Bleats

Can Your Masturbation Be Too Hard, Too Often, Or Too Reliant On Sex Toys?

Everyone is different, so is everyone normal?

Whether you use your hands, a sex toy, a pillow, a sock, your legs, or whatever your technique of choice might be, masturbation is something very enjoyable, and very individualised. By nature of being individualised, stigmatised, (mostly) discovered alone and done alone, it makes sense that a lot of us stress about how ‘normal’ our masturbation routines are. Or more accurately, how ‘normal’ our masturbation routines are not. 

You are definitely not alone if you’ve ever had questions like: Will using a vibrator too much desensitise my genitals? Will using sex toys alone ruin sex with other people? Do I use too firm a grip on my penis? Do I stimulate my clitoris too vigourously? Am I the only one who masturbates this way? Am I masturbating more often than is appropriate? More than is normal?

Most of these worries come back to one overarching question: Am I masturbating wrong?

Basically, the lack of education about sex has left a lot of us wondering whether there is a wrong way to masturbate that’s going to damage you, or damage your ability to enjoy, and orgasm during, sex with other people. So let’s clear up some myths and find the facts amid the fiction.

Is There A Right Or Wrong Amount To Masturbate?

Unfortunately, any amount of masturbation can potentially feel like ‘too much’ because of the stigma that shrouds self-pleasure. A lot of people have feelings of guilt and shame attached to masturbation, though in reality there’s nothing to be ashamed of. Even if you’re on the end of the spectrum of people who masturbate ‘a lot’, that in itself is not a problem.

“You’re only masturbating or touching yourself too much if you can no longer go to work, you can no longer eat, you’re no longer seeing people that you like or love, you’re not breathing, you’re not living. Pretty much.” accredited sex educator and intimacy coach, Georgia Grace told GOAT on episode six of the Thinking Between The Thighs podcast.

The appropriate frequency for you to masturbate depends entirely on the individual person, what feels good to you and what you have time for in your day. There’s no such thing as ‘masturbating too much’ if you’re still getting on with things in a healthy way. There’s no inherent harm to masturbating frequently, or an arbitrary number of times a day, week or year to do it. It’s all relative and up to you to decide what works for you. 

Will Masturbating With Sex Toys Desensitise You?

Masturbation with sex toys is normal, fun, and, in spite of popular myth, not going to destroy your genitals. For people with vulvas, there’s a widespread fear that if you masturbate with vibrating sex toys the intensity of those vibrations may ‘desensitise’ your clitoris or any part of your genitals, making it increasingly difficult to feel pleasure and climax alone or with a partner. But as many sex experts confirmed for us, it’s just not true.

“You can’t destroy nerve endings.” Georgia Grace told GOAT on Thinking Between The Thighs. “What might happen is just like if you were to lean on your arm for too long or have your legs crossed for too long you feel slightly numb or there’s not much sensation there. But the sensations will come back.”

Will ‘Death-Grip’ Masturbation Desensitise You?

Death-Grip Syndrome is a term coined in 2003 by noted sex advice columnist, podcaster, journalist and activist, Dan Savage. It denotes a certain style of masturbation where an intensely aggressive grip on your penis becomes the only way you can experience pleasure and climax. 

Aside from the potential for injury, the issue here is not so much that the death-grip itself is ‘wrong’. It’s that it’s specific and hard to replicate outside of masturbation. Despite what you might read online, the tight grip won’t desensitise your penis.

Masturbating with the same technique every time will just wire your pleasure expectations to need that same stimulation every time. And if that’s not something that can be replicated by any human orifice, you’ll need to change your routine to be able to climax in those other situations.

Habits And ‘Idiosyncratic Masturbation’

Most problems that we attribute to masturbating too hard, too much, or with too much reliance on sex toys, is actually just a problem of how specific and monotonous your masturbation routine is. Becoming reliant on the stimulation of vibrating sex toys or the ‘death-grip’ are only two examples in what is essentially an infinite spectrum of ways that your masturbation habits might have developed. 

“Like anything, if you develop a habit around something your body will get used to that.” Georgia Grace told GOAT on Thinking Between The Thighs. “It starts expecting it, and it may affect the way that you have sex in other ways, for example, with other people. So, for example, if you are in the exact same position, you use the exact same hand, the exact same pressure and movements, you’re perhaps stimulated by the same porn, or you’ve really developed a habit around how you masturbate, your body will learn that. And when you’re going to have sex with another person there may not be that stimulation.”

One term used to describe specific masturbation habits that the body becomes reliant on to achieve pleasure is Idiosyncratic Masturbation, or, Idiosyncratic Masturbation Style. So it’s not that you’re masturbating wrong, you might just be masturbating in only one idiosyncratic way. Our ability to experience sexual pleasure – and especially sexual pleasure from another person – benefits from keeping up a mixture of masturbation techniques.

