The topic of masturbation can be a delicate one. While it’s an exceedingly commonplace practice — Planned Parenthood estimates 70 percent of men and 50 percent of women masturbate regularly — many folks continue to hold on to the stigmas and taboos that frame self-pleasure as a shameful event.
However, while not everyone masturbates and it’s okay to refrain from doing it for your own reasons, there isn’t much evidence that points to it being the dangerous or selfish thing some people fear that it is. According to a growing body of data, it’s actually quite the contrary.
From stress relief to taking time to get in touch with your body and desires, masturbation has a surprising amount of varied and useful benefits for both singles and couples alike. The common thread between them is that it feels good (obviously), but beyond pleasure, what else can masturbation do for us?
Here are 15 ways self-pleasure can make you happier, healthier humanoid.
1. Reduce Stress
Life can be stressful. Whether you’re single or partnered, it can be nice to process that stress physically, and on your own. Masturbation can reduce that stress by bringing you into the present moment where nothing else matters other than you and your pleasure. Focusing on yourself and your desires can help quiet the other nagging, absorbing or otherwise stressful thoughts that accompany everyday life, and releasing through pleasure can relax both your mind and your body.
2. Help Treat Sexual Problems
Many people are unaware of how good of a job masturbation can do at treating sexual problems like low libido or erectile dysfunction. Surprisingly, when sexual dysfunction is occurring, it can be helpful to masturbate because you get to learn new ways to get your bodies sexual energy flowing again. You also get to understand what is turning you off and how to communicate that with a partner or reevaluate your thoughts to stay turned on, according to WebMd.
3. Sleep Deprived? Masturbate
Insomnia and sleep problems are the actual worst. Good thing masturbating is a great way to get your mind and body ready for sleep whether you’re anxious, have a thrown off sleep pattern, or your mind won’t shut off. Having an orgasm before you go to bed causes the body to get exhausted due to the release of the love hormones dopamine and oxytocin, Best Health Magazine reports.
4. Menstrual Cramp Relief
“The strength and intensity of an orgasm can relieve cramps,” says Judith Golden, sex therapist based in Toronto. Keep in mind no two bodies are the same, though. Masturbating while menstruating may relieve cramps, but it probably won’t eliminate them for good, Best Health Magazine reports.
5. You Can’t Get Pregnant or Acquire an STI!
When you are only having sex with yourself, the thought of getting pregnant or contracting an STD or STI need not cross your mind. You can have sex with yourself without a worry in the world, which probably one of the reasons why it feels amazing, as reported by Planned Parenthood.
6. Improve Self/Body Image
According to Planned Parenthood, knowing what you want and how to get it boosts your confidence level through the roof. When you add pleasure to that equation it only makes you love yourself more and appreciate your body because you become comfortable with what turns you on and off.
7. Reduces Chances of Prostate Cancer
While studies are still taking place on whether or not masturbation reduces a person’s chances of prostate cancer, one 2004 study from Harvard concluded that people with prostates who ejaculate at least 21 times a month lowered their chance of prostate cancer. Spending roughly 66 percent of a month masturbating doesn’t sound too awful to us, especially if it wards off a serious condition.
8. Sex Toys, Porn, and Erotica
One of the best parts of masturbation is using sex toys to enhance sensation and explore your body. There are many sex toys for women and men out there that can hit the spot that works best for you. Adult toys are a great way to explore your sexual pleasures through masturbation and also a good teaching mechanism if you are trying to show someone exactly how to please you. While there are sex toys galore, simple erotica, porn, or a good lube can also help you get aroused and release some endorphins.
9. Multiple Orgasms
Masturbation has a tendency to take you on a ride full of orgasms, which is sometimes known as “riding the wave.” Since you’re already in the heat of the moment, masturbating has a way to keep you aroused for long periods of time. There’s something about pleasing yourself and not having to worry about someone else keeping you turned on that makes this possible. While exploring yourself through masturbation, you can find new ways obtain multiple orgasms whether they are clitoral, vagina, anal, or penile without worrying about the pace of your partner or what their deal is.
