In Touch with Yourself: Why Masturbation Matters

What if you could do something that felt good, helped you relax and could improve sex with other people? Well, you’re probably already doing it, it’s called masturbation. Although societal expectations mean we don’t often talk about it, a lot of people masturbate. In fact, 89% of young Australians aged 15-18 report regularly masturbating.

So, what is masturbation?

Masturbation simply means stimulating the genitals, or other areas of your body for pleasure. Whilst some people may orgasm from masturbation, many don’t, and that is completely normal.

What are the benefits of masturbation?

The most obvious benefit of masturbation is that it feels good! And it’s pretty much the safest way to engage in sexual pleasure without the risk of (Sexually Transmitted Infections) STIs or unintended pregnancy (as long as you’re not sharing sex toys).

You can masturbate with a sexual partner too (mutual masturbation). Mutual masturbation is great for when you want to be get intimate with someone with less risk of STIs or pregnancy. Mutual masturbation is a great way to explore what is pleasurable for you and your partner/s. For some people it can feel a lot better than penetrative sex (especially where penetrative sex isn’t comfortable, enjoyable, or possible).

In addition to sexual pleasure, masturbation can be a good way to relieve stress, headaches or menstrual cramps. It’s also a fun and safe way to learn how to please yourself and find what you do and don’t find pleasurable. You can use this understanding to communicate your likes and dislikes with sexual partner/s, improving the pleasure you experience together.

How do I masturbate in the best and safest way?

There is no “best way” to masturbate for everybody. We’re all different and enjoy different types of touch and stimulation.

Masturbation involves stimulating erogenous zones. Erogenous zones are parts of your body that are heightened to sensitivity and can produce a sexual response when touched. This can depend on the person and can be in the genital area or outside the genital area. For example, the clitoris, inside the vagina, foreskin, prostate, scrotum and outside these areas could include ears, lower stomach, neck.

There are certain ‘common’ ways people masturbate. For example, people may rub the shaft and head of the penis up and down to stimulate it. Some people touch the clitoris and the inside of the vagina. People can find pleasure touching their scrotum, anus or rectum using their hand or a sex toy for stimulation. Ultimately it depends on the person and how the experience pleasures them.

Sex toys can be used in masturbation as a way to help stimulate different body parts, for example vibrators for vaginal and anal play and stokers for the penis.

Remember when using sex toys you still need to practice safer sex, including using condoms on sex toy or cleaning them appropriately. If you and your partner/s are mutually masturbating you still need to wash your hands in-between touching yourself and your partner/s, or use gloves to reduce risk of STIs.
For more information visit PlaySafe’s: Sex Toys – The Low Down.

To help fantasize and create arousal many people watch pornography, read something erotic, or listen to audio porn. There are many different approaches to help stimulate arousal.

Note: Pornography can be a great way to explore and validate your sexuality but it can also support unrealistic sexual expectations and body image concerns.
Learn more about porn: Is Pornography Really That Bad?

The facts:

There are a lot of misconceptions about masturbation. So, here are some facts:

  • Masturbation is for everyone, not just those with a penis.
  • Masturbation is not cheating.
  • You can be in a relationship and masturbate.
  • You can masturbate on your period (this may even help relieve cramps).

Masturbating sounds great, but is it possible to masturbate too much?

You can masturbate as much as you like. It shouldn’t make you feel concerned unless it’s disrupting your life. It’s a good idea to masturbate only when you’re feeling it, not because you feel you have to. If masturbation starts to interfere with your work, friendships, relationships and other aspects of your life then it’s a good idea to book an appointment with your GP to discuss this further.

Masturbation should only be done in private or with partner/s that consent. If you feel you need to masturbate in public then it’s a good idea to talk with your GP or SHINE SA to discuss this further.

The magic question, how much should I be masturbating?

It doesn’t help to compare other people’s intimate lives to yours. If you feel comfortable with how much or how little you masturbate (and how it fits into your life) then that is all that matters.

At what age is it too young to masturbate?

There is no specific age to start masturbating. It’s a personal decision, the age you decide to start is completely up to you.

Have a few more questions?

If you’d like more information you can speak to SHINE SA or a GP. If you’re nervous about speaking to someone face-to-face you can call SHINE SA’s Sexual Healthline service where you can speak to a sexual health nurse for free.

Call 1300 883 793, the Sexual Healthline is open Monday – Friday, 9:00am – 12:30pm.


Useful links:

Ask SHINE SA: Is My Penis (and Testicles) Normal?

Ask SHINE SA: Is My Vagina and Vulva Normal?

Ask Dr Amy – Let’s Talk About Sexpectations

Safer Sex