It might not be so commonplace anymore, but there was a time that people were told that there were terrible, awful side effects to masturbation. Those ranged from being told that you'd have hair growing on the palms or that your eyesight would be affected to being warned about insanity, none of which are true, of course.

Still, it's not something that everyone is happy to chat about, despite the fact that studies show that up to 95% of people masturbate. So, if we're all doing it, why aren't we more willing to talk about it? Well, there are a few good reasons (t's not quite polite dinner conversation at the ambassador's residence) so we had a chat with Sex Siopa owner, Shawna Scott about why more 'me-time' is important. 

Firstly, it's good for you, both mentally and physically. According to sex researcher Debby Herbenick, PhD, frequent masturbation (particularly in early adulthood) is linked with a lower risk of prostate cancer later on, so cleaning out the pipes on a regular basis helps keeps everything in check, provided that you're not experiencing any pain. Apart from the physical side of things, it also relaxes you, and is an incredible stress reliever. Your brain is as important in the whole process as your genitals, so set everything else aside and let yourself really relax if you're going to do it. Your brain will also thank you by releasing endorphins, so overall you're going to feel pretty great afterwards. 

If you have a partner, remember that masturbation is a private thing by its very nature, but that doesn't mean you can't both do something together. owner, Shawna Scott says "It's a fantastic way to communicate with your partner; to show them what you like and learn what feels good for them. It can really help to build a healthy sexual relationship, whether that's with yourself or with a partner".

You can use just your hands or rubbing off one another's bodies to achieve that, but as always, be sure to practice safe sex: have a condom(s) or barrier(s) handy in case you want to take things further, and never share sex toys. Apart from that, introducing some toys into your sex life can make a huge difference for both you and your partner, so here are a few recommendations from our expert Shawna that are suitable for a range of budgets.

Lelo Mia 2 (€60) - A good discreet beginner's vibrator. It's USB rechargeable and waterproof, so you can bring it in to the bath too and really relax and indulge yourself.

Tenga Egg (€10) - The Tenga Egg is made from a super squishy elastomer that you stretch over the penis and masturbate with. Inside are little heart-shaped nubbies that give a bit of an extra sensation. With care and gentle cleaning, you'll get 5-7 uses out of 1 egg.

Lelo Mona 2 (€130) - The is one of the most highly acclaimed G-spot vibrators out there. It's definitely an investment vibrator, but well worth the money.

Fun Factory Bootie (€25) - The perfect bum toy for beginners. It's small, discreet, and made from soft medical grade silicone. If you're curious but a little intimidated about butt toys, this is the one that will start you off on the right foot.

Not sure where to start with all that info? Well worry not, you can check out this handy comic from Oh Joy Sex Toy that will be useful for those of you with a vulva, while there are plenty of resources on there for helping you to get to grips with all the things you've ever wanted to know about sex. 

Keep in mind that using a sex toy and masturbation are perfectly healthy, normal activities and nothing to be ashamed of, but you won't know if it's for you until you experiment a little and try something new. Be sure to check out our friends at to see what you can get to make your Valentine's Day this year more exciting. Heck, you can liven things up any day of the year, why not start today?

Main pic via Maria Georgieva/Flickr