Maura Kelly, a former editor for Glamour magazine, was 30 years old before she had an orgasm. Not-so-coincidentally, she was also 30 before she tried masturbation for the first time, the details of which she describes in an essay for The Daily Beast. Having waited until her late twenties to have sex — take that, Brooke Shields! — Kelly writes that she’d always found the idea of self love particularly icky. “It seemed tawdry, seedy, shameful—in a category with sex shops, colored condoms, and porn videos,” she writes. So what compelled her to finally get to get over her “masturation-block”? Back pain!
“An ex suggested that learning how to climax might help alleviate my chronic back pain. That sounded promising…. Though sexual realization didn’t seem particularly exigent, physical relief did. And because I already had a vibrator—snagged years earlier off the Glamour giveaway shelf—what did I have to lose?”
Interestingly enough, the fantasies that filled Kelly’s mind during these initial tentative “physical therapy” sessions, were not of the tawdy, seedy variety, but rather of the mother who died when she was 8. “The first few times I climaxed, I wept,” she says. (Apparently, this is not all that uncommon. A sexpert that Kelly references says that past traumas can arise during masturbation.)
Since then, Kelly has even able to come during sex on occasion, though she admits that her vibrator is ol’ faithful. Ultimately though, masturbation has improved her self-esteem. “What I’ve learned on my own is that physical self-love is a means to psychological self-love,” she writes. “In the same way that my literary preferences and career aspirations and clothing choices help to define me, knowing what I like and desire sexually has helped me better understand who I am, too. Plus, my newfound ability to orgasm has made me take an almost ridiculous pride in myself.”