Engaging in manual stimulation within a tube sock, pillow humping like an eager hare, disassembling and utilizing a hand or vibrator, or finding pleasure with a detachable shower head are activities that undoubtedly provide a pleasurable sensation. However, what you might not be aware of is that masturbation offers more than just gratification—it also contributes to your overall health and well-being. Below, we delve into the genuine advantages of embracing self-love:
1. Masturbation Can Help Make Your Pelvic Floor Stronger.
Engaging in self-stimulation can have a positive impact on your pelvic floor muscles. According to Holly Richmond, Ph.D., LMFT, somatic psychologist, certified sex therapist, and K-Y partner, orgasms trigger a sequence of muscle contractions within the pelvic floor. Essentially, experiencing an orgasm can be likened to a miniature workout for your pelvic floor.
The pelvic floor muscles, which form a diamond-shaped group internally, play a vital role in supporting the pelvic organs such as the vagina, uterus, bladder, and bowels. If these muscles are weak, it can lead to a condition called prolapse, where the organs may shift out of place. Additionally, weakened pelvic floor muscles are associated with issues like urinary and bowel incontinence (such as leakage when sneezing), discomfort and pain in the lower back and pelvic floor, difficulties during penetrative sex for individuals with vulvas, and constipation. While masturbation cannot directly cure these conditions, it can significantly help in preventing pelvic floor weakness.
2. Masturbation Can Help Dull Pain.
Experiencing a headache or feeling sore after a strenuous CrossFit workout? Consider trying masturbation as a remedy. According to Shweta Pai, M.D., urogynecologist and Love Wellness adviser, masturbation can provide pain-relieving benefits due to the release of dopamine, serotonin, and oxytocin—the body’s natural hormones and neurotransmitters responsible for creating feelings of pleasure and well-being. These substances are released during orgasms.
In fact, a noteworthy study conducted by renowned sexologist Beverly Whipple, Ph.D., R.N., revealed that vaginal stimulation can increase an individual’s pain tolerance threshold by more than 40%. This finding is quite remarkable.
However, it’s important to note that while the release of endorphins and hormones through masturbation can help lower pain sensitivity, it should not be relied upon to heal serious injuries such as torn muscles, broken bones, or other significant medical issues.
3. It Can Also Help With Period Cramps.
From a biological perspective, menstruation involves the shedding of the endometrial lining. During this process, the uterus, being a muscle, may contract to facilitate the shedding, leading to discomforting menstrual cramps. However, the neurotransmitters that promote positive feelings—dopamine, oxytocin, and serotonin—that are released during masturbation can offer significant relief against these cramps, as explained by Holly Richmond.
4. Masturbating Helps Relieve Stress.
During a recent pleasurable sexual encounter, whether alone or with a partner, it’s highly likely that thoughts about never-ending to-do lists or upcoming presentations were far from your mind. According to Holly Richmond, sexual pleasure compels us to focus on our body’s responses to pleasure, diverting our attention away from preoccupations and stress.
Engaging in masturbation also falls under the category of sexual pleasure. If the solo session culminates in an orgasm, there are additional stress-relieving benefits. A study published in the Journal of Sexual Medicine discovered that orgasms trigger the release of oxytocin. As Shweta Pai explains, this hormone leads to decreased levels of cortisol in the body. Consequently, when cortisol levels decrease, feelings of stress are also reduced.
5. Masturbation Can Make You Happier.
According to Holly Richmond, masturbating can actually contribute to your happiness, regardless of whether you achieve orgasm or not. It’s quite remarkable. Masturbation activates specific areas in the brain that are associated with pleasure, such as the hypothalamus and thalamus. Simultaneously, it decreases the activity in brain regions responsible for fear and anxiety, like the lateral orbitofrontal cortex.
Furthermore, a study conducted in 2016 found that masturbation, particularly when accompanied by an orgasm, leads to an increased concentration of neurotransmitters such as dopamine and oxytocin. These neurotransmitters have consistently been linked to enhanced happiness and regulation of mood. So, if you notice yourself smiling more frequently after indulging in a thriving solo sex life, there’s no need for concern. It’s simply the positive effects of masturbation at work.
