Masturbation: The benefits of becoming your ‘own lover’
A relationship and intimacy coach outlines some of the pros of pleasuring yourself every so often.
Self-pleasure is a form of self-care said intimacy coach Tracy Ziman-Jacobs. Picture Hein Kaiser
Intimacy and relationships are essential components of our lives, but it can be challenging to navigate these complex topics. This is particularly true when taking matters into your own hands, so to speak.
Masturbation has long been a taboo, a silent indulgence that nobody admits to. People remain sensitive about this, but it seems as if things are changing, too.
Tracy Ziman-Jacobs of Totally Me, a relationship and intimacy coach, sheds some light on how to approach these sensitive subjects.
Masturbation is not ‘sinful and shameful’
Tracy emphasizes the importance of reframing the negative connotations associated with masturbation, which is often viewed as sinful and shameful. Instead, she advocates for using the term “self-pleasure” to describe this act of self-love.
She said: “A person watching porn or reading a magazine with a flashlight in the dark, under covers, or masturbating very quickly so that they can’t be discovered, or can’t be walked in on. It has so many religious stigmas attached to it and hellfire, brimstone and hairy palm urban legends and it’s just such a loaded word.
So I like to use the word self-pleasure and move completely away from the word masturbation, because when we were engaged in self-pleasure, we actually engage in self-love”
Tracy said that the pandemic, and concomitant lockdown, had a lot to do with the explosion in self-care, equally so when it comes to self-pleasure.
She said: “Covid and lockdown and the fact that we weren’t always able to get our need for touch met by other people was an opportunity for people to start buying toys online. Consequently, the online toy industry just exploded, and people were starting to explore their sexuality more and more. They were spending a lot more time alone with themselves. And I think introspection across the board was the norm.”
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Self-care is a lifestyle
While self-care may seem like just another fad or buzzword, Tracy said that it’s been a lifestyle in the making for a few years.
She said: “This includes ideas like the way I look after my body, the way I put lotion on after a shower or a bath. The way I focus on my needs. What do I want? What do I feel at this present moment? How can I get my needs met? It’s no longer selfish to care for oneself, and self-pleasure is just part of that self-care process which, in turn, leads to self-love.”
She said that self-pleasure can bring several benefits, such as reducing stress, improving mental health, and boosting self-esteem. Additionally, by taking control of our own pleasure, we can become our own lover and experience a sense of self-empowerment.
The realisation that an individual has agency on their bodies and can produce pleasure for themselves can be powerful, said Tracy.
She added: “It completely shifts the mind and the mood. You learn to be your own lover. Your hands become your lovers and they can explore your own body and give pleasure to yourself without having to depend on somebody else to give you that. And for me, that is such self-empowerment.”
When we achieve orgasm, we are activating our para-sympathetic nervous system, which is responsible for releasing our ‘feel good’ hormones such as serotonin, dopamine and oxytocin.
Tracy said: “These chemicals that are constantly flooding the body just make us feel better. It’s good for a sense of self-esteem. When I am making myself feel good, I walk taller. I have more sexual energy running through me all the time. I feel more confident, and I feel sexier too. My self-esteem suddenly is so much higher than it was before because I have a sense of power over myself. It’s good for headaches. It’s good for stress, it’s good for you.”