How to Masturbate: Best Ways, Techniques, Sex Toys For Masturbating - Rolling Stone
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Jerk From Home: How Masturbating While Quarantined Can Help Seed Self-Love

With May being “Masturbation Month,” there’s never been a better time to get your hands wet

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Somehow, somewhere, someone has decided that May is “Masturbation Month,” and if you think about it, there’s never been a better time to explore a little self-stimulation, now that we’re self-isolating.

According to MasturbationMonth.com, this now-annual celebration of personal touch started in 1995 to rally around then-U.S. Surgeon General Joycelyn Elders, who was forced to resign after promoting masturbation as an alternative to risky sexual behaviors in a speech before the UN.

Masturbation Month is now a chance for both brands and wellness experts to increase awareness around self-pleasure, both in terms of products to use, and the benefits of masturbating. According to them, the taboos of touching yourself are no longer valid, with both new research and anecdotal evidence suggesting that regular masturbation can actually help ease stress, boost energy levels and increase feelings of self-worth and self-confidence.

Here, four sexual wellness experts tell Rolling Stone about the benefits of masturbation, the best ways to do it and why being quarantined is the best time to lend yourself a helping hand.

Why do you think people still feel so taboo talking about masturbation?

Daniel Saynt, Founder and “Chief Conspirator” of The New Society for Wellness (NSFW), a private members Open Love club for the adventurous: A lot of it is just left over shame from our upbringing. If you grew up religiously, there was probably very little talk about masturbation as a healthy, life-benefiting activity. For myself, I grew up as a Jehovah’s Witness, so masturbation, as well as just having impure thoughts, were big no-nos.

In relationships, masturbation can cause rifts with one partner feeling [like] they may not be satisfying another enough. There’s fear of someone losing interest because they don’t need you for pleasure. Or there may be judgements on the type of pornography you watch to get off, which brings more shame and judgement. Honestly, it’s taboo because so many have been conditioned to think it’s wrong, when in truth, it is a very important part of your sexual wellness routine.

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Courtney Kocak, Co-founder and Co-Host of Private Parts Unknown, a podcast exploring love and sexuality around the world: I honestly don’t know what makes masturbation taboo. Doesn’t everything come back to religion in America? You learn when you’re young that it’s wrong and sometimes learning that lesson scars you until you can undo that programming. I distinctly remember being scolded for rubbing my vagina against my desk in fifth grade — by a teacher who went to my church, coincidentally — and fair enough, I shouldn’t have been doing that in class, but the shame of being reprimanded for that stayed with me for a long time. And I didn’t masturbate as much as I would have liked to in my teens and 20s partly because of that moment. Thank god I eventually became horny enough to undo that trauma.

Sofiya Alexandra, Co-founder and Co-Host of Private Parts Unknown: Masturbation is one of the very first truly private sexual experiences we have, and our society has a history of shaming people for being “caught” masturbating. Someone catching you being your most vulnerable can scar you for the future: I was shamed by my kindergarten teacher for getting caught playing doctor, and I never talked about it. I was so embarrassed, I thought I would die if anyone found out.

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Kiana Reeves, Somatic Sex Educator and Chief Education Officer at intimacy and wellness brand, Foria: Sex is one of the subjects that sits in the seat of the subconscious, with complex social inputs influencing how we relate to our own bodies and sexuality. Children are inherently curious, and many parents don’t know how to respond when they see their child touching themselves, as they naturally do. We take those responses in, sometimes getting the message that it is wrong or dirty to touch our own genitals. This type of shame is insidious and, even when “taboos” are no longer taboos, the shame can linger.

The childhood experiences we have, paired with the fact that we have a long history of little to no sex education in our schools (certainly no pleasure education), with the addition a lot of religious dogma about sex impacting multiple-generations of people and how we relate to this topic.. you can see why talking about masturbation can still be a hotpot of discomfort for people.

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What are some myths and misconceptions people have about masturbating?

Saynt: There’s the idea that someone who masturbates too much is a slut or potentially promiscuous. This type of judgement normally forms in middle school or even high school as kids begin sharing details connected to their sexual discovery.

Alexandra: I think a common misconception is that if you masturbate, that means you’re not having sex with your partner, or vice-versa. Sure, for some folks with a lower sex drive, they might only have it in them for one or the other, but I find that keeping yourself sexually buzzing actually helps your sex life with your partner. Being turned on by your own body is key to having a healthy sexual relationship with someone else.

Reeves: There is a myth that masturbating with a vibrator, especially for anyone with a vulva, can de-sensitize your clitoris — this is not true. I do recommend using vibes and hands and other tools in combination — that way your body learns to respond to multiple different sensory inputs. Another misconception is that masturbation has to lead to orgasm. I would invite anyone to look at masturbation as an exploration of pleasure as opposed to a goal-oriented experience. Once you start to explore masturbation with curiosity instead of as a goal, a whole new world of pleasure can open up to you.

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Kocak: That it will make you go blind! Do people still say that? I hope not, because it certainly isn’t true or I would not be able to see right now. I think oftentimes masturbation has dirty connotations or it means you’re pathetic and lonely or you can’t find anyone to have sex with you, and honestly all of those misconceptions make me sad.

Why is masturbating a healthy thing? How can it improve or enhance our daily lives?

