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Sex Ed for Adults: Masturbation Edition

Sex Ed for Adults: Masturbation Edition Image

You might not be able to leave your house to explore the world right now, but luckily, there are still some things you can explore. You might find yourself hundreds of memes deep, watching social media videos of goats prancing, or learning about the fickle nature of sourdough starters.

You might also be exploring your sexuality. Luckily, that’s an activity that is best done in the privacy of your own home anyway.  

May is masturbation month (yes, there is a month for everything), so this month’s Q&A is dedicated to all of the folks who are on a sexual self-exploration journey right now. With answers to your questions about whether there’s a wrong way to masturbate and what to do when you have no privacy and can’t clean your sex toys, there’s a tip or three for everyone. 

Let’s get into it! 

Q: Is it okay to masturbate even when you’re in a relationship? 

Yes! Masturbation may be solo sex, but that doesn’t mean that you can only do it when you’re single. 

Students often ask me this question because they or their partner believe that you shouldn’t masturbate when you’re dating someone. That’s because there’s this myth that you can “use up” your sexual desire and then won’t have any left for your partner. But that just isn’t how desire or arousal work, and this myth is flat-out wrong. 

Masturbation helps you learn about your sexual fantasies, desires, and boundaries. Partnered sex and masturbation generally fulfill different needs and wants for folks. 

While partnered sex may make you feel closer to your partner and may fulfill certain sexual desires, solo sex can help you explore your sexuality in a judgment-free environment and without worrying about responding to anyone other than yourself. Plus, if you have a vagina, regular masturbation can help increase vaginal lubrication, which is a pretty nifty side effect. 

Masturbation is also an activity that can be done together. So, if you and your partners are feeling hot and heavy but just don’t feel up for partnered sex, try masturbating in the same space. (This is also a great way to maintain your sexual connection while still limiting your skin-to-skin contact). Mutual masturbation can make you feel even closer to your sexual partners and it’s a great way to show your partner how you like to be touched. 

If your partner isn’t down with you masturbating, have an honest conversation with them about each of your sex lives. Talk about what masturbation means to you and what partnered sex means to you. If, after that, they still want you to hit the brakes on the self-love train, take some time for serious thought. Controlling your sexual behaviors can be an early warning sign of other controlling or manipulative behaviors — basically, it’s a red flag. There’s nothing wrong with masturbating while you’re in a relationship, but there is something wrong with telling your partner they’re not allowed to masturbate. 

Q: Is there such a thing as masturbating “wrong” or that could make you unable to orgasm with a partner? 

In short, no. Masturbating in one particular way won’t make you unable to reach orgasm with a partner — and if you’re experiencing that, there’s likely a cause other than your solo sex life. 

I encounter this masturbation myth more often than you might expect. It’s rooted in the belief that you can somehow “break” or “ruin” ability to orgasm if you do certain things, like use sex toys, masturbate “too frequently”, or only have sex in certain positions. 

Here’s the thing: If you always use sex toys when you masturbate, but you never use them with a partner, that doesn’t mean that your toy has ruined you. Rather, you’ve built a sexual routine for yourself that involves certain tools. You’ve developed an efficient route to orgasm on your own, but you aren’t applying those same principles to partnered sex.  

If you always use toys to masturbate, try using your hands or the running water from your shower. 

If you always get yourself off in a particular position, try adjusting it slightly. 

When people tell me that they’re able to reach orgasm on their own but not with their partners, the first thing I ask them is “what is different about sex with yourself and sex with your partners?” The second question is “have you shown your partner how you like to be touched?” A discrepancy between your solo and partnered sexual pleasure is more likely the result of stress, insufficient communication, or sexual shame (or a combination of all three). 

This isn’t all on you, either. If you want to be having orgasms during partnered sex, talk to your partners about what is going on. Come up with a plan to prioritize your pleasure during sex, because you deserve to have a pleasurable sex life on your own and with your partners, if that’s what you’re into. 

 

Q: What is the best way to clean your sex toys when you don’t have access to a private sink? 

Whether you’re a college student sharing communal restrooms with the rest of your floor or you’re living with your parents and sharing one bathroom (or find yourself somewhere between the two), keeping your sex toys clean can feel like a treacherous game. 

Cleaning your sex toys is essential because they can harbor bacteria, especially if your toy isn’t made of a body-safe, nonporous material. 

You should clean your toys after each use and before you use them. For the most part, cleaning toys is simple — all toys can be cleaned with hot, soapy water. But what do you do when you don’t have private access to a sink? 

You have a couple of options here, so let’s break them down. 

Bring them into the shower.

Investing in a shower caddy is relatively inexpensive — you can find them for about $5 at Target. Stock up your caddy with your shower essentials and tuck your water-resistant toys in amongst them (lay it flat if it’s tall). Then, bring your caddy into the shower with you and clean up your toy right then. Just make sure to not set it down in the shower afterward — that just undoes all of your work to clean it (yuck). Wrap it in a clean hand towel, put it back in the caddy, and head back to your room in clean confidence. If someone asks why you’re suddenly bringing your stuff in and out of the shower with you, you can just say that you’re doing your part to reduce clutter in the shower. 

If your toy has electronic components or a battery compartment, you want to be careful not to get a lot of water on those parts or submerge your toy. If that’s your situation, start up your shower and wash your toy before you get in, using the shower stream to wash all of the non-electronic components. 

Invest in toy cleaner.

I rarely recommend that people invest in toy cleaner because frankly, it can be expensive, and there are simpler ways to keep your toys clean. If you live on your own and you can clean your toys out in the open, then toy cleaner isn’t for you. But if you’re living with others and trying to keep your dildos (and other toys) on the DL, then toy cleaner is a great option.

Just spray it on and wipe it off with some wet paper towels. That’s all! 

Use UV storage solutions.

UV light can be used to sanitize your toys, but it isn’t going to clean off your bodily fluids, so they’re just one part of a bigger solution here. They’re also pretty expensive and can easily reach $100. But, some of them come with locks on them, so they give you even more privacy. Remember that if you choose a UV sanitizer as an option you will still need to clean your fluids off, so use a damp paper towel or toy cleaner to do that. 

I’m wishing you all a happy May-sturbation month! Take care, stay healthy, and we’ll be back with more answers to the questions you’re asking. 

 

 

About the Author

Cassandra Corrado is an independent sex educator who teaches at colleges and universities across the United States. Formerly a victim advocate, she mostly teaches on topics related to un/healthy relationships, violence prevention, LGBTQ+ health, and sexual pleasure.

 

This blog pro­vides infor­ma­tion about telemed­i­cine, health and related sub­jects. The blog content and any linked materials herein are not intended to be, and should not be con­strued as a substitute for, med­ical or healthcare advice, diagnosis or treatment. Any reader or per­son with a med­ical con­cern should con­sult with an appropriately-licensed physi­cian or other healthcare provider. This blog is provided purely for informational purposes. The views expressed herein are not sponsored by and do not represent the opinions of Nurx™.

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