How much time do you spend with yourself? How much erotic time do you spend with yourself? Do you feel weird or ashamed talking about masturbation?
Australian research suggests only one in four women masturbate regularly – that’s half the rate of men. The rest are willing to do it rarely or not at all.
Some people are naturally comfortable with the idea of masturbating, while others find the thought of it distasteful or shocking. It seems that for many people, masturbation is a bit of a taboo subject.
Before you dismiss this as a non-issue, Andrea Waling, a researcher from the Australian Research Centre in Sex, Health and Society, says women not embracing masturbation is a problem not only for women’s sexuality but also for their relationships.
“If you’re a sexual being – so not taking into account people who are asexual – not masturbating means you’re not learning about what your body likes. You don’t learn the kinds of pleasure and touch that you enjoy,” she says.
“If you don’t understand yourself and what you like, you’re relying on somebody else to do that work for you.”
This isn’t a great outcome for either partner in a relationship.
“It’s a lack of confidence in being able to articulate what you want in the bedroom and that really contributes to the orgasm gap,” Dr Waling says.
If you leave your sexual pleasure to your lovers, there’s a chance you won’t know how your body responds to many different kinds of touch.
Women need a little more time to get in the mood
If you believe what you see in porn, you may feel as though you should be raring to go as soon as your partner brushes a strand of hair out of your face, or gives you a sultry look. Pop culture and porn make it seem normal for a woman’s body to be ready for sex at a moment’s notice – much like men.
But, did you know that it can take 45 to 60 minutes for a woman’s body to become completely aroused?
Getting straight into the act can lead to painful or unsatisfying sex. If you want to avoid this, it’s important to get to know your body – what feels good for you and how much foreplay you need before penetration.
If you leave your sexual pleasure to your lovers, there is a chance you won’t know how your body responds to many different kinds of touch and stimulation.
Adequate sexual self-knowledge is important for a number of reasons. Discovering what feels good to you means you’re already halfway there when you want to have satisfying sex with a partner.
Similarly, if you don’t know what you like, it’s much more difficult to communicate when something isn’t feeling good because you can’t give directions on how to make it feel better.
“A lot of women come to see me because they can’t have an orgasm with their partner. Others can’t have an orgasm at all. It transpires that many of these women do not spend time self-pleasuring or exploring their bodies.
“Getting in touch with your own eroticism can help you understand your body, your sexual energy, how to feel nice without worrying about anyone else, and how to get in touch with your own sexual pleasure.
“It can help people relax into pleasure, rather than pursuing an outcome or feeling that they need to please someone,” clinical and somatic sexologist and relationship counsellor Tanya Koens told ABC Everyday.
You might feel embarrassed, ashamed or silly if you’re starting your masturbation journey, this is very common. Just remember, it’s okay to feel awkward when first exploring your body, it’s just a sign you’re learning something new.
Tanya Koens’ tips to start your self-pleasure journey
- Make sure you have privacy and comfort (temperature, position, space, etc).
- Try playing music or dancing to get in the mood.
- Take some deep breaths to help you slow down and focus.
- Squeeze your pelvic floor muscles as you breathe (the same ones you engage for Kegel exercises). This can start yummy tingles that will grow.
- Begin with touch to your whole body; don’t dive straight onto the genitals. Take your time to reach the erogenous zones.
- Slow down.
- Use your breath to take your energy up and down.
- Move your body; don’t lie prone. Wriggle your hips, writhe a little, move certain parts of you.
- Include your breasts and nipples.
- If it feels comfortable, try inserting a finger or two inside yourself. Don’t do this until your body has had time to warm up (lubricate and get engorged). It’s much more fun to touch internally when all that is going on.
- Hang in there. Even if it feels strange, do it a number of times (it does get easier and more familiar each time you try). Learn to relax, and to stop the chatter in your head. Slow down, and to wake up parts of your body that may have been asleep for a long time.
Are you comfortable talking about masturbation? Do you embrace the health benefits? Share your thoughts in the comments section below.
Also read: Keeping your sex life on track as you age