6. Masturbating May Increase Your Libido.
Engaging in masturbation can actually increase your desire for sex rather than diminish it, as Holly Richmond explains. The concept of “sex begets sex” suggests that the more sexual activity one engages in, the stronger their craving for it becomes. Humans naturally seek out activities that provide them with pleasurable experiences, and due to the surge of dopamine, endorphins, and oxytocin during sexual encounters, whether alone or with a partner, sex becomes an enjoyable experience.
This particular advantage holds significant value for individuals with vulvas who struggle to feel aroused. In fact, according to Shweta Pai, masturbation is commonly incorporated into treatment plans for vulva owners experiencing sexual dysfunction and low libido. It can play a crucial role in enhancing their sexual experiences and desire.
7. It May Also Help Men Last Longer in Bed.
In the case of individuals with penises, masturbating prior to engaging in sexual activity with a partner can sometimes aid in lasting longer during intercourse. This is because it may take longer for them to reach orgasm during the second sexual encounter. It’s important to note, however, that this is not a guaranteed outcome as every person’s body functions differently. Consideration should also be given to the refractory period, which refers to the time it typically takes for the body to recover and become receptive to sexual stimulation again. Being aware of your own refractory period is essential, as it varies from person to person. Pam Costa, a holistic psychologist and sex coach based in Silicon Valley, highlights the significance of understanding and considering your individual refractory period when it comes to sexual experiences.
8. Masturbation can Improve Sleep.
According to Rebecca Alvarez Story, a sexologist and founder of the intimate care marketplace Bloomi, having an orgasm before bedtime can actually facilitate faster sleep onset. Engaging in self-pleasure has a calming effect on the mind, which is crucial for achieving a state of relaxation. Additionally, the release of oxytocin during orgasm has been shown to promote sleep.
Moreover, beyond aiding in falling asleep, masturbating can also contribute to deep sleep. Norepinephrine and serotonin, released during orgasm, assist the body in transitioning into REM (Rapid Eye Movement) sleep cycles, leading to more restful sleep. In fact, a 2019 study revealed that over half of the participants who masturbated before bed and experienced an orgasm reported improved sleep quality.
So, pleasuring yourself before bedtime not only helps you drift off to sleep faster but also promotes deeper and more refreshing rest.
9. But it Can Also Make You Feel More Energised.
While it is true that not everyone experiences drowsiness after masturbating, as mentioned by Rebecca Alvarez Story, some individuals may actually find that it energizes them. The effects of masturbation can vary from person to person, and the best way to understand its impact on your own energy levels is through trial and error. If you discover that masturbation provides you with a burst of energy, Story suggests that a quick morning orgasm can be a refreshing way to start the day. So, climax followed by a cup of coffee, anyone?
10. Masturbating can Help Improve Your Skin.
The post-orgasm glow is a well-known phenomenon, and it’s not limited to sexual encounters alone—it applies to masturbating as well. In addition to the flush of the skin, there are other beauty benefits associated with orgasm. A study published in the Journal of Sexual Medicine revealed that orgasms can increase estrogen levels in the body, which contribute to healthier-looking skin and hair.
Furthermore, masturbating has a positive impact on stress levels, as mentioned by Shweta Pai. By reducing stress, it can help alleviate certain bodily stress responses such as excessive sweating and acne. Therefore, maintaining a regular masturbation practice can potentially lead to clearer-looking skin. And let’s be honest, spending time with your personal vibrator or sex toy is a much more enjoyable experience than a visit to the dermatologist.
11. It Might Even Count as a Workout.
Engaging in sexual activity can actually contribute to burning a significant number of calories, as suggested by Rachel Needle, Psy.D., a licensed psychologist and certified sex therapist. While there isn’t specific research on the calorie-burning effects of solo sex, a study published in the journal PLOS One in 2013 found that during partnered sex, men burn approximately 4.2 calories per minute, while women burn around 3.1 calories per minute.
When it comes to masturbation, the calorie burn may be similar, depending on the intensity and duration of the activity. As Needle points out, it can be considered an aerobic workout in itself. While exact numbers may vary, it’s evident that masturbation can provide a moderate calorie-burning effect. So, depending on how much you’re bumping and grinding during your solo session, you can reap the benefits of an active recovery workout.
