The Truth About Masturbation by Pam Costa


We all have our own methods of masturbation, whether we’re flicking the bean or polishing the bishop, but do we know where we learned them from? Like, when did we decide to touch ourselves for pleasure?
Most men stumbled across masturbation at an early age—not hard to believe considering the fact that their penises are in plain view. Women, unfortunately, don’t have that advantage. For many of us, our vaginas were out of sight, out of mind… until we made the decision to go looking for them. Then the real fun begins. 
No stranger to masturbation, but always interested in discovering more, Pam shares how she re-learned to self-love in the wildest way possible in the latest Down to There blog…

When I was about six years old, a girlfriend took me down to her basement and showed me how to masturbate.  At the time, we didn’t know there was a name for what we were doing, but we knew that if we laid down on our stomachs and put our hands between our legs and wiggled, it would feel good.  And until recently, my masturbation practices remained largely unchanged.  It’s something I’ve always done in private as a quick tension release and quite frankly, it’s an activity I’ve been embarrassed about.

It’s no surprise I’ve felt like my masturbation habits are a dirty little secret.  My parents never shamed me, but if the Google search results below are any indication, it seems the world thinks masturbation isn’t something we should be doing, much less talking about openly with our friends and lovers.


So when I decided to confront what I had perceived as “low libido”, I realized that if I could masturbate, then I clearly had the capacity to turn myself on.  And with that realization, I began to wonder if getting over my embarrassment about masturbation might be key to unlocking the sexual tiger within. 

What follows is a story that may shock some, and perhaps still shocks me a little.  But I think telling it will do more good than harm, so here goes.

After getting the Google results above, I kept typing and eventually made my way to Betty Dodson’s website.  Now, if you don’t know Betty, she’s an 86 year-old firecracker of a women who wrote the book “Sex for One: The Joy of Self-loving”.  On her website, I found mention of a workshop in her Manhattan apartment that she’s been doing since the 1970’s.  It sounded extremely unconventional, but in the spirit of research for myself and readers of my blog, I took a deep breath and signed up.

Fast forward a few months, and I found myself in Betty’s entryway, getting undressed with 10 other women.  You read that right.  Betty’s workshops are done in the nude… partly to weed out folks that aren’t ready for the type of education she provides and partly to remove the physical barriers that keep our pretenses and judgments up.

On the first day of the workshop, we got to know our genitals.  It’s funny that although most men are intimately familiar with their genitalia, if you asked a woman to identify hers out of a line up, odds are she wouldn’t be able to do it.  We simply can’t see ours!  So, we each sat side-by-side with Betty with a light and a mirror to examine our pussies.  I use that word, because I prefer it over medical terms, but please substitute “hoo-ha” or “yoni” or whatever word you like.

Now if you think this is a normal everyday occurrence for those at the workshop, let me assure you, it was not.  Once we got over the ridiculousness of the situation, it was hugely liberating to see all the different sizes, shapes, colors and even hairstyles.  We found features we had in common and aspects that made us unique.  It felt like some beautiful shame-cleansing ancient ritual.  And in the end, we each named our pussy, reclaiming them from those we had given them to in the past… our doctors and our partners.

On the second day, we watched as Betty demonstrated her technique for masturbation, aided by a stainless steel vaginal barbell and the much-lauded Magic Wand vibrator.  She then gave us a couple hours to practice.  This was another “Am I really here, doing this” kind of moments, but it was also hugely educational.  Similar to the experience when I was six years old, here I was observing not just one, but many different ways that women masturbate!  Whenever I found myself in a rut and unable to find more pleasure, I just looked around the room and mimicked what someone else was doing… which proved a surprisingly good way to learn.

Since the workshop, I’ve added a few new tools to my masturbation toolkit including erotica, a vibrator and my favorite of all, sharing masturbation with my husband.  Understandably, Betty’s workshop isn’t for everyone, but perhaps my story will enable others to let of the guilt and enjoy masturbation more fully.  What steps will you take to embrace your self-love?

To learn more about Pam’s journey, try out some of her sexual exercises or even sign up for one-on-one coaching, you can visit her website
After a decade and a half at Apple and Facebook, Pam left her career in high tech to found Down To There to share her real-life stories of challenges and successes around sexuality in her marriage. She believes that speaking openly about sex can help individuals and couples find new ways to renew and deepen desire and intimacy in their own relationships. She also believes in the healing power of sharing and recently launched Down To There Circles, free, peer-led discussion groups, to help friends support and inspire each other around sex and relationships.


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