I’ve been talking about periods a lot lately. That’s in part because I just researched and recorded an episode of HourGasm about them this week. (It was a good one! And it’ll be out in a few weeks on your favorite platform!) And it’s also because I read about a study that says masturbation is an effective method of controlling period-related pain. They’re calling it menstrubation. And I want to talk to you about it.
The Menstrubation Study
Now, full disclosure: This study was conducted by Womanizer—a maker of sex toys that has drawn some skepticism because of their name. For one thing, womanizer is kind of not a positive term in the first place. And for another, they make toys for people with vulvas, and not everybody who has a vulva is a woman. So there are some eyebrows already raised over here.
But there are even more eyebrows raised because of course a study conducted by a sex toy company is going to get results that encourage masturbation. Which is often done with sex toys. (There’s actually an ad for one of their products at the bottom of their website about the menstrubation study.)
So, take the results of this study with a grain of salt.
Still, though, the results are worth looking at. Per a press release from Womanizer:
“Over a period of six months, a total of 486 people took part in the study. In the first month, the participants recorded the current status of their period pain in a questionnaire. For a period of three months (test phase), they were asked to forego their traditional methods of pain control and to masturbate instead. Each month they recorded their symptoms utilizing another questionnaire. The fifth month served as a control month in which they went back to using their familiar tools. After the sixth month the last survey took place, and the results were clear: yes, masturbation helps against period pain.”
A full 70% of respondents said that masturbation made an impact on their period pain over the course of the study, with 30% reporting it reduced their pain intensity by a lot. About 42% said that it impacted the frequency of their pain, as well. And in the end, 90% of respondents said they’d recommend menstrubation to combat period pains to a friend. Even if it’s a bit of a biased study, that’s a pretty impressive number.
So, Why Does This Matter?
No matter what you think of the study, this is a good opportunity to talk about what they’re calling “menstrubation“—masturbation during menstruation.
In America (and, from what I hear, in some other places, too), we’ve moved the concept of pleasure about as far away from menstruation as possible. And culturally, we are still profoundly uncomfortable with people with vulvas giving themselves pleasure. So when you put all three of those things together? We’re in scary territory for a lot of folks.
But, speaking as someone with a vulva and as someone who menstruates, I can ]tell you that some of the most intense pleasure I’ve ever experienced? Yeah, it was during my period. Maybe that’s because it felt so deliciously “against the rules” to be loving my body at that time of the month. Or maybe there’s a whole lot of studies yet to be done about pleasure during different parts of menstrual cycles. (Scientists, I’m lookin’ at you. Get on it!)
Either way, look, I’m not going to go around claiming that periods are pleasant. For most people, they’re, like, the opposite of fun. But what if we allowed periods to suck just a little bit less? What if we even made them something to kind of look forward to because we were prescribing jerking off? What if periods became a time for self-pleasure?
I can answer some of those what-ifs: We could bring the concept of pleasure back into menstruation. That could make us less likely to hate our lives during our periods. That could go a long way toward normalizing menstruation, masturbation, and mensturbation. What do you think? How could we make periods less unpleasant? Should we jerk off when we’re on the rag? Tell me all about it in the comments below!
Fun with Etymology
And hey, since I’m a word nerd, and since the folks at Womanizer are here smooshing words together for fun, I thought we could take a look at the etymology behind menstrubation.
“Menstruation” comes from “the period of menstruation,” 1680s, from past-participle stem of Late Latin menstruare, from menstruus “monthly” (from mensis “month;” see moon (n.)) + -ation. Old English equivalent was monaðblot “month-blood.” Middle English had menstrue (n.), late 14c., from Old French menstrue, from Latin menstruum.Etymonline.com
“Masturbation” is defined as “deliberate erotic self-stimulation,” 1711 (earlier as mastupration, 1620s), from French masturbation and directly from Modern Latin masturbationem (nominative masturbatio), noun of action from past-participle stem of Latin masturbari “to masturbate.”Etymonline.com
The long-standing speculation is that this Latin word is altered (probably by influence of turbare “to disturb, confuse”) from *manstuprare, from manu, ablative of manus “hand” (see manual) + stuprare “defile” (oneself), from stuprum “defilement, dishonor,” related to stupere “to be stunned, stupefied” (see stupid). Hence the earliest form of the word in English. But perhaps the first element represents an unattested *mazdo– “penis” [OED]. An earlier technical word for this was onanism.
HAH! Love how linguists assume that it has to be talking about penises. Since vulvas are so obscure.
Check out the upcoming episode of HourGasm on periods for more ideas about how we could make periods less crappy!
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