Saynt: Masturbation releases dopamine and oxytocin, two feel-good brain chemicals connected to pleasure, stress release and lowering feelings of depression. Having a regular masturbation schedule can also decrease the possibility of prostate cancer among men. Masturbation has been connected to hormonal balance in women, helping better moderate mood. The most important aspect is that it increases blood flow, helping keep your arteries and heart pumping and healthy.

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Reeves: Touching ourselves in a loving and pleasurable way can be incredibly comforting, healing, and enjoyable. Learning what makes your body feel good can help you communicate that better with a partner; it can encourage a more positive relationship with how our bodies look and feel. And on top of it, there are studies measuring the benefits of masturbation and orgasm to support sleep, stress, mood, and a general sense of wellbeing. Masturbation is a free, totally available, non-commodified access point to the wisdom of your body.

What tips do you have for people who want to experience a better masturbation experience?

Kocak: I am not very picky about the logistics of my jerking off. Pretty much anytime is good, but I prefer not having to be sneaky. So if I’m not explicitly masturbating with my partner, I want to have the whole house to myself so I don’t have to be quiet or run my vibe on a low setting.

Saynt: It varies for everyone, so it’s really about finding the moments that are right for you. Right before bed tends to be a winner for most, as the release of hormones helps ease you to sleep. Getting rid of the stresses of your day before bed just helps you have a more peaceful sleep. For accessories, there’s an insane amount of toys on the market. For men, get over the stigma, shame and judgement, and play with your prostate. Stimulating this correctly will bring so much self pleasure. Also, invest in a good masturbation sleeve.

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Alexandra: I’m not always romantic with myself when I masturbate since I do it so often, and that’s one nice thing about having sex with yourself — you don’t have to be. However, once a week I like to take a nice bath with a bath bomb or nice-smelling bubbles, some wine or a joint, get out when I’m feeling melty, pop on a little porn or my favorite erotic story, and really take my time. It’s an extra treat for surviving another week.

Kocak: There’s a strong masturbation preference that I’ve developed, for better or worse: I love to play with my vibrator on high. It’s made my fingers slightly less alluring, but oh my god, I don’t know how you can compete with a machine on that level. I usually come in a minute, tops. If I’m on a masturbation binge, I’ll eventually run out of juice on my Doc Johnson iVibe, and then I rotate through the rest of my sex toy drawer until I’m totally spent.

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Best place to masturbate?

Saynt: I’ve had some fun challenges with friends in which we find odd places to masturbate and show off to one another: bathrooms, airplanes, in dressing rooms. It’s a naughty escape and fun to challenge each other.

Alexandra: Sorry to be boring, but you can’t beat a bed. I’m no longer sleeping with skateboarders, so I don’t need to have sex on the floor.

What advice do you have for people who may be sexually frustrated during quarantine since they can’t physically be with another person?

Saynt: Try an app-enabled sex toy, one which can be controlled with an app like the ones from Lovense. Find your sharable link in the app and then jump on Tinder, Feeld or Scruff. Find three possible people who really turn you on and send them a message telling them you have a toy in place and you want to know if they’d like to please you. To keep it consensual, you can ask the person beforehand if they’d like to play a game and then make the request. The game comes into figuring out who’s controlling your toy and responding to the right person who’s in control of your pleasure. I call it “Pleasure Fishing.”

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Reeves: Sexting, phone sex, writing erotica, reading erotica! There are so many ways to dive into the erotic exploration of the self and really nurture that connection with our own sensuality and sexual expression. At the end of the day, whether we are partnered or not, we are responsible for our own pleasure, and the more we have a relationship with that ourselves, the better it will be with a partner.

Alexandra: You never have to be sexually frustrated if you’ve got yourself; that’s the beauty of masturbation. In fact, you don’t have to worry about pleasing anyone other than yourself, so use this weird pandemic as the perfect time to focus on your own pleasure and excitement. Look into some new fantasies, order new toys, see if you can make masturbation as much of a joy as I imagine seeing people again will be. We’re all dealing with quarantine horniness, but you don’t have to stay horny. Get your hands wet, now is the time.

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Kocak: You can be your own best sexual partner, I promise you. The last time I was single, I had the most epic sex life, no fuckboys required (though, of course, a few always snuck through). I let myself truly explore my body without the shame and stigma I’d been carrying around for so long.

It was incredibly expansive and felt so impactful to break down those barriers, that I think some of that liberation trickled out beyond my sex life. That means masturbation can literally change your life — that’s a very strong endorsement! My advice to folks is get on the internet, use a lil piece of your stimulus money (if you can) to buy yourself your dream vibe, or “pocket pussy” for the fellas, and then get to work getting to know what gets you off. You’ll probably learn a thing or two that you can carry on into your next relationship when this pandemic insanity is over.

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Alexandra: There’s nothing as powerful as being in charge of your own pleasure, and masturbation is the easiest way to explore what you like, so even if you had a rough go of it as a teenager, you’ve got to try it again.

Reeves: The best tips I have are to follow what makes you feel good and slow down. Try to stay away from habits; we generally continue masturbating the same way our whole lives, which is in the same position at the same speed. So try to re-arrange yourself to start creating new ways of experiencing your body, like trying a new position or place in your house, with a different toy or lube, with visual stimulation and without, and most importantly with different types of touch. Changing our habitual behaviors really sets the stage for expanding our capacity to experience pleasure.

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