May is National Masturbation Month, a great opportunity to make time for yourself, get to know your body, and prioritize your sexual pleasure. Masturbation is a great way to learn what you like and don’t like without putting yourself at risk for pregnancy or sexually transmitted diseases, and is one of the best ways to learn about your sexuality.
It can also help to relieve stress and ease menstrual cramps.
“Masturbation is a normal and healthy part of sexuality,” said Dr. Raegan McDonald-Mosley, Chief Medical Officer at Planned Parenthood Federation of America. “It can enhance our physical, mental, and sexual health and the health of our sexual relationships. Learning about what feels good to you can help increase sexual pleasure with sex partners. And when you know what you like and are comfortable with your body, your satisfaction with sex increases.”
Studies show that about 7 out of 10 adult men and more than 5 out of 10 adult women masturbate. Some people masturbate more than once a day, some people masturbate once in a while, and some people never masturbate — and all are completely healthy and normal.
Using a vibrator for masturbation or sex with someone else can be a fun addition to your sex life. If you do use a sex toy, it’s important to clean them with soap and water and cover them with condoms when using them with a partner.
Unsanitized sex toys can be a source of infection or STDs.
“Masturbation is a normal and common activity for both men and women, yet many people feel shame or guilt about masturbating,” said Dr. McDonald-Mosley. “Negative feelings about masturbation can threaten your health and well-being. Remember, only you can decide what is healthy and right for you.”
People who receive negative messages about masturbation when they are young often carry feelings of shame into adulthood. Some people think that others masturbate only when they do not have a sex partner. But that is not true. In fact, people who have regular sex partners are more likely to masturbate than people without sex partners.