This is an amateur and personal waffle on male and female masturbation. It is written from my (male) point of view. Partially the point of this essay is to dispel taboos, refute daft religious people who say that we shouldn't do it, and hopefully give whatever insight I can into the immense complexities of Human sexuality, as well as show that masturbation is harmless and most of all natural, occurring in many animal species.
Masturbation is natural, normal, completely safe and beautiful. It is a required release which Human beings find comforting and necessary for their emotional well being. Masturbation teaches us about our bodies and how we can feel pleasure. This is especially important for girls, as women's sexual organs are more complex. Lack of masturbation in women may cause an inability to orgasm1. Without this learning the communication required for good and pleasurable sex would be limited. Most people masturbate. Men and women. There are people who don't, but most do. Also, most species masturbate. Pets, cats, dogs, wild animals, fish... it's natural and normal across all of nature. It also confers health benefits and prevents certain types of cancer, especially prostate cancer2, 3. The New Scientist (2004) reported that "a large study by the National Cancer Institute in the US has found that frequent ejaculation - either through sexual intercourse, masturbation or nocturnal emissions - protects men against prostate cancer, backing the result of an Australian study reported by New Scientist last year (19 July)"2. Also, abstinence from sex for more than three days harms semen, as revealed by analysis of fertility treatment sperm donation centres4. There is clearly a health benefit to male masturbation, for both productive health and continued normal physical health.
It is a relaxant, provides pain relief (especially for women at certain times of the month, from headaches, stomach ache, vague lower back pain), allows you to learn about your own body, teaches you to be better at sex and control, it is free, safe and personal.
There are some religious groups who are heavily anti-masturbation. I'm not really going to say much else about this though! Anti-masturbation is anti-human and unnatural, and can cause psychological distortions.
"Many adults need re-education to free them of the taboos acquired in childhood" wrote Ellis & Abarbanel in 1961, almost anticipating the liberal decade to come. Thankfully in modern society sexual information is much freer and safely discussed, advanced medical research has showed us there are no risks of masturbation, no ill-health can result nor any mental imbalances. Instead we have learned the opposite; forced abstinence and taboos causes imbalance, oppression, subverted diversion of sexual energy into minor and major psychosis. I like to think this very human and simple page on the subject will help those with difficulties accepting masturbation in themselves or others.
When someone says they don't masturbate I seriously think that we should not make fun of them or tease them. If they are not ready to talk about it then adding pressure will not help. Tell them that you believe them, that you believe some people don't masturbate, but also make sure you are positive about masturbation and that you consider it a natural and acceptable part of ordinary human behaviour. This way they will feel more able to talk openly about it.
Female masturbation is a much bigger taboo than male masturbation. Males make many jokes about wanking (Note: American language doesn't use this word! Wanking=masturbate). but jokes and comments about female masturbation are generally considered bad taste! Hopefully more open communication about masturbation in general will make people more comfortable to talk about it without reliance on immature jokes.
Statistics in "The Encyclopaedia of Sexual Behaviour" by Drs Ellis and Abarbanel (1961) report only the admitted occurrence of masturbation, the actual rate is likely to be higher. People generally masturbate between once a week and twice a day. People (especially) males can masturbate within a minute, some women take an hour. People as young as 2 intentionally masturbate and people can do so until eighty plus, especially with modern health. "All evidence points to the fact that there is a higher percentage among males than among females"5. Although it is a stereotype I have found nothing to refute the idea that masturbation decreases slowly with age, but not significantly before middle age.
One telling difference highlights a psychological gap between the experiences of men and women. "Many males, projecting their own experience, are inclined to overestimate the incidences and frequencies of masturbation among females". Males are more consistent, with less deviation than females. With females "greater individual differences in frequency exist and the range of variation is much greater. Some girls report a frequency of masturbation as little as once or twice a year, while others may masturbate as many as ten to twenty times a week"6.
One author states that at its most basic level, to masturbate all you do it "rub your bits" in contrast to sex where you "rub your bits together". I will start with frottage masturbation before talking of normal full masturbation. The best and most frequent method is on a bed, with a duvet or pillow, etc, something very soft. By either laying on it or relaxing in the foetal position the person can, sometimes with very little movement, bring themselves to climax with slow rubbing. This can start off subconscious or half heartedly. When conscious, it can be done (male and female) by "sitting" on the corner of a bed or a chair. Notably there are big similarities between male and female masturbation. At some point during development many people find that this becomes insufficient to bring about orgasm and more direct stimulation is required.
