As someone who didn’t masturbate until I was 32, I’ve had plenty to learn and unlearn about self-pleasure, orgasms, and my own sexuality. I’d like to think that if anyone had told me a little bit about masturbation (other than the threat of hairy palms or blindness), I might have found my clitoris and my G-spot much earlier. Since I didn’t get the benefit of this wisdom, I’m passing it on to anyone who needs to hear it.

Masturbation Is Nothing to Be Ashamed Of!

Masturbation, back in the school-age days, was a topic of derision and laughter. I didn’t realize that all the guys who teased each other about jacking off were actually doing it all the time. We didn’t talk about sex at home, and sexual pleasure certainly wasn’t a topic, either. My only experience with the concept of masturbation was the way it was used as a cudgel to beat people farther down the hierarchy found in a group of teenagers. Too many people who masturbated were embarrassed and those of us who didn’t (at the time) thought we shouldn’t.

Everyone Masturbates

Clearly not everyone masturbates all the time since I managed to wait 32 years until I finally did, but a lot of people do. Very few people admit it, though, and that’s the problem. Instead of letting this normal act of self-pleasure see the light of day, people hide it as if it’s a dirty little secret. In 1994, the U.S. Surgeon General was forced to resign because she dared to suggest masturbation as a healthy, safe alternative to penetrative sex. No wonder some of our views on the subject are so warped.

It Feels Damn Good

For people like me who hesitated, we probably wouldn’t if we knew how good it can feel. Sure, the first couple of times are awkward, but sexual pleasure still happens, especially when you find that just-right spot. Masturbate often enough, and you become an expert in your own pleasure. The quickest orgasm I ever have is the one I give myself.

Masturbation Is Good for Your Health

Really, why is this not being shouted from a mountaintop? (Or at least from the highest reaches of the Internet?) Masturbation can help you sleep better, relieve headaches, ease menstrual cramps, and ease tension and anxiety. Now that I know this, I masturbate more often because an orgasm feels good, but falling asleep and beating back anxiety feel better.

No One Knows Unless You Tell Them

While I don’t think we should feel shame about masturbation, the reality is that many people do. That shouldn’t stop you from wanking away and coming as many times as you can. No one has a clue you’re getting yourself off unless you tell them. Although, showing them like this guy did isn’t OK.

You Can Use Sex Toys

I feel like this was the worst thing to not know. On some level, I knew this. Why else would women speak in hushed tones about their “personal friend” or “special toy?” Sex toys get you off (sometimes) and they break up that same back and forth motion we use with our hand or fingers when we masturbate. New sensations, different kinds of orgasms, and a unique way to play - why didn’t anyone tell me?!

You Learn So Much About Yourself

I found out I could squirt because of masturbation. I found my G-spot through masturbation. My first experience with controlled orgasms - edging and forced orgasms - was over the phone in my then-long distance relationship. That’s just me. There’s no telling what you can learn about yourself and your body when you masturbate.

You Can Masturbate Together

We think of masturbation as a solo act, but it doesn’t have to be. You can get off side by side or while watching each other. You’ll learn how your partner likes to be touched. They’ll learn about you. I found a new turn-on this way. Watching my penis-having partner fist himself, stroke his cock a certain way, curl his toes, and arch his back during masturbation is one of the hottest things I’ve ever seen.

For relieving tension, making yourself feel good, and getting off whether you’re single or not, nothing beats masturbation (pun definitely intended). Maybe if we heard more of the positive benefits and spent less time pretending we’re not all wanking away, more of us would be healthier in our sexual activities and views. It really is the safest sex you can ever have, and sometimes, some of the best, too.