With talk of hairy palms, blindness, and hysteria, it’s no surprise masturbation was once frowned upon. Self-love is still a sensitive topic, but thankfully there’s been a progressive change in our attitudes towards sex. People are more accepting of premarital sex, same-sex sexual activity and casual sex, and they’re starting to embrace the idea that sex, including masturbation can be fun!
In fact, masturbation isn’t just fun, it’s a versatile way to play. You can have fun by yourself or with a lover. Use your fingers and hands or reach for a sex toy to get the party started. You might know the ins and outs of self-love, but here are 7 fun facts about masturbation that might surprise you…
1. Jerking off boosts your health and happiness
Masturbation is good for you, and you don’t have to take our word for it, it’s scientifically proven. When you play with yourself your body releases happy hormones like endorphins, serotonin, and oxytocin, helping to improve your mood and reduce your stress levels.
Raise your hand if you’ve ever rubbed one out when you couldn’t fall asleep! Forget counting sheep - if you want to sleep better self-love is the way to go. You can also play with yourself to relieve general aches and pains. Studies suggest orgasms can combat migraines and headaches, and the endorphins and contractions experienced via a climax can even ease menstrual cramps.
We’re all for natural pain relief, so next time you’re feeling off why not put away those pills and treat yourself to a bubble bath and a climax instead? With so many positive health benefits one might wonder, “wouldn't it be great for doctors to start prescribing daily masturbation as a remedy?” That might sound a little over the top, but this leads us on nicely to our next fun fact…
2. Doctors used to prescribe orgasms to female patients
As it turns out, prescribing orgasms isn’t such a far-fetched idea. In Victorian times doctors were regularly called upon to treat female hysteria - thought to be caused by excessive fluid in the womb. Symptoms included anxiety, tiredness, and low mood, and doctors came up with a novel way of releasing fluid – genital stimulation.
When their fingers became tired, the medical experts turned to wonderful new ways to alleviate female hysteria, including clock-work massage machines (some even required two men to get the machine started!) and later, improving into electromechanical vibrators. Unsurprisingly vibrators proved to be a hit and slowly made their way from locked medicine cabinets to bedside drawers (for strictly “therapeutic reasons” of course)!
3. Kellogg’s Corn Flakes were invented to combat masturbation
Whilst some experts favored genital stimulation and “healing massages”, others suggested alternative cures such as bed rest and eating… bland food. Cue in America physician and health-food pioneer, Dr John Harvey Kellogg. Kellogg’s development of dry breakfast cereal was largely responsible for the creation of the flaked-cereal industry. And, was also the loudest anti-masturbation voices in the 19th century. Yikes!
The inventor had such strong views on the relationship between diet and masturbation, and suggested eating plain food could combat the need to masturbate.
Corn-flakes were created as an easy-to-digest, healthy breakfast food. Looking back, it seems strange that Kellogg and others thought of bland food as a preventative measure - surely boredom would propel you to go and do something more exciting?
4. Japanese law prohibited penis-shaped vibrators, so the rabbit hopped in
Made famous by the hit TV show Sex and The City, the rabbit dildo vibrator hopped off the shelves and into the hands of sexually charged women everywhere. Its popularity stemmed from its unique rabbit-themed design. The rabbit features one long “ear” designed for vaginal penetration and a short “ear” designed to stimulate the clit at the same time. Talk about double the fun!
But why a bunny rabbit? Well, we have the Japanese Government to thank for that. The Government passed a law prohibiting the creation of sex toys resembling body parts (in particular, genitals). Rather than cease production, sex toy manufacturers decided to get creative and came up with an alternative to get around obscenity laws in Japan. They went on to develop cheeky bright coloured animal-shaped designs like rabbits, beaver, turtle, dolphins and the list goes on!
5. All creatures great and small play with themselves
Talking of animals, it may surprise you to learn that humans aren’t the only species that love to masturbate. Most of us have witnessed dogs humping cushions and blankets (and many of us have had to yank Fido off a visitor’s leg). Our canine companions aren’t shy about giving into their sexual urges, and they’re not alone.