Full masturbation is also surprisingly similar between the sexes. At its most basic: The person lays or sits, and touches their own genitals with their dominant hand, or sometimes using a soft and thin material. Towels, underwear, silk, etc. Males will hold their penis on the shaft and simulate the sensation of sex with their hand by moving it "up and down" until climax is reached. Which can be within a minute, or preferably longer if time and inclination permit. Males require very little in the way of mental imagery in order to climax and it can be a very automatic and stoic experience. In females masturbation of the clitoris leads to climax, only one in four women are capable of orgasm through penetration. Using a finger, the clitoris is stimulated in a similar way to how it may be by the male's pubic mound during missionary sex. Females also may press their own breasts and stimulate their own nipples. Some find this is necessary. In this females differ from males, whose nipples and chest is rarely sensitive enough to contribute to sexual emotion. Females are more affected by mental imagery during masturbation.
Some women have been surprised by how hard and rough a man is with his own penis shaft, and males are generally completely confused by how the most gentle touches can be the best ones for a females genitals. Communication is definitely the best way to find out what you are doing right/wrong and for learning how your partner likes to be touched... but this communication works best when you are well accustomed to your own body first, which is why masturbation is not only natural, but an important part of sexual maturity.
The other bits
Masturbation is greatly enhanced through the stimulation with the other hand. This is the perineum for males, and the first inch or third of the virginal passage for females. During masturbation females will sometimes like or need to insert a finger or some pressure on the vagina (not just massaging the opening). The first one third of the vaginal tunnel is sensitive to touch, the rest is sensitive to pressure. The left hand (or non-dominant hand) will sometimes do this. For males the procedure can be very similar indeed. The perineum is the area between the testicles and the anus, roughly the same area where the vagina would be if he was female. (indeed, during foetal development the tissue is the same). Males will sometimes lay with their other hand pressing on this area. All in all, the position (right hand "in front" and left hand "between") for standard male and female laying or sitting masturbation is almost exactly the same.
Male and female internal fantasy
A major difference between male and female (and this affects the differing attitudes towards porn) is that a female will in general fixate on a single image, a hero, be it their boyfriend, latest dream guy, etc, whereas a male is capable of simply imagining the idea of sex or just breasts as fleeting imagery, not even always associated with particular people. The imagery is less important for a male, much less personal. Which is perhaps why females and males do not communicate well when it comes to porn imagery... for the female, it seems like a bigger issue, more personal, whereas for the male it really is just objects, and unemotional. So, imagery that males and female imagine during masturbation can be seen to be different, but neither in a way that will harm relationships although because of the difference and the different feelings and words used by the sexes when discussing fantasies it can seem to one sex that they don't understand, and perhaps are inferior too, the fantasies of the other. But it isn't true... real life and the fantasy of sex are different enough to not interfere much with each other!
|In the shower, standing up|
Whilst sat at a PC looking at porn
In the bathroom at work
In their bedrooms
In the morning or after waking and before bed
|In the shower, using shower faucet|
In the bath
Laying in bed in the morning or before sleep
At work in the bathroom or whilst sat down
"The average single male reports it two or three times a week"5
"The average single woman reports masturbating from two or three times a month"5
Male masturbation is easier, quicker and smellier than female. As quick as a single minute, but if alone and with time many guys can masturbate for much longer (i.e., for an hour like women). This is more pleasurable. Female masturbation can be more discreet than male. Males require more pressure (testosterone make male's skin thicker and less sensitive than a woman's.) Males masturbation is easier.
Married and older men reduce their frequency, some stopping altogether. Older women masturbate more frequently than younger women, and the practice does not decline in marriage or because coital sex is more frequent (whereas frequent sex is something that largely stops males from masturbating). As a part of our natures, men and women respond different, sexually7.
