My First Time Masturbating Didn’t Happen Until I Was 30 — Is That Normal?

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In my aforementioned Instagram poll, respondents’ answers to the question of why were split surprisingly evenly:

Polly shares that her motivation to try in the first place was brought on by a romantic prospect, too — the first romantic prospect she had ever had. Polly’s partner, knowing she was inexperienced, was very supportive and willing to test the waters at her pace. Despite feeling a sexual urge for what she thought was the first time ever, Polly finally felt compelled to give masturbation a shot.

A Long Time Coming

So, how does one overcome such apprehension toward masturbation and start to navigate their own bodies?

For Polly, this initial foray was less fireworks and more…well, work. Asked about the results of her first experience, she recalls, “[It was] a little frustrating! I was feeling a sexual urge for what I think was the first time ever and I finally felt compelled to give masturbation a shot. But I couldn’t quite make sense of what I was doing or find anything that felt good. It didn’t satisfy the aroused feeling I was having.”

If you’re in a similar boat, or haven’t yet worked up the courage to begin in the first place, fear not: there’s no rush. It can feel overwhelming if you’re already buying a bunch of sex toys. In my experience as a sex educator, there is nothing more powerful than going slow and taking the time you need. Many of us have no idea how our bodies work or what pleasure looks like. Normalizing the way our genitals look, feel, and smell is key to rewriting any toxic narratives we have created.

“Nine times out of 10, the things that people feel ashamed of and think are very  ‘weird’ or ‘bad’ are actually extremely common and ‘normal,’ i.e the way their vulva or penis looks, being turned on by watching porn, feeling broken because they haven’t yet experienced an orgasm,” says Agostinelli.

How to Start Your Self-Exploration Journey

Taking your time is both totally fine and very common. Take me, for instance: I am a 32-year-old bisexual Asian woman working in sexual health media. From an outside perspective, it may seem as though I’ve always been fully aware of my own sexual health and wellbeing, but I happened to discover the experience of masturbation one day while showering at the age of 13. For years, I would simply call it “Varuna’s incredibly long, very hot, special shower time.” I soon graduated from a showerhead to a pillow to a vibrator, the first of which I didn’t buy until I was 28.

This year, add some sex goals to your list of resolutions. It can be as small as looking at your genitals in a mirror or touching your body in a nonsexual manner. Journaling your thoughts, feelings and progress can help you keep a track of where you are on your journey.

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