12. Masturbating may Reduce the Risk of Prostate Cancer.
For individuals with a prostate, regular ejaculation has been associated with a potential reduction in the risk of prostate cancer. According to research in this area, compared to men who ejaculated four to seven times per month throughout their lives, those who ejaculated 21 or more times per month had approximately a 31% lower risk of developing prostate cancer, as explained by Holly Richmond. It is important to note that further studies are required to fully understand the relationship between ejaculation frequency and prostate cancer risk, but these findings suggest a potential protective effect.
13. It may Improve Cognitive Function.
A study published in the Journals of Gerontology in 2017 involved 73 participants aged 50 and above. They were asked to complete a cognitive assessment and a questionnaire regarding their sexual frequency, whether alone or with a partner. The findings of the study revealed that individuals who engaged in sexual activity more frequently, both solo or with a partner, scored significantly higher on memory and verbal fluency tests compared to those who had infrequent sexual activity. These results suggest a potential correlation between regular sexual activity and improved cognitive function, particularly in the domains of memory and verbal fluency.
14. Masturbation is a Safer Xex Practice.
Unlike most forms of partnered sex, masturbation does not carry the risk of pregnancy or sexually transmitted diseases (STDs). This makes it an excellent option for practicing safer sex. In situations where other safer sex precautions are not available or feasible with a partner, mutual masturbation can be a pleasurable and exciting alternative. It allows individuals to engage in a sexual experience together while minimizing the risk to their health. Mutual masturbation can be a fun and intimate way to explore each other’s bodies and maintain a safe and healthy sexual experience.
15. You Get to Know Your Body Better.
Masturbation serves as a means to connect with your own body and understand your unique sources of pleasure. According to Pam Costa, exploring your body through masturbation can help you discover what types of touch and stimulation you enjoy. This knowledge can then be effectively communicated to a partner.
For individuals with a vulva, Costa suggests using a hand mirror, lube, and taking the time to observe yourself while touching. This allows you to establish a connection between specific sensations and the corresponding parts of your vulva. Rather than immediately focusing on the clitoris or vagina, she advises exploring the inner and outer labia through strokes, squeezes, and massages. Applying pressure to the pubic mound and tapping or pinching the clitoral hood are also recommended. The key is to thoroughly explore the entire vulva.
For individuals with a penis, Costa encourages going beyond basic shaft stroking. It is important to explore the pleasure potential of other areas, such as the testicles, perineum, anus, and the head of the penis. Experimenting with different strokes, taps, squeezes, and varying amounts of pressure can help in discovering what feels pleasurable.
In summary, masturbation allows individuals to intimately explore their own bodies, enabling them to gain a better understanding of their personal preferences and sensations, which can be shared with a partner for enhanced sexual experiences.
16. It can Lead to More Pleasurable Partnered Play.
While it may be tempting to expect our partners to instinctively know our pleasure points, the reality is that expecting them to be mind readers is not realistic. As Pam Costa highlights, effective communication is crucial when it comes to our bodies and sexual pleasure. You need to convey to your partner what feels good and pleasurable to you.
Masturbation allows you to explore your own body and discover what truly brings you sexual pleasure. Armed with this knowledge, you can then share it with your partner. As Rebecca Alvarez Story points out, not only will you become more adept at pleasuring yourself, but you will also be able to effectively teach your partner how to pleasure you. This mutual understanding and communication create a win-win situation for both partners, leading to more satisfying sexual experiences.
17. You May Feel More Confident.
According to Holly Richmond, engaging in masturbation plays a vital role in the development of self-awareness, body awareness, self-acceptance, and confidence. This confidence gained through self-exploration and self-pleasure not only translates to the bedroom but can also extend to other areas of life. Richmond has observed how this newfound confidence can positively impact individuals beyond their sexual experiences.
Pam Costa echoes this sentiment and has witnessed firsthand how a regular masturbation practice can empower individuals with newfound confidence. This confidence can translate into various aspects of life, such as being more assertive in asking for a raise or expressing interest in someone romantically.
Undoubtedly, masturbation holds immense power in fostering self-awareness, body positivity, self-acceptance, and overall confidence, which can have far-reaching effects beyond the realm of sexual experiences.