation'.When men have this particular problem they can maintain an erection for a long time during sex, but they can't relax enough to let go and climax inside their partner. Many such men are quite uptight about sex. And if they can learn to masturbate with their partner, this can help them a great deal. Again this is a problem that needs specialist help. But if a man can first of all learn to masturbate in the next room to his partner and then after a week or so manage to do it the same room, they will both feel he is making progress.Eventually he should be able to masturbate right beside her, and in time masturbate so close to her that he can place his penis into her vagina at the crucial moment.Women and masturbationTeenage girls do not tend to masturbate as automatically as boys do. Of course plenty of girls do discover that they get pleasant feelings from their genitals at quite an early age. And many of these girls do discover how to masturbate to orgasm in their mid to late teens.But many girls and young women simply do not feel many strong sexual urges. Indeed it is quite common for a woman not to reach orgasm until she is about 19 years of age. And there are plenty of females who don't reach one for years after that - either through sex with a partner, or by masturbating.When we wrote our book The Big 'O', our research showed that a few women did not learn to achieve orgasm until their 40s - but when they did, they were very pleased about it, and quickly made up for lost time! So it's never too late to learn.But why is there this discrepancy between male and female orgasmic ability? One reason seems to be that a woman's sex drive simply appears to take longer to develop than that of men. Of course a woman's orgasm is not essential in nature - that is to say a woman does not need to orgasm to conceive, whereas a man does have to climax to produce the all-important sperm.Another reason for women's slower development may be that their genitals are much more hidden away than the male genitals - and this in turn may be why women do not have the same emotional and mental focus on the vulva that men have on the penis.Methods of female masturbationThe average woman masturbates by stimulating her clitoris. She usually does this in little circular motions, either with her index or middle finger. Generally, women begin by touching themselves just above or below the clitoris, but as their excitement mounts they can tolerate more intense stimulation right on top of it.Some women find they like the feeling of 'bulk' created by having something in the vagina at the same time. This could be two or three fingers of her other hand, or some kind of object. One word of caution: it is best to use fingers, or a sex aid designed for the purpose. Women sometimes get into trouble if they use unwashed fruit, or other items that may introduce infection into the vagina. And they should definitely always avoid anything that is breakable, like glass - for obvious reasons.In recent years, there has been a bit of a vogue among some young women for using an electric toothbrush in the vagina. Pleasant though this may be, it could certainly cause damage to those delicate tissues and should be avoided.Whether or not anything is introduced into the vagina - and this certainly does increase the excitement in a lot of women - the vast majority of females need to keep stimulating their clitoris at the same time in order to have a climax.A few women are so highly sexed they can orgasm simply by rubbing their nipples - but this is just a tiny minority of highly-talented females! Other women discover that they can bring themselves to a climax through squeezing their thighs together. Again they are in the minority.Vast numbers of women nowadays enjoy using a vibrator some or all of the time. There are some truly amazing products around these days and the fair sex is becoming much less timid about trying them. When a vibrator is used, sometimes a woman will use it to stimulate her clitoris. At other times she will use it in her vagina. There is no right or wrong way of pursuing solo pleasure - and a woman should experiment to find what she likes best.Fortunately, it is now quite easy to purchase good sex aids from reputable companies. (See Further information for more details.) The use of female masturbation in achieving orgasmAs we have already mentioned, the female orgasm in not as reliable or as automatic as the male orgasm generally is. For that reason many women consult psychosexual specialists, family planning doctors and so on in the hope that they can be helped to achieve the elusive 'Big O'.Nowadays most experts agree that if a woman can reach orgasm through her own efforts, she can then learn to climax with a partner either during love play or intercourse. Learning to climax through masturbation gives a woman confidence and satisfaction - and also educates her about how she likes to be touched and stimulated. Once she knows these things, she can communicate them to a loving partner.Some females have a real problem in touching their genitals. This is usually because they had restrictive upbringings where they were taught that 'nice girls don't touch themselves there'. Or that 'sex is for beasts'. Or that 'sex is dirty'.However, if a woman is prepared to give time and effort to learning about her own body, she can often overcome these unhelpful beliefs.If you are a woman who has trouble in reaching orgasm - even through masturbation - you might like to follow the advice given below.How to achieve orgasm through masturbation - even if you've never managed it before
Allocate some time - at least an hour, twice a week - when you know you'll have the house to yourself and can guarantee being undisturbed. (Arranging this can be the hardest part of the exercise!)
Take a leisurely bath, using your favourite bath oil. Relax. Enjoy soaping your whole body. Give your breasts and your genitals plenty of attention.
Dry yourself with love and care and continue to explore your body as you do so.
Move to the bedroom. Make sure it's warm and that it looks nice and is a pleasant place to be. Put some favourite music on if you'd like. Lie on the bed and carry on touching yourself, anyhow and any place that you like. All sorts of parts of your body might give you pleasant feelings. Find them! Give them attention. Be aware of pleasure.
Rub baby oil into your breasts and into your neck and throat. Enjoy the feeling.
Gradually allow you hands to travel lower in your body. Caress your abdomen, and then use some more baby oil and touch yourself between your legs. There is no wrong or right way of doing this. Just let your instinct take over.
Slip your fingers into your vagina. Try tightening your muscles round your fingers. Then relax. Try gently stretching the vaginal opening - this is something that gives exquisite pleasure to many women.
Start circling the area where your clitoris is. Don't hurry this. As you become more focused on your genitals, you may well find that you start applying more and more pressure to your clitoris, and that your breathing is quickening, and - best of all - that you're really enjoying yourself.
Don't worry if you don't get any further than this on the first few occasions. So long as you feel that you are loving your body and appreciating it and experiencing some good sensations, then that's fine.
Don't forget that the most powerful part of a woman's arousal equipment is in her mind. So it can be helpful to introduce some mental stimulation into the exercise. Try thinking of things that turn you on. Or, while you're stimulating yourself, read from one of those erotic novels written for women. You might even like to try caressing yourself while viewing a sexy video - if you have a video recorder in your bedroom or somewhere else in the house where you can feel uninhibited and comfortable. One of Betty Dodson’s famous videos on assisting women to reach orgasm through masturbation may help.
You may like to use a vibrator - as many women find this increases their arousal quite magically. If you don't know where to get good books, videos or sex aids, see the Further information section.
Each time you start caressing your body, try to keep going for longer and to increase your delight in what you're finding out about yourself. Don't panic if you still sometimes have feelings that what you're doing is wrong. Just breathe deeply and tell yourself that it is every woman's right to love and enjoy her own body - and that masturbation is healthy and good and normal.
One day you will find that your caresses become more insistent and that you are breathing heavier and that you feel a desperate urge to carry on what you're doing. It's common to feel a bit frightened at the intensity of what's happening if you've never felt it before, but go with the feelings. You deserve to have them. If rubbing your clitoris alone doesn't quite get you to your climax, try putting one or two fingers of your other hand into your vagina. Or use a vibrator in your vagina or on your clitoris. Your instinct should take over and tell you what to do. Hopefully these powerful feelings will lead to your first orgasm. And once you've had one - you'll find you can have others - maybe even on the same day!Most women like to practise having orgasms a few times on their own before involving a partner, but once you do choose to try with the person you care for, make sure you incorporate what you've been doing into your love play. Show your partner what you like and let him or her help you to experience this great joy.

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