At the intersection of where self-connection on a physical, mental, and emotional level meet, there’s the act of sexually stimulating yourself. Also known as masturbation, the self-pleasure practice is an opportunity to heal, remind yourself you are worthy of pleasure, and self-prioritization among other things.
If you want to learn your body and the key that makes you orgasm, masturbate. If you want to sleep better, masturbate. If you want to stress less, masturbate. If you want better physical and mental health - you know the deal - masturbate. As someone who became privy to the magic of erotic self-touch early on in life, I can definitely vouch for these benefits. Still, there are some who are put off by masturbation, finding it desperate, impure, genuinely not being interested in it, or looking at it as a habit employed if and when partnered sex isn’t available.
But, as sex educator Portia Brown heralds, masturbation comes from a place of abundance, not of lack. “In a world that says 'your value is based on how productive you are,’ ‘work, work, work, work,’ I get to create a space where I can remind myself that pleasure is important.”
In our conversation, the mindful sex coach answered some common questions about masturbation and reminded us all why we need to partake in self-pleasure a little bit more.
Is it normal to masturbate in a relationship?
Although a common practice, masturbation is still not widely accepted in society as something women partake in for themselves. Some women do it and feel guilt or shame around openly talking about pleasing themselves. Others (I’ve seen some problematic comments) don’t do it because they find self-pleasure obsolete, citing, “That’s what a man is for.” Portia warns of how masturbation should not be treated as the “lesser form of sex.” “Pleasure is not limited to partner sex,” she says.
“We have to stop thinking of self-pleasure as a replacement for sex. We have to stop buying into the idea that there is a hierarchy to sex [with] partnered sex being at the top. We have to stop believing that men have all the keys to our pleasure. Masturbation is its own sex act,” Portia argues. “You can be in a very happy, healthy, committed relationship and I’d still encourage you to create space for a regular solo sex practice.”
“You can be in a very happy, healthy, committed relationship and I’d still encourage you to create space for a regular solo sex practice.”
Why? Because all of these elements of pleasure work together. The sexual discoveries you make and uncover when alone can feed into you on an individual level while also helping you to elevate how you arrive in partnered sex sessions. And more importantly, “You deserve time and space when you get to focus on your pleasure, and your pleasure alone.”
How much masturbation is too much?
“Everyone is different. As life ebbs and flows, as will your masturbation practices,” Portia answers. Although there is not an “ideal” amount of time to masturbate, she noted that external factors like stress, the frequency you’re having partnered sex, time management, privacy, etc. can influence the way you approach your self-pleasure practices.
“I remember toward the beginning of quarantine last year I was self-pleasuring quite often (almost daily) because I was 1) highly stressed out by the state of the world and 2) at home and had time,” she describes her relationship with self-pleasure. “Now life has shifted again and my solo sessions are fewer. I monitor how I feel when I am self-pleasuring one time per week and if I feel like my life could use a bit more pleasure, I carve out more time to be with myself.”
So, is there such a thing as masturbating too much or masturbating too little? “There is no such thing as too little, it's about what makes you feel supported. For some of us, that may mean, not at all, and that's just fine. The only time I’d say it is ‘too much’ is if your masturbation practice is keeping you from fulfilling your responsibilities like work, having a social life, etc.”
Can you get too dependent on your vibrator?
As a self-described advocate for vibrators, Portia proudly and unapologetically uses them in partnered sex as well as her solo sessions. With theories out there about potentially “desensitizing the vagina” and having dead vagina syndrome by using a vibrator, some people might be afraid to gravitate towards their go-to out of fear of potential cons. “There are far more pros to using them than cons. There is a myth out there that vibrators can damage your nerves and that simply is not true,” Portia shares, demystifying the theory. “You can become conditioned to orgasm with only a vibrator, but like with anything you can recondition your body to orgasm without one by taking a break.”
“You can become conditioned to orgasm with only a vibrator, but like with anything you can recondition your body to orgasm without one by taking a break.”
She does however share that there is a hygienic element to stay on top of when using sex toys. “Wash with gentle soap and warm water before AND after using,” she advises. “If your toys aren’t clean, you can spread bacteria and that can create real issues for you.”
What are ways I can masturbate and explore my body without a vibrator?
For some people who want to begin or continue their masturbation practices, investing in a vibrator might feel like a big step or something they prefer not to do. And that is perfectly OK. In a lot of conversation surrounding masturbation, vibrators or other sex toys are the go-to to name as a part of the practice. However, there are ways to masturbate without a vibrator:
- Use a showerhead
- Hump a pillow
- Use lube
- Finger yourself or rub your clitoris
- Touch yourself with your non-dominant hand
In order to prevent yourself from becoming too accustomed to orgasming one way from your solo practices, switching up how you bring yourself pleasure is recommended. “Most commonly, people self-pleasure on their backs. You can also try: laying on your stomach, kneeling, getting down on all fours, laying on your side, and standing.”
To Portia, movement is key in an effective masturbation practice. “Stretching, dancing, self-massage are all amazing ways to get ‘out of your head’ and explore your body. Incorporating new sensations into your practice like a cooling or warming lube, exploring in the bathtub,” she adds. “I’d also recommend researching erogenous zones. There are so many nerve endings across our bodies that can increase pleasure in surprising ways!”
For more relationships, sex, and dating tips and tricks, check out xoNecole's Sex & Love section here.
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This article is in partnership with Sensodyne.