Pacification - If sat around (i.e. at a computer) just reading or typing then a very light form of masturbation that I'm calling "Pacification" is noteworthy. Especially if relaxed and with some privacy this can be completely subconscious and done idly without thinking. Again, many people do not consider this masturbation at all. The method is to simple press or lightly touch ones sexual organs. Arousal isn't required, it can be simple pacification like a baby's dummy9.
Males will typically simply hold or lightly touch the bell of their penis, and females will lightly stimulate their clitoris and labia majora through their clothes or by squeezing their thighs. If not aroused to start off with this will lead to arousal, at which point the person (if not aware) will become conscious of it and either stop or proceed with the next "level" of masturbation that I called frottage, as above. A period of conscious or subconscious pacification masturbation that leads to full masturbation can allow the fastest orgasms of under a minute.
Auto-orgasm - This is the attainment of orgasm through fantasy alone. In the Eastern world, it is reported sometimes amongst women who have had their genitals mutilated in the cultural practice of female circumcision that occurs in some Muslim countries. This is done to reduce the female enjoyment of sex (they believe this reduces infidelity). A percentage of women who have so suffered, report that sometimes they have a spontaneous orgasm induced by fantasy alone10. In the Western world, where female circumcision is outlawed, it is associated with withdrawn females:
“In a 1981 report, Barber states that many women [who] spent much of their adult lives lost in a world of fantasy began to fantasize early in life. [...] As children they tended to have imaginary companions, and almost all of them believed their dolls and stuffed animals were actually alive. The majority of these women reported they sometimes had orgasms solely through sexual fantasy.”
"Understanding Human Behavior" by James V. McConnel (1986)11
There are painful ways to get things wrong! Some are obvious, some are not... and some of them are experiences you definitely never need to have!
Avoid getting scented soaps in contact with your genitals and inner bits. Toothpaste is very painful if it touches the wrong bits of your body. There exists genital soap, as our genitals more sensitive surfaces are actually a different pH to our skin, normal sensitive soap isn't any good. Women need to be careful when using dildo substitutes... and men need to be careful when masturbating using materials or any opening... in both cases, skin burns, friction burns, blisters and sore spots can sometimes not actually appear for a while but they'll be uncomfortable when they do. Never use anything that can break. All this sounds like common sense, and it should be!
It happens. Sometimes we are caught masturbating, and despite being liberal enough to read this page and self-secure enough to deny there's anything wrong with it, getting caught can be very embarrassing. It's a nightmare come true. We can be caught by our parents, our friends, housemates, school friends or lover. In the case of the latter, talking honestly about masturbation is an excellent idea because you both do it and if you talk about it, it becomes a non-issue.
But in the case of all the others the best course of action is not to deny it, and not to deny being embarrassed because both give people room to ridicule you... if you are honest and admit it, straight away, without hesitance and with pride then they will have no means to make fun of you. So... say, "Oh shit, you caught me masturbating, I'm sorry!, that's embarrassing!". The chances are if you can see past your own embarrassment, they themselves are also embarrassed simply for stumbling in on you. And if you are open and honest with them, they will respect you more. Confidence works well, even when it is faked! If you also are confident about this, it will hopefully inspire them to be confident if masturbation is an issue for them. You'll be setting a good (accidental) example.
As a kid, getting caught by your parents can be very scary. Not just embarrassing. So if you are a parent, console your kid and tell him it's ok to do it but you never want to see him do it again! This foreboding statement is required to make sure he is more careful in future! And because you really shouldn't want to see him do it too. For the record I was never caught... but it seems that most people have been at some point.
Guys need to be especially careful to clean up after themselves. The tell tale results of male orgasm are incontrovertible evidence that no-one likes to see! Later on I give hints on discretion.
Sometimes a whole suit of unpleasant emotions can come over you either during sex or masturbation. These include nausea, feeling suddenly and increasingly unwell, strange and painful sensations around your genitals... you immediately want to stop everything, retreat to be on your own and check that everything's ok. It can be worrying! The cause of this is frequently: Over-stimulation. For guys it can be caused by squeezing too hard on any part of the penis or balls, and for women it can be caused by too much direct stimulation of the clitoris.
