May is masturbation month, and we’re here to blow your mind with these facts about masturbating!
Masturbation is a tale as old as evolution (and humans are among at least a dozen animal species that enjoy self-pleasuring themselves!) You don’t have to look far for signs of human self-gratification. While we now have porn and erotica showing people in the act of self-love, early hunters and gatherers from the Upper Paleolithic once painted pictures of people self-stimulating on the walls of caves.
Evidence of female masturbation was first found depicted in a clay sculpture from the Island of Malta from Neolithic period (3300 BCE), called the Ħaġar Qim woman(see image here)[i] who is poised with her legs up in the air exposing her swollen vulva, and appears to be touching her genitals in a sexual fashion, says archeologist Timothy Taylor.[ii] The world’s oldest dildo is 28,000 years old,[iii] which is evidence that masturbation with a phallic object has been around a very long time.
At one time, society was more open about self-pleasure than in our most recent past. The ancient Sumerians, for example, believed that masturbation was good for both men and women, and was practiced as an “act of creation” by their Sumerian Gods. The ancient Egyptians followed suit, believing that masturbation was a “creative or magical act: the god Atum was believed to have created the universe by masturbating to ejaculation”. The Greeks also recognized that sexual release via solo sex regularly helped to stave off sexual frustration, while the Romans preferred using their left hand for solo sex.[iv]
Vibrators and Hysteria
Technological advancements changed the landscape of self-pleasure. Dr. J. Mortimer Granville patented the first vibrator in the early 1880s, but it took a while before the device was marketed as an aid for jilling off. Instead, doctors were said to have used their hands to “cure” women of hysteria.
Hysteria was once a common medical diagnosis for women, categorized as a disease that was both common and chronic. Symptoms included “faintness, nervousness, sexual desire, insomnia, fluid retention, heaviness in the abdomen, shortness of breath, irritability, loss of appetite for food or sex, and a “tendency to cause trouble”.
Doctors “cured” hysteria by manually stimulating women to orgasm, or “paroxysm”,[v] which, when roughly translated was not an “orgasm”, but rather, “any sudden, violent outburst; a fit of violent action or emotion: paroxysms of rage.”[vi] Sounds quite intense!
Thankfully, the 20th century ushered in the age of personal vibrators, which became cordless and portable (unless you still enjoy your trusty Magic Wand). Japanese companies introduced dual-stimulators with rabbits and other animals as clitoral attachments such as the infamous “Rabbit Habit” featured in “Sex and the City”. Bullets also became a popular option for women who enjoyed clitoral stimulation and more discreet sex toys.
Masturbation has gotten increasingly high-tech. You can now use dual-density silicone and oral sex simulators that promise orgasms in under one minute. You can control your vibrator with an app on your phone or let your lover operate it from across the world thanks to the Internet and teledildonics. Male masturbation devices have also become increasingly sophisticated, with high-powered strokers, prostate toys, and discreet “endurance trainers” that look like flashlights.
Who knows what sex toys will look like in the future?
But masturbation has not always been received as favorably as it is today. In fact, it has a very unpleasant past.
Masturbation was considered a taboo and bad for you throughout most our history. It was considered a “wasting of seed”, in some societies who believed that semen was a source of precious energy. This was the case with ancient Taoists, who believed energy (called Qi) was housed in sperm. Therefore, when a man masturbated, he lost energy and virility. The Taoists weren’t the only one who held beliefs like this: Hippocrates, the ancient Greek physician, warned against masturbation due to potential spinal injury.[vii]
Anti-masturbation rhetoric also thrived within the Christian church, and masturbation was condemned for bringing a person a type of ecstasy that should only be part of a religious experience. The Bible went so far as to condemn Onan (onanism), who appears in Genesis, for “spilling his seed” on the ground rather than having sex with his brother’s widow.[viii]
Reports like these were far from uncommon, and the condemnation of “self-pollution” led to all sorts of pervasive myths about its negative consequences. One popular myth declared that jerking off could make hair grow on the palms of your hands and even caused people to become werewolves or was a cause blindness. During the Victorian times, doctors believed that playing with yourself could lead to conditions such as gout, epilepsy, acne – and, even cancer.[ix] Some myths are still persistent in our society today, such as masturbation stunting your growth.[x] The Mormon church spread literature warning about “self-abuse” as recently as the 1990s.[xi]
John Harvey Kellogg (the creator of Corn Flakes) and Sylvester Graham, who invented the graham cracker, both “advocated keeping the diet plain to prevent sexual arousal”[xii] because spicy foods enhanced the libido.
