Author Team BLOOM | Reviewed by Hina J. Talib, M.D.
Self body exploration is the natural process of exploring your body, learning how to identify its many parts, and figuring out what type of touch feels best for you and where. It is a journey of self discovery of our body, its functions, and the sensations we feel when being touched in certain ways.
This type of exploration can start with something as simple as lightly touching the inside of your arm, with your palm faced up, from the underside of your wrist, all the way up to the inside of your elbow. Whether you like the feeling or not, this is a perfect example of experimenting with different types of touch and the sensations you might feel.
Teens and Body or Self-Exploration
Your young person will be curious to explore their own body and each of its parts. It is normal for them to do this kind of self-exploration and helps them understand what they like, what feels comfortable, and the different ways their body reacts to touch and sensations.
As your young person grows older, they will start to become their own independent person. Exploring by touching their own body is an important and helpful way for them to learn their anatomy and the types of touch that feel safe, comfortable, and pleasurable to them.
People of all ages, genders, abilities, sexualities, ethnicities, cultures, religions, and relationship statuses have a right to experience pleasure and explore their bodies and preferences through self pleasure. This is a normal and healthy part of growing up and something that usually starts to happen as early as when we are babies!
Teens and Sexual Exploration (Masturbation)
Touching or rubbing the genitals in a pleasurable way is often called masturbation. Masturbation is when you stimulate your own genitals for sexual pleasure, sometimes to the point of orgasm. As your young person enters into the stages of puberty and beyond, they might become interested in this type of touching. This is completely normal and healthy when done in private or with a consenting partner.
It’s important for your young person to truly know their own body, including their genitals. It is essential to their health and well-being and can be a powerful tool to help them be able to advocate for themselves throughout their life.
Below you can find more information about masturbation and some questions your young person may have. You can also explore our Healthy Body section to learn more about body parts like breasts, vulvas and vaginas, or the penis that can help you navigate this subject with your adolescent.
10 Top Masturbation FAQs
1. Do people of all genders masturbate?
Yes! People of all genders masturbate throughout their lives, but there can be big differences in acceptability within the gender binary.
Culture, societal pressure, gender role, and gender expression expectations can create barriers that impede those who identify as women from exploring their bodies with freedom and confidence. We are working to break through this stigma so that everybody can feel confident and comfortable in experiencing self-pleasure without personal limitations.
2. Is it more common to masturbate during puberty?
Yes! Many will, but some will not. As your adolescent’s body grows, develops, and enters into the stages of puberty, their sense of body awareness will mature as well. An increase of sexual hormones during this stage may also elicit feelings of sexual tension and curiosity to explore their own developing body and sexuality.
Masturbation is a normal part of adolescence. Most younger adolescents will discover that masturbation is sexually pleasurable and can lead to a journey of self-discovery.
3. Are there benefits to masturbation?
Yes! There are several benefits to exploring the body through masturbation!
- Know yourself: Self-exploration is a way for your young person to get to know their anatomy and appreciate their amazing body. It is also a way to discover what is normal or not normal in case they are experiencing a medical condition that needs attention from a doctor. And if they find something out of the ordinary then they should always seek medical advice from their doctor.
- Curiosity: Being curious about their own developing body is a normal part of self-discovery for your adolescent.
- Exploring sexuality: It is normal for your adolescent to explore their body by themselves. It can help develop a feeling of comfort and confidence about how their body works, feels, functions, and responds to touch.
- Orgasms: Practice makes perfect, and developing a sense of what is pleasurable can give confidence to your adolescent and can increase the likelihood of them achieving organsms.
- Discovering what feels good: Knowing what feels good and what does not will help develop your adolescent’s sense of body boundaries and limits. They will also learn how to communicate what feels good when they decide to share their body with a partner.
- Stress release: Self-pleasure can release tension and promote a sense of relaxation
- Expression of sexuality development: Self-pleasure can help your adolescent gain confidence and security in knowing their body and self.
4. Can masturbation become too frequent?
Yes, only if:
- The act of self-pleasure interrupts the ability to complete or perform daily or social activities.
- There are medical complications such as soreness in the limbs, hands, or genital region, OR blisters, rashes, or redness from excessive friction.
5. When does masturbation become abnormal?
- Masturbation in public is never normal or acceptable. Being socially responsible and respectful is always necessary and making sure that there is always privacy is a must.
- When someone is unable to delay their need for this self-gratification out of the respect of others or context of the situation.
- When someone becomes so preoccupied with masturbating that they become withdrawn from performing activities or interacting socially with others.
- If someone becomes dependant on masturbation as the primary means to deal with their emotions
6. Is self-pleasuring or masturbation addictive?
If someone feels like they are unable to control their urge for self-pleasure, they could be doing it compulsively. They should explore the reasons for their frequent masturbation so that they can substitute other positive activities that may fill that need.
Some individuals may masturbate to relieve tension. Finding other ways to release stress and anxiety can develop a life skill that is more balanced. Participating in this activity should be done with control.
7. What can you do if masturbation privacy is breached?
Masturbating is something that is private to each individual, so if someone walks in on another person, it can feel embarrassing for them both. If someone is caught in this situation they can try and laugh it off and ask for privacy. Everyone deserves to experience self-pleasure, but in private.
If an individual accidentally breaches the privacy of someone else masturbating, apologize and immediately give them their privacy back.
8. Is it OK to masturbate and not achieve climax?
The best part about self-exploration is that the individual makes the rules. They can decide what feels good to them and just enjoy touch without any expectations. Climax or not, self-pleasure should be just that.
9. Is masturbation while in a relationship normal?
Yes! With proper consent and communication, masturbation, exploring, and providing pleasure to someone else’s body is normal and can be a preferred way to experience intimacy.
10. Are fantasies normal?
Yes! Using your imagination and fantasies to experience pleasure is healthy and normal. However, note that using porn instead of using one’s own imagination and fantasies can provide that person with a false sense of normal sexual thoughts and behavior.