7 Valuable Lessons Masturbation Taught Me

May is an awesome month. Not just because of the spring, but because of something even more more exciting: International Masturbation Month. Once just a single day in May that was celebrated nationally, the celebration surrounding masturbation has now expanded to being all month and international, too! Because the best love is self love.

Personally, I can thank masturbation for my very first orgasm. I had been having sex with my first boyfriend for a few months when I realized that there must have been more to sex. I assumed I hadn’t had an orgasm yet, but wasn’t sure. It was also at this time that I had never masturbated. Sex education, at least at my school, had skipped that whole chapter and I wasn’t even sure how to do it. I mean, I wasn’t even sure what was what down there. But one night I decided to give it a whirl and started touching myself.

At first I just sort of poked around until I stumbled upon my clitoris. At the time, I did not know it was my clitoris, but I did know that touching it felt amazing. So I continued to touch it in a circular motion for a little while. I began to realize that there was an urge getting stronger in me that wouldn’t let me stop touching it then… voila! I had my first orgasm. And there was no doubt in my mind that that’s what it was.

In my many (many) years of masturbating, I learned some pretty valuable lessons from it. What type of lessons? These awesome seven for starters. But first, check out the latest episode of Bustle's Sex and Relationships podcast, "I Want It That Way":

1. Masturbating Shouldn’t Be Linked To Guilt


When I first started masturbating, I felt so guilty! I felt shame because I had it in my head that it was wrong, because my boyfriend couldn’t give me the same pleasure, and because I wasn’t really sure what I was doing, so I felt weird about it. I kept it as a deep dark secret that I was only able to share with a friend in college after she admitted to doing it first. But even then I told her I only did it once or twice. Lies!

2. Masturbation Makes My Sex Life Better


It was only when I knew how to please myself that I was able to enjoy sex more with my partners. Although each partner I’ve been with has played a role in my sexual satisfaction, at the helm is pretty much me and me alone. I know exactly how everything works and am able to manipulate my body or position to get the most out of every romp I have.

3. It's A Boost Of Positive Energy


If I’m having a bad day, I turn to masturbation. Since I work from home, I can do this, and since I probably shouldn’t open up the wine until 5 p.m., masturbation is my best bet. If I’m in a bad mood, stressed out, or procrastinating between articles, I just reach for my vibrator and give myself a few minutes of heaven. The boost of positive energy that comes from an orgasm makes me feel like that I absolutely will get through even the worst of days. It’s also a great distraction from my obsessive brain that refuses to shut off.

4. I Am Sexual And That's Cool


Similar to my shame about masturbating, I held some shame for being sexual in those early days, too. I don’t know why I felt bad about wanting to have sex or having the desire to masturbate, but I did. But through masturbating and, to be honest, life experience in general I came to understand that being sexual isn’t just normal, but it’s healthy and very human. Hallelujah!

5. We Don't Talk About Masturbation Enough


Despite the strides that women have made in regards to their sexuality, women and masturbating is still something that not everyone wants to discuss. While I have friends, many of whom actually write about sex, who are open about the topic, there are still others who are not. While I don’t think anyone should discuss something they don’t want to, I do think it's important to be open about masturbating so I'm always willing to start the conversation.

6. It’s Made Me More Adventurous


The majority of my sexual adventures that I’ve had with my partners stemmed from things I discovered while masturbating… or fantasies I had while masturbating. It’s in these moments that I let my brain run wild and totally immerse myself in what I’m doing — if only I could say I had such dedication in other areas of my life. Because of this, I feel that I’ve become more adventurous not just in bed, but in life. It’s given me the mentality that it’s OK to do things strictly because they feel good or look good. It’s my life; I get to decide how I run this ship.

7. It's Made Me Love My Vagina


The most valuable lesson of all? For far too long, I thought my vagina was gross — I think this is something a lot of women struggle with because society is so penis-obsessed that the vagina doesn’t get much time in the spotlight. Because of this, I never really held my vagina in high regard. I never thought about how amazing vaginas are, all the things they're capable of, or how they're far more incredible than gross. In fact, they're not gross at all. They're all awesome and to celebrate its awesomeness, I'm going to go masturbate right now.

Images: Andrew Zaeh for Bustle; Giphy (7)