Masturbation Month is Now! Am I normal?

For those who don’t know or may have forgotten it is masturbation month. The progression of sexual health and female sexuality and independence, which isn’t to say that guys don’t indulge in, the sometimes still taboo act of, masturbation can be summed up with a story that some may remember.

Terry Post, SASH, sex addiction, porn addiction, masturbation

Back in 1994, our surgeon general at the time Dr. Jocelyn Elders, was asked for her thoughts about teaching children about masturbation. Her response, “As per your specific question in regard to masturbation, I think that is something that is a part of human sexuality, and it's a part of something that perhaps should be taught. But we've not even taught our children the very basics.” As a result of this, she was asked to resign by President Clinton because her beliefs just didn’t align with his views of appropriate sexual behavior. Her comments show just how difficult the topic of masturbation, let alone sex education, were during that time and in some cases still are today.  Dr. Elders' beliefs about masturbation described a healthy and essential element of everyone’s sexuality and included that teaching children, through proper sex education, about masturbation could likely lower the rates of teenage pregnancy, the transmission of sexually transmitted diseases and promote healthy sexuality. It was noted at the time, the US had the highest rate of teenage pregnancy in the industrialized world and that 50 percent of HIV and sexually transmitted diseases was in the adolescent population. Dr. Elders went on to acknowledge that “we know 90 percent of men masturbate, 70 percent of women masturbate, and the rest lie.”

Healthy masturbation as a form of self-care. Research has shown that sexual wellness is closely connected to mental health (Kashdan, Goodman, Fallon, Stiksma, Milius, and McKnight, 2018). Individuals may find that they can determine how they are doing emotionally and mentally by paying attention to their sex drive and desire to masturbate. Learning how to develop a relationship with one’s own body and pleasure points not only allows individuals to “love themselves” it could increase the sexual health of relationships by communicating what feels good to a sexual partner.

Masturbation can be a taboo in a relationship. Depending on your upbringing and open communication around self-pleasure and sexual wellness, individuals may experience a number of feelings including shame, guilt, and self-consciousness including the desire to keep the behavior secret. However, masturbation can be healthy in and for a relationship and promote sexual and relationship satisfaction. Couples that struggle with any of the situations around masturbation might find benefit from seeing a sex therapist or coach.

As clinicians and members of SASH we seek to promote healthy sexuality in our clients' lives and relationships. Masturbation may be one way clients gain that level of sexual health. Many of our clients could have a history of trauma from sexual abuse. It is important that we obtain the necessary training to deal with complex trauma so that we can help our clients heal and help them gain sexual wholeness in their lives.  We also need to ensure that we have appropriately dealt with our own hang ups and discomfort when it comes to talking about sexual issues.  One way to learn about your own limitations regarding sexual health is to attend a SAR. 

In closing, masturbation is up to individual preference. It can be experienced alone, with a partner or even in a group.  There is no right or wrong answer to the masturbation question. Each person can seek their own level of comfort through trial and error and exploration and what feels best for their own sexual health. 

masturbation, sex addiction, porn addiction, SASH

Terry Post, LADAC

Terry Post, SASH, sex addiction, porn addiction, masturbation

Terry has worked in the addiction field for 14 years. Terry was previously the lead counselor at the Pride Institute, an LGBT specific treatment center, and managed their sexual health program. In addition to being a licensed alcohol and drug counselor, Terry is currently a mental health therapist working in a private practice specializing in co-occurring disorders, trauma, problematic sexual behavior, intimacy issues, and a host of mental disorders. Terry works with both adults and adolescents and some couples. Terry is trained in EMDR and DBT and incorporates attachment theory into his practice. Terry is a member of the LGBT community and understands the unique challenges many in this group face. Aside from working with the LGBT community, Terry seeks to share his knowledge and experience of this group with other professionals worldwide to increase their competency in serving this community. Terry is a sex-positive, kink-friendly clinician eager to help individuals and couples explore their sexuality, overcome sexual challenges, and discover the benefits and satisfaction of sex, intimacy, and connection offer everyone.

Reference

Kashdan, T., B.,Goodman, Fallon R.,  Stiksma, Melissa, Milius, C., R., & McKnight, P.,E. Sexuality leads to boosts in mood and meaning in life with no evidence for the reverse direction: A daily diary investigation. Emotion, Vol 18(4), Jun 2018, 563-576.


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