Jada Pinkett Smith has never been shy about discussing her sex life. (Remember when she told an interviewer that she learned about an oral sex trick called "grapefruiting" from husband Will? Exactly.)
So we weren't surprised on Monday when she launched a conversation about her past masturbation habits on her Facebook Watch show Red Table Talk. During the show, the actress and mom chatted with her 17-year-old daughter, Willow, about the pleasures and pitfalls of self-love.
“I think by your age, I gave myself multiples first,” Pinkett Smith said. “Multiple orgasms. I was really into it at one point.” She then went on to explain that at the time, she began worrying that she was indulging in too much solo sex. “I actually think I went through kind of an addiction, too, with it. And then one day, I was like, ‘Enough. You’re having five orgasms a day,’” she recalled.
Five orgasms a day sounds pretty intense. But in all seriousness, is it really healthy to have that many orgasms by your own hand? Then there's the addiction thing. Is it actually possible to become addicted to masturbation—or simply do it too much? For answers, we reached out to Holly Richmond, PhD, a sex therapist in Southern California.
First, Richmond tells Health that there's no limit to the number of orgasms a woman can or should have daily. “It’s categorically not possible to 'use up' your orgasms,” she says. In Pinkett Smith's case, she may have realized that all those solo sex sessions weren't the best use of her time and energy, believes Richmond. "Masturbation doesn’t necessarily facilitate connection with other people and partners,” she adds.
As for getting addicted to menage a moi, Richmond explains that "addiction" isn't really the right word for it—a person can't become addicted to self-pleasuring the way she can get addicted to drugs or alcohol. It's more about masturbation becoming a compulsion, or something you do so often that it precludes you from connecting with others. If solo sex causes you to withdraw from relationships, miss work, or make another dent in your day-to-day life, then yes, you're probably doing it too much.
Besides the fact that your relationships can take a hit and your work performance may suffer, excessive masturbation could also leave you with physical pain, such as chafing. Also, using the same technique on yourself to reach orgasm over and over again can condition your body so it's difficult to climax with a partner—since they won't be able to replicate the exact touch and stroke you use on yourself.
So if your masturbation habit has caused any of the above side effects, Richmond suggests easing up on it—but don't stop the practice altogether. "For women, masturbation is essential to figure out what they like, what turns them on, what makes them reach orgasm,” she says. “There could be 500 reasons women masturbate and all of those reasons are valid—but not if you do it through compulsivity."