It’s Masturbation Month, a time to honor and extol the virtues of sex-for-one. Virtues? For centuries, masturbation has been denigrated as self-abuse. However, more and more, we are calling it what it is: self-pleasure. It feels good. And it is good. But what is it good for? A lot more than you can stuff in a hand basket. But the following are 8 great basic benefits to masturbation, wanking, jacking off, jilling off, walking the dog, polishing the pearl, spanking the monkey, dancing around the Maypole, sexual solitaire, self-pleasure or, as Doonesbury calls it, ”self-dating,” starting with the fact that….
- Masturbation is Natural.
Bonobos do it. So do dolphins, horses, dogs, kangaroos, porcupines and most other animals, including humans. Ultrasounds show us that many fetuses-in-utero put their tiny hands between their little legs… and masturbate.
- Masturbation is Convenient.
As Truman Capote once wisely pointed out, “You don’t have to dress up for it.” Come as you are. The Greek philosopher Diogenes praised the extraordinary physical efficiency of masturbation: “Would to heaven that it were enough to rub one’s stomach in order to allay one’s hunger.” The folks who brought the world democracy understood the powerful, positive benefits of solo sex. So did their gods. Maybe we should too.
- Masturbation is Ecosexual.
Though masturbation has been called “self-pollution,” it actually produces very little real pollution (unless you toss your tissues out the car window). Regardless, masturbation is a great form of population control. You won’t get pregnant from it. Do it in the great outdoors (but not in a park where you’ll get arrested), and feel at-one-with-nature. Love the Earth You Make Love On. Just watch out for the poison oak. Also, some fruits and vegetables seem shaped for masturbation. Try a nice cucumber or turnip—Nature’s Own Dildos!
- Masturbation is Safe.
As long as you’re not playing auto-asphyxiation games or sticking lightbulbs up your rectum, you won’t get hurt. As long as you’re just using your own toys or putting condoms on the ones you share, you won’t get an STD. Even more important, you won’t hurt other people. Just in case you’re clueless about consent, masturbation keeps you from raping anyone. If you have problematic sexual desires, if you want to do illegal, immoral, nonconsensual things to people, just don’t do them! Masturbate.
- Masturbation is Relaxing.
Partner sex is more romantic, but it can be stressful in ways that masturbation is not. Director Milos Foreman said, “What I like about masturbation: You don’t have to talk afterwards.” No pressure. Just pleasure. Much like partner sex, orgasms through masturbation can relax you deeply, release your stress and help you to get the deep rest that your body needs.
- Masturbation is Educational.
When it comes to learning your own turn-ons physically and mentally, you can’t beat masturbation education. You can use your self-pleasure time to practice your kegels, tantric breathing or the stop-start technique. You can test new sex toys more easily when solo-sexing than when you’re with a partner. But mutual masturbation is also educational: show and tell your partner what you like. Talk about home schooling! You won’t want to play hooky from this.
- Masturbation is Healthy.
Masturbation, especially when climaxing with a good heart-pumping orgasm, is a great cardio workout, good for your heart rate, blood pressure and brain chemistry. It also protects against yeast infections in women and prostate cancer in men, not to mention, masturbation releases mood-boosting endorphins, and it can clear your sinuses, at least temporarily. It also keeps you in shape for partner sex. “Use it or lose it!” they say, and masturbation uses it. Self-pleasure is healing in a million different ways, physical and mental. Heal your sexual shame through self-pleasure! Most importantly, masturbation will not kill you. Auto-asphyxiation notwithstanding, nobody dies from masturbation.
- Masturbate: Know Thy Sexual Self!
Nobody talks about it, but the longest term relationship you’ll ever have with anyone is the one you have with yourself. So why not make it a good one? Masturbation enables you get to “Know Thyself” (with a hat tip to Socrates), sexually speaking. So, get into it, and get to know you. Treat yourself. Just for a few moments, focus on your pleasure without worrying about anyone else but you. Turn self-pleasure into self-love. And no, that doesn’t make you selfish. It makes you feel good. And when you feel good, you’re more likely to be good to others.
So go ahead and spank that monkey shamelessly, at least through Masturbation Month. Make love to someone you love… even if that someone is you.
And if you need a hand—a friendly, supportive, knowledgeable, sex-educational guide into your self-pleasure exploration or celebration—the sex Therapists Without Borders of the Block Institute are just a phone call away. Call 213-291-9497
© May 1, 2016. Susan Block, Ph.D., a.k.a. “Dr. Suzy,” is a world renowned LA sex therapist, author of The Bonobo Way: The Evolution of Peace through Pleasure and horny housewife, occasionally seen on HBO and other channels. For speaking engagements, call 626-461-5950.