WITH YOUR WORLD 30 June, 2016 María Alejandra Tavera
It is important to foster opportunities for a family dialogue on the subject of sex, especially with teenagers. Sexologist Flavia Dos Santos, shares her views on the matter.
This is one of those topics that you must discuss as a family. Masturbation is part of sexuality and the growth and development process, so it is important to foster moments to generate inspiring conversations with children, where the concept of privacy and the need to live a well-balanced life are given the relevance they deserve. Coomeva Medicina Prepagada invited the renowned Brazilian sexologist Flavia Dos Santos to discuss her views on this topic.
What role does masturbation play in the development of sexuality?
“Masturbation is part of the development of every human being. It is a form of self-knowledge. 98% of anorgasmic women have never masturbated, do not know their clitoris and not know how much stimulus is needed to feel pleasure. Meanwhile, the vast majority of men who suffer from premature ejaculation do so because of poor masturbation practices where they haven’t allowed themselves to recognize the ejaculatory urge or learned to control their orgasms. Masturbation is equivalent to learning how to crawl but for sex. You cannot start walking without first learning how to crawl. Masturbation is a time to explore and learn about your body so you can then share that intimate moment with another person”.
How does masturbation manifest itself in adolescence?
“During this stage, hormones are thriving and adolescents feel the need to touch their body. Humans have more than 8,000 nerve ramifications throughout their body and it is normal for them to feel curious and interested in feeling sensations when touched, or touching themselves in parts of their body that give them pleasure. The mistake is in forbidding or punishing children for doing it, in address the issue of masturbation as something ‘bad’. It’s not that you should to teach them to do it; but rather, it’s about ‘normalizing’ the issue, talking about it. Tell them it’s ok for them to feel pleasure, but take the opportunity to discuss the concept of privacy. In other words, this is not something you can do in the street, but rather a private moment to discover your own body”.
There are many myths regarding masturbation, what is your opinion on this?
“All human beings, I would say 99%, masturbate. Masturbation won’t make you sick, nor crazy, you won’t get pimples or grow hairs. These all are myths that come from medieval times, when the Catholic church forbade all sexual practices that did not lead to reproduction, including masturbation, which was considered sinful, dirty. It’s difficult to erase people’s collective imagination… people were burned, hanged, imprisoned for it.
Another myth is to think that people who masturbate will prefer masturbating instead of being in a loving relationship. Nobody will stop having real interactions because they have virtual friends. The worst word that can be used to refer to masturbation is ‘abnormal’, you really shouldn’t use it at all; but unfortunately many parents use this label”.
How should parents tackle this issue?
“Overprotecting parents raise children who end up becoming the biggest liars as adults. You have to learn to confront your own fears and anxieties and try not to transfer them onto your children. It is important to question both what it is that frightens you, what happened to you in your teens, so that you can give your children the freedom to explore the world, freedom with limits and love. Being overprotective is not good, but neither is being too open or careless with your children”.
Although for many this is not a comfortable situation, talking with your teenage children about masturbation is the healthiest choice and best way to handle this key stage of their lives.
Is there a difference between talking about it with boys and talking about it with girls?
“When you have the task to educate, you must consider men and women as equals. Sexual desire is the same for both sexes. There is no such a thing as men feeling more desire or a greater need to have sex; that is a lie. Each person has their own different sex drive, a different need for sex. It is evil to try to prohibit the emergence of sexuality in one’s daughter because of the belief that women have no such right. We are all equal”.
When can masturbation become a disturbing habit?
“When masturbation is used negatively, that is, when it is not done as a way to explore your body or pleasure, but rather practiced as a way to unload emotionally. For example: parents start a fight, and their teenage son, very distressed, locks himself up and starts masturbating”.
Are there any final messages you would like to share with our readers?
“Don’t forget that this is a healthy activity. It is a matter of self-esteem and of knowing that we are able to find gratification within ourselves. The idea is to feel empowered with our bodies and comfortable in our own skin”.
Flavia Dos Santos’ perspective
After training as a psychologist in her native Brazil and completing her studies in sexology and addictive behaviors in Italy, Flavia Dos Santos traveled to Colombia and ended up staying for good.
Through her participation in prominent national television and radio shows, the Brazilian sexologist is currently one of the most renowned sexual counselors in Colombia.
Also worth highlighting in her career are her two publications: Sex without mystery (Sexo sin misterio), an invitation to address sexuality from a perspective free from prejudice, guilt and false beliefs; and What do I do with sex? (Qué hago con el sexo?), a collection of testimonials from patients and viewers regarding their doubts or taboos about sexuality.
- You can start by bringing up the topic with your child as if it didn’t concern him or her, talking about masturbation in general. If you accidentally discover your son or daughter masturbating, do not panic or confront them. Find another time to discuss what happened, and understand that surely he or she is more embarrassed than you.
- When you talk about the topic directly, treat it as a normal topic of conversation. Neither prohibition nor punishment are the solution. The idea is not for children to feel that masturbation is a taboo or a mystery, but rather that they understand that it’s something natural, and above all, a private act.
- Instead of creating more doubts and fears in teenagers, try to debunk the myths or theories about the possible consequences of masturbation that they may have heard. Finally, respect their privacy. Perhaps the times when you could walk into their room unannounced are a thing of the past.
All men and women have different sexual needs, so it would be wrong to indicate a frequency of masturbation. The important thing here, is that this activity shouldn’t be compulsory (you stop doing other things) or exclusive (you don’t feel pleasure with another partner), because pathologically speaking, these situations would have consequences.