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How to Heal From Sexual Shame Around Masturbation

When I was around ten years old, I noticed that crossing my legs felt really good. I’d cross my legs sitting in the backseat of cars, on chairs and on the couch. But I didn’t masturbate. No, masturbating was something gross and bad, according to the movies I watched and the jokes people made. I was just stretching…a lot. 

I only realized that I regularly masturbated several years later, when my friend described her orgasms to me. I experienced the exact same sensation! When I crossed my legs, squeezing my genitals between my thighs, increased blood flow rushed to my vulva, creating a tingly feeling. People often masturbate when they are aroused, which results in increased blood flow to the genitals. Societal messaging told me that masturbation was wrong and dirty, so how could the pleasurable experience I was having be masturbation?

So many of us, especially vulva owners, pleasure ourselves as youth, but don’t connect the activity to masturbation. Touching yourself for sexual pleasure is natural and extremely beneficial for mental and physical health. Masturbation can ease stress, help with insomnia and increase relaxation, as well as help you discover your sexual preferences and fantasies. There is no wrong way to masturbate — experiment with what feels good for you. Whether you’re riding your pillow or using a rabbit dildo, masturbation can be an extremely enjoyable activity once we let go of our shame and embrace our sexuality.

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So many of us, especially vulva owners, pleasure ourselves as youth, but don’t connect the activity to masturbation. Touching yourself for sexual pleasure is natural and extremely beneficial for mental and physical health. Masturbation can ease stress, help with insomnia and increase relaxation, as well as help you discover your sexual preferences and fantasies. There is no wrong way to masturbate — experiment with what feels good for you. Whether you’re riding your pillow or using a rabbit dildo, masturbation can be an extremely enjoyable activity once we let go of our shame and embrace our sexuality.

Tips for managing shame around masturbation:

  1. You don’t have to masturbate! It’s as simple as that — respect your own boundaries as long as you don’t feel unsatisfied or coerced. 
  2. If calling your self pleasure practices “masturbation” brings up sexual repression, then don’t call it that! While there is nothing illicit about the word or the activity, your comfortability should be a priority. 
  3. Try using a sex toy! Sometimes our fingers aren’t enough, or you might feel uncomfortable touching yourself directly. There are a variety of sex toys for specific types of genital stimulation, which can enhance your self pleasure experience. 
  4. If having a partner please you feels more comfortable, experiment with touching yourself during sex with another person(s). That way, you can ease into masturbation slowly, with someone else giving you extra stimulation. 
  5. Seduce yourself! Set the scene — play your favorite songs, lay rose petals on the bed, light candles. Whatever environment would feel the most comforting and healing for you is the right one.
  6. If masturbation brings up anxiety around cleanliness, try masturbating in the bath or the shower! There’s a reason so many people enjoy their shower heads ;).

Healing from sexual shame can be a slow, arduous process — be patient with yourself and know that you’re not alone. Libido can change based on your environment and mental state, so why not give yourself a little love and acceptance in these confusing times. Mastubration only gets better with time as you become more confident in your sensuality and personal pleasure.

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