Other mammals such as lions, bats, elephants and monkeys enjoy autoeroticism too. A research paper in the journal Ethology suggests some macaques tap and rub stones on and around their privates to pleasure themselves (please don’t try that at home!) Dolphins are also at it, the sex positive creatures regularly engage in girl on girl / boy on boy activity and even orgies - masturbation seems rather tame in comparison.
It’s not just mammals either, other creatures great and small take pleasure in playing with themselves. Penguins get their kicks by grinding their genitals against stones or by sliding along the ice and turtles enjoy rubbing themselves, albeit slowly, on everything from large rocks to gravel.
Humans on the other hand tend to use more refined techniques than their animal counterparts, and whilst we prefer to pleasure ourselves behind closed doors it seems the creatures of the world aren’t fussy about who they jerk off in front of.
6. We don’t always remember when we last did the deed
It’s not usual to circle the date on our calendars or jot a note in our diaries detailing our self-love exploits, so you might not remember when you last did the deed. If you masturbated yesterday (lucky you) it’s probably fresh in your mind, but otherwise your last session could be a bit of a blur.
You can enhance your DIY sex acts by practising mindful masturbation. This involves paying attention to your feelings and body whilst you pleasure yourself. Take the time to explore the range of sensations and try not to focus on reaching a climax, instead concentrate on pleasuring your genital area and erogenous zones.
7. Lube was used 350 BC onwards
Lube is certainly a handy invention, but you might be surprised to learn it’s been knocking around since 350BC. If you explore the history of lube you’ll discover the ancient Greeks and Romans were fans of olive oil for slippery fun.
Today we keep the posh olive oil for our salads and opt for more sophisticated products for glide and slide. Despite how well it works, there’s still a stigma attached to using lube. Some people find it embarrassing to buy or use, and some feel they shouldn't need to use extra lubrication if they are engaging in foreplay correctly. But the truth is lube can sexually empower you. It allows you to take control and enhances the pleasurable sensations you experience during masturbation and intercourse.
Take a look at the products available on the market today and you’ll see the unsightly tubes have been replaced by slick looking bottles. Bottles that look perfectly at home alongside the luxury skincare and cosmetic brands on your bathroom shelf.
A tube of lube can be your best friend when it comes to sex and masturbation. As well as lubricating your genitals and anus, lube can stimulate, relax and enhance your sensitivity. Water-based lube is perfect as it’s compatible with sex toys and condoms, enhances your body’s natural lubrication and is smooth and comfy to use.
Here’s to masturbation and oodles of orgasms!
We’ve discovered that playing with yourself boosts your mood, reduces stress, combats aches and pains and helps you to sleep better. Masturbation also plays a vital role in your sexual development. It’s the perfect way to get to know your body and learn what feels good, and if you know what you like you can communicate your sexual needs with your lover.
Masturbation is a confidence booster too, as it allows you to enjoy pleasurable sensations on your own terms, and can lead to memorable orgasms. It’s sexy, safe and fun, so what are you waiting for? Use your hands, fingers or treat yourself to one of the many sex toys available on the market such as a rabbit dildo or air wave massager.
Even if you masturbate regularly and enjoy a healthy sex life with your lover, you can still boost your sexual play and learn new skills. Check out our pleasure empowerment workshop to level up your knowledge on improving your self-care (ie. Demystifying female orgasms) and intimacy (ie. Better sex beyond the bedroom) routine!
Changes in American Adults' Sexual Behavior and Attitudes, 1972-2012
SAYIN HÜ Getting High on Dopamine: Pleasure SexuS Journal 4 (11): 883-906 MARCH Part-1 Getting High on Dopamine: Neuroscientific Aspects of Pleasure. June 2019
Umit Sayin, Istanbul University
The impact of sexual activity on idiopathic headaches: an observational study