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.
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 [email protected] 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. www.bodylogicmd.com
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