As You Desire: Taking Pleasure Into Your Own Hands

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Most everybody (speaking of you who will admit to it) is doing it, so why is it so difficult to talk about? Well, we’re talking now — about masturbation.

We do realize that sexuality exists from birth to death, right? There is no specific age which indicates the beginning or the end for our sexual lives. As soon as infants can reach, they touch their genitals with appreciation and fascination.  We see toddlers rocking and rubbing on their toys with a distant look in their eyes.  Teenagers spend countless hours in the shower or bathroom learning about their bodies.  Adults, whether in or out of relationships, are taking the time for self pleasure.  Elderly folks are looking for ways to gratify themselves even in the convalescent homes.  So why is this still an embarrassing topic?  Do you have difficulty discussing it?  Are you squirming right now?  More importantly, have you educated your children in a healthy, open way?  Do you and your partner discuss or share this experience?  Women are more likely to masturbate with their partner than a man is.  Why is this so?  Social boundaries?  Old myths you still believe?  Were you told that if you touched yourself sexually you’d go blind?

How do we handle it when our toddlers and school age children touch themselves in a sexual way?  Do we slap their hands away and tell them no?  Or do we allow them the space and privacy to enjoy the sensations?  Babies and children grow up and become adults.  And as adults we are a culmination of our childhood experiences.  Having a healthy, open attitude about sex isn’t something we develop ONCE we’re an adult.  It begins in infancy.  Think about that the next time you are faced with this.  If you live around little children, chances are you won’t have to wait long to assess your own sexual attitudes.

Most likely your teenager is preoccupied with sex.  I have to say that all the discussion and push for “abstinence” is a lot like the “just say no” club (which didn’t work, by the way).  Think about it.  In fact, try this.  For the next 2 minutes, I want you to try as hard as you can NOT TO THINK ABOUT CHOCOLATE ICE CREAM.  DO NOT THINK ABOUT HOW SWEET CHOCOLATE ICE CREAM WOULD TASTE.  DO NOT THINK ABOUT THE CREAMY ICE CREAM IN YOUR MOUTH.  STOP THINKING ABOUT ICE CREAM … ESPECIALLY CHOCOLATE ICE CREAM.  NOW, DON’T THINK ABOUT IT.  JUST SAY NO TO CHOCOLATE ICE CREAM!

How did you do?  Did you stop thinking about it?  NO!  You cannot possibly STOP thinking about something you are trying not to think about.  So telling kids to not think about sex, or to think about not having sex, or not doing drugs, is forcing them to think about it even more!  The best thing to do is to have open, frank discussions with them about their personal concerns, fears, pressures, goals, hopes, etc. and keep the communication open.  Statistics from 2009 (CDC Sexual Risk Behaviors) reveal that 46% of high school kids have had intercourse and more than 50% have engaged in oral sex.  Although the intercourse percentage has gone down a few percentage points since the early 90s, the oral sex has risen.  We are not going to prevent teenagers from being sexual.  No way, no how.  It’s in our wiring.  What we can do is to help them understand that masturbation is an important part of the sexual development.  By discussing openly and honestly, along with providing reliable educational resources, they will learn about their bodies, which will make their sexual experiences even better as they mature.  If they feel embarrassed or ashamed in any way, this will discourage them from self pleasure, which makes having someone else in the picture that much more tempting.

Do your or your partner masturbate on a regular basis?  Are you open about this or do you feel embarrassed and ashamed?  Where did your feelings and beliefs come from?  Do you believe that it’s natural and normal, even within a healthy, sexually fulfilling relationship?  These bodies we live in are a gift and a responsibility.  It’s our right and obligation to know everything possible about what makes it tick.  Taking time to understand your body’s needs and desires will only help your partner do the same.  If you are not comfortable with yourself, how can you be comfortable with someone else?  This is a beautiful gift to give your lover … knowledge about what pleases you and confidence in your sexuality.

And how do we handle aging parents and grandparents who are still horny?  Does this make us uncomfortable?  Are we able to handle it when they begin to express needs and desires?  When one parent passes on and the other is left alone, how do we handle a survivor’s dating? Or, more likely, “shacking up,” as my parents used to call it. It is not unusual for people well into their 90s to be sexually active, especially now with the medications that help maintain erections.  I worked in a convalescent hospital a long time ago and it was not unusual to find the healthier residents sneaking around at night sharing the bed of another resident.  Do we embrace this or condemn it?  Again, it’s good to look at your own values and question how well they fit your life now.  Be willing to ask yourself the tough questions: Does this belief work for me now?  It is really true?

