It won't make you go blind, and actually, most people partake in the odd five knuckle shuffle from time to time.
What's so shameful about wanking?
Masturbation is basically the act of stimulating the sexual organs for pleasure. It isn't compulsory, nor is it a criminal offence (unless you're doing it through your pockets in the dinner queue or something). Even so, a lot of people enjoy the pleasure to be had from masturbating - male and female, regardless of whether they're in a relationship.
The trouble is very few people ever admit to cracking one off in private, and as a result a lot of guilt, anxiety, myth and misunderstanding surrounds the practice.
Along with the misplaced belief that you'll go blind or mad, the most common and destructive misconception is that those who like to 'dip their hand in the till' will somehow be marked down as lesser human beings.
That's why it's important not to lose sight of the fact that masturbating can be a healthy way to explore fantasies and/or release sexual tension - so long as nobody gets hurt and small animals aren't maimed in the process. But in no way does it mean you're unable to form a relationship (other than with your own hand). If anything, being open and relaxed about the whole issue just shows you're switched on sexually and comfortable with what makes you tick.
Yeah, but I got caught
Uh-oh! Well, there are worse things that could've happened, not that we can think of any. Whatever the circumstances in which you were outed, your best bet is to hold your head up high (the one on your shoulders) and just take it on the chin. It won't be easy, and you're bound to get some flack, but if you can show it's no big deal for you (and even laugh with them) people will soon move on. Most of all, remember that you're not alone.
"Because I'm always scared of someone walking in on me, I tend to masturbate fully clothed (unless I'm in the shower)," reveals Sarah, 18. "So one day when I heard my sister knock on the door I quickly turned my vibrator off and pulled it out. I thought I was safe. Then the stupid thing turned itself back on (very sensitive on/off button) while she was talking to me. I was horrified."
"Once my Grandad walked into the room when I was in my boxers," says Marcus, 22. "Luckily I have a huge desk to hide under. We had a five-minute talk before he left, then finished up. The scary thing was that I managed to hide all the porn that was on my two big-ass monitors."
"My Dad caught me as he fleetingly glanced through the bedroom window. He then proceeded to move on as if he hadn't noticed and banged on the window," recalls an embarrassed Matt, 20. "But he was cool - he came in later that night and reminded me about discretion and keeping the curtains drawn properly. He proceeded to join me in having a read of my porn mags. For an old man who's 40 years older than me he can be awesomely cool."
"My Dad walked in on me once while I was having a 'hand crank' and I was spurting as he came in. He did a quick U-turn and walked out," says David, 17. "I could hardly look at him for months after that. The very first time I ever wanked (which should have been a wonderful, private voyage of personal discovery) my female cousin walked in. Needless to say, she made her excuses and left."
Read the comment policy
Use our free question and answer service and speak to an expert!