masturbation privacy Illustration by Emma Olswing

Getting off is an intimate time when we explore sexual fantasy and pleasure. It allows us to take a moment to understand what we do and don’t like, giving us information that translates to our day-to-day. It’s personal beyond the pleasure points. It’s something that connects us to us.

So when we are living or spending time in a location that disrupts this natural connection—especially while staying home as much as possible because of COVID-19—we must get creative on how to get off. Small apartments, family homes, dorm rooms, cohabitable spaces, Airbnb rentals, roommates, parents, children, and siblings are a blockade to an otherwise blissfully, glorious masturbation session. And while publicly announcing you’re off to go masturbate would be a way to renounce shame, the odds of all of us doing that to our parents and roommates are quite small. In these situations, we find our stride in the moments we create for ourselves in the name of masturbatory justice. 

During a time of high anxiety and uncertainty, masturbation will be incredibly important to lower stress levels, maintain quality sleep schedules, and to stay connected to the people we are and the pleasure we seek even when inside. The significance in finding solo time in the midst of the chaos will be a healthy measure to properly establish a bit of calm.

You must use your time wisely in order to literally get in and get off. Keep a few of these ideas in mind when masturbating in spaces with little privacy.

Have a Plan

Masturbation in an overpopulated setting requires a little prep work. Consider the space you have; the noise you can make (yourself or the low hum of a vibrator); the alone time available; whether your orgasm allows for ejaculation and possibility for cleanup or quick change; and the amount of locked doors or enclosed spaces that can be occupied during that time. A bathroom, a dorm shower, or the back of a door will be your respite for the time being. 

Invest in a Quiet, Rechargeable Vibrator

If vibrators are your thing and you’re in the market for one designed on the quieter side, look into rechargeable products. Rechargeable motors have a smoother reverberation, whereas battery operated ones tend to rattle and cause noise. Products like the Pom are flexible, waterproof, and discreet for shared living spaces. 

Speaking of Sound . . . Be Self-Aware

It’s easy to get lost in a deeply pleasurable moment, but remember that your parents or AirBnb guests are not too far away! If you know you’re a moaner, have a towel or a pillow ready to muffle quick scream or sensual groan. 

Wash Your Hands

Wash your hands in general, but definitely wash your hands prior to touching yourself when sharing space with other people. Germs and bacteria are everywhere, and genitalia is incredibly porous. Take a moment to make sure your hands are clean, your toy is properly disinfected, and the bag it’s being stashed in is clean for storage afterwards. STIs can be spread by sharing sex toys with another person and infections can happen if bacteria is trapped on the skin or under the nails while touching yourself. Give your genitalia the experience it deserves, and wash your hands first. 

Get Aroused . . . Then Masturbate

Arousal happens at different times with different stimuli for different people. To expect that suddenly your genitalia will be ready when you have five minutes alone may cause a bit of frustration when the time comes and you’re not coming. “Sexual arousal is not a limited experience,” wrote Pamela Madsen, the author of Shameless and founder of The American Fertility Association, in Psychology Today. “It can be compared to turning on a shower and waiting for the water to reach the right temperature before you can get in. If the water doesn’t get hot, the shower is not a pleasant experience. This feeling of sexual activation can blossom and affect how we experience the rest of our day.” 

Before you’re ready to sneak off for a few minutes, spend some time visualizing your perfect fantasy, or better yet, download some audio erotica and get yourself there mentally there in preparation for a self-love session.  

Try A Different Position

It might be easier to lean on the sink, lie on the floor, or keep yourself standing while masturbating in a small space. Propping a leg on the sink or leaning your full body into the water while taking a shower could allow for more physical space to reach your genitalia. Sure, this might look very silly, but that’s okay! Work with what you have to get off how you want. 

Create an Erotic Experience

The hottest part about masturbation is that you can create an entire narrative around your circumstances. Play out an entire fantasy scenario in your head for the whole day until sexual frustration is at an all-time high. Build the tension until you’ve found the right moment, and then enjoy your fantasy moment. 

Wash Your Hands, Again

The same as before but this time let’s think about spreading our own bacteria for others to unknowingly come in contact with. Take time to freshen up before interfacing with other people outside of your masturbatorium, and thoroughly wash your hands. 

Account For Recovery Time

If you’re drifting off to sleep with little to no interaction with anyone else, then you’re good. But if you know you’re about to talk to a roommate or a parent right after you’ve gotten off, give yourself a few minutes to have your pupils go back to regular dilation and your heart rate to level out before having to be a human again. 

Remind Yourself: Everyone Needs Alone Time

While you’re living with people who might need your attention — whether it’s your family members wanting to connect or roommates who want to chat — everyone needs a little time for themselves. It’s perfectly normal to set up healthy boundaries with the people you’re living with in order to stay sane in the process. Alone time allows for you to recover from the interactions we have regularly, and masturbation is certainly a wellness tool that will help in sharing space.

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