For guys the way to avoid this is: Don't squeeze that hard, and never squeeze your balls. For women the answer is: Masturbate using a silky piece of material in between your hand and clitoris, don't masturbate for too long with direct contact. If you are doing mutual masturbation with a loved one, tell them "wait, it gets too sensitive" and they will happily comply. Oral masturbation can become over-sensitive too... this is that "fine line between pleasure and pain" that people talk about!
Males have less use for toys than females, as male masturbation is both more simple, easier and male genitals are more accessible and less complex. Most male masturbation toys are in the realm of fetish, which I'm not qualified to discuss and it is a subject that is too specialist to go into briefly. Female toys are based around either penetration and g-spot stimulation to clitoral stimulation, to some that attempt to do both at once. Dildonics is something where the female benefits immensely from the positive and caring understanding of a boyfriend, and open discussion and comforting reassurance by the male can help. Males get it easy: Manual stimulation is much easier. So if you are a boyfriend... drop hints that you'll happily buy her a toy, and that just because you do that doesn't mean she can't use it when you're not around! And let her know it's ok, that it's not an issue for you. The discussion makes it a non-issue once it comes out of the dark, and your relationship will experience added trust and comfort as a result.
OK. Infamous household female toys include anything that is appropriately shaped and safe, but also the washing machine on a spin cycle gets a look in. Of the books I list below, I think nearly all of them advise against actually having sex on a washing machine due to the uncomfortableness of it all... but on your own, for a female, all you need is a corner. Also I am biased, I witnessed one poor woman fall off the washing machine at orgasm, although she was ok they informed the rest of us (who were all pretending not to notice and trying not to laugh) that they weren't going to do that again. Rubber sheep and inflatables (for him and her) are fine too but definitely more time consuming to inflate than a real lover, and infinitely harder to explain to your parents and friends when they come round unexpectedly.
Safety and discretion... with toys, you must always keep them clean and washed. Oh... some couples can amass a stash of toys, so keep them in a locked place. If you have young relatives no-one likes to see underage people playing soldier using a rather phallic rock as part of their battlefield. It's best therefore to have a consistent place where you always put these toys so you don't lose track which cupboard your guests should never go in.
Female toys include: Dildos, for penetration. These may be ridged, thick, note that long isn't always better... than can be harder to use, more awkward and create less stimulation as a result. Some dildos will have a specific area or ridge designed to stimulate the g-spot. Most will have a small handle that prevents them being inserted too deeply. Take care. Vibrating dildos do just that. Clitoral vibrators are either battery powered or electric mains, but there isn't really much difference so battery powered is best because they're more versatile. You can buy clitoris vibrators disguised as lighters, lipsticks, combination toothbrush vibrators... the range is immense.
Sex with another person can sometimes need to be discrete. Actually, probably the discreteness required is directly proportional to the amount of people in the vicinity who you do not wish to let know that you're having sex. The same with masturbation. Masturbation is done in all places, at home, at work, outside, etc. The safest place is at home when no-one is around. But that doesn't count.
Male orgasm is infamously smelly and explosive and the clean up operation can sometimes involve quite an area. Female masturbation isn't quite so messy or smelly. For males, discretion can be assured by simply wearing a condom when masturbating (a 'posh wank'!), which saves mess but really, I don't know anyone who does this. If masturbating with a towel (and you know how to use the washing machine) then the mess (male or female) is easy to control. However if you don't know how to use a washing machine and all the towels (or underwear) are dark blue the tell tale signs will remain. This is normally how parents of children know that their child is going through the sexual stages of puberty.
I mentioned the male perineum earlier. This has another use. During masturbation, in the moments before climax, a male can use his other hand to press down hard on the perineum (it's difficult to press too hard, as long as it is applied gently and not suddenly) and this prevents ejaculation. Orgasm still occurs, and the testicles still eject their sperm, but the pressure closes the tubes that allow the flow to enter the penis, and prevents the actual mess. It is then disposed of by the lymphatic system and bloodstream. As far as discretion goes, this is a winner. Males can sit over the corner of a bed and use its pressure to hold this passage closed and to stimulate their perineum without even needing to use a hand.
