I remember when I first discovered that my body had erogenous zone - it was 1995 and I was around the age of 12. The memory is so vivid I can still remember it like it was yesterday, I was watching the BBC’s new release of Pride and Prejudice. It was the first time I saw the charming Mr Darcy and fell in love with Colin Firth. However my affection for Mr Darcy had nothing to do with my first masturbatory experience.
We had an old TV in our dining room, it had buttons on the TV that you had to press in order to change the channel. Because I liked to channel hop I didn't want to watch from the dining room table, I also didn't want to sit on the cold tile floor, so I balanced my little frame on a basketball.
As my booty innocently rolled around on the ball, I lost balance slightly and my body lunged forward, all of a sudden I felt a twinge in my nether regions. I had no idea what it was, but I knew it felt mildly pleasant.
That was the start of my journey into self-discovery. Of course it would be many more years before I really discover my sensuality but every girl always remembers their first sexual experience and like many such experiences, it was painful, awkward and over before I knew it. He was a lot more experienced than myself, I told myself that he knew what he was doing and eventually my body and mind would catch up …. it didn't. As time went on sex became less painful and I learnt a lot about penetration but as far as orgasms are concerned, I was no closer to the things I saw on TV….Samantha from Sex and the City, I’m talking to you.
It was actually an episode of Sex and the City that started me on my journey of accepting my body and the beautiful thing that was an orgasm. After my roll on the basketball at age 12 and discovering those elusive pressure points I did continue to explore throughout the years, but my immature brain did not know that I was in fact “masturbating”. What I was doing felt good, but it also felt wrong, and for many years I would feel guilty after I got myself off.
I have always wondered when I thought back to these early experiences, how I knew that what I was doing was something that is shrouded by guilt and shame, no one knew I masturbated, I did it in private when no one was around, yet innately it felt wrong. Is it possible that it was a sign of losing control and the idea of losing control in any situation would be considered shameful? Or maybe it is because as little girls we are taught to never touch our private parts, we are taught that it's an area we should never draw attention to so as we grow we simply learn to be ashamed of our female parts? I would love to know the opinion and thoughts of my readers.
Back to my story. At around 17 or so I watched an episode of Sex and the City where Charlotte’s vagina might be depressed, the episode ends with her checking herself out with a handheld mirror. I decided I wanted to do the same thing, so I waited for a quiet afternoon when the house was empty of almost everyone except my mother, who was working in the garden. I locked myself in the bathroom with a mirror, took off my panties and sat down spreadeagled on my bathroom floor. If I am completely honest with my readers I didn’t like what I saw, being of Asian heritage meant the skin around my vagina was darker than the rest of my body, and the slight protrusion of my Labia Minora made me feel like my insides were falling out, I cried as I viewed myself. How will anyone like what they see? I had seen porno's by this age and my vagina did not look like the cute little perfectly pigmented vaginas you see in those movies. I put away the mirror and sulked to myself, at that stage of my life I was going through an ugly duckling phase, seeing myself when I was at a vulnerable time just confirmed to me that I was grotesque.
So the mirror went away but I did start to explore down there. I started with exploring the outside, I knew I had a clitoris, I knew what its was, I knew where it was, and I knew that it was extremely sensitive and unpleasant to touch. My boyfriend at that time had a misguided belief that my clitoris was actually a bit higher than its actual location. When I started exploring myself I found out how much I enjoy having the outside of my vagina stroked, the place where the vagina meets the tops of my thighs, while it isn't a pleasure point, it was a comfort point, a place that would build the anticipation of what I knew was about to come next. So I learned that I liked to be teased. I liked to withhold pleasure.
The next thing I discovered was the little pressure points around the sides of my vagina, close to wear the clitoris was located but on the outside of the Labia Majora. These were the spots I hit when I rolled over the basketball. I call them pressure points because whenever I feel tense, regardless of it being regular stress or sexual tension, I can reach down and press on the point and it feels like pressure is being released.
The third thing I discovered about myself as time went on was that although I didn’t like my clit to be directly stimulated, I did like the surrounding area played with, I liked it get my fingers behind it and rub it from behind, this was something that I would have never discovered had I not been intentional with my search for all my pleasure points.
The things I learned about my body helped me to realize that it wasn’t up to my lover to teach me about sex and intimacy, no matter how much more experience he had. It was up to me to understand myself and up to me to teach my partner how I liked to be touched. I grew up in a time where the internet was in its infancy and most of my knowledge about sex came from the other girls I went to school with, not being able to orgasm was a common discussion, understandably we were also dealing with inexperienced young men so we were all just fools trying to navigate in the dark. The subject of masturbation with still very much taboo among girls and it was a belief that only males masturbate.
Ultimately the relationship I had with my boyfriend at age 17 didn't last, while my shy self was not able to communicate properly and I was unable to tell my boyfriend at the time how I wanted to be touched for fear that he would look at me as though I was a freak or even worse … unfeminine. Discovering my pressure points meant I could adjust my position during sex to ensure my pressure points were hit and thus I became the only girl in my year to know what a real orgasm felt like.
It wasn't until years later that I discovered my voice and I openly began teaching my partners how to touch and tease me. Now you can't shut me up if you tried... unless you have a gag handy.
So we have looked at the self-discovery and enhanced sex life as the main benefit of masturbation but there's an array of benefits that also come with having a fiddle.
Stress relief. What do most people do in times of stress? They eat, they smoke, they over consume alcohol, some people even turn to drugs, the reason they do this is because it floods the brain with dopamine, the same chemical that causes some of us to get addicted to the substances listed above. Having an orgasm releases the same chemical. So in times of stress, have a good fiddle and save your wallet and your waistline.
Helps you fall asleep. I am notorious for falling asleep after sex. Occasionally I will find myself with an hour to spare, days when I finish my work a little early and before the kids get home from school, I always take advantage of that hour with a quick solo session, this always leads to a 20 minute power nap and I wake up refreshed and ready to tackle the second half of the day. Melanie Wenner of Scienceline states
“Oxytocin and vasopressin, two other chemicals released during orgasm, are also associated with sleep. Their release frequently accompanies that of melatonin, the primary hormone that regulates our body clocks. Oxytocin is also thought to reduce stress levels, which again could lead to relaxation and sleepiness.”
Elevates mood. Have you ever seen a guy without that smug cheesy grin on his face after he’s finished? I get that face too. The post orgasm glow I always called it, it makes me feel lighter and smile a little bigger, I’m sure it has to do with the rush of feel good chemicals that just hit my brain but it also makes me smile because of the naughtiness of a mid day play.
So is there a downside to masturbation? With all good things there is always a potential downfall, we are grown ups here so we know that masturbating does not lead to blindness and will not make your palms hairy. But for some folks, masturbation can become addictive, I have asked myself that question before, there have been times during stressful periods that I found myself masturbating multiple times a day, I asked a therapist if this is something I should be concerned about. Her response was as long as it didn't cause me to miss work of school, it didn't affect my personal relationships or cause me to engage in risky behaviors such as masturbating at work, and also did not interfere with my other daily functioning then it didn't matter how often I masturbated. If anyone does have these symptoms you should seek help from a healthcare professional.
The chances of masturbation becoming addictive is rare so you shouldn’t let it hinder your self discovery. When the kids go to bed, grab some wine, grab your partner if they’re around and have a play. Don’t go straight for the usual script, in fact make it a game and don’t do anything you normally do.
As for learning to love my vagina, it took a little time, but as I learned to love what my body could do, I learned to love my body as a whole. Now I embrace my body, I embrace my scars and discoloration, my body is beautiful as it is, no Photoshopped body or Facetuning will make me question my self love again.