Alix Fox - sex educator and spokesperson for sexual wellbeing brand TENGA – thinks it’s high time we had a chatter ‘n’ natter about solo pleasure.

'Sex with ourselves is as important as sex with anyone else'

'Sex with ourselves is as important as sex with anyone else'

Buffin’ the muffin. Menage a mois. Hand to gland combat. Playing a clitar solo. Whatever you call the art of self-pleasuring, now is a great time to talk about it: May is International Masturbation Month. But why should we be having conversations about masturbation? Isn’t it a private thing? Shouldn’t we keep the saucy details of the ways we downstairs-delve to ourselves?!

Well, obviously there’s a time and a place for X-rated chats – perhaps the middle of a work meeting isn’t the moment to give your colleagues a blow-by-blow account of how you like to ‘tiptoe through the two lips’! - but I truly believe that speaking more openly about how we touch ourselves has a vast array of benefits: to our mental and physical health; to our understanding and acceptance of our bodies; and to our intimate relationships with partners.

Here’s a round-up of ten good reasons to talk about jacking the beanstalk…

1/ It’s a conversation pretty much everyone can enter into. Let’s not – ahem – beat around the bush: almost everyone masturbates. Whether you have a partner or you’re single; whether you’re vastly sexually experienced or a nookie newbie; everybody has something valid and interesting to share about their masturbation experiences, so it can end up being a really inclusive, equal, accessible sex-positive conversation.

2/ Sex with ourselves is as important as sex with anyone else. Whilst lots of us seem to be A-OK with nattering about partnered sex, we hardly ever seem to chat about solo play; I know plenty of folks who’d proudly crow that they got laid like a free range egg last night, but wouldn’t admit to having had a glorious ‘DIY’ session. In my mind, this imbalance in our discussions gives the impression that sex with a partner is somehow better or more desirable than sexually pleasing ourselves. If you think about it, that’s quite a dangerous notion to perpetuate: the idea that you need a partner in order for sex to be good enough to talk about. That if you’re alone, your pleasure isn’t worth discussing.

In truth, you don’t need a lover to feel good, and you shouldn’t need a lover to feel good about yourself. The more we chat about masturbation, the less we make people who aren’t having coupled sex feel lesser than those who are.

3/ The root of all good sex is exploring and knowing your own body, preferences and needs. A recent survey of 2,000 UK-based adults by sex toy and sexual wellness company TENGA revealed that a fifth (21%) of millennials (18-34s) use masturbation to discover more about their personal sexual tastes and desires. Jacking/Jilling off is probably the most laid back, pressure-free way to discover what touches, tools, scenarios and techniques turn you on. By talking about masturbation in a relaxed fashion, we help to normalize and destigmatize it, making more people feel like it’s OK for them to get to know themselves in this invaluable manner.

4/ Communicating about how ‘you do you’ with your lover means they’re more likely to do you right… Unless you’re dating Mystic Meg, even the most enthusiastic, giving, attentive partner isn’t psychic. And no matter how perceptive your amore is, there will be a limit to what they can learn about your likes from body language and moans alone. Telling them about how you please yourself will help them please you more.

5/ …and discussing how you masturbate can be intensely erotic as well as educational. Whisper details in their ear. Or look them dead in the eye as you confidently declare how you stroke yourself there. Let them watch. Watch along with them by doing it in front of a mirror. And watch your sheets SET ON FIRE WITH THE HEAT.

6/ If you’re not talking, you might be missing out on top tips. Maybe your friend is using a new vibrator that could help you hit new heights of downstairs delight. Perhaps they’ve been experimenting with silicone masturbation sleeves (refreshingly, TENGA make versions that don’t look like disembodied genitals) and have uncovered something you or your lover would really like, but that you wouldn’t have known about otherwise. I’ll bet my front-bottom dollar that someone you know knows something about masturbating that could rock your world.

7/ Revealing helps healing. If anything connected to masturbating is worrying you – maybe you’re experiencing vulval pain or discomfort; perhaps you suspect you could have vaginismus; you might be wondering whether you’re the only person on the planet who can’t seem to orgasm…. – keeping that to yourself won’t solve anything, but sharing could lead to solutions and resolutions. More talks = less awks.

8/ Masturbating on your tod helps you make peace with your bod. 16% of 18-34s say self-pleasuring helps them feel more comfortable about their body, and more accepting of the skin they’re in. Realising that the body you have – whatever shape and size it is – can bring you bountiful joy, on demand, can be a powerful positivity tool. Anything that helps us celebrate ourselves and live more joyous, jubilant lives is worth shouting about.

9/ It’s good for you – and safer too. A multitude of academic studies have proven how the endorphins released during climax and sexual pleasure have beneficial effects upon our systems, reducing depression, alleviating stress, and elevating sensations of wellbeing, calm and contentment. Mutual masturbation carries a far, far lower risk of STIs and unwanted pregnancy than other sex acts, too. Why should we feel forced to stay schtum about something so natural and healthy?

10/ There’s never been an easier time to broach the subject. International Masturbation Month, the #MasturbationMatters movement, and stats and facts from the TENGA survey (available in full at www.MasturbationMatters.co.uk) all provide easy, organic jumping-off points for beginning a conversation. So, if you’ve been looking for an excuse to open up on this topic, now’s the perfect time. Whatever you’re getting up to, get down to discussing it.