I left school more than three decades ago, but I still vividly remember the sex ed films and lessons that were supposed to educate me about my body and my sexuality. All I actually learned from sex ed was that reproduction was something frogs and elephants did, that I was going to bleed each month, and that sex was something to be ashamed of. Now you're probably thinking I attended a private catholic school, right? Nope, I went to a normal, everyday public school in the U.K.

There was no mention of masturbation in sex ed class back then, and unfortunately things haven't changed much in today's classrooms. Masturbation is an activity that is often discovered by accident and, once discovered, is done a lot because, quite simply, it feels so good. Perhaps more people would discover it sooner if masturbation was a staple of the sex education syllabus. Here are six good reasons why it should be taught by sex ed teachers - whether they're speaking to kids or to adults. After all, most of us never learned any of this in school.

It Helps Us Get to Know Our Bodies and Minds

We are often told to refer to our genitals as our "privates." In fact, our genitals are so private that many of us never explore them, due to shame, or fear of the unknown. Masturbation can allow a person to explore those so-called private parts, and all the pleasure they are capable of producing, in a safe and healthy way.Masturbation can also help us get to know our sexual preferences. By allowing ourselves to tune into our fantasies while we masturbate, we can better understand the types of things that turn us on.

It's 100% Safe

It's pretty difficult to get pregnant or contract an STD when you're only having sex with yourself. It would be wonderful if schools and communities that insist on teaching abstinence could present masturbation as a safe alternative to partnered sex. Masturbation is also a safe way of exploring our own bodies and fantasies without fear of rejection - a definite plus at any age.

It's Free!

And not in the sense that it saves you hard-earned cash. Instead, and more importantly, self pleasure costs you nothing emotionally; as the popular saying goes, "It's sex with someone you love" (or, for many people, someone you are learning to love). With masturbation, there is no risk of the complications that jealousy, lust or fear can bring to a relationship, and it's a great way to explore avenues of sexuality long before you explore sex with a partner.

It Does a Body Good

It's no secret that life can be very stressful. Thankfully, the activity of masturbation releases certain chemicals in the brain and body, such as acetylcholine, serotonin and dopamine, all of which can result in psychological and physical relaxation. Masturbation is also non-carcinogenic, non-fattening, low in sodium, and a whole lot cheaper than anti-depressants. (If you still need more convincing, check out 5 Reasons Why Masturbation is the Greatest.)

It's Only Natural

Touch is a sense that allows us to explore and better understand our world. From birth, children get to know their bodies by touching and feeling themselves and their surroundings. This, in part, is how they learn what feels good or bad. The touching of one's own genitals should likewise be a natural thing, but for some reason (and unfortunately) this outlook isn't always shared by educators and parents. By recognizing masturbation as a natural part of sexual exploration, we can help remove some of the stigma that surrounds it.

It Provides Us with a Solid Foundation for Partner Sex

Let's face it, sex with a partner for the first time can be a scary experience. It's hard to know what turns your partner on if you've never been with them before, but it's even harder to know what you like if you've never masturbated. Masturbation can provide a firm foundation for partnered sex as it will likely increase a person's awareness of how his or her own body responds to certain methods of touch while also increasing their confidence and their ability to communicate these preferences. (Read more about how masturbation can help sexual response in 10 Things You Don't Know About Self Love.)

Considering all of the above, increased education about masturbation can only be a positive thing. It's about time we took the stigma out of self-pleasure.