9 False Things We've Thought About Masturbation, Because Solo Sex Is A Completely Healthy Part Of Living
Andrew Zaeh for Bustle
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Let's talk about sex. More specifically, let's talk about solo sex and the misconceptions about masturbation most of us grew up learning from family, our social circles at school, and the media. Socialization from culture, our religion, friends, and parents are all sources from which we learn about sex, Vanessa Marin, sex therapist and founder of Finishing School, tells Bustle.

Whether it's because sex is an awkward topic or because it's just more fun to make up stuff about it, many of those lessons come with myths, both outrageous and believable, that make sex even more taboo than it already is.

"We don't talk about sex in an open, honest way in our culture," Marin says. This leads to shame (see #1) and unhealthy social norms that may lead to some men and women feeling uncomfortable or insecure with their own bodies. For instance, some may think that engaging in self-pleasure isn't proper or can be harmful to one's body, when in reality, masturbation is harmless and actually quite common. But that's not all. Here are nine myths about masturbating that you can be rest assured aren't true:

1It's Shameful Or Embarrassing

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This is by far the most common myth about masturbation, according to Marin, thanks to societal norms that teach us to feel shameful about our bodies.

I understand if getting caught masturbating doesn't end up making Your Proudest Accomplishments list, but what you do with your body is your choice and you should never feel ashamed for wanting to give yourself pleasure.

2Female Masturbation Is More Shameful Than Male Masturbation

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A lot of people believe that it's even more more embarrassing or "wrong" for a woman to masturbate than for a man to do so, Marin says. However, this gender stereotype is incorrect and actually quite harmful, as it further perpetuates excuses for serious problems like gender-based sexual violence.

3Women Don't Masturbate Very Much (Or At All)

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Another misconception is that women tend not to masturbate in the first place, which is absolutely not true. ICYDK (in case you didn't know), about 80 percent of men and 59 percent of women masturbated before they reached age 18. That's not exactly considered 'uncommon.'

4It Will Give You Hairy Palms

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Yeah. This is just... not accurate.

5You Should've Learned How To Masturbate By A Certain Age

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On one hand, it's never too late to learn how to masturbate. On the other hand, that doesn't mean people who start masturbating at a young age have problems.

Many woman of all ages can feel self-conscious if they've never masturbated before or succeeded in making themselves orgasm, says Marin, who has coached women on solo sex well into their 70s and 80s. "We start masturbating at very early ages. Most people masturbate as children, but don't recognize it as masturbation in the moment, and don't recall it as adults."

6There Is A "Right" And "Wrong" Way To Masturbate

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As with partnered sex, there are myriad ways to enjoy masturbation, too. Whether you like it fast or slow and whether you watch porn or use a mirror, the most important thing is that you do it the way that makes you feel good.

7It's Weird Or Uncommon

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While there are plenty of weird facts about masturbation, masturbating itself is totally normal. There aren't any health risks associated with masturbating, and again, both men and women (of all ages) do it. Masturbating can help you learn how your body works and develop a healthy sexual life over the years.

8People Only Masturbate When They're Alone

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While masturbating itself is solo act, there's no rule saying you have to do it alone. In fact, masturbating with your partner (either doing it together or having one person watch the other) can be a great way to heat things up in bed or try something new. Plus, you can learn what works for the other person and apply those techniques when solo sex becomes, a-hem, no longer solo.

9There Are No Benefits Besides Orgasms

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Besides the fact that orgasms in general help you stress less, masturbating can also boost your self-confidence, improve your work efficiency, and teach you about your own sexual preferences. Marin adds that masturbating regularly can help you sleep better, improve your mood, alleviate minor aches and pains.

"There are an endless number of reasons to masturbate. Learning how to make yourself orgasm is the most empowering experience you will ever have," Marin says. "You'll also learn how to teach a partner how to bring you pleasure.

So go ahead and masturbate — it's good for you and it feels awesome!