All of these issues around making ourselves feel good need to be reviewed occasionally.  Make sure your thoughts and beliefs are your own and not coming from some antiquated statement your elderly aunt said when you were 5.  As adults, we get to pick and choose our beliefs based on current and real information that lends itself to a healthy, happy life.  Bottom line is that masturbation feels good, harms no one and makes your day a little brighter.  It’s your body … and I’d rather know you were driving yourself wild sexually than doing something to feel good at the expense of your health or another person.  We need to get over our inhibitions and teach our kids it’s ok … just take it to your room.

Intimately Yours,


For those of you who enjoy statistics, here are a few stats for you, which were cited from the Kinsey Institute for Research in Sex, Gender and Reproduction:

  • In the past month, 55% of all adult men and 31% of adult women have masturbated alone.  This is regardless of relationship status.  (Kinsey Institute 2002, NSSHB 2010)
  • Among undergraduate students, men reported masturbating an average of 12 times per month, while women reported an average of 4.7 times per month (Pinkerton, Bogart, Cecil, & Abramson, 2002).

Nancy Sutton Pierce RN, Health Educator is the Founding director of Nancy Sutton’s House of Yoga and Radio Talk Show Host on The Conscious Living Show LIVE every Saturday 11a-12noon on KCNR 1460am You can reach Nancy at with your comment or questions.

As You Desire is proudly sponsored by Body Logic MD; helping both men and women restore their libido and vitality through hormone therapy, fitness and nutrition counseling.

A News Cafe, founded in Shasta County by Redding, CA journalist Doni Greenberg, is the place for people craving local Northern California news, commentary, food, arts and entertainment. Views and opinions expressed here are not necessarily those of

Dr. Nancy Sutton Pierce
Dr. Nancy Sutton Pierce’s eclectic background places her expertise in a league of its own. The compilation of her career as an RN, health educator, intimacy author, radio talk show host, and yoga therapist all fuel her passion as an International speaker and clinical sexologist. Earning her Doctorate degree in human sexuality has broadened her reach around the globe teaching Conscious Living Sexuality™. When not traveling the globe inspiring others, Dr. Nancy enjoys her home life with the love of her life for more than 30 years. They’ve raised three children and now bask in what she refers to as “the dessert of parenting” -- being grandparents. Website. Contact Dr. Nancy
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23 Responses

  1. Avatar Sal Bender says:


    Please spare us from this woman. She has no credentials and must be embarrassing her family. If this is the direction your publication is headed–I'll be fine without it.

    What's with women in their 50's losing their way? Thank GOd my wife is able to think of someone other than herself.

    Yes, she's sexy and great in bed and self-assured and works for the greater good.

    But this whole mid-life crisis in public thing is making all of you look stupid.

    Sorry to have to say it here. Sal

    • Avatar PROUD FAMILY says:

      Dear Sal,

      Just so you know, as a member of Nancy's family, I have never been more PROUD of her!!!! I look to her for advice, inspiration, wisdom, and love. She is an amazing woman who you should feel honored to have sharing her views.

      You obviously feel threatened by strong sexy women. I feel sorry for you and your narrow mindedness.

      Just because you don't like her column, doesn't mean others are not benefiting from it. Don't criticize her because of your discomfort.



      • Avatar Cheryl says:

        You are very lucky to have such an open person in your life. I'm glad your proud of her. I have given my Daughter everything I have learned in my life so she can have more fun with her boby and Loved one.

    • Avatar gamerjohn says:

      It is not just mid life. That is the reason why your wife goes back to bed when you go to work and the kids are in school. The quiet hum of her Hitachi Magic Wand shows she is caring for her needs too.

    • Sal, Nancy's column isn't a direction for, but yet one more example of another category.

      We pride ourselves in offering a plethora of topics here on gardening, law, health, dog-training, entertainment, art, music, community events, news, cartoons, humor, opinion … to name a few.