Religious leaders also advised people to avoid looking at their naked bodies in the mirror to prevent temptation. If you felt the desire to masturbate, you could participate in activities such as thinking about tubs of worms to quell the urge.[xiii] That’s one way to dampen the libido!
Many “cures” for masturbation were much more extreme and cruel, including the practice of using anti-masturbation devices that employed spikes, electricity, or cages to prevent boys from touching themselves. Castration was used in some extreme cases.
Girls didn’t escape unscathed either. Clitorectomies were performed to remove part or all of a girl’s clitoris[xiv], an organ whose sole purpose is to bring sexual pleasure. In extreme cases, the woman suffering from hysteria were forced to enter an insane asylum or to undergo a surgical hysterectomy.”[xv] Everything from blister powder to leeches were employed to tried to prevent adolescents from masturbating.
It is really hard to believe that society feared the masturbation so intensely as they once did.
Myths that self-pleasure is bad for you persists today and masturbating with a vibrator is thought to be addictive. This simply isn’t true, however. While compulsive masturbation is not good for you, regular masturbation doesn’t pose any risks.
Many people in today’s society still carry a lot of sexual guilt and shame around masturbation and sexual pleasure in general. This sex-negative attitude has hampered, rather than enhanced sexual relationships between men and women.
Luckily, attitudes towards masturbation have drastically changed for the better with many physicians, sexual experts and psychiatrists encouraging masturbation as a practice that is actually good for you![xviii]
The Benefits of Masturbation
Historically masturbation was considered a sin or shameful in many cultures and it hasn’t been until recently that masturbation was opening discussed and even celebrated.
There is evidence that masturbation is actually good for you on many levels: physically, psychologically and emotionally.
So, give yourself a hand! Masturbation is both healthy and normal!
For the Guys
- Regular ejaculation reduces the risks of prostate cancer. One study says it can reduce the risk up to 20% for men who ejaculate 21 times or more per month. So, if you are not in a regular sexual relationship, masturbation can keep your risks lower.
- Masturbation can increase stamina and reduce premature ejaculation. Delayed gratification does not always make for a good sexual experience. Men that have minor issues with premature ejaculation can help increase stamina with a regular practice. Alternating techniques and consciously increasing the time before they allow themselves to ejaculate gives them more staying power.
For the Gals
- Masturbation strengthens the pelvic floor and uterine muscles. Kegels are great but giving yourself extended pleasure is mind blowing. Learning where your muscles are and how to contract and expand them creates more pleasure for you solo and with a partner. This also benefits as you age and after childbirth as it helps with lubrication and delays vaginal atrophy.
- Sexual release helps your brain function with more clarity.
- Women who have limited sex drive, from a myriad of causes including abuse and menopause can learn to enjoy sex and increase their libido and sensitivity.
- Masturbation is empowering!
- Masturbation increases endorphins that increase your “feel-good” mental state and are beneficial for the body also.
- Sexual energy is our creative, life-force energy. Increasing this energy regularly unleashes more creativity and a higher energy vibration.
- Masturbation helps promote better sleep, the endorphins help relax and calm your mind and body.
- Regular masturbation helps to increase your libido: the more sexual pleasure you have the more you want.
- Stress relief also happens during sex or via masturbation, with a partner or solo. It gets you out of your mind and into your body.
