Rediscovering and embracing your sexuality through self-exploration and masturbation
CW: This article explores topics of sex, sexuality, masturbation, gender and sexual manipulation/abuse
Anna Shvets | @pexels
Breaking the Stigma
As we come into Pride month, the month of masturbation has come to a close. However, that doesn't mean that we no longer participate in, or talk about the subject. Solo play has been a taboo subject for many years. Within recent years in progressive society this stigma is beginning to break but still carries with it the connotations of the past. Masturbation is rarely considered an appropriate conversation topic and is regarded as something that takes place behind closed doors. The stigma roots itself in the assumption that solo play is lesser to partnered or group sexual experiences. This is not the truth at all and some people even prefer to 'go it alone': referred to by Nico Lang for Salon as "solosexual". This is not to say that solosexuals do not engage in intercourse, just that they described some of the best sex of their lives as a solo experience. This is not surprising when you consider the many benefits gained from masturbation. "Masturbation can have pain-relieving benefits because orgasming releases dopamine, serotonin, and oxytocin, the bodies feel-good hormones and neurotransmitters, into the body," Shweta Pai, M.D. When considering this further, why is there such ideation of masturbation as a second-best alternative for lonely people?
Within this piece we'll discuss the benefits of self-exploration and how it's completely shameless to get to know yourself better.
Benefits of Masturbation
Masturbation can promote better sleep and make you feel more energised, as well as a multitude of other benefits such as clearer skin, stress relief and a reduction of cancer likelihood. With all of these benefits it is difficult to comprehend why it is not talked about more. The main benefit we are tackling here is the use of solo play to inform yourself of your own sexual needs and desires. Through self-exploration we can learn what kinds of pressure, touches and stimulations are effective to achieve pleasure. The reason practical exploration is so important is that all bodies and nervous systems are different, therefore everyone's experience of pleasure is different also. This practice of getting acquainted with our personal sexual anatomy can begin with vulnerability and nerves; sex is just about as personal as it gets so of course the journey will be a personal one too.
Upon reflection, it has been reported that after a while of regular masturbation many people saw an increase in their confidence, libido, and general happiness. Self-exploration allows you to try whatever you like for as long as you like (within safety limitations of course), and bears no risk of pregnancy or STI's. This also opens up possibilities of pleasure within partnered sex should you wish to engage in that. Mutual masturbation is a fun and pleasurable way to be intimate with a partner without direct contact. This makes it a perfect option for those with limited mobility, survivors of sexual trauma, and those who just prefer to pleasure themselves; the aforementioned solosexuals.
How does engaging with personal sexuality relate to the LGBTQ+ community?
Masturbation provides a sexual release to those members of the community who do not wish to engage in sexual relationships with others. For example, many asexual people will masturbate, but have no desire to experience those feelings with another person. This also applies to those who are demisexual and of other sexual orientations where sexual connection with a person is not immediate or even a considered component. Enjoying solo pleasure is open to all and is not something to feel guilt or shame about. These feelings of shame within yourself can influence your sexual experiences with other people. Therefore, allowing yourself to explore your own body will help you feel more confident and comfortable when engaging with another person if you wish to as exploring will grant you the ability to advocate for and honour your body.
Unfortunately there are times when masturbation can cause distress. For those who identify differently than the gender they were assigned at birth, being involved with your anatomy on such a personal level can cause feelings of dysphoria. Thankfully, due to the rise of this conversation, sex toy companies are beginning to develop products that allow those with differing anatomy to experience masturbation in the same way as the genitalia they desire.
To Wank or Not to Wank? That is the Question...
On the whole masturbation provides a plethora of exciting benefits that provide relaxation and confidence to participants. However, it is important to remember, as with all sexual acts, that masturbation must be consensual. This article in no way intends to shame or shun anyone who would prefer not to engage in solo play but rather to encourage those who already do, or would like to, to do so freely. There are no limitations and no downsides to choosing to or not to engage. There are also no rules when it comes to masturbation. As long as everyone involved is consenting and involved by choice, there is no right or wrong way to masturbate!
So go forth, embrace your new-found sexuality and do so with a glowing confidence you may just find was triggered by your personal escapades.