Got an itch only you can scratch? (Picture: Getty/Metro.co.uk)

There are plenty of benefits to living with your significant other, but maintaining your previous level of privacy is not among them.

Yes, being able to have sex pretty much at the drop of a hat is fantastic, but what if you find yourself getting an itch that you just want yourself to scratch?

With masturbation among the main topics covered on this week’s episode of our sex and dating podcast, Smut Drop, it got us wondering: what’s the etiquette of a self-love sesh when you live with your other half?

First of all, Dr Laura Vowels, principal researcher and sex therapist at sex therapy app, Blueheart, tells us it’s perfectly normal to get that specific urge.

‘There’s nothing to be ashamed of when it comes to masturbating,’ she says, ‘so you shouldn’t feel the need to hide it. But it’s also perfectly natural to want privacy during this time, either by using a private space, or waiting until your partner’s out of the house. 

‘I would also encourage the practice of speaking openly about masturbation and letting each other know when you’d like some privacy for it, as sharing this part of your sex life with each other can built trust and encourage further intimacy.

‘You may even want to consider whether you might like to masturbate together or in each other’s presence. This may initially feel scary, but it can add to the intimacy between you and your partner.’

While a sexy fantasy for some, there can be a persistent fear around getting caught with your, well, pants down.

If that happens, Dr Laura says surprise is to be expected, but shame needs to be left out of the equation.

She explains: ‘In any cohabiting relationship, walking in on your partner when they’re masturbating is more common than you might think. If this happens, a natural reaction of surprise or shock is completely normal, but it’s important to avoid shaming your partner if this occurs.

‘Masturbation should be treated as a healthy addition to your sex life, rather than something to hide from each other, so make sure you talk about the incident together and remind your partner that it’s completely natural and something you both do if they seem embarrassed, instead of sweeping things under the carpet.’

While masturbating when you’re in a relationship is very normal, even beneficial according to some research, it shouldn’t be used in place of the sex with your partner you once enjoyed.

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Dr Laura says: ‘It’s completely normal to want to masturbate without your partner present; solo masturbation is a great way to explore your own sexuality and can add welcome dynamism to your normal sex routine, especially if you have a long-term partner.

Research suggests that a healthy masturbation life can increase satisfaction during sex with a partner, and even elevate your libido levels. 

‘However, masturbation shouldn’t be used as a replacement for sex with your partner, as this could indicate some underlying intimacy complications within your relationship.

‘If you find yourself or your partner doing this, make sure to have an open conversation about why they may be withdrawing from your sex life, and work to address these problems together.’

Smut Drop

Smut Drop is a weekly podcast with host Miranda Kane from Metro.co.uk, touching on sex, dating and relationships.

With no holds barred, it’s the home of sex positive chat, where Miranda will be joined each week by sexperts and special guests to explore the world of the erotic.

And we want to hear from you, too! As part of our podcast we’ll be sharing listeners’ experiences, thoughts and questions on a different theme every week.

So if you want to be involved in something brilliant – either anonymously or using your bold and beautiful name – drop us an email to [email protected] or slide into our DMs on Twitter @smutdrop.

With new episodes dropping every Wednesday, you can download Smut Drop from all your usual places.

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