10. Slows Down Orgasm
Sex can be very exciting, sometimes a little too exciting where it may cause a partner to climax pretty early during a session. With masturbation a person is able to control their orgasm better by trying different techniques of practicing timing and breathing while exploring what turns them on even more, according to Consumer Health Digest. It can also help a person feel more comfortable sharing with their partner what keeps them from climaxing too quickly.
11. Dopamine and Oxytocin Galore
Part of the reason orgasms feel amazing, according to a 2009 University of Michigan study, due to the release of several neurochemicals like endorphins, dopamine and oxytocin. Endorphins give you a sort of happy high. Dopamine, the “love” hormone makes you reconnect with yourself and grateful for the wonderful session focused entirely on you. Oxytocin the “cuddle” hormone makes you feel like cuddling. The two being released together gives you a natural high which can lasts for hours or days.
12. Helps Prevent Cervical Infections and UTI
According to Women’s Health Network, masturbation is said to help prevent cervical infections because when a person with a cervix masturbates, it brings more blood flow to the area and causes the cervical opening to “tent,” allowing accumulated material to pass through. UTIs are prevented through masturbation because it helps relieve pain and lubricates the vagina which helps flush out “old bacteria.”
13. Enhances Your Mood
Due to the release of endorphins when orgasming, masturbation also enhances your mood. A person doesn’t have to reach a full on mind-blowing orgasm to relieve a little tension while masturbating. Simply teasing the genitals can release a ton of stress because the mind is focused on the most sensitive, pleasurable zone of the body. Since happy hormones are soaring throughout the body during, before, and after moderate masturbation a person will find themselves living a more satisfied life reports The Women’s Health Network.
14. Pelvic Floor Strengthening
When you are masturbating your heart rate, breathing, and muscle tone all increase as your body builds up to orgasm. According to The Women’s Health Network, your pelvic floor also gets a workout. If you’re a person with a uterus, it will lift off the pelvic floor as you climax, which increases muscle tensioning and strengthens the entire pelvic region. People with penises and prostates can also strengthen their pelvic floor through masturbation, either by pulsing their anal muscles during prostate/ anal play or by squeezing and releasing the muscles that make the penis bounce up and down.
15. Fun with a Partner (Mutual Masturbation)
Mutual masturbation is basically just masturbating next to someone. You can still touch and kiss, but each person is primarily getting themselves off. This is something that can lead to a deeper connection with your partner. This is a way to teach and learn from your partner about what turns each of you on and off. It can be a little more arousing because some people find that they enjoy being watched while they satisfy themselves. Another pro to mutual masturbation is that it can be done in multiple ways such as pleasing yourself in front of your partner and vice versa, or you pleasing each other while only fingering or giving a hand job.
Masturbation clearly has a ton of benefits. However, while much research has shown it to be both mentally and physically beneficial, there are still many stigmas around it that need to be dismissed. Instead of shaming people for masturbating or seeing it as some sort of sign that people are dissatisfied in a relationship (it’s not at all), we should get in the habit of normalizing it, accepting that it’s a healthy form of sexual expression, and treating it as something that can benefit both us and our partners.
The best way to continue to destigmatize masturbation is to keep spreading its positive importance and to talk about it openly. Tell your friends, have appropriate discussions with your family, or masturbate whenever you might feel stressed, tense, depressed, bored, happy, etc. Sharing the experience with a partner can help enhance the experience. Break the silence on masturbation so people can see it less as a taboo and more as a common and exciting fact of life.
As Surgeon General Dr. Jocelyn Elders famously said, “Of all the kinds of sex people can have, masturbation is the most universal and important, yet few people talk about it freely. Worse, many people still feel it is “second best” or problematic in some way … It’s natural, common, and fun!”
Now go ahead and love yourself, masturbate!