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Masturbation (solo-sex, wanking, playing with yourself, etc.) is stimulating yourself for sexual pleasure. It can be an excellent way to get to know your body and what makes you feel good sexually. Besides being safe and fun, it helps you know how to please yourself so that you can let others know how they can please you.
Lots of things people say about masturbation are not true. Masturbation will not make you go crazy, blind, grow hair on your palms, make you infertile or do anything bad to you whatsoever. It’s common and normal and over half (66%) of 16-20 year olds in a survey said they have masturbated. So you shouldn’t feel guilty or embarrassed about it. It is natural and harmless for people of any gender and is a way of exploring your own body that can help you to find out what you like and don’t like sexually.
It is fine to masturbate as often or as little as you like. Some people don’t masturbate at all and that’s ok too.
There is no one correct way to masturbate but here are some tips if you are thinking about trying it or have already tried it and are interested in learning more.
Where to start: Start off by exploring your genitals gently.
Practise: Most people have their first orgasm through masturbation. The more you do it the more familiar you’ll be with your body and how you respond to touch.
Take your time: An orgasm doesn’t happen straight away. Take your time and have a feel, a rub and a poke around. See if you can delay orgasm and make yourself last longer. Focus on the sensations and what it feels like rather than masturbating just to have an orgasm.
Sex toys: If you like you can also use sex toys to stimulate you.
Imagine: You may like to fantasise about things that turn you on while you’re touching yourself.
How to do it: As mentioned, there is no correct way to masturbate. Just touch yourself and see what feels good. Boys and men often rub their penis or hold the shaft of their penis and move their hand up and down, using different rhythms. Lots of boys like touching their testicles or anus and rectum too. Girls and women may use their fingers or a sex toy, like a vibrator, to rub the area around their clitoris and/or their vagina. When people are masturbating they can get an intense pleasurable feeling which spreads all over their bodies – this is called an orgasm.
Mutual masturbation: Mutual masturbation is touching a partner’s genitals and being touched in a sexual way. Communication about what feels good and what you are comfortable with is important. It can be a safer sexual activity if you don’t want to exchange any fluids with your partner but as with any sexual contact, it does carry a small risk of catching any skin-to-skin transmitted STIs such as pubic lice, and herpes. Also, make sure hands that have vaginal fluid, come or pre-come on them don’t touch the other person since it’s risky for STIs and pregnancy.
Getting caught: It happens to the best of us. Whether you’re caught by a parent, other family member, teacher or friend, it can be a hugely embarrassing experience. The best thing to do is to try and laugh it off.
Rachel, 21, shares her experience of masturbation and why taking things at her own pace was the right decision.
Zoi, 21, shares her story of how body disassociation has affected her relationship with masturbation and sexual intimacy.
Charlotte, 20, shares her journey of becoming comfortable with masturbation and understanding what pleasure means to her.
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