Self-pleasuring is the art of giving oneself sensual and erotic pleasure. It is used here in place of its synonym, masturbation. For many people, the term masturbation has a negative connotation, since it has long been a highly stigmatized activity in many cultures. For others, the term masturbation sounds too clinical. It may sound like something you do to merely release sexual tension. The term self-pleasuring, on the other hand, is broader, implying sensual as well as sexual enjoyment. Many people have come up with their own, often humorous, idioms for masturbation, from “spanking the monkey” or “choking the chicken” to “airing the orchid” or “teasing the kitty.” You may have your own unique expression for it. No matter what you call it, it is your birthright and there are many benefits to making it a practice in your life.
In the 1950s, Alfred Kinsey's studies on human sexual behavior showed that masturbation was a normal sexual behavior that most men and many women participate in regularly. Subsequent pioneers such as Lonnie Barbach, Betty Dodson, and Joseph Kramer have helped take masturbation, self-loving, and orgasms to a whole new level through books, videos, workshops, and individual coaching. Their work has been crucial in bringing sexual awareness and healing to the forefront of today's culture.
To some, the answer to this question may seem obvious, but there are actually many reasons that people self-pleasure. It is a worthwhile activity not only for the sake of achieving orgasm, although that may be the most common reason. The following are just a few of the reasons you may choose to engage in the act of self-pleasuring.
• Perhaps for you, self-pleasuring is a way to relieve sexual tension. You may feel a sexual tension building inside you that needs periodic release. This may be simply a byproduct of your body's natural sex drive. Accumulated sexual tension might also be a result of exposure to something you find sexually stimulating, an image or an interaction with someone who turns you on. Self-pleasuring for this reason is about following an internal impulse.
• You may not experience the build-up of erotic energy on its own, but you may want to feel more sexual pleasure in your body. You may self-pleasure as a way to build arousal and enjoy more pleasurable erotic sensations. In this case, you may or may not choose to complete your self-pleasuring with an orgasm.
• You may self-pleasure as a way to help you relax or sleep better. Orgasm can have a highly sedative effect on the body. It is often used as a sleep aid. It is much healthier than using pharmaceutical medications and much more enjoyable than counting sheep.
• Self-pleasuring can help you learn about your sexuality. It's a great way to experiment and figure out what works for you. If you have difficulty with early ejaculation, you can work on prolonging arousal through masturbation. If you have difficulty with orgasm, you can experiment with different sequences and intensities of stimulation, or with different fantasy scenarios. Self-pleasuring can help you discover what your sexual needs are so that you can communicate those needs in sexual encounters with others.
• Self-pleasuring offers you autonomy over your sexuality. You are less dependent upon others when you know you can take matters into your own hands. Self-pleasuring allows you to stay sexually active when you don't have a lover or when your lover is unavailable. If you have a lover who has a less frequent interest in sex than you, masturbation can help reduce potential power struggles over how often you have sex.
• Finally, self-pleasuring can give you energy, make you feel sexy and beautiful, and make you appreciate and love your body more. It can be a way to honor and love and worship yourself, body and soul.
Many people feel guilty when they masturbate. This unfortunate phenomenon is usually the result of the sex-negative messages espoused by religious or other cultural influences. Serious masturbation guilt sometimes has devastating psychological consequences, including suicide. In particular, young men with strong natural biological urges may become distraught and psychologically conflicted if they are taught that masturbation is shameful.
The Biblical story of Onan is often cited as proof that masturbation is a sin. Onan was supposed to impregnate his dead brother's wife, as was the law in those times. He chose, however, to “spill his seed” instead. This was considered evil, and therefore God took Onan's life.
Bad for Your Health?
There are many myths about masturbation being bad for your health. In the Victorian era, the medical profession joined forces with the moralists of the day, condemning masturbation as an activity to be feared. It was believed to be detrimental to one's physical and mental health, capable of causing a plethora of problems in the young and old. A variety of methods, many of which were quite absurd and even torturous, were invented at this time to prevent children and adults from masturbating. No wonder people today still have a hard time admitting that they masturbate!
In ancient times, it was believed that a man had only a limited supply of sperm. This sperm was considered to contain a man's life force. Therefore, masturbation was thought to deplete his life force and was therefore not considered to be a healthy activity. Even today, some Taoist practices that are becoming popular in the West train men to orgasm without ejaculation, so as not to deplete their life force. While there is nothing wrong with learning this practice, there is no medical evidence that semen contains a man's life force. Even though modern science and medicine know better, there are still people who believe masturbation to be harmful to their health.
Good for Your Health!
Contrary to the myths, modern science and medicine find that masturbation is actually good for your health for many reasons. For starters, masturbation is the safest sex you can have. You need not worry about catching any colds or diseases from yourself. Self-pleasuring helps relieve tension and stress in the whole body. This can positively affect the immune system. Masturbation can help to alleviate menstrual cramps in women. It can take away headaches and it helps keep the muscles of the pelvic floor toned, which can help prevent urinary incontinence as you age. All these benefits come with no proven negative side effects.
A recent medical study concluded that frequent masturbation actually reduces the risk of prostate cancer in men. This is because cancer-causing chemicals may build up in the prostate when men do not ejaculate on a regular basis. Intercourse, however, does not have the same protective effect, due to the chances of contracting a sexually transmitted disease, which increases men's cancer risk.