- Pleasure can reduce aches and pains. The old adage from women, “I have a headache” may be only an excuse. Sexual pleasure and orgasms are proven to reduce or relieve aches and pains.
- You increase your knowledge of your body and your pleasure when you masturbate, so when you do have a partner you can teach them how to pleasure you and thus, have better, more satisfying experiences.
- Regular orgasms and sexual pleasure also strengthen your immune system.
The American Medical Association declared masturbation a normal and healthy sexual activity in 1972. At Sexpert.com we believe masturbation is a healthy part of your sexuality and has many benefits. If you want to learn more about masturbation and how to masturbate, check out our course at Loveology University on Self Pleasure and Masturbation.
[i] Image of Malta of Venus- http://potnia.theladyofthelabyrinth.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/10/HagarQimPregnantGoddessMalta.jpg
[ii] Alexandra Churchill, 10 CRAZY Things You NEED To Know About Masturbation. May 2017. Your Tango. Accessed 04/26/18. https://www.yourtango.com/2014216255/solo-sex-self-love-orgasm-things-you-didnt-know-about-female-masturbation
[iii] Natasha Hinde, This Stone Penis Is 28,000 Years Old And Was (Probably) Used As Dildo In The Ice Age, 01/19/2015, Huffington Post, Accessed 04/26/18. https://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/2015/01/19/stone-penis-28000-years-old_n_6499780.html
[iv] History of Masturbation, Wikipedia, Accessed 04/26/18. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/History_of_masturbation
[v] Michael Castleman M.A., “Hysteria” and the Strange History of Vibrators, 03/01/3013, Psychology Today, Accessed 04/26/18. https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/all-about-sex/201303/hysteria-and-the-strange-history-vibrators
[vi] Paroxysm. Accessed 04/26/18. http://www.dictionary.com/browse/paroxysm
[vii] Dr. R. W. Bernard. Science Discovers the Physiological Value of Continence, 1957, Self Definition, Accessed 04/26/18. Onan, https://selfdefinition.org/celibacy/bernard/physiological-value-of-continence-part-3-chemistry.htm
[viii] Wikipedia, Accessed 04/26/18. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Onan
[ix] John Duffy, Clitoridectomy: A Nineteenth Century Answer to Masturbation. 2003, The FGC Education and Networking Project. – Accessed 4/25/2018. http://www.fgmnetwork.org/articles/duffy.htm
[x] GoAskAlice Team. Masturbation inhibits growth? GoAskAlice.com – Accessed 4/25/2018. http://www.goaskalice.columbia.edu/answered-questions/masturbation-inhibits-growth
[xi] Justin J Lehmiller, A Scientist’s Response To The “War On Masturbation”. March 03, 2014, LeMiller.com – Accessed 4/25/2018. https://www.lehmiller.com/blog/2014/3/3/a-scientists-response-to-the-war-on-masturbation
[xii] John Harvey Kellogg. Wikipedia. 20 April 2018. Accessed 4/25/2018. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_Harvey_Kellogg#Breakfast_cereals
[xiii] Overcoming Masturbation, Light Planet, Accessed 04/26/18. http://www.lightplanet.com/mormons/daily/sexuality/overcoming_masturbation.html
[xiv] John Duffy, Ph.D. CLITORIDECTOMY: A NINETEENTH CENTURY ANSWER TO MASTURBATION.1989. the First International Symposium – Accessed 4/25/2018. http://www.nocirc.org/symposia/first/duffy.html
[xv] Female Hysteria. Wikipedia, Accessed 04/26/18. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Female_hysteria
[xviii] ASAP Science, Is Masturbation Good For You?, 09/10/2015, Youtube, Accessed 04/26/18. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GU3JqoUDkjA
Victorian Masturbation – “Self Abuse” and the Demonization of the Clitoris Video – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BFydw6crXnI
Masturbation Myths | Teesha Morgan | TEDx Talks Video- https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zRkPU1fKchI
Goddesses Dancing- https://blog.ninapaley.com/2017/12/29/26-goddesses/