Switching It Up Is The Solution

The official advice from sexologists to move past a sex toy reliance and/or idiosyncratic masturbation style and be able to experience pleasure through a range of stimulation, is to switch it up. It’s the greatest homework you’ll ever receive: explore any and all ways to make your body feel sexual pleasure.

Of course, it can be frustrating to try to find new ways to experience pleasure when the urgency to reach climax may make you want to return to your trusted technique. It takes patience, and maybe a strategy like the one suggested by Georgia Grace on GOAT’s Thinking Between The Thighs podcast.

“Perhaps create two inquiries, or two situations, where you do still masturbate in a way that makes you feel good, but then you set aside another time that you can explore self-pleasure and masturbation in a different way. So you don’t feel like you’re being robbed of something that, you know, makes you feel good.”

Instead of rushing to climax, this exercise can be about exploring and enjoying the stages of pleasure that come before.

“The greatest sex organ we have is our brain, so it’s really slowing down rather than the fast hard localised intensity,” sex therapist Alinda Small told GOAT. “It’s more the sort of slower, you know, pleasure zone that we get into, that takes a little bit longer at first, but, you know, it’s rewiring.”

No amount or style of masturbation will be likely to ‘ruin’ your genitals past the point of no return. You just need to have the patience and dedication to rewire the way your body expects stimulation to reach pleasure climaxes if you want things to change.

Science For Sex Toys And Masturbation

We can’t talk about masturbation without mentioning the many, many, benefits. Firstly, there are real psychological benefits to masturbating and we’ve got the science to prove it.

“It can be really good for those neurochemicals, the release of dopamine and oxytocin – those feel good, love, cuddle, hormones, that leave you feeling good for up to an hour after masturbating, or reaching climax or orgasm.” Georgia Grace told GOAT on Thinking Between The Thighs.

To be even more specific, oxytocin mediates cortisol – our stress hormone – so masturbating can actively reduce stress levels and blood pressure, sex therapist Chantelle Otten explained on Triple j’s The Hook Up.

So feel validated by the fact that indulging in a session – whether that be hands on, sex toys out, or whatever makes you feel good – is not only going to be a great time, but also make everything after it better too. So masturbating, and ‘pre-bating’ (masturbating specifically to relieve yourself before an event, which could be a date, work, sleep, or anything you might want to de-stress before), are scientifically proven to be good for you.

Masturbation Means Better Sex

In spite of the misinformed panic that masturbation and using sex toys might ‘ruin’ sex with other people, it really has the power to make all kinds of sex better. Masturbation is one of the greatest tools for self-exploration that we have at our disposal. It allows you to find out what works for you so that you can use that and communicate that during sex with other people.

“For so many people, the best way to find out what you like, or how you like to be touched, is to really practice on yourself.” Georgia Grace told GOAT on Thinking Between The Thighs. “Because feeling good and having good sex is like learning a language. You wouldn’t expect to be speaking fluent German after a one hour lesson, just like you wouldn’t have the best orgasms or the best climax in your life after a one hour session. Hopefully it’s a lifetime of inquiry around sex and pleasure.”

That process of self-discovery through masturbation is a big part of the teachings of world-renowned sex therapist and ‘The Orgasm Whisperer’, Vanessa Marin. Marin points out in an article for Lifehacker that “through masturbation, you can learn invaluable lessons like, “my clitoris should never be touched directly” or “a little tug on my balls is enough to launch me into outer space.”

She also highlights that you can use masturbation to learn to last longer during sex. The idea is that you aim to masturbate for approximately as long as you would like to last during sex with a partner or partners, so practicing techniques like the stop-start method can help you build endurance.

Plus, as sex educator Lisa Finn told Refinery29, for those of us with vulvas, masturbating on the regular can exercise the pelvic floor muscles and mean more powerful orgasms down the path. 

It Feels Damn Good

Touching yourself, having some solo time with your sex toy, or whatever you want to do, doesn’t need to be a ‘guilty pleasure’, because there’s no need to feel guilty about it. Masturbation being pleasurable is reason enough to make it worth our while.

“It makes you feel good, and that’s I guess the most important thing is that often we don’t value feeling good. Georgia Grace told GOAT on Thinking Between The Thighs. We live in a world that we’re, we have to be busy, we have to work hard, we have to constantly be doing and being and being somewhere. But it’s really important to allow yourself to feel good, and masturbation can be a form of self love, and can be a form of self-pleasure, and it’s important to value things that make you feel good.”