Who does it?
People of all ages masturbate and it’s often the first sexual experience we have. When we go through puberty we generally start thinking about and experimenting with sex and sexual relationships, and masturbation can be part of this process of learning more about sex. It's part of the body's way of getting ready for sex.
Masturbation is completely natural, normal, and a good way of getting to know your body. Some people think that masturbation is just for the boys, but it is actually something that both men and women do.
How do you do it?
There is no right or wrong way to masturbate and it doesn’t matter how often you do it either. It’s also ok if you are not interested in masturbating; some people prefer to share sexual pleasure with a partner.
Is it bad for you?
People often make jokes about masturbation and it can be something that people feel embarrassed and worried about. It’s also common for people to worry that masturbating could be bad for your health, and it’s really important to know that this is not true. Masturbation is harmless and causes absolutely no mental or physical damage, and is not something you need to feel guilty or ashamed about.
In fact because masturbation helps you to get to know your own body, explore fantasies and release tension, it may help you feel more confident and comfortable when you do have a sexual relationship. It can also give you the opportunity to explore using lube and sex toys, and can be a good time for men to practice using condoms.
Having sex is not always straight forward, and many people will experience difficulty with sex at some point in their lives. Whatever the problem is it will probably help to talk it over with your partner, as they’ll be affected too. In some cases it can also be helpful to get further help from a doctor or a counsellor.
There are not many men who can claim to always get, and keep, a rock solid erection. Erections can be hard to get or maintain for a variety of reasons, and tiredness, anxiety, stress, or too many drinks are often the main culprits. If this has happened to you, try to remember that this doesn’t mean that it is going to happen again. If you are finding it an ongoing problem, then you might find it helpful to talk to a doctor to check there is no physical cause.
Another problem most men experience at some point in their sex lives is ejaculating (coming) more quickly than they or their partner would like. This is known as premature ejaculation and is quite common with younger men. It is often be caused by feeling anxious, or feeling very sexually excited. Premature ejaculation may become less of a problem once you feel more comfortable and confident having sex, and lots of men also find self-help techniques useful.
Some women find that having penetrative sex can be painful, and there can be a number of different causes for this. One cause is having sex before you feel properly aroused or lubricated, so making sure that there has been plenty of foreplay and/or using extra lubricant can often help. If penetration is completely impossible because of pain this could be caused by a condition called vaginismus, which may have physical or psychological causes. If you are finding sex painful, or experiencing bleeding during or after sex, it is important to speak to a doctor as these could be signs of an infection.
Not in the mood
You might have times in your life when you are less interested in sex than you would like to be. It’s normal for your sexual appetite to change over time, and it can be affected by all sorts of things, such as stress, diet and medication. If you have lost interest in sex, don’t panic, it doesn’t mean that you’ll never want to have sex again.Sometimes you can become less interested in sex because it’s all got a bit boring in the bedroom, so it may just be a matter of exploring new things or fantasies with your partner. However, if the problem persists, it could be helpful to speak to a doctor, as there may be a physical or psychological cause (such as depression) which s/he can help you with.