To self-pleasure, or not self-pleasure? That is the question!
Solo sex (or masturbation) has been a surprisingly controversial topic throughout history. In the 1890s, even Kellogg’s corn flakes were initially invented to deter young people from self-pleasuring with their bland, sugarless flavor!
But contrary to the beliefs of Mr. Kellogg - solo sex and self-pleasure are not only extremely beneficial for your wellbeing, relationships, and sexual relationship with yourself - it’s also world-changing!
To start - what is solo sex?
Solo sex - more commonly referred to as masturbation - is any kind of sexual, sensual, or erotic play with your own body. Using the term “solo sex” over “masturbation” disrupts the cultural hierarchy around what counts as “real sex”. In media and sex education, partnered sex (and more specifically penetrative partnered sex) is often centered as “real sex”. However, many of the benefits and aspects of the experience can apply to solo sex as well - including pleasure, orgasm, exploration, novelty, arousal, intimacy, eroticism, and more!
Furthermore, partnered sex is not always available as an option, and research shows that in many ways solo sex can act as a compliment to partnered sex, fulfilling unique needs among those who self-pleasure.
For one, solo sex can be great sex and support your sexual relationship with yourself! As it turns out, you have your own journey with your sexuality that persists if you are in a relationship or not! Your own fantasies, your sex drive, your turn-ons, your brand of sexiness. Throughout potential different partnerships and life stages, you move with yourself and your evolving relationship with your sexuality.
Taking the time to get to know your sexual self and explore solo sex can be incredibly empowering and informative!
Explore your fantasies & curiosity!
You can have a whole fantasy life outside of your relationship and that is healthy. Explore what your body can do! Explore your curiosities about sex toys and solo sex acts all on your terms!
One benefit of solo sex is that you can do it exactly how you want! No delay in telling your partner or partner(s) directions on how you like to be touched- you get the instant gratification of getting off or experiencing the type of pleasure exactly how you want that day.
You can also learn more about your body and what you like through solo sex! This can be shared with a partner(s) to benefit your partnered sex life, and also build body confidence and self-esteem.
We can’t forget about orgasms!
Statistics have shown that on average people with vulvas orgasm faster and more often during masturbation than during partnered sex. If you’re having trouble orgasming- masturbation is a great place to start, even if you’re in a relationship!
Especially for survivors of sexual violence as well as queer and trans people - solo sex can provide unique benefits. For survivors, solo sex can be a place to explore pleasure and touch at your own pace. Queer and trans people can explore their identity through fantasy and erotic materials and explore what venues of pleasure feel affirming.
Not only can solo sex support your sexual relationship with yourself - but it can also support your well-being and mental health! Taking time to give yourself pleasure can help improve your mental health, sleep, mood, and more. Anecdotally solo sex can also help relieve menstrual cramps and headaches.
Lastly, exploring solo sex and self-pleasure can also support your romantic and/or sexual relationship(s)! Partners in romantic and/or relationships have different fluctuating needs and desires and tapping into solo sex can help manage these differing needs.
There are many different times when one partner might be interested in partnered sex and the one isn’t - differing sex drives, fantasies, energy levels or physical capacity (especially for folks with chronic illnesses or disabilities) emotional capacity, or simply not being in the mood for the same thing!
In these cases, solo sex can be a great way to give yourself pleasure, intimacy, and satisfaction while honoring your partner's boundaries. This can help build trust and avoid resentment, and make the partnered sex you do have hotter and connected!
In a society that discounts solo sex and intimacy as “real sex”, you can see from this exploration of benefits that this is far from the truth! And if supporting your wellbeing, relationships, and personal pleasure wasn’t enough - solo pleasure is also world-changing! In a culture that seeks to make you feel inadequate at every turn and seeks to center work over pleasure in your life, finding pleasure, self-soothing, and esteem within yourself is part of a pleasure revolution.
Eva Bloom bio:
Eva Bloom (they/she) is a queer sexuality educator and sex science communicator. With a Masters of Science (MSc.) in the social psychology of sexuality they help people of all genders and sexual orientations bust their sexual shame and cultivate their authentic desires. She is the creator of the digital education platform “What’s My Body Doing” - which has educated over 3 million people across the globe. They are also the co-founder of the international queer community space for newly out and questioning folks - the "F*ck Comphet Support Club" and is the winner of Planned Parenthood Toronto Choice Award for excellence in sexuality education. As a sexuality educator they have spoken at institutions across the United States and Canada, including Cornell University, the University of Toronto, and the Guelph Sexuality Conference.