Masturbation is defined as stimulation of the genital (Yarber, Sayad, Strong, 2010). Masturbation is one of the most sensitive topics amongst parents and adolescents (Robbins, Schick, Reece, Herbenick, Sanders, Dodge, Fortenberry, 2011). Parents have been known to object to the teaching of masturbation or self-pleasure ideas to their children. Teaching masturbation during adolescent hood is more realistic than introducing it later on. Pubertal development has been linked to adolescent sexual behavior, ie., masturbation (Allen & Kaestle, 2010).
Teaching about masturbation allows an educator to normalize the behavior for their learners. Both adults and adolescents can benefit from learning about masturbation. Teaching parents will help them understand that their toddler is not seeking sexual pleasure, but exploring their body and doing what feels good. Adolescents, masturbate for a number of different reasons.
- Calming or soothing purposes
- To relieve sexual urges without a partner
- Sexual exploration
- Sense of ownership
- Curiosity about their body
Masturbation in teens is not a phase or a display of deviant behavior, it’s quite normal. By the age of 13, 30% of adolescents masturbate regularly, and increases to 80% by the age of 15 (Chirban, 2012). Boys masturbate three times more frequently than girls (Yarber, Sayad, & Strong, 2010). Most boys discuss masturbatory experiences openly with one another, while girls seldom talk about their own sexuality, especially masturbatory activities (Yarber, Sayad, Strong, 2010). Masturbation during childhood for women, revealed a correlation with sexual satisfaction in adulthood (Robbins, Schick, Reece, Herbenick, Sanders, Dodge, Fortenberry, 2011).
Masturbation could be a path to female sexual liberation. Maybe if girls didn’t feel ashamed they could openly discuss their sexuality and masturbation. According to Shulman & Horne, (2003), when not shamed, masturbation promotes a positive body image for some women (as cited in Allen & Kaestle, 2010). Reactions to adolescent masturbation can be crucial for continued sexual development. Parent could benefit from a few tips. A parent’s reaction to their toddler or adolescent masturbating can determine how they internalized their sexual being. If adolescents are engaging in the behavior, why are we looking the other way and not educating and validating the behavior??
Adults Benefit, too
Some sexologists have been to promote masturbation as a tool to improve sexual health (as cited in Allen & Kaestle, 2010). There are many benefits of masturbation. When teaching about abstinence, masturbation should be an option that is introduced. Masturbation can be a way to relieve sexual urges without a partner; preventing Sexually Transmitted Infections (STIs), HIV, and pregnancy. Have a video about teaching adolescents about masturbation.
Masturbation has the power to influence intimacy with others (as cited in Allen & Kaestle, 2010). Talk about toys. Once can choose mutual masturbation with a partner or explore solitary options. Masturbation can allow one to explore their sexual pleasure & desire, as well as body integrity. Once an individual understands their own sexual preferences & body responses, one can relate it to a partner, thus cause a better sexual experience between the two.
The stigma of masturbation can be very detrimental to an individual and relationships. If the stigma produces intense feelings of guilt & shame, it can cause feeling of alienation and conflicts in a relationship, as well as complications regarding self-esteem and sexual identity (Allen & Kaestle,2010)
How To Teach Masturbation
Educators can include masturbatory information with puberty exercises and lessons. While teaching a lesson, report that adolescents may begin to masturbate during puberty. Inform adolescents that people use it as a tool to explore their bodies. An educator can incorporate it into their reproductive anatomy lesson. They can instruct students to review the anatomy via looking at their own body while bathing or showering. This can also start to promote positive body image attitudes. To help break their stigma against masturbation, as well as normalize it, an educator can conduct an Agree/Disagree activity. An educator can create questions about masturbation such as; Most kids masturbate, You can harm yourself from masturbating, Masturbation is wrong, etc. According to the sides that students flock to, discussions can be held and the educator can dispel any myths and normalize the behavior. Masturbation can be included in abstinent lessons. There is a lesson in the Making Sense of Abstinence curriculum and in Changes, Changes, Changes.
For adults who are curious about masturbating but are not sure where to begin, you are in luck! One can start very subtlety, with a shower or bath. While in the shower or bathtub caress your genitals and or breast/nipples. For those who may want to take it a step further, you can read a steamy, erotic novel and light candles, and caress you beautiful body. This could be great foreplay for couples.
Masturbation as stated can be used to promote a positive body image for women and girls. A female can disrobe and view herself in a mirror. While in the mirror one (male/female) can practice naming and touching body parts. You can say breast while caressing your breasts and saying something positive about them. “I like that my breasts are soft,” “I like that my pects (pectoralis muscle) compliment my body.” Once you reach your genitals, females may need the assistance of a pocket mirror to view their entire vulva. Same as before, caress the anatomy and recite the name, learning what you like and where. As one becomes more comfortable, one can increase the intensity of the caress.
For all the adventurist folk out there, you can use a myriad of devices!! One can choose from vibrators, dildos, beads, rings, lube, etc. For beginners, start with a small bullet or egg . One can start by doing the same exercise as before, caressing your body with the device. You can start anywhere you feel comfortable and who knows where you may end up. This is great to do with a partner. You can learn how each other respond to the other’s touch and learn what speeds works for both. For those who may think this is too much, think of all the benefits of masturbation.
When one masturbates it releases endorphins in the brain that can give a person a euphoric feeling. The body responds to touch and stimulation. Touching is a sign of caring and arousal; the entire body is responsive to touch (Yarber, Sayad, & Strong, 2010). Humans crave skin hunger– the need to be touched and embraced. Why not engage in a needed behavior with yourself or partner? What’s the big deal, everyone does it.
Allen, K. R. & Kaestle, C. E. (2011). The role of masturbation in healthy sexual development: Perceptions of young adults. Archives of Sexual Behavior 40, 983-994. doi: 10.1007/s10508-010-9722-0
Chirban, J. T. (2012). How to talk to your kids about sex. Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson
Robbins, C. L., Schick, V., Reece, M., Herbenick, D., Sanders, S. A., Dodge,B., Fortenberry,D. (2011). Prevalence, Frequency, and Associations of Masturbation With Partnered Sexual Behaviors Among US Adolescents. Pediatric Adolescent Medicine, 165(12), 1087-1093. doi:10.1001/archpediatrics.2011.142
Yarber, W. L., Sayad, B.W., Strong, B. (2010). Human sexuality: Diversity in contemporary America. NY, NY: McGrill-Hill