Our teeth are connected to so many things - our nutrition, our confidence, and our overall mood. We often take for granted how important healthy teeth are, until issues like tooth sensitivity or gum recession come to remind us. Like most things related to our bodies, prevention is the best medicine. Here are five things you can do immediately to improve your oral hygiene, prevent tooth sensitivity, and avoid dental issues down the road.
1) Go Easy On the Rough Brushing: Brushing your teeth is and always will be priority number one in the oral hygiene department. No surprises there! However, there is such a thing as applying too much pressure when brushing…and that can lead to problems over time. Use a toothbrush with soft bristles and brush in smooth, circular motions. It may seem counterintuitive, but a gentle approach to brushing is the most effective way to clean those pearly whites without wearing away enamel and exposing sensitive areas of the teeth.
2) Use A Desensitizing Toothpaste: As everyone knows, mouth pain can be highly uncomfortable; but tooth sensitivity is a whole different beast. Hot weather favorites like ice cream and popsicles have the ability to trigger tooth sensitivity, which might make you want to stay away from icy foods altogether. But as always, prevention is the best medicine here. Switching to a toothpaste like Sensodyne’s Sensitivity & Gum toothpaste specifically designed for sensitive teeth will help build a protective layer over sensitive areas of the tooth. Over time, those sharp sensations that occur with extremely cold foods will subside, and you’ll be back to treating yourself to your icy faves like this one!
3) Floss, Rinse, Brush. (And In That Order!): Have you ever heard the saying, “It’s not what you do, but how you do it”? Well, the same thing applies to taking care of your teeth. Even if you are flossing and brushing religiously, you could be missing out on some of the benefits simply because you aren’t doing so in the right order. Flossing is best to do before brushing because it removes food particles and plaque from places your toothbrush can’t reach. After a proper flossing sesh, it is important to rinse out your mouth with water after. Finally, you can whip out your toothbrush and get to brushing. Though many of us commonly rinse with water after brushing to remove excess toothpaste, it may not be the best thing for our teeth. That’s because fluoride, the active ingredient in toothpaste that protects your enamel, works best when it gets to sit on the teeth and continue working its magic. Rinsing with water after brushing doesn’t let the toothpaste go to work like it really can. Changing up your order may take some getting used to, but over time, you’ll see the difference.
4) Stay Hydrated: Upping your water supply is a no-fail way to level up your health overall, and your teeth are no exception to this rule. Drinking water not only helps maintain a healthy pH balance in your mouth, but it also washes away residue and acids that can cause enamel erosion. It also helps you steer clear of dry mouth, which is a gateway to bad breath. And who needs that?
5) Show Your Gums Some Love: When it comes to improving your smile, you may be laser-focused on getting your teeth whiter, straighter, and overall healthier. Rightfully so, as these are all attributes of a megawatt smile; but you certainly don’t want to leave gum health out of the equation. If you neglect your gums, you’ll start to notice the effects of plaque buildup, which can irritate the gums and cause gingivitis, the earliest stage of gum disease. Seeing blood while brushing and flossing is a tell-tale sign that your gums are suffering. You may also experience gum recession — a condition where the gum tissue surrounding your teeth pulls back, exposing more of your tooth. Brushing at least twice a day with a gum-protecting toothpaste like Sensodyne Sensitivity and Gum, coupled with regular dentist visits, will keep your gums shining as bright as those pearly whites.
Watching Angela “Blac Chyna” White’s transformation in real-time has truly been a sight to see. It wasn’t that long ago that she announced that she was reversing her cosmetic surgeries in an effort to go back to who she was before the world came to know her as Blac Chyna. In previous interviews, she stated that she was dissolving her facial and lip fillers, removing her breast implants, and getting a butt reduction, as well as removing the dimple piercings that enhanced her fame and controversial tattoos.
In a recent Tamron Hall interview, the mother of two said that she has “fully recovered” from the procedures. She is also celebrating one year of sobriety and opened up about being worried about how her new journey would be received by others.
“I’ve been in the entertainment industry for so long, right, and of course, like, you know, coming out, I’m like young, I’m gonna do wild things as we all have,” she said.
“...I feel like by me being vocal and showing everybody you can change your life and things can get better, like through myself, that right there is an accomplishment, and that’s a part of freedom, too.”
But as she started on her journey, many people have shown her grace, which is something she’s grateful for. “And then the fact that people have been showing me grace, it’s like amazing,” she said. “And I feel like when I did it, I just did it. It was more so like spiritual thing and I feel like people see that, and I’ve always been like my authentic self, so what you see is kinda what you get with me, and that’s just kinda what it is.”
Chyna, who recently received an honorary doctorate from Sacramento Theology Seminary and Bible College, has also repaired her relationship with her mom, Tokyo Toni. The social media celebrity surprised her daughter on the Tamron Hall Show. Prior to the sentimental surprise, Chyna dished on the reconciliation and having a better understanding of her mom.
“I must say, some of the things I have to take accountability for because, like my actions. As a mother, you don’t want to see your daughter doing certain things ‘cause it’s like it doesn’t matter what my past was or what we’re going through, I didn’t raise you that way,” she admitted. “So, it’s like, okay, maybe I was a little bit wrong. Maybe I was acting out a little bit. But I feel like as we grow older, I kinda see more, and I understand more.”
Chyna will be starring in season two of Fox's reality competition show Special Forces: World's Toughest Test.
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