5 Things That Happen When You Quit Masturbating

May 18, 2011 at 5:02pm | Leave a comment

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 Of all the firsts that pave the path to adulthood – first four-digit paycheck, first king-sized bed, first office desk of my own – nothing made me feel more like a grown-ass woman than my first vibrator. Odd, since it was actually a purple, monkey-themed sex toy with the alarming feature of a vibrating banana.

As a sex writer, Charlie the Chimp soon gave way to sophisticated gadgets that came in velvet-lined boxes and had multiple speeds. I was, on more than one occasion, paid to masturbate and then write about the quality of said masturbation.


So when my therapist suggested a masturbation moratorium, my internal reaction was “Oh hell, no.” And yet, the suggestion didn’t come out of nowhere. After almost 7 years with the same two sets of genitals, my partner and I gotten so efficient at getting each other off  that it had started to feel like we were having sex next to each other instead of together.

It was worth a shot.

1. You really, really want to masturbate.

When I’d first discovered the world of self-gratification as a pre-teen,  I might have gotten a bit carried away with the whole "Holy crap, I can touch myself and it feels awesome!" thing. Since graduating to actual men, however, I masturbated at most what I believed to be a very reasonable two or three times a week.

But once it was off the table, masturbation quickly became the white elephant that I wasn’t supposed to think about. Lying in bed at night, my genitals seemed to emit a faint homing signal like a slowly blinking Morse code spelling out “Touch me, touch me….” I suddenly understood why old-timey people used to tie their hands to the bedposts so they wouldn't go blind/crazy/have too much fun.

2. You get cranky

By Day 3, I seemed to be going through a period of mild withdrawal similar to the time I launched an ill-fated Diet Coke detox (1/1/08, never forget). I developed a low-grade headache, felt an increase in my stress levels and was so irritable that after a week of snapping at my co-workers, one of them finally yelled, "WHY are you in such a BAD mood?"

Masturbation withdrawal may sound far-fetched, but masturbation releases a delicious cocktail of feel-good chemicals and hormones and whatnots, so it seemed reasonable to me that my body was all like, "Hey where'd that awesome stuff go?"  Especially since too much sugar or missing a meal or eating at a restaurant that doesn't have Diet Coke (seriously, is this not America?) can send me into an adolescent fit.

3. You get horny ... and stay that way

Before, when I felt aroused, I took care of it in the moment, with or without assistance. By treating my sexual urges as a trim to be hedged, I had neglected to nurture the seeds that, carefully tended to, will blossom into desire. (Yes, my sexuality is a beautiful flower, deal with it. )

The build-up to satisfaction went from minutes to days, sometimes a week. Orgasm became an event to be longed for and fantasized about instead of another item to check off my to-do list like dry-cleaning. Now when I found myself unexpectedly in the mood, my thoughts turned to “Won’t it be nice when my boyfriend gets home…” instead of “Where the hell did I put that Hitachi Magic wand?”

4. You get a little rape-y.

Of course, relying on my partner to fulfill all my sexual needs had its own downside. Like, apparently, he isn’t always in the mood to act as a member of my personal stud farm. Sometimes he was “tired” and once he actually even had a headache. No wonder that excuse has become a cultural punch line -- it’s freaking frustrating.

I started to identify with all the men who had ever pressured, cajoled and in a few  sad instances, even begged me to come on, just for a minute, but baby it hurts. Dignity flies out the window when you're desparate to get down. 

5.The actual sex gets better

This is the surprising one! Because I was hornier, I was genuinely excited from the get-go during partner sex, instead of taking my usual 20 minutes to warm up and decide this was more fun than watching "Project Runway" after all. Pre-masturbation ban, I frequently took over the controls to climax, but strict adherence to the letter of the law meant I was now had to relax and leave that shizz to my man. And while I used to have some occasional trouble getting off, now I finished quickly and easily.

Masturbation is good for you – from keeping estrogen flowing to aiding in self-discovery to being a simple expression of autonomy over a woman’s own body, its benefits are unquestionable. But for me, limiting sexual intimacy to a shared experience was the kickstart my relationship needed.

And despite those purists who would insist that self-love is an essential part of a healthy sex life, the truth is that human sexuality is one big, weird buffet with no one essential dish, whether masturbation or even intercourse. I may not like my green beans touching my mashed potatoes and someone else might want to heap everything into one big, mushy pile of glop. And that's part of the fun of it -- how you arrange your plate is entirely up to you.

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