Masturbation: Here's what you need to know
What is it, who does it and is it normal?
Many people feel embarrassed talking about masturbation, but it's a perfectly normal and natural part of life and something both men and women do. Exploring your body and discovering what you like can help you to grow more comfortable with yourself and enjoy sexual experiences more.
What is masturbation?
Masturbation means the stimulation of the genitals (penis, testicles, vagina, clitoris) for pleasure. You can masturbate for your own enjoyment (self masturbation) or you can masturbate with someone else (mutual masturbation). People often masturbate in order to have a sexual release known as an orgasm.
However, not everyone masturbates to achieve an orgasm. Some people may want to learn more about their bodies, find out what they enjoy sexually, or use it as a way to relieve stress.
Different ways of masturbating
Usually, a person with a penis will touch or rub their penis and the surrounding area while it's erect until they come, or have an orgasm. It can also involve using fingers or sex toys to penetrate the anus.
A person with a vagina can touch or rub their clitoris and the surrounding areas to become sexually excited and come, or have an orgasm. As well as this, they can use fingers or sex toys to penetrate the vagina.
Is masturbating the same for everyone?
Everybody is different and some people can reach an orgasm quickly, while for others it can take more time.
Everyone likes different things, and it's okay to explore and find out what you like. Some people prefer to use toys, others might simply use their hands.
Mutual masturbation usually involves a couple masturbating together, or stimulating each other's genitals, as a way to enjoy sex. This can include using hands or toys to stimulate a partner's genitals, and it could also include oral sex (using your mouth).
For some people, mutual masturbation is sex. For others, it can be a form of foreplay, leading up to sexual intercourse. It all depends on the couple and what you or your partner is comfortable with.
Staying safe during mutual masturbation
Remember, it is important to practice safe sex and use a condom or a dental dam (especially if you're performing oral sex), and know that it is still possible to pass on a Sexually Transmitted Infection (STI) through mutual masturbation, so always get tested regularly. Click here for a list of free STI testing clinics in Ireland. For heterosexual couples, it's always a good idea to be cautious and avoid semen or pre-cum being spilled near the opening of the vagina to reduce the risks of pregnancy.
If you are using sex toys, follow our Sex Toy Safety Guide.
Remember: The age of sexual consent in Ireland is 17. If you're over 16, you can consent to medical treatment including any treatment or tests needed.