What would I tell my cisnormative teenage self about masturbation

Presented by LELO

I don’t remember the exact date of the first time I masturbated, but I do remember feeling panic-stricken, my mind echoing “is masturbation bad for you? Am I going to hell for this? How can I be sure I know what I’m doing?” 

Regardless of what you may think of the possibilities concerning the afterlife, I think we can all agree that no one should be ashamed about masturbating. I can also tell you that from a scientific standpoint, masturbation holds a huge range of health benefits (that we’ll discuss later). So if you want to try it, do so and don’t let the discourse around masturbation persuade you otherwise as the absolute worst-case scenario is you find out you don’t like it (which is perfectly OK, too!). 

What is masturbation? How do I masturbate without feeling insecure?

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Chances are you already have a solid idea of what masturbation is, but the simplest explanation is that it’s the act of sexually pleasuring oneself. Yet, with such an impressionistic definition many people (my younger self included) second guess themselves and their masturbation techniques, fearful of doing it “wrong.” Well, I’m here to tell you that there’s absolutely no right or wrong way to masturbate! Pleasure is completely subjective, so what gets you feeling good might not do the same for the next person and vice versa–and that is more than OK. 

Still, if you’ve never masturbated before, you may find yourself wondering where to begin. Do I just stick my hand down my pants and get to work? Should I put on “mood music” first? Or rewatch *that* scene of Lost and Delirious with Piper Perabo and Jessica Paré? Truthfully, you can do whatever you want–but research suggests that adopting strategies from mindfulness practices (either in part or as a whole) is more effective than masturbation on its own. But this theory deserves more than just a paragraph summary, so if you’re curious about how you can also adopt this approach you should read our guide on mindful masturbation

Studies also suggest the use of adult toys to improve solo-sex practices–especially for those looking to spark multiple orgasms (one strong orgasm followed by several weaker ones). We discuss this in our guide to having multiple orgasms, but because sex toys use vibration patterns, a variety of speeds and sometimes even sonic waves, users are able to better stimulate their erogenous zones (than when compared to using their hand) which leads to more orgasms. But in order to have multiple orgasms, you’ll need to know what having one orgasm feels like and the fastest route to achieving that is via vibrator. 

That said, choosing a sex toy isn’t easy and the process can actually be rather overwhelming. How do you know what you’re going to like it or if it works for your body? Unfortunately, you really won’t have any solid answers until you experiment. But if you start by researching how sex toys are designed, what materials they are made with and the reasoning behind their concept (AKA their intended use) you’ll have a better idea of what your under-the-sheets experience could potentially be. 

What’s the best way to masturbate?

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Some people find it helpful to “set the mood” with candles, by putting on a playlist of their favorite music, or playing with aphrodisiacs like essential oils and chocolate. The key here is figuring out what excites your body and amplifying it. But if you don’t know what turns you on just yet, that’s okay too! Now’s your time to experiment–and contrary to popular belief, you can do so without porn. 

For a more sensual experience, I suggest grabbing your favorite chocolate bar, breaking a piece off and watching yourself nibble at it. Really focus on the way your tongue melts the square and the sound it makes when you snap it between your teeth–eating can be quite seductive! But if you’re not a fan of chocolate, that probably won’t get you feeling all hot and bothered. Instead, you can choose to light your favorite scented candle or grab a bottle of body oil (or LELO’s Flickering Touch Massage Oil Candle) and explore some of the scents known to intensify arousal (jasmine, orange, vanilla, cinnamon, lavender, pumpkin, and peppermint). While you let the aroma fill the air, clear your mind with every breath and massage your body from head to toe. Feel the difference in the texture and temperature of your skin, and try not to let your mind wander into unknown territory–stay present and connected with your touch. After the course of a few minutes, you should feel your body start to become aroused, where you take it after that is up to you. And like I mentioned before, there’s no wrong way to masturbate because only you know what feels good. If that means using the handle end of a plastic hairbrush or getting mom to buy you a “back massager” for Christmas (both of which I’ve done and don’t recommend) so be it–everyone starts their journey to self-discovery somewhere. 

