Updated: Apr 30, 2018
“We know that 80% of women masturbate and 90% of men do—and the rest lie.” Dr. Jocelyn Elders, U.S. Surgeon General terminated during the Clinton Administration for publicly endorsing masturbation as a healthy expression of sex.
“There is no one way to experience orgasm. The way you experience that level of sexual pleasure is as individual as you are. So experiment, keep an open mind, and enjoy your research.” Hilda Hutcherson, M.D. Pleasure: A Woman’s Guide to Getting the Sex You Want, Need and Deserve.”
Did you know that May is International Masturbation Month, with May 7 designated as International Masturbation Day? Ah, the benefits of being a Sex Coach and Sexologist!
In 1995, Good Vibrations, the San Francisco sex positive, women friendly retailer declared May 7 as National Masturbation Day in honor of Surgeon General Jocelyn Elders who—as you may recall—President Bill Clinton fired in 1994 after she suggested that masturbation should be a part of sex education curriculum for students. This sex positive celebration is designed to shine the spotlight on the healthy aspects of masturbation, and is now known as International Masturbation Month.
In my blog titled, "Self-Knowledge: A Precursor to Sexual Empowerment," I discussed masturbation as an important and primary form of sexual expression, one that gives each person an intimate understanding and mastery of her/his sexual responses. Self-knowledge is especially important as we age, as it allows us to be completely dialed in to how our own sexual response cycles are changing with aging. This in turn enables us to educate our partners about what is different for us, and to be compassionate with ourselves as we experience change. There are so many additional benefits to masturbating, whether or not a person is with a partner! The following will hopefully encourage you (or give you permission) to enjoy this lovely, safe and beneficial form of sexual expression:
Use it or lose it: masturbation helps retain sexual vitality by keeping tissues nourished and lubricated and by keeping vaginal muscles toned and responsive. Being sexual allows us to keep being sexual. Let me explain. When we choose to not have sex, we are depriving our tissues of nourishing blood flow and lubrication, which in addition to estrogen decline, can contribute to dry, fragile vaginal tissues. In addition, when we are not sexual, our vaginal muscles can become overly tight, resulting in pain upon penetration. If a woman goes for a long time without penetrative sex, she may find an unpleasant reality: her tissues are too thin and painful for intercourse and/or her vaginal muscles have tightened so much that penetration is impossible. Fortunately, both conditions are reversible—but why risk it?
Orgasms are GREAT for our health (and they feel really good!):
· Studies show that orgasms at bedtime can help prevent sleep problems as we are more relaxed after experiencing orgasm;
· High levels of sex hormones can reduce the risk of heart disease in men and middle-aged women;
· Masturbation reduces the risk of mild to moderate depression through the release of beta endorphins;
· Masturbation improves immune system functioning;
· Orgasms help maintain overall pelvic floor health;
· For a time, orgasms allow us to lose ourselves in the sublime pleasure of total release.
If you currently do not masturbate, I encourage you to consider why you are passing on
a safe, effective and positive form of sexual expression. If you have shame around masturbation, I encourage you to examine the messaging you received around masturbation when you were younger and as you developed—and ask if—as an adult—you can discard these messages and reclaim this form of sexual expression on your own terms.