For most of us growing up in middle class India, sex was something we were to pretend to know nothing about until it was time to get married and make babies. Sex 'education' was the illicit thrill of rifling through raunchy magazines that that one resourceful friend (we all had that one friend, didn't we?) managed to procure from somewhere (no one dared to ask where for fear of being cut off). Needless to say, most of us grew up thinking of sex and the need for physical pleasure as dirty. Lessons such as these can be hard to shake off and, unfortunately, far too many of us still consider the pursuit of carnal fulfillment as something to be ashamed of.
While pre-marital sex is still an absolute no-no for huge chunks of our society, even masturbation is forbidden, frowned upon and a subject of great embarrassment. No wonder then that there are a shocking number of myths and wrongly held beliefs about the topic, even though it is a perfectly normal, natural bodily urge. So let's set the record straight, once and for all. Here are 7 things we all need to know about self-pleasure.
No, it won't stop working if you masturbate too much
The human body, both male and female, does not come with a prescribed number of orgasms that can be used up through masturbation. There is no limit, real or imagined. Masturbation is healthy for both men and women and will not affect your ability to enjoy sex or your fertility. It will also not lead to erectile dysfunction in men or any other health problems in men or women. There is no age or life-stage at which one should start or stop masturbating, nor is there any reason to feel guilty about masturbating while you're in a committed relationship. It's a simple physical release that should be enjoyed, devoid of guilt.
It looks nothing like porn
One of the best things about masturbation is that you don't have to think about anyone but yourself. Grooming doesn't matter; bad breath, un-shaved body parts, sweaty underarms and holey pyjamas — they're all acceptable when you're flying solo. You don't even need to spend time and energy devising ways to create a sexy 'mood'. The urge can strike you as easily while daydreaming during a boring conference call (make sure you're on mute) as it can while reading a sexy book in bed. And there's nothing and no one to stop you from indulging yourself. Unless you're called upon to share your thoughts during the aforementioned call. In which case, things could get decidedly, um, tricky.
It counts even when you're not orgasming
One of the biggest myths about both masturbation and sex is that it's not 'successfully' done unless you've come. While orgasms are great both in sex and masturbation, the goal is simply pleasure, whatever that means to you on that particular day. Playing with yourself lazily while binge-watching Avengers (what else do you do when Thor/ Black Widow are going about being badass as hell?) counts as much as a multiple-orgasm session. There is no one way or reason to do it, so go forth and prosper.
Don't shy away from lube
Wetter is better, both during sex and masturbation. While spit is enough to get the job done it can be a bit of a vibe killer to stop mid-way to spit into your hand. Investing in lube is worth the money; do it. And if you're a woman, no, you're not broken if you're not naturally sopping wet every time you think carnal thoughts. The first few times you masturbate, touching yourself intimately can feel alien and intimidating. Use lube unabashedly to nudge you towards the pleasure to be had while servicing yourself.
Figure out your pleasure points
Masturbation is a great way to figure out what works for you sexually, to help steer your current and future partners in the right direction. What can be better than being your own sexual guinea pig? You can indulge your strangest kinks and fantasies without witnesses or moral judgement and understand how your body responds to different kinds of touches, pressures and techniques. Knowing your way around your body makes you more comfortable with it, which directly affects the quality of your sex life. Not only does it make future sex more pleasurable for you, it takes a lot of the pressure off of a new partner learning their way around your body when you're confidently guiding them.
Toys are our friends
When you want to feel the pleasure but are too tired to take matters in your own hands, sex toys are a god-sent. Hell, even if you're perfectly energised and ready to go, toys can be a great aid to take the pleasure several notches higher. We all know of the Rabbit and its orgasmic effect on women, but vibrators are not the only toys out there and toys are certainly not the domain of women alone. Penis rings, Ben Wa balls, anal beads, pulsators, nipple and clitoral stimulators, feather dusters, fleshlights — there's a world of toys out there that can be used both for masturbation and during sex. Definitely worth investing in, if you have access to clinically safe, good quality ones.
And finally, here's one parting pearl of basic, but often overlooked, wisdom...
Don't forget to lock the door!
Imagine your mother walking in on you just as things are getting hot and heavy. Or your father/ sister/ brother. Or your flatmate. Or Gangu Bai, who remembers she needs to clear the cobwebs under your bed while you're rubbing one out. No matter how sudden the urge to pleasure yourself, always, always, always haul your butt to the door and lock up. The alternative is too embarrassing to contemplate.