Masturbation isn’t working?

A reader wrote in (edited for spelling and punctuation):

Question for Matt & Jess: I’ve tried masturbating because I’m 14 (and a girl) and NOT ready for sex. But I feel nothing! No pleasure or any thing! And I know all of my parts down there, too. Should I see a doctor?
— 14 year-old female, June 28, 2013

MATT:  It never hurts to ask your doctor questions about sex, or you can ask an older woman in your family whom you can trust to keep the discussion private. Definitely bring it up with your doctor at your next check-up. If you don’t feel comfortable with your regular doctor, you can see a gynecologist.

You may not be feeling any response to your masturbation because of perfectly normal psychological elements of your life. You may be nervous or uncomfortable about what you are doing, just because it’s the first time you’ve tried, or possibly because adults have told you that masturbation is wrong. (A lot of adults do say that, usually giving a religious reason.) It’s also possible that your body is not responding because you aren’t thinking about anything that is a sexual turn-on to you. At your age, it’s really okay not to be ready for sex, and so it’s okay not have any turn-ons. When the right time comes that you feel a strong sexual urge (which may be when you’re older), and you are calm and okay with what you are doing, get into a private, comfortable space, physically and mentally, and your body should respond.

JESS: I was actually rather glad to read that you’re “NOT ready for sex” — I was a lot more confused during my teenage years as to whether I was really ready or not!

I think masturbation should be a pleasurable, natural thing to do. Some religions consider masturbation to be a bad activity. To me, I always reasoned that it was a solo activity where no one was being harmed. If you have guilty feelings about masturbation, then it’s probably those feelings that are standing in the way of your enjoyment from solo sexual pleasure (and you might have to spend a bit of time thinking about how much control you wish to have of your own personal sexual development and sexual feelings).

If it’s not guilty feelings that are getting in the way, my guess is that you’re attempting to follow what “should be working” for masturbation. For instance, some women enjoy masturbating only when they’re lying down on their backs and gently stimulating their clitoris with their fingers. Some females don’t experience any pleasure at all when they first insert a finger or some other small object when they’re masturbating.

I don’t think it’s necessary to see a doctor (in terms of your body being “not physically responsive” to masturbation at the moment — as in, I don’t think it’s a medical condition where something is wrong), though you can talk to your doctor about it if it will give you some peace of mind.

Pleasure from masturbation will come about when you feel you want and need sexual urges to be released. I suppose this happens at different speeds for different people — stay relaxed and let your body go at its own pace to discover what you like naturally.

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