What you need to know:
- Masturbation is one of the ways many people in relationships learn or discover what turns them on.
- The difference, just as with other activities including intercourse, is doing it too much and without self-control.
- Masturbation may cause more harm than good if each partner in the sexual relationship attaches an opposing meaning to it.
What would you do if you found out that your partner masturbates regularly behind your back? For many people in relationships, masturbation is perceived as wrong and unnecessary. This is because frequent sexual activity in a relationship is considered adequate.
Who does it more?
According to David Ley, the author of Insatiable Wives: Women Who Stray and the Men Who Love Them, some of the reasons people in relationships opt to engage in masturbation include the desire for sexual pleasure and sexual fulfillment, stress release, and the desire to experience private and self-focused sensations without the distraction of a partner. According to research by the University of Indiana, men usually masturbate more than women, in certain instances, men will masturbate almost twice as much as women. Nonetheless, with the advent of sexual liberation and sexual accessories, more women are finding ways of meeting their solo sexual desires. Despite the occurrence of masturbation, the activity is looked down upon, and in some quarters, it is seen as criminal and unholy. But is it?
Medically, masturbation releases up to five hormone reactions. It produces the hormones dopamine, endorphins, oxytocin, testosterone, and prolactin. Dopamine is a hormone that influences how you feel pleasure and is sometimes referred to as the happiness hormone. Endorphins are neurotransmitters that increase feelings of pleasure and wellbeing, and reduce pain and discomfort. Oxytocin is associated with social bonding, reproduction, childbirth and post childbirth. This hormone is sometimes known as the love hormone. Testosterone is the hormone released during sex or sexual fantasies to improve arousal and stamina. Prolactin influences among other things, good mood. “Masturbation is often demonised, but evidence shows it produces very positive hormonal reactions. The difference, just as with other activities including intercourse, is doing it too much and without self-control,” says clinical psychologist Levin Kariuki.
The good side of masturbation
This shows that masturbation has its bag of benefits too. In addition to hormonal stimulation, masturbation is one of the ways a partner who is suffering from premature ejaculation can remedy their sexual shortcomings. For instance, according to Michael Castleman, the author of Great Sex, masturbation can be used to build control over the ejaculatory reflexes. “In sex therapy for problems such as premature ejaculation in men and arousal and orgasm difficulties in women, masturbation is a fundamental part of the treatment,” he says. Masturbation is one of the ways many people in relationships learn or discover what turns them on. “Partner sex does not replace masturbation. Rather, masturbation and partner sex become complementary,” says Castleman.
Knowing your body best
According to Kariuki, the game can change if, rather than viewing masturbation as a tool of judging each other’s sexuality, it is viewed as an art to rediscovering your body and your body’s pleasure zones. “The best form of intimacy is when each partner knows and communicates with their partner. Masturbation presents the best chance of discovering your personal pleasure areas individually before you can invite your partner,” he says. He refutes the claim that it is a criminal, selfish and unholy act. “It is not illegal. Neither is it a form of sexual orientation. It is part of sexual exploration which each partner in the relationship should be encouraged to try as a way of spicing things in their love life,” he says.
Why it is demonised
Masturbation in relationships and marriages can be tied to sexual discontentment rather than sexual frequency. According to Ley, this means the conviction that a partner is sexually dissatisfied is not likely to be altered by increased sexual frequency. “Instead, a partner will masturbate more when he or she feels unsatisfied in a bid to meet needs other than just frequency of orgasms,” he says. In many instances of solo sex, a masturbating partner might find themselves increasing the frequency and intervals of their sexual relations in a bid to increase their level of satisfaction.
The place of masturbation in a relationship can be discomforting if the two partners are not aligned. According to Castleman, masturbation may cause more harm than good if each partner in the sexual relationship attaches an opposing meaning to it. For example, in a relationship or marriage, the man may view masturbation as a form of relaxation or enjoyment while the woman may view it as a form of infidelity. “Frequent masturbation may also end up killing one partner’s interest in partner sex,” he says. He also points out that in cases where one partner is overly excited about engaging in solo sex than partner sex, the couple should consider going for sex therapy to nip their sexual incompatibility in the bud.