From lowered anxiety and better sleep quality to heightened sexual pleasure and beyond, the many benefits of masturbating a person stands to receive from feeling themselves are highly personalized. According to double board certified OB/GYN Renee Wellenstein, MD, because healthy effects vary from person to person, it’s hard to say how often a person should masturbate in order to achieve them. For example, she says “if someone is having more stress, maybe they’ll need to masturbate more often than someone who is having less stress to get the same effect.” The best way to find out what's best for you, of course, is to get down to business and experiment.
To that end, it makes sense if you don't need any additional convincing to make use of the new vibrator you just bought. But, since there's a good chance you're stuck inside while sheltering in place, why not take solace in knowing that the perks of pleasuring yourself extend far beyond your immediate orgasm. Below, learn seven science-backed, expert-confirmed health benefits of masturbating.
1. Reduced stress and anxiety
Feeling anxious as a result of the troubling news surrounding the coronavirus? First, know you're not alone, and second, try touching yourself. Seriously. “Deep breathing is often experienced with physical pleasure, coupled with a rise in heart rate at climax, which can help to reduce anxiety and calm nervousness,” says physical therapist and pelvic-health specialist Amanda Olson, DPT.
The changes in breathing, coupled with the release of endorphins or happy hormones, like dopamine and oxytocin, during masturbation can help to produce an overall sense of well-being, she adds. And according to Dr. Wellenstein, those endorphins can actually provide you with a natural high that makes you feel happier.
2. Increased sexual pleasure
“Masturbation increases awareness of what sensations you like and how you like to be touched,” says Olson. Because of this, solo sex can lead to better partnered sex. “Once you have a better understanding of what your body likes and needs, you can communicate those needs to your partner for better intimacy together,” she adds. After all, how is anyone going to please you if you don’t know how to please yourself?
3. Boosted heart health
Anyone who's ever masturbated before is likely aware of how hard or fast your heart may beat during and after the session (depending on the intensity and whether or not you reach climax). And that's good for your heart health.
“[Masturbating] is like a small workout for your heart, similar to the effects of a brisk walk, but with a much more satisfying ending.” —physical therapist and pelvic-health specialist Amanda Olson
“This little boost is like a small workout for your heart, similar to the effects of a brisk walk, but with a much more satisfying ending,” says Olson. “Three times per week would mirror that of a gentle exercise class.”
4. Improved sleep quality
Need a better night’s sleep? You probably already know where this is going: According to a 2019 study published in a 2019 study, “orgasms achieved through masturbation were associated with the perception of better sleep quality.” Dr. Wellenstein notes that this is due to the release of a hormone called prolactin, which is released during orgasm and makes you feel tired, as well as oxytocin, which makes you feel relaxed.
I’d be lying if I said I never masturbated to fall asleep; anecdotally, I find it to be a way more effective method than popping a melatonin gummy.
5. Decreased vaginal dryness
“During arousal, fluid is secreted from glands on either side of the vagina, which helps with lubrication,” says Dr. Wellenstein. And while a tube of good (water-based) lube is still a vagina’s best friend, regularly masturbating can help to increase the amount of natural lubrication you produce during sexual activity (by yourself or with a partner).
6. Pelvic floor health gains
According to a 2015 study, “women who were sexually active were more likely to have a strong pelvic floor.” And the strength of your pelvic-floor muscles play a role in determining sexual wellness and satisfaction. Olson says this is because physical touch increases blood flow to the muscles, nerves, and tendons in the pelvic floor, and the powerful muscle contractions that come along with it. “With repeated practice, this can help to improve pelvic floor strength, power, and coordination.”
7. Reduced general pain
Next time menstrual cramps kick in, consider reaching for a vibrator instead because one of the benefits of masturbating is that it can help to ease that discomfort. “At climax, the pelvic floor muscles contract maximally followed by a period of maximal relaxation, which can help reduce the pain associated with menstrual cramps,” says Olson.
In fact, masturbating goes beyond relieving cramps and may actually work as a natural pain reliever. “Due to the release of endorphins, it helps reduce the brain's response to pain,” says Dr. Wellenstein.
Some of these benefits of masturbating even work together to create new perks. “Indirectly, many of the benefits above, including reducing stress and tension and improved sleep, may help improve the immune system, which seems pretty important right now,” says Dr. Wellenstein. So, of course, still stay at home and follow guidelines to stop the spread of the coronavirus, but do embrace these benefits as even more evidence you can feel great about spending any free time you have pleasing yourself.
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