The Ins and Outs of Masturbation

Words by Elizabeth Narwastu
Art by Griea Taylor

Self-care has become a trendy topic in the videos we watch, the articles we read and even in the conversations we have amongst our friends. From mastering the art of decluttering, to eating your vegetables or dedicating a day to being lazy, we all practise some sort of self-care to maximise our well-being. As human beings, we have to take care of ourselves, whether it’s for the mind or the body. We also need another form of ‘release.’

Masturbation is still somewhat a very taboo topic. Coming from an Asian and Catholic cultural background, I was never properly given sex education unless it was sourced from the internet. We tend to treat masturbation as a dirty public secret. Let’s pretend that time we got off after seeing Jeff Goldblum’s chest hair in Jurassic Park never happened. Well, we are not here to discuss what turns people on, but we are here to talk about why masturbation is anything but dirty – but still, wash your hands before and after, kids! Believe me, having an infection around the crotch area is nothing but painful.

Believe it or not, there are myths warning that masturbation can cause blindness and erectile dysfunction. Myths are created as a form of social control. Along with fear tactics comes the shaming and stigmatising of masturbation.

Sexuality to some, is as natural as breathing. Once we’ve hit puberty, we notice the changes in our downstairs department. We also realised the horniness that comes with it. People you see on the streets or in the supermarket? Yes, they masturbate. People have different libidos, and there is no guilt, shame nor there are limits to how, when and why you masturbate. Masturbating for fun, pleasure, and self-care is a very normal and healthy thing to do.

People you see on the streets or in the supermarket? Yes, they masturbate.

Research from 2014 found that men (72%) masturbated more than women (42%). And when masturbating, 63% of men and 20% of women looked at porn while 15% of men and 21% of women had used a sex toy.

In their introduction, they found that greater exposure to pornography from the internet potentially increases sexual satisfaction. From a public health level, normalising  masturbation encourages people to shift from high-risk practices (such as sex without condoms) to low-risk practices (such as masturbation). Seems like a win win for everyone involved.

Masturbation comes with its perks and health benefits. For men, masturbation can decrease the risk of prostate cancer, and for women, it can relieve menstrual cramps. Orgasms make you happy because it releases the hormones dopamine and oxytocin, which creates a natural high. Other than the sole purpose of sexual enjoyment, masturbation also helps you become more comfortable with your own body. Being able to give pleasure and release sexual tension without a partner is the most empowering feeling, to know and prioritise your own desires is the ultimate act of self care. Knowing what makes you feel good can enhance your sex life with your partner.

Self-pleasure and self-love are never shameful. You do you! And never let any shame nor guilt affect you. Go forth and explore ya bodies! But do remember keep things clean, always wash your hands and keep your toys clean – basic hygiene people.

Source: Richters, Juliet & de Visser, Richard & Badcock, Paul & Smith, Anthony & Rissel, Chris & M Simpson, Judy & Grulich, Andrew. (2014). Masturbation, paying for sex, and other sexual activities: The Second Australian Study of Health and Relationships. Sexual Health. 11. 461-71. 10.1071/SH14116.

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