Masturbation: Pros & Cons

Masturbation: Pros & Cons

Someone asked me to write the pros and cons of masturbation. I’ll be doing that, plus I have a few thoughts about how we talk about masturbation. So, here we go!

 

Pros of masturbation:

  • It feels good
  • It can reduce headaches and muscle tension
  • It can reduce stress
  • If you have an orgasm (which not everyone does, or wants to), the chemical rush that results can lower blood pressure and increase relaxation
  • Orgasms can also help with sinus pressure or congestion (mucous membranes activate during orgasm!)
  • Masturbation can help you figure out what makes your body feel good – if you practice getting yourself off, you’ll have an easier time getting off with a partner (if that’s your jam)
  • Masturbation is a chance to try out things you might be too embarrassed to try for the first time in front of a partner (butt stuff, for example)
  • Orgasms, and masturbation in general, can help you fall asleep
  • It can improve pelvic muscle strength
  • Mutual masturbation (masturbating while your partner masturbates next to you) is the safest kind of partnered sexual activity! As long as you wash hands thoroughly afterwards, and only touch your own genitals, there’s no risk of contracting an STI
  • It can reduce menstrual pain
  • It can take your mind off of your worries
  • It’s a time filler, if you’re bored
  • It can keep your sex drive engaged, if you don’t have a frequent/current sex partner

 

Cons of masturbation:

  • You can make yourself sore if you do it too much/too hard
  • It feels really good, so you might do that instead of your homework or hanging out with friends
  • Good quality vibrators can be pretty expensive
  • That’s it

 

There’s a little bit of a conversation that needs to happen about masturbating “too hard”, though.

A lot of guides for masturbating with a penis advise being careful to not masturbate with a too-tight grip, because it means that once that person with a penis has sex with another person, the relaxed grip of another person’s mouth or vagina won’t be tight enough to provide an orgasm. Their penis will be used to the “stranglehold” grip of their own hand, and an orgasm may not happen during partnered sex. We feel perfectly comfortable giving that kind of advice to people with penises, because we assume as a culture that partnered sex is everyone’s goal.

 

We feel really strongly about letting people with vulvas masturbate with any kind of vibrator we want, though. Or rather, gross men push back against heavy vibrator use, and we (correctly) tell them to piss off.

 

It can be really, really hard to achieve orgasm if you have a vulva, and some people need the heavy action of a wand style vibrator. Sometimes, outspoken sex bloggers, sex toy reviewers, or other sex educators mention those heavier vibrators, and the comments suddenly fill up with (generally) cis men. “If you get your clitoris used to heavy sensation, you’ll never be able to come during sex!” they shout, positive that their opinion is needed here. “It’s basic biology – you need to re-sensitize your clit!” “Vibrations like that aren’t found in nature – you’re ruining your own sex life… I’m just looking out for you.” (actual comments).

 

The obvious response is to tell those guys to shut up. It’s not their business what anyone is doing with their vulva or masturbation – each person knows their own body best. Let people masturbate the way they want.

 

So…why does that suddenly go out the window when it comes to people with penises? Why do we assume their goal is an orgasm in a mouth or vagina? Why do we assume they *can* train themselves to come without heavy stimulation? Sure, the penis is generally more accessible and easier to operate than the clitoris, but that sure isn’t universal.

 

And I have to mention people who have been circumcised. Some people who have been circumcised have less sensitive penises, either because the foreskin that was removed had a lot of pleasurable nerve endings that are no longer there, or the circumcision removed too much skin, and the erection is painfully tight, or the scar is painful, or the glans has become less sensitive from being exposed to stimulation over the years. There are a lot of reasons why a tight grip during masturbation might be the only thing that feels good, or the only way to achieve orgasm.

 

The advice that we hear for people with penises isn’t entire bunk, of course. There are a lot of people who can achieve orgasm with lighter sensation, if they don’t masturbate too hard, and some of those people do want to orgasm during intercourse or oral sex. So, for that subset of people, “don’t get your dick used to a stranglehold” is solid advise. But we need to stop assuming that’s universal.

 

So, masturbate as much as you want, masturbate however you want to, whenever you want to, and under what circumstances you want to. It’s your genitals – you do you. Literally.

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