      I actually searched for a columnist to write about sexuality on this site. Why? Well, because it's an important part of being alive, just as surely as eating and breathing. I don't think having a sex column on this site makes us look stupid. Quite the contrary. I think it makes us well-rounded and more educated. And maybe a little sexier. 🙂

      I'm proud to feature Nancy's column on It takes a lot of courage for her to tackle ticklish topics related to sex. But I think she does a great job of balancing sex-related information with a dose of humor and opinion – all with a medical perspective from Nancy's days as a registered nurse that's not overly clinical.

      Part of what I love about is that while everything we offer may not please everyone, we strive to provide something of interest to nearly everyone.

      But hey, if you're not interested in As You Desire, or if you're offended by it, then it's OK to skip it. Different strokes for different folks, right?

    • Avatar Gonealot says:

      Sal: Why do I have the feeling you fit in with the people hiding behind the barn denying everything that has anything to do with sex or the human body.

      Just remember that the puritanical view expressed by the Puritans was the same thing that gave us witch burnings and fuels the stoning of woman in the middle east. So lighten up dude. Shake it, but don't break it.

    • Nancy Sutton Pierce Nancy Sutton Pierce says:

      Dearest Sal,

      Please take a moment and read Lea's comment at the bottom of this page.

      With affection,


  2. Avatar Ed says:

    I'm doing my best to educate myself in order to keep up with these sexy women. The women are getting ahead of the curve.

    I don't want to be left behind!

    The more you know, the more you grow.


  3. Avatar Ginny says:

    Most life is about sex in one way or another. I never knew one had to be a graduate or have credentials to be able to have honest opinions!

    Sorry to hear some people are still backwards about discussing something that is normal and/or healthy. Nor that someone would stop reading something as good as A News Cafe.

  4. Avatar Mindy B says:

    I too can't stand a column written by someone without credentials. If you're talking about places to go on a date it's one thing, if you're giving advice to an individual(not this article), I think you should be more than a yoga teacher and retired nurse.

    I think there is a place for this column in anewscafe but I would be very careful when truly addressing the needs of real people who may need true expertise.

    I don't think you need to be an expert on masturbation to talk about it. Plus if it helps her generation who maybe didn't really talk about sex like the rest of us who are younger, it might help these older people know it's normal.

    I guess I agree with Sal too, as a younger woman I'm looking for role models that are less public about their personal breakdowns, affairs, betrayals, and feel less pressure to be age 26 forever. Great women come in every shape, size, color, flavor and age. The role of the aging seductress is kind of goofy and shallow if you ask me. I'd get a different picture for sure.

    Above all I hope the best for all people of the planet.

  5. Avatar JD says:

    I don't think credentials are required to talk about the thing WE ALL DO, SEX. This column is about sexual desire, intimacy, relationships, etc. Since when does someone need to be formally educated to speak on these topics.

    I would imagine that anyone not comfortable with this column should really just not read it. I'm mean, really, just don't read. There are those of us out there who appreciate an adult converstion about things we are too chicken to ask.

    I find it refreshing that I can learn about these taboo topics without having to be the one to bring it up in ignorance. Now I get to be the one to bring it up with my girlfriends knowing some fun new info.

    Thank you Nancy for being brave enough to speak out and smart enough to give scientific research on every topic you write about.

    And to Mindy B., your views are appreciated, but your personal attack on Nancy is childish. I think that anyone brave enough to put themselves out there without protection should be given the grace to be who they are. Do you have the credentials to sum a stranger up in such a way??

    Nancy, Redding needs you….

  6. Avatar Budd Hodges says:

    Nancy. I appreciate your well written article on a subject that's just not discussed in public among some of our prudish individules.

    Masturbation, a healthy fun activity, was and is, looked down on among by certain religious groups like the Quackers and the Babtists.

    The sooner someone dispels these old myths that masturbation will cause Hair to grow on your hands or you'll go crazy in the process, the better.

    I've never known of any one with hair on their palm or became mentally ill as the results of masturbation.

    Keep these interesting and informative columns coming on Anewscafe and have a happy 2011.

  7. Avatar Lin says:

    Mindy I'm confused are we talking about Nancy's picture or masturbation and human sexuality? I agree you don't have to read the column if you don't like it but what is wrong with opening up a subject for people to talk about?

