Ladies, it’s time to “flick the bean”; May is International Masturbation Month. In addition, International Masturbation Day is also keenly observed all around the globe on varying days during May.
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So, why is it so good for you to help yourself? Masturbation is normal, natural, healthy and highly enjoyable. What’s more, its health benefits are well-documented; for your mind, body and spirit.
I’ve read of highly stressed writers, for example, producing absolute gold ‘only after masturbating (er, this doesn’t work in an open plan office). And this isn’t unusual; you see, “flicking the bean” reduces stress and PMS and is even said to help combat chronic back pain. Indeed, it’s an act of self-love and self-care which will release a flood of happy endorphins, help you sleep better and strengthen your all-important pelvic floor muscles, which will, in turn, only boost your sexual enjoyment.
Then there’s the significant benefits that self-pleasure can bring to your sex life, says Sydney sexologist, Dr Michelle Mars (pictured), who specialises in the sociology of sex gender and sexual well-being.
Dr Mars, who is a guest at the Future of Sex Forum in Sydney on May 6, also recently set up private practice, where’s she finding masturbation to be a hot topic among some clients. What’s more, she says women’s self-pleasure is still seriously frowned upon among certain sections of the community.
“Masturbation is still taboo for women; it’s much more socially acceptable for men than women, I think. Men are allowed to have these sex drives that are claimed to compel them to do things that are beyond their control, whereas women are still supposed to have the moral high ground and have control over their sexual urges,” Dr Mars says.
“And that’s a really archaic view; the whole idea that women don’t have strong sexual desires like men is something I totally disagree with. We should definitely be encouraging young girls and women to explore their sexuality themselves because if you don’t know what turns you on, how can you tell somebody else and this then puts undue pressure on your partner.
“At the turn of the century, they realised that women’s ‘hysteria’ could be cured with an orgasm. Hysteria was another name for stress, anxiety or PMS – all those things which come naturally in life – and if a woman exhibited these symptoms, scientists and doctors were quick to prescribe an orgasm, but it was called ‘the job which no one wanted’.
“Not everyone can stimulate a woman to orgasm, not all men know how to do it, plus if someone’s stressed out, it can take a while to relax them in that way and get them to orgasm as well, so it could take up to half an hour. And that’s where the invention of vibrators came from.
“With my clients sometimes, I talk to them about the fact that in psychology they refer to masturbation as a form of ‘self-soothing’. Masturbation is something we all need to learn; a lot of us aren’t that good at it either, we have saggy pelvic floor muscles which don’t aid the whole process.”
So, how do we get masturbation-fit? Is it just about doing those damn pelvic floor exercises? “It’s about doing kegel work, yes, but there’s more to it than that too,” Dr Mars says.
“You should be able to tell the difference between a whole lot of muscles. If you think about the fact that the vagina and the anus are both O-shaped muscles – and think about all the different expressions you can make with your mouth – most people can’t tell the difference between left of anus, right of anus, front of anus, back of anus; pulling up their pelvic floor; or tensing up their vagina; or their penis and testicles at the front, so we’re actually mostly quite lazy with what we can do with those muscles.
“You have to be pretty fit and have really good control of your core/stomach muscles to be able to have good control of your pelvic floor muscles at all. I spend a lot of time in the first couple of weeks with a new client explaining to them how you can train those muscles to get a lot more out of them. It helps people have better sex; have more control of their orgasms and for men it helps them to learn how to orgasm without ejaculating.”
If you’ve never masturbated before, Dr Mars says it’s time to seek counselling to overcome whatever psychological trauma’s preventing you from doing so. “I’m also quite happy to teach people to masturbate, if they’re serious about it; I will start off quite gently, talking about getting a really little vibrator – the little bullet-sized ones are the ones I usually tell people to go and try because they’re very effective and direct,” she says.
Dr Mars’s other top tip is to seriously relax, ladies. “When people are trying to orgasm and they can’t, they often stress up and tighten up too much and then they keep trying and trying and trying and then they give up because they’re kind of exhausted. So it’s important to tense up and then relax.”
So, ladies, light some candles, slip into something comfortable, have a glass of wine – maybe even seek some inspiration from the awesome foursome on Sex and the City, such as sexy Samantha (pictured), who quips in one episode: “I masturbated all afternoon” – and go forth and enjoy yourselves. Or, as Dr Mars quips: “Set aside some ‘me time’ to wank.”
“Say: ‘Don’t disturb me. I’m having some me time!’” she says. “Just remember, if you’re really tired and stressed out, it takes longer. But if you can actually masturbate to orgasm, you’ll feel better from the stress-relief.
“But you don’t always have to masturbate to orgasm and sometimes, if you haven’t masturbated before and you don’t orgasm easily, the fact that you haven’t masturbated to orgasm isn’t a failure. It’s just practise; and if you practise anything enough times, you’ll have a good result.
“If you take the pressure off yourself when you’re masturbating to achieve an orgasm, and just appreciate the fact that you’ve actually taken the time to stimulate yourself and have a little bit of sexual pleasure, you won’t feel like a failure – especially if you’re busy and tired and you’ve got young kids, your sex life can go out the window. It’s really hard to orgasm when you’re exhausted.”
Meanwhile, Adult Match Maker spokeswoman Pauline Moran (pictured) says International Masturbation Month is a great initiative because it takes the shame out of self-pleasure.
Adult Match Maker – Australia’s largest online adult dating site – is celebrating the occasion by pointing to an event on its Facebook page. “Masturbation Month gives people permission to talk about self-love and helps remove the stigma which is sometimes attached to what should be a very natural and healthy activity,” Pauline says.
“Masturbation should be part of everyone’s sex life. It’s one of those taboo topics that people don’t always talk about, because heaven forbid our friends should think we’re not completely shagged out by our partner.
“Sex and the City was really the ground breaker because millions of women worldwide watched Charlotte’s Rabbit Vibrator become even more coveted than Carrie’s Manolos. This one episode made a taboo subject acceptable lunch conversation!”
And Pauline agrees that research conclusively shows masturbation boosts our mental, emotional and physical health. “Masturbation is important for a number of reasons,” she says.
“Research shows that people who masturbate regularly generally have happier marriages and lives. And let’s face it, if you know what turns you on then you can share those techniques with your partner/s and improve your sex life overall. And, other than a little chafing, there are no known side effects. We think everyone should get on-board and show themselves some love throughout May.”
So, there you have it ladies, all the handy hints – pardon the pun – you’ll ever need for masturbation 101.
What do you think? Is masturbation still taboo for women?
Images via healthmeup.com, 21stcenturygossip.wordpress.com and stepupyoursexlife.com