From the classroom to the retirement home, masturbation is more often a joke than a genuine discussion topic. But there are good reasons to take your solo sessions seriously!
Because whether you do it purely for pleasure, relief, or for health benefits, masturbation can be the best tool you have for improving your partnered sex life.
Of course, there are a lot of myths about the effects of masturbation, which you’ve probably heard of at some point. You might even be wondering, is masturbation harmful? And if you don’t masturbate at all, you might be wondering what all the fuss is about.
Don’t worry, we’re going to explain everything. From the amazing benefits of masturbation to some of the risks we should be aware of, and how to get the most out of your solo (and partnered) pleasure. So, let’s dive in.
Why masturbate at all?
The most common reason any of us masturbate is for pleasure. After all, it feels pretty good, right?
And when we masturbate to orgasm, we release endorphins which make us feel even better.
But the common misconception is that pleasure is the only reason to masturbate. And this could not be further from the truth.
One of the reasons we call masturbation “solo sex” at Lover is because it is part of sex - whether your partner is present or not. We believe that seeing it as something separate from partnered sex is unhelpful and potentially unhealthy.
Especially when you consider that solo sex can be used to enhance partnered sex. That’s right. Struggling to reach climax with your partner? Masturbation can help with that. Reaching climax too quickly with your partner? Masturbation can help with that too. Struggling with your erections or your desire? Yup, solo sex can fix that too.
For instance, experimenting with something new like toys, anal play, or new styles of sex can be done solo before trying it with a partner. Solo sex can be a place of exploration, expression, pleasure, connection with yourself, and relaxation.
Solo sex is also a place to discover fantasies. You can decide whether these fantasies are meant for just you, or if you want to bring them to life with a partner (or partners!). Whether or not you want to enact your fantasies in real life or not, having a space to explore is important
Will masturbating make me have problems during sex?
You’ve probably heard myths like “Masturbation can make you blind” or “masturbation is a sin”. Well, Lover is here to tell you, none of these myths are true.
The medical field is united - everyone from sex therapists and psychologists to doctors and urologists will recommend healthy amounts of masturbation for everyone.
Masturbation guidelines for women (or people with vulvas)
For people with vulvas, masturbation is one of the best ways to improve your sex life, and honestly, you can’t really do too much of it. So don’t hold back - even daily masturbation isn’t going to be problematic.
The only risk is using the same toy, in the same way, each time - particularly if this is a “powerful” toy. This can narrow your route to pleasure and orgasm, meaning it can be hard to replicate with a partner.
But the opposite is also true, so try to get creative and switch things up during solo sex. Because learning new routes to pleasure and orgasm by yourself, will open up all kinds of new routes to pleasure during partnered sex.
Masturbation guidelines for men (or people with penises)
For people with penises, the guidelines for healthy masturbation are a little different.
First and foremost, if you aren’t currently experiencing any problems with your erections, ejaculation, or sex drive, then there is no need to change anything about your approach to masturbation. Everyone is different and if what you’re doing is working, then carry on!
However keep in mind that for many men over the age of 25, daily masturbation can be problematic for their erections, their ejaculations, or their sex drive. So if you are masturbating this frequently and you’re experiencing any of these issues, it might be time to slow down.
Most Doctors and sex therapists suggest limiting masturbation to orgasm to once every 48-72 hours for men over the age of 25.
And if you’re using porn to masturbate, try to limit your usage to 30 minutes a week or less. Keep in mind this isn’t an exact number - if you don’t see improvements after a couple of weeks, consider reducing your usage further.
If you want to try something similar to porn but without some of the side effects try Audio Erotica.
Alongside decreasing your frequency, it's important to change things up! Switching up solo sex positions is incredibly important for transitioning your pleasure to partnered sexual intimacy.
How to deal with shame during (or after) masturbation
Some of us have been brought up in an environment which actively creates shame around masturbation. This might have been to do with religion, culture, or perceived gender roles.
For others, the shame around masturbation might not have been as explicit, but could still be there. After all, even the unspoken message of “don’t get caught” which many of us will remember from our upbringing, creates an underlying sense of shame around solo sex.
The reality is that whatever your upbringing, you’re likely to have some element of shame attached to the act of masturbation. Rather than trying to suppress these feelings, or allowing them to make you feel bad - try to create a detachment from them.
Allow them to come up - either before, during, or after masturbation - and try to ‘notice’ them, rather than become involved in them. Perhaps take a moment to try and understand them. Ask yourself where that feeling of shame might have started. Or simply acknowledge the feeling, knowing that there is really no need to feel shame around masturbation, before letting it pass.
The more you’re able to build your awareness of - and detachment from - these feelings, the less they’ll be able to derail your pleasure and enjoyment of masturbation. If you’d like to learn more about this, check out our Shame Around Sexual Turn-ons activity in the Lover app.
The benefits of masturbation
At Lover, we believe masturbation is one of the most important elements of a healthy sex life, relationship, and wider well-being.
Put simply - the more you can learn about yourself during masturbation, the better prepared you’re going to be to enjoy partnered sex (and create more pleasure for your partner too).
We’ll go into some of the specific benefits for women and men below, but first - here are some of the ways masturbation will benefit anyone, regardless of sex or gender:
Reaching orgasm, no matter if you’re solo or partnered, male or female, releases endorphins into your body, which helps improve your mood and mental health
Regular masturbation has also been linked to improvements in immunity and even cancer prevention, although further studies are needed to prove these links
For both men and women, engaging in any form of sexual activity (including solo sex) can boost libido in the long run
Benefits of masturbation for women (or people with vulvas)
For women (or people with vulvas), the single biggest benefit of masturbation is giving yourself the space (and time) to learn your routes to pleasure and orgasm. Because the more ways you’re able to bring yourself to climax, the more ways you’re going to be able to enjoy sex with your partner (and guide them better too!).
Taking the time to explore your own body and pleasure centers is a core building block of great sex. And variety is the name of the game here. So experiment! With different toys, sensations, lubes, oils, speeds, and scents. Change things up and try to build a map of your pleasure routes (rather than just one road to orgasm).
Women are also able to kick-start their libido through masturbation. In fact, engaging in regular solo sex is the single most effective way to build and maintain a healthy sex drive. And ladies, it really is a case of the more the better. Daily masturbation is a good thing! So don’t hold back.
And it can also help your self-image and mental health! A 2011 study found that “Among women, masturbation in childhood and adolescence has been associated with positive sexual experiences later in life and a healthy self-image.”
Benefits of masturbation for men (or people with penises)
For guys, or people with penises, the benefits of masturbation are slightly different - but some of the overall guidelines are the same.
So variety is still the most important element of a healthy masturbation routine. Whether you’re looking to improve your sex drive, your erections or your time to ejaculate, teaching your body to experience pleasure in a variety of different ways and with a variety of different stimuli is the most important thing you can do.
If you’re able to switch things up - to change positions, vary the kind of porn you’re watching, try different lubes, and more than anything, vary the speed of your masturbation - you’re going to create benefits in pretty much all areas of your sex life.
And if you want to go pro? Start paying attention to your level of arousal when you masturbate. Which means, don’t go straight for the orgasm. Build awareness of where you are on your arousal scale, and play around with this.
Doing so will connect your mind and your body, giving you greater control and pleasure in the bedroom.
If you’d like to learn more about how masturbation can improve your sex life and your overall well-being, why not try the Lover app? With Doctor built courses and guided exercises to follow, 87% of people report improvements in their sex life within two weeks. Start your 3-day free trial here.