Male masturbation can be done quietly and quickly in nearly any circumstances, and stress, anxiety, worries or lack of time is hardly ever a barrier. It can't be done in full public because the body/arm movements are normally too pronounced to facilitate discretion. Female masturbation, however, is different in this respect. Because the area of the clitoris that is stimulated is small (although the clitoris itself is much bigger, most of it is internal) and the massaging can be much more gentle, females are more capable of masturbation in more public places as long as they remain vocally quiet (which is more difficult for women than for men). Female masturbation can be done simply whilst sitting down with their hands on their laps, or with one hand holding shopping on their lap and the other under their shopping, or by sitting on a foot. Male masturbation, sitting, is sometimes done whilst sitting on a foot which is used to provide pressure to the perineum. A female can rock slightly on a foot in order to masturbate, although many will not masturbate to climax in public because the nervousness of the sense of loss of control prevents relaxation.
Mutual masturbation can be done with a partner in busy places such as nightclubs quite easily, and sometimes the atmosphere can be an aid. Sitting cuddled up it is normally easy for a couple to sexually comfort each other, and if the club loud enough they can speak into each other's ears, etc. Males can climax without the mess using the trick of perineum-pressure, and females can climax with little chance of being heard.
Just in case you're tempted, sneaking a clitoris vibrator into a nightclub or in public with the intention of surprising your girlfriend (or for solo) is a bad idea! Really, it is. You know full well what will happen, somehow you will drop your bag and it'll fall on to the floor. Then what do you do? Did anyone notice? Do you pick it up? Is it clean to use? It's just not worth it!
Most people do not stop masturbating when they're in a sexually satisfying relationship. Masturbation is frequently done for different reasons, with different feelings, to sex and therefore isn't replaced by sex. Some couples never dispel the taboo of masturbation and never openly discuss it and I think this is harmful.
I believe all couples should openly discuss masturbation including techniques, places they masturbate, times of day, etc.
Some couples are shocked or panic when they first discover their love masturbating. Simple communication and openness about the subject will avoid this! Without open discourse a lover can easily think that a person masturbates because they are not good enough. Let each other know that this isn't the case!
Every relationship is different, but I don't think it is right or natural for a person to ask his lover to stop masturbating. This will lead to secrecy, guilt and become a problem in the relationship. With openness comes more trust, less insecurity, more acceptance and happiness with each other's and your own bodies': I.e.... honestly about this leads to better sex! And perhaps the experience and openness will allow some new intimate forms of foreplay too.
Sigmund Freud and other psychoanalyists believe that masturbation is a "universal phenomenon in childhood" (Stekel, 1950). Kinsey (1953) "states that in the female sex .3 percent have masturbated to orgasm by the early age of 3. That rises to 8% by the age of 10. It seems male orgasm is less frequent at such a young age, but male masturbation is equal to female, at 13%, including non-climatic experiences".
"In the female sex masturbation is most frequently accomplished by some manual manipulation of the genitalia" and "the technique next in order of use is that of accomplishing rhythmic movements of the buttocks while the child lies face down, perhaps on a bed [or frequently] the genital organs may be rubbed or pressed against a blanket or some object, as a toy"12.
Apologies to those who don't often think, or don't like to think of child sexuality, but for some parents it is a worrying issue because they do not know if it is normal or not. It is. The Encyclopaedia of Human Sexuality, from which I am reading, concludes on childhood female masturbation by stating "these techniques of childhood masturbation are surprisingly similar to that found in adulthood" but notes reassuringly that vaginal insertion is rarely used by children.
Male masturbation "occurs, according to Kanner, most frequently 'in bed before going to sleep or after waking' and 'with some children, it becomes a regular routine upon retiring'"12.
Species that can masturbate do so! All humanoid lifeforms do it with their hands. Those that can will lick their genitals until orgasm, rub their antlers on the ground, large wild cats will gyrate themselves against tree trunks for pleasure & climaxes, some monkeys even construct particular tools, for example with leaves & twigs, specifically for the purpose of masturbation. Octopuses self-stimulate their own tentacles' sexual organs. The phenomenon is practiced across the natural kingdoms far and wide using a wondrous array of techniques.