    I have read all of Nancy's column's and she has never given people advice on what they should do in their personal life she is merely talking about things that EVERYONE thinks about. She puts a lot of time and investigation into these articles.

    I think it's ok to disagree with someone, but lets try not to stoop to personal attacks.

  8. Avatar Mark Pierce says:

    Sal and Mindy.

    I read the article and then your comments: Women in their 50's loosing there way, mid-life crisis, embarrassing her family, shallow, seductress, older generation. Really?

    I reread the article. The topic is sexual development and masturbation. Did we read the same article? Your comments did not address any of the issues or topics in the column.

    I suggest you both reread the article, examine what made you uncomfortable, and learn from the experience. And then, if you are willing, share your experience in a constructive manor.

    Keep your personal attacks to yourself. Lets have an informative and constructive conversation. You should write comments that you would be willing to say directly to a person, face-to-face. It is a good way to practice honesty.

    And Sal, if I was standing next to my wife, Nancy, and you were talking to her, I am absolutely sure you would not use the word stupid.

    Mark Pierce

  9. Avatar Norma Lee says:

    I would say that not talking about "you know" is more harmful than talking. It's amazing how much being educated about something can help you make an informed decision. I believe the reason some are uncomfortable talking about masturbation stretches back generations when it was considered a social taboo. Why do people not talk about sexual fetishes…why are men generally opposed to buying tampons at the drugstore?

    Let me explain the "you know" above……remember the Seinfield Show where George swears off doing "you know" after being caught by his mother, causing her to throw her back out. etc.? Hilarious show!!!

    And Sal, I'm past my 50's and just now finding my way and think of MYSELF EVERYDAY.

    Great article Nancy even without your Masters in Sexuality, keep up the good work.

  10. Avatar Steve says:


    Thank you for your willingness to talk about (you know) sexuality and the various aspects of it. It takes guts to talk about these issues while not hiding behind a pen-name. Especially as a small business owner.

    Keep up the good work. I enjoy reading your blog.



  11. Avatar Joanne Lobeski Snyde says:

    Great article Nancy. I can understand how readers might be uncomfortable with this subject since there are religious and cultural taboos against masturbation.

  12. Avatar Sasha says:

    Bravo Nancy! You're waking Redding up and getting people talking!! You've given many of your readers something to think about!!

    Perhaps you could do a follow-up to this column or open up a discussion as to why people are so uncomfortable talking about something that is natural –S-E-X.

    Looking forward to what you'll share with us next.

  13. Nancy Sutton Pierce Nancy Sutton Pierce says:

    Happy 2011!

    I would like to say "Thank You" to all of you who took the time to read this column and make your comments. Clearly I hit a nerve with a few of you. Occasionally my subject matter will undoubtedly make you uncomfortable. I believe this is necessary for us to grow. I hope you will always feel free to let me know when you are uneasy and how you process your discomfort. This is great learning for us all.

    My column is about "raising the bar" on our life knowledge pertaining to human sexuality. I ask you to please raise the bar for yourselves and keep any and all comments respectful and on point. Personal attacks are immature and unproductive. I welcome any intelligent debate and discussion. I will keep writing this column, so decide for yourself to read or not read, however, you don't get to decide that for anyone else.

    Stay Sexy and Enjoying Each and Every Day! Life is Gift!


  14. Avatar D-Mason says:

    Masturbation…..making bad dates into good nights since the dawn of civilization. and thats all I gotta say about that.

  15. Avatar Lea says:

    Not to beat this dog to death, however, I just came across Nancy's article. I wish (as a child) someone had told me to simply "take it to my room." Perhaps I was going through a difficult period after my father died, however, it didn't help that my mother was called to the school nurse because I was "playing with myself" during school films in third grade. I was physically "examined" by the nurse with my mother in attendance and the instructions were to wash me at home with baking soda and water. Nancy's article released much guilt. Really, I think the internet and our ability to communicate and share is a wonderful thing.

    • Nancy Sutton Pierce Nancy Sutton Pierce says:

      Dear Lea,

      I can't tell you how much your comment just affected me. Knowing that I have helped one person have a happier life is all I need to make it all worth while.

      It is a tragic shame how many people carry around the burden of guilt and shame unnecessarily. A little education and a lot of compassion can go a long way in helping our children grow up free.

      Please enjoy your freedom now.

      With much love,