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Why is masturbation such a taboo topic?

Date

Matty Silver

'Solo sex' is healthy and can enhance your relationships. So why are we still too embarrassed to talk about it, asks sex therapist Matty Silver.

Happy and healthy ... solo sex helps you discover your body.

Happy and healthy ... solo sex helps you discover your body.

At dinner parties, people tend to talk about anything and everything, but you don’t often hear conversations about masturbation or what I refer to as 'solo sex.' It is still a taboo topic that we are just too embarrassed to talk about.

It is easy to explain why. Over the ages religious groups have condemned masturbation, claiming it inhibits self-control and promotes sexual promiscuity. Even today, the Dalai Lama does not approve of it and traditional Catholic, Orthodox Jewish and Muslim doctrine says masturbation constitutes a moral disorder.

Just last week the Vatican condemned an American nun, Sister Margaret Farley, a professor emeritus of Christian ethics at Yale University, for her book Just Love: A Framework for Christian Sexual Ethics. On the subject of masturbation, she wrote that many women “have found great good in self pleasuring, something many had not experienced or even known about in their ordinary sexual relations with husbands or lovers." Masturbation, she concludes, “actually serves relationships rather then hindering them.”

As a relationship counsellor and sex therapist I see many clients with sexual dysfunction and/or psychological hang-ups about sex due to their upbringing. But, all people have sexual feelings and thoughts. If expression of these is not allowed, it can cause frustration, guilt and depression.

I tell my 'religious' clients that I do not believe God would have created men and women with sexual organs that can give them pleasure if they were simply supposed to be used for procreation.

While some people believe that there is no need for masturbation when you are in a relationship, self stimulation allows you to discover your own body and find out what you like. If you know your body and know what excites you then you can communicate that to your partner.

Research in the 1950s by Alfred Kinsey found that 92 per cent of males reported masturbating, but only about 62 per cent females. In my practice, while I have never met a man who does not masturbate, I've met many women who don’t.

Again, this is easy to explain. When a boy turns about 12 or 13 he will start getting erections whether he likes it or not. Girls, on the other hand, do not. And before magazines like Dolly or Cosmopolitan existed, they may never have heard of the words masturbation or orgasm. So, it is not easy for women to learn to masturbate and have an orgasm. It is even harder if they believe that it is the job of their partner.

But, the best thing about masturbation is that it is, in fact, very healthy!

1. Sexual arousal and orgasm produce a chemical called oxytocin, which works as a natural pain reliever.
2. It helps reduce headaches, muscle aches, other assorted aches and pains and is a great cure for insomnia.
3. It helps to relax  and relieve tension after a stressful day.
4. It may help fight off depression. The endorphins released during sex or masturbation can improve your overall mood.
5. If you’re not in a relationship, it gives you the sexual release you need.
6. Research has shown that men who masturbate regularly are less at risk of developing prostate cancer.
7. It can improve the immune system and contribute to overall health.
8. Masturbation also helps combat premature ejaculation. If you can train yourself to last longer solo, you'll last longer with your partner.
9. For women especially, masturbation allows you to explore and understand your body better, so you will know exactly what you like when you have sex with a partner. This benefits both partners involved.
10. Sex and masturbation increase the flow of testosterone in the body, which helps to transport a hormone called DHEA, which is important to the immune system. The extra testosterone also strengthens bones and muscles.

With all this new found knowledge of what a healthy and pleasurable experience it is, it may be a good idea to try it more often.

What do you think?


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88 comments

  • Those lips ...

    Commenter
    bornagirl
    Location
    Melbourne
    Date and time
    June 15, 2012, 10:42AM
    • A the late Michael Jackson said, beat it, just beat it.

      Commenter
      Peter
      Location
      VIC
      Date and time
      June 15, 2012, 10:47AM
      • Everyone does it. The list of benefits is nice I guess, but we'd all do it anyway unless brought up with beliefs that developed into twisted "values".

        Commenter
        regular joe
        Location
        melbourne
        Date and time
        June 15, 2012, 10:50AM
        • Too right. Call it a sin, then demand money for forgiveness. How long until we can be rid of these idiots?

          Commenter
          Matt
          Location
          Byron Bay
          Date and time
          June 15, 2012, 2:18PM
      • So wanking is natural and good for you. Who woulda thought, huh? I seem to remember reading exactly the same information in a book my mum gave me to read when I was eleven, back in the 1960s. Only 50 years later, and the information is revealed in revelatory fashion by Fairfax. Wow. That's progress, people.

        Commenter
        Revert2Mean
        Location
        Bubblepedia
        Date and time
        June 15, 2012, 10:50AM
        • It's because, despite the release of good information that masturbation is good for you, or at worst harmless, it still carries a stigma. The term 'wanker' for example. There is still the church disapproval mentioned in the article.

          So the positive message has to be reinforced to counter unnecessary feelings of guilt or inferiority.

          If you'd thought more about it, you could have avoided the smug, superior 'who knew?' approach in your post.

          Commenter
          alto
          Date and time
          June 15, 2012, 12:59PM
      • I have never understood why people are embarassed about masturbating. It feels good, it is safe and it is fantastic for relieving stress.

        I masturbate when I'm single, I masturbate when I'm in a relationship - it doesn't lessen my feelings for my partner - it's just something that I like to do sometimes on my own.

        Commenter
        Jen
        Location
        Sydney
        Date and time
        June 15, 2012, 10:52AM
        • Masturbation is free too. Lol.

          Commenter
          Jane
          Location
          Queensland
          Date and time
          June 15, 2012, 2:19PM
      • Didn't really need a reason beyond "it feels good" to do it.

        Commenter
        feel good
        Date and time
        June 15, 2012, 10:54AM
        • I did not think it was taboo anymore judging by the amount that goes on with politicians and economists.

          Commenter
          Roket
          Date and time
          June 15, 2012, 10:56AM

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