The Feel Institute

Is masturbation a part of your self care?

I don’t know about you, but nobody ever spoke to me, in a healthy way about masturbation. Come to think of it, nobody really told me about touching any part of my body in a caring or loving way.

In a world where having a self care ritual is core to being a healthy human, I wonder, how many of those rituals involve masturbation, touching your body, or self pleasure?

Masturbation remains heavily stigmatised. If you are having sex with another, or others, then you must be doing something right, right? But, having sex with yourself. Touching your own body for pleasure! No, no, no, or at least, keep it to yourself. Shhhh!

Why? Is it a problem with the word? I think it could be.

What is masturbation?

The definition of masturbation is, ‘stimulation of the genitals with the hand for sexual pleasure’.

Masturbation is, inherently, goal orientated. Often, it is so we can have an orgasm, and once we’ve got it, we stop. Job done. Worse still, it might not be as big as we wanted, or maybe we couldn’t get to an orgasm. What a failure! So much shame and judgement. No wonder so many of us don’t talk about it.

Could it be different?

What if, we took away the need for success or failure to be orgasm related, and instead, change the emphasis, so that the stimulation was of the body, including the genitals. An invitation to explore our amazing bodies, rediscover the sensations, unlock the emotions, and be a lover to ourselves.

What if we added some mindfulness to it with some intention setting? ‘I want to touch my body with the tips of my fingertips and feel as much as I can’, ‘I want to give myself the most sensuous shower, and enjoy the feeling of water running over my body’, ‘I want to notice the difference between excitement and enjoyment’.

The best bit about the mindfulness part is, that this is your body, your time and your exploration. You can pick the intention you want and the only person you need to please is yourself.

What if we scheduled it in, like we would a massage, or a haircut, or a therapy session? What if we carried on for the full scheduled session, no matter what happened?

I have been coaching people on this for the last few months and this part, this is the ‘oddest’ part for most. What do you mean schedule it in? Well, why not? Seriously, why not?

As well as all this, we have to start talking about self pleasure. We have to reduce the shame, the judgement, the secrecy. The body shaming can’t win if there is body loving!

Masturbation education in schools?

There is a push going on in the UK around the schooling system and sex education. I welcome this. I had nobody to talk to about masturbation at school. It wasn’t even mentioned, well apart from as an insult, ‘so and so is a wanker’. Even that, there, is adding to the taboo. It is something that ‘bad’ kids do. My ‘masturbation’ was something I kind of did, not really having a clue, in a very quiet, small way, not really sure of what was happening or why.

I didn’t know what an orgasm was, that happened by mistake, many years later, with my boyfriend, whilst having sex. Even then I couldn’t share the excitement as I had been faking them until then. My friends told me it was what we did. It is funny now, and also such a waste.

As an adult, not that much has changed. It is still something many refuse to admit to doing, and often something perceived as not needed when we are in relationship.

Why masturbation is important

When it comes to relating to others in a sexual way, we typically need to know what we like. Through self touch, we can discover the parts of our body that yearn to be touched, the parts that feel so good and so naughty, the parts that make us shrill with delight, as well as the parts that make us feel sad, upset and anxious.

As wonderful as it can be to have sexual, sensual and erotic partners, we are sexual beings in our own right. We can tantalise and tease ourselves. We can soothe and stimulate our bodies. It also means that we are less reliant on others for touch. We can enjoy the connection for the sake of the connection rather than a desperate need for intimacy.

Be your own lover.

Make self pleasure a part of your self care.

Tell someone something new you discovered about your body.

Go on, I dare you.


  • Groovy Su

    I couldn’t agree more! I am really interested in working with young people in particular to change the shame we are taught to have about our bodies and pleasure. I have 2 teenage daughters and I gave them both a copy of “Girl Up!” by Laura Bates, which has on a double page in bold lettering, “MASTURBATION IS NORMAL!” …HOORAY! I have tried to talk as much as I can with them but despite my openness, they squirm. They know porn is bullshit and that they should only do anything if they feel completely comfortable. I trust their integrity and am confident that they are confident about themselves and know their worth. I ask from time to time if they are attracted to “anybody”. I don’t want to assume their sexuality and want them to feel free to know that I will support and love them no matter what preferences or choices they make. It excites me to know that there are lots of us who having gone through the shame, now feel it is fundamental to human happiness to start with self love and learn about your own body and what gives you pleasure. Particularly for girls to know what they like and what they consent to. I feel we need to support boys to know that most porn is a lie and will not help them achieve intimacy or make them a skilful lover. Wow, there is so much work to do! I NEVER have responded before to anything before, when asked to post a comment, so I guess I must feel pretty strongly about this!
    Big Love, Groovy Su x

    • Sue Sutherland

      Yes, yes, yes! I also want to work with young people to help shape a healthy relationship with bodies and pleasure. It can be challenging for any of us to talk about sexuality with our parents and loving how much you are trying to normalise it. There is so much work to do and I am delighted that you have made your 1st post on such an important subject. Big love to you, Sue xxx

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