'I had never masturbated until I was 43. Now, I can't stop.'

My partner looked at me aghast. As if my hair was on fire. To provide some context, we wanted to spice up our dinner date, by asking each other questions from the Gottman app – (questions designed to deepen intimacy and communication).

The question was "How do you prefer to masturbate?"

I stumbled and bumbled in my response, and admitted to not being that 'into it' – and never had an orgasm from masturbation till 43-ish.

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I felt on the defensive - as if I had owned up to never paying taxes or cleaning my teeth. But I understood his reaction. I mean for men, masturbation is practiced, perfected and celebrated. Men have a loving relationship with their penis from the moment they can grasp it with their hands, either in earnest pursuit of self-pleasure or just to make sure it's still there, giving it comforts like a newborn kitten or wounded bird.

So why 43? He persisted, seeking eye contact while I looked intently at my plate of cauliflower popcorn.


I was not sure how to answer. I had an active sex life. I easily orgasmed. I did not think myself a prude. I grew up in an open family where my dad was a GP, my mum was a nurse and my older brother was studying medicine. Medical textbooks and promotional material left by Pharmaceutical reps featuring graphic, coloured photos of genitals of all shapes and sizes, vied for a room on the coffee table alongside Gardening Australia and Margaret Fulton cookbooks.

Maybe I was just not that horny? Maybe I was lazy? I did try to masturbate on a couple of occasions, but I could have been playing with my knee for all the pleasure it gave me and besides my fingers got tired.

But at 43, I was newly separated and had a 'lover'.

Just as I had never masturbated, I had never talked dirty or indulged in phone sex. This lover - also aghast at my semi-virgin masturbation - phone sex status, took it upon himself to right this terrible wrong.

After some persuasion, I agreed to give it a crack, and we picked the time. I was travelling for work and away from my kids. Leading up to the cyber sex rendezvous I felt 10% excited, and 90% embarrassed. Tempted to bail. Do 43-year-old women with teen sons do this? A woman of my age! Surely masturbation and phone sex are for young gorgeous things with youthful bodies and tight vaginas?

With courage born from a glass of wine, cloaked in darkness courtesy of hotel blackout blinds and egged on by dirty talk I battled embarrassment tinged with amusement and surprised us both with a magnificent and loudly announced orgasm.


With my masturbatory awakening, I broached the subject with my more open-minded friends. One spoke with glee about her collection of vibrators big and small. Her little army even came with her on holiday (never in the hand luggage in case the X-ray machine mistook them for weapons and airport security would need to rifle through her bags to check for the offending item.)

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During COVID, she had to stay with her 73-year-old parents. After ordering a new vibrator from Sexy-land she made sure she was home to receive the package terrified her mother would do the honours.

Apparently, it was called Bunny Ears Deluxe and had a little attachment just for stimulating the clitoris. She discovered that her bunny ear device was REALLY LOUD – and paranoid about waking her folks in the next room, masturbation had to wait till her parents went for their daily walk. 

I quizzed another friend about her masturbatory practices. If my sex life was vanilla, hers was fluro coloured rainbow topped with hundreds and thousands and glistening cherries.

Her use of vibrators was not limited to solo play but a toy to be shared. She told me excitedly about her latest purchase, a remote-controlled vibrator. Once the device is inserted it can be activated remotely much like turning on the TV or racing a toy car.


She gave her boyfriend control and then embarked on the weekly grocery shop. She said it was a huge turn-on. She loved being surrounded by unsuspecting shoppers and never knowing when the vibrator was to be activated - making reaching for the Weet-Bix or contemplating the price of bananas a potentially orgasmic experience.

Curious and up for a challenge, I dragged a sky-blue 3-speed vibrator down from the highest part of my wardrobe. I was given the vibrator as a work Christmas party by a Kris Kringle long before political correctness was a thing. The vibrator was dusty, lying next to a box of old photos and still in its original packaging.

I experimented with my old/new toy and found that it certainly accelerated the process, helped avoid hand fatigue and when complemented with some soft porn was astonishingly powerful. There was no turning back, and I lamented those wasted years of non-masturbation.

I did not share any of this with my partner. A part of me is still embarrassed to discuss the whole topic. Maybe I am actually a prude at the ripe old age of 59 or maybe I was just not ready to reveal something so private. Instead, I just shrugged my shoulders in response to his questioning gaze. "Can you move to the next question, please?" I asked.

The author of this story is known to Mamamia but has chosen to remain anonymous for privacy reasons.

Feature Image: Getty.

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