That said, there are just some things that should NEVER be inserted into a body cavity. That includes anything that could leak, explode, or has sharp edges (shampoo containers, hairspray bottles, the shower squeegee, you get the idea), as well as anything that hasn’t been properly sanitized. I recommend playing it safe by only using devices that have been designed with your personal bits in mind and have proven to be body-safe. For your benefit, I’ve handpicked a few toys to familiarize you with what’s out there. 

If you know you want something that only stimulates your clitoris, you could Google “best clit vibes,” which would eventually lead you popular toys like the rechargeable SONA Cruise (which, BTW, is on sale for $99 through LELO). Unlike other waterproof clitoral vibrators, the SONA Cruise is supported by a proprietary design known as Cruise Control which prevents the waves from weakening as you nestle the device closer to your body. This may sound like a pretty “whatever” feature but clitoral orgasms are best triggered by consistency, so no matter how you move or grip the device the SONA Cruise won’t lose its intensity (or cause you to lose your hard-on). And if you think that’s cool, this particular toy also uses sonic waves (in addition to regular vibration patterns) to stimulate your bits making it one of the better toys for achieving orgasm for the first time or multiple times (since sonic waves have proven to be more conducive to orgasm). Designed with body-safe silicone, the SONA Cruise is also safe to use with lube–as long as it’s not silicone-based!

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But if you’d like something to accompany you on your search for your G-spot, you’ll need something insertable like SORAYA by LELO. It looks like the rabbit vibrator of the future, and that’s because it is. The Insignia loop handle allows for accurate control (no fumbling here!) while dual-action motors stimulate the clitoris and vaginal wall for ultimate pleasure in exploration. The smaller arm is flexible enough to conform to your anatomy, while its longer arm stays firm for that “really full” feeling so many people look for in their penetrative toys. Also designed with body-safe silicone, the SORAYA is 100% waterproof, easy-to-clean, and safe to use with lube–which as a novice, you’ll want to stock up on (just make sure it’s not silicone-based) so you don’t cause tears, lesions or other trauma to your vagina. 

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Now let’s say you’re looking for something more versatile (or you just can’t decide on the type of vibrator you want), the GIGI 2 should be a top contender for you. It’s marketed as a G-spot vibrator, but this toy can really be used almost anywhere (I.E: for clitoral or nipple stimulation). What really makes the GIGI 2 so adaptable is its unique form. Designed with body-safe silicone, it features a flattened head for pin-pointed pleasure, 8 different settings, and a rechargeable battery. The bestselling vibrator is also safe for water play  (in depths up to three feet) so discovering what you like can be done easily and privately in the shower. You can find GIGI 2 on LELO in four colors for $139

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Although sexual self-discovery may seem selfish, there’s nothing to feel guilty over. According to Planned Parenthood, people who masturbate have more self-esteem and a better body image than people who don’t. It also helps you figure out what you like sexually while keeping you safe from STIs and unwanted pregnancy. Not to mention, a whole range of physical benefits including stress reduction, improved quality of sleep, and providing relief to menstrual cramps and tense muscles

But how much masturbation is too much? Although there is no guideline for how often you should be masturbating if you find yourself canceling plans or calling out of work just so you can masturbate it may benefit you to talk to a therapist or counselor since hypersexuality can be a symptom of something larger at play. Other than that, you have nothing to worry about, so go on and get busy–just don’t forget to lock your door! 

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Still not sure how to find the right sex toy for you? Gain some insight with our guides discussing the best waterproof vibrators, glass dildos, rabbit vibrators, strap-ons, and G-spot vibrators

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Marisa Losciale

Marisa Losciale

Marisa Losciale specializes in NSFW culture, audio gear, and photography. A former editorial and photo director for Spoon University at SUNY New Paltz, her work has been featured in the Rockwell Center for American Visual Studies, Post-Trash, the New Paltz Oracle, and the Legislative Gazette.