“Masturbation also occurs widely among animals, both male and female. A variety of creative techniques are used, including genital stimulation using the hand or front paw (primates, Lions), foot (Vampire Bats, primates), flipper (Walruses), or tail (Savanna Baboons), sometimes accompanied by stimulation of the nipples (Rhesus Macaques, Bonobos); auto-fellating or licking, sucking and/or nuzzling by a male of his own penis (Common Chimpanzees, Savanna Bonobos, Vervet Monkeys, Squirrel Monkeys, Thinhorn Sheep, Bharal, Aovdad, Dwarf Cavies); stimulation of the penis by flipping or rubbing it against the belly or in its own sheath (White-tailed and Mule Deer, Zebras and Takhi); spontaneous ejaculations (Mountain Sheep, Warthogs, Spotted Hyenas); and stimulation of the genitals using inanimate objects (found in several primates and cetaceans).
Many birds masturbate by mounting and copulating with tufts of grass, leaves or mounds of earth, and some mammals such as primates and Dolphins also rub their genitals against the ground or other surfaces to stimulate themselves.
Masturbation in female mammals, as well as heterosexual and homosexual intercourse (especially in primates), often involves direct or indirect stimulation of the clitoris [...]. This organ is present in the females of all mammalian species and several other animal groups. [...]
Apes and Monkeys use a variety of objects to masturbate with and even deliberately create implements for sexual stimulation [...] often in highly creative ways.”
"Biological Exuberance: Animal Homosexuality and Natural Diversity"
Bruce Bagemihl (1999)13
Males and females are exposed to lots of soft porn during their lives, and sometimes seek out some porn for their own or mutual use. Private use of porn is only harmful to a relationship under certain conditions. By metaphor, know that even if one person always cooks food for the other in a relationship, that it is healthy for the other person to explore their own tastes and like in food independently, sometimes. By learning on their own, they learn how to appreciate the others' cooking even better and even to learn to ask for what they want to be cooked. Even talking about cooking becomes more worthwhile if both partners have played with it in their own time. Of course, in this metaphor, learning to cook with someone else would probably be cheating though!
Males use visual porn to masturbate; it is a simple pragmatic solution to a healthy male habit. To suppress such a strong impulse only invites dishonesty and secrecy. Understanding and communication are required in order for males and females to talk about their differing drives. Anything less, and a minor difference can turn into a serious problem in a relationship, as mistrust and closed doors breeds contempt and insecurity.
The recurring theme of this text: Masturbation is good and natural, and communication is the key in relationships. Suppressing masturbation is harmful and, to be honest, odd. Trust, in a relationship, will facilitate honesty... and honesty will cause trust... and both will enable a smoother, more long term and more open relationship than secrecy. All of these good things cause physical contact to be more relaxed, more special and more sensual than it is without deeper trust and better communication. Sometimes the male needs serious help in learning that such things can be talked about... in pop culture, it is simply not macho to be sensitive to such relationship and sensual issues... some guys need many hints or just to be told what to do, and told to tell his partner what they like and dislike too. Likewise, some females will never open up and talk about what you're doing wrong, and talking about masturbation is a perfect way to teach the other person about how you like to be touched. Masturbation is a sensitive topic that must be approached openly, calmly and the first stage of this is to let the other person know that it's ok.
OK... hopefully this mixture of practical hints, safety warnings, reassurance and relationship hints has perhaps been useful to you? Maybe even (there's always hope) such things improve communication between the sexes. And if everything completely fails and you can't bring yourself to even mention or bring up the subject... or your carefully orchestrated conversation only goes as far as "errr, hi, there's something I want to talk about... but I've forgotten what it is!" because you chicken out... then email this url (http://www.humantruth.info/masturbation.html) to your loved one and say, "hey read this, it's really cool!" as a sort of opener.
Biological Exuberance: Animal Homosexuality and Natural Diversity (1999). Hardback.
British Medical Journal. Tavistock Square, London, UK. http://www.bmj.com.
Why is Sex Fun? The Evolution of Human Sexuality (1998). 2001 reissue. Published by Phoenix, Orion Books Ltd, London, UK. J. Diamond is Professor of Physiology at the Medical School of the University of California, USA.
Ellis and Abarbanel (Drs)
The Encyclopaedia of Sexual Behaviour (1961). Published by Hawthorn Books Inc., New York, USA.
McConnel, James V.
Understanding Human Behavior (1986). Hardback 5th edition. Originally published 1974. CBS College Publishing, Holt Rinehart and Winston, New York, USA.