Is It OK To Masturbate When You're In A Relationship? 6 Lies You've Been Told About Masturbation

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Despite the tireless work of sex-positive activists since the sexual revolution, self-pleasure remains a hot button topic. Unlearning the lies you've been told about masturbation is no easy feat, although the feminist internet has helped disseminate more and more media that dares to depict and discuss women and LGBTQ+ folks enjoying their bodies. Because women are too often assumed to need men in order to experience sexual satisfaction, masturbation (like queer sex!) can indeed be a radical act when performed regularly and joyfully. (Although, obviously, a sad solo session is definitely part of life now and again, tbqh.)

As sex-positive feminist pioneer and self-pleasure advocate Betty Dodson says: “Masturbation is our first and natural form of sexual activity and if that’s inhibited or damaged, then we suffer for the rest of our lives.” Unfortunately, because of sex negative religious and cultural values, there are few of us who don't leave adolescence without believing at least one damaging stereotype about masturbation.

"Masturbation is good for your sex life whether you're single or coupled," Astroglide's resident sexologist "Dr. Jess" O'Reilly tells Bustle. "It’s the prime opportunity to learn about your own body without the pressure to perform or meet another person's needs. And once you know what you like in bed, you can train a partner (or two or three!) to be a part of the process." Thankfully, we have the rest of our lives to practice and learn about masturbation from sex educators, friends, and medical professionals, as sexologists, psychologists and general practitioners alike are now more than ever on the side of self-pleasure.

Here are some of the lies you might have been told about masturbation:

1Masturbation Is For Men Only

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Masturbation stigma is real across the gender spectrum, but teenage boys and men are more likely to be accepted for taking full advantage of their parts. From birth control to weight, women's bodies rarely get a break from being policed, and there's no shortage of armchair explanations about why we're either uninterested or unable to benefit from masturbation. Fortunately, there have been countless, peer-reviewed studies to show that not only do a majority of women masturbate (92 percent!) but that it's good for us, too. Self-pleasure is most certainly NOT a boys only club.

2Masturbation Will Make You Depressed

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One scare tactic frequently voiced by opponents of masturbation has been that it leads to depression. Although there are situations where extremely frequent levels of self-pleasure might be a symptom of mental illness, most folks are only adding happiness to their lives by indulging. In fact, some research indicates that masturbation might even help alleviate the symptoms of depression.

3Masturbation Is For Losers

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There's a pervasive belief that it's uncool to masturbate because it somehow indicates that you don't have a partner to have "real" sex with. However, self-pleasure is an important part of self discovery, which includes discovering what you might like in bed with a partner and discovering how your own body works. Besides, your sexual worth should not be defined by anyone else, so why not join the charge to make masturbation cool again!

4Masturbation Is Supposed To End In Orgasm

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Masturbation should be whatever you want it to be — it IS your body after all. However, depictions of masturbation in a lot of media are often geared towards a massive climax. While some folks are all about that big finish, others prefer to just experience the pleasure that comes with pressure and touch in all the right places. Just as there's no one way to eat a Reese's, there's no one way to masturbate either. (And, come to think of it, doing both together sounds delicious AF.)

5Masturbation Is For When You're Single

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To some, masturbation is only about getting off when you have nobody in your life to get down with. While that's all well and good, masturbation is just as much a part of a healthy relationship as it is singlehood. In fact, many sexologists suggest that the more each individual in a couple takes time to figure out what turns them on solo, the more likely their sex life is to be satisfying and exciting.

6Masturbation Shouldn't Be Discussed In Public

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Yes, there are certainly places where solo sex talk isn't ideal (the workplace, a crowded restaurant, an elementary school, etc.), but there are so many reasons for you to talk about masturbation with your friends and lovers in an appropriate setting. Not only does proudly voicing your practice help to de-stigmatize self-pleasure, but it also can provide tips about new toys or positions to try when you're sharing amongst your inner circle.

So unshackle yourself from shame, even if it just means texting your bestie about your favorite vibrator or asking your lover what they like to fantasize about when servicing themselves.