I’ve been masturbating for a really long time. The rub is (see what I did there?) that it wasn’t until my forties that I was comfortable with masturbating and realized it was a huge form of self care.
I specifically remember being at a college party my senior year sitting around with my girlfriends. Our box of wine was almost gone and somehow the subject of masturbation came up. I raised my hand first and had no qualms about admitting to masturbating once in a while, but I’d never touched myself with my hands. I always used a tool — even though vibrators were a lot harder to come by in the early ‘90s and women our age improvised.
However, everyone else in the room said they’d never done it, and I just continued to sip my cheap White Zinfandel in the corner.
I’d always felt bad about masturbating. I felt dirty and self-serving as a teenager and young woman when I did it. After I was done, just thinking about it made me hang my head and blush. I’d leave it as a last resort, and instead of taking my sexual feelings as a cue to explore, I’d either deny myself or do a half-ass job just to find some relief.
Let’s face it, there hasn’t been enough conversations or information about the benefits of masturbation for people with a vagina. It’s been all about Big Dick Energy for so long, we’ve been left to take matters into our own hands and learn as we go. Thankfully for the clitorises of the world, that is changing — because we are realizing how amazing masturbation is and how good it is for us.
However, if you feel weird about it, that’s totally normal. My masturbation journey went from rubbing against something with my pants on to being full-blown naked and pleasing myself with my hands starting with my nipples. If you haven’t felt yourself up, I can’t recommend it enough. My self-esteem in the bedroom skyrocketed after I began taking care of myself in this way.
If you are still hesitant, remember this: there’s no other rejection like denying your own body. There’s no right or wrong way to pleasure yourself, and if you want to get yours and you are available to do the job (and let’s face it, you will do a better job than anyone else), why wouldn’t you?
Also, there’s no reason to do an okay job on yourself. I don’t know what I was thinking when I rushed through it to get it over with. Especially those years when I lived alone, had my apartment to myself, and was stocked up with candles and had nice lingerie.
The point I’m trying to make is masturbation needs to be included in our self care routine. It’s incredibly empowering; how can we expect anyone else to please us sexually if we aren’t sure what turns us on the most? Masturbation is the gateway to learning how to have an explosive orgasm. Who doesn’t want that?
It doesn’t matter if you are partnered or single. If you are feeling titillated and you won’t be seeing your partner in time, that doesn’t mean you have to save your juices for them. In fact, the more I masturbate and explore myself, the more I feel sexual when I do see my partner. It’s like keeping a slow-burning fire stoked, if you will.
Not to mention there are health benefits to orgasms. For one, they can actually help your skin and slow down the aging process. A study conducted by the University of Michigan reports orgasms raise your estrogen levels. That’s great for your moods and for your skin, as estrogen is a key hormone that keeps your skin young and glowy.
Having an orgasm is also a great stress reliever and can make you feel happier since having a big “O” releases oxytocin (also called the “feel good” hormone). Orgasms can also help with sleep and can relieve a headache or menstrual cramps. We exercise and nourish our bodies with food to keep it healthy, but masturbation is an element that’s all too often left out — of public discussion about self care, at the very least.
A great way to get started on your masturbation-as-self-care journey if you want to start but aren’t sure where to begin is to carve out sometime for yourself, even if it’s in the shower, and try to relax and begin exploring your body gently and slowly. Make sure to remind yourself how nourishing this is for you and what a great way it can be to take care of yourself.
Believe me, it won’t be long until you can’t get enough of yourself and you will feel more confident and empowered.
Women and people with vaginas have been taught to please their partners and show them love and affection. But it’s time to turn the focus on ourselves and realize if we can show that level of care to another person, we should be showing it to ourselves, too.