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Why masturbation is healthy

by Dr. Tessa Commers
General Sex

Why Masturbation is Healthy

9 Health benefits of masturbation

Here’s the tea—masturbation doesn’t just feel good, it’s also good for you. You get to connect with yourself, experience pleasure, have some alone time, reduce stress, improve sleep, and — bonus! — avoid STIs and pregnancy. That being said, cultural, societal, and religious stigmas can sometimes influence people to feel shame or guilt around masturbation or to believe that masturbating is “bad.” You might have even heard rumors that masturbation can cause hairy palms or penis shrinkage. (Don’t worry, these are both totally false!) The truth is that pleasuring yourself is actually good for your health. And we’ve got nine reasons to prove it.

What is masturbation?

Masturbation—aka jacking off, touching yourself, or DIY-ing— is the self-stimulation of your genitalia for sexual pleasure, often leading to orgasm. No matter your sex, gender identity, or sexual orientation, you can masturbate. And it’s not even unique to humans! Cats, dogs, monkeys, rhinos, and elephants have all been seen pleasuring themselves.

There’s no right or wrong way to masturbate, and what you like may change as your preferences and comfort with your body change. You can use your fingers, hands, sex toys, visual/audio stimulation, fantasy, and more to help you masturbate. While masturbation is a totally normal and healthy activity, not everyone orgasms. And some people don’t like to masturbate. All of that is okay!

Why masturbation is healthy

Despite stigmas and misconceptions, masturbation is a normal and healthy component of sexual development. It can contribute positively to both your physical and mental well-being. When you orgasm, your body releases endorphins (hormones that block pain and make you feel really good). Plus, you get to explore your own body and find out what feels sexually pleasurable to you, which can be valuable when sharing intimacy with others.

Aside from a lovely masturbation “high,” you also avoid sex’s least desirable potential side effects: STIs and unwanted or mistimed pregnancy. If you want to have safe sex, masturbation is the safest sex you can have.

9 benefits of masturbation

1. Improve sleep

Just as sex with a partner can make you sleepy, so too can masturbation. Not only does it help you sleep, it canimprove your sleep quality. The release of hormones such as oxytocin and prolactin during orgasm induces relaxation and promotes a restful sleep state. This burst of hormones also contributes to an overall sense of well-being.

2. Reduce stress

Masturbation triggers the release of endorphins, the body's natural stress relievers. Endorphins can help combat stress, alleviate tension, and improve your mood. Feeling a little stressed? Try masturbating. Chances are it will help you feel better.

3. Higher libido

Oxytocin, one of the hormones released during orgasm, plays a crucial role in fostering a sense of bonding and connection with a partner. This hormone can also enhance libido, or sex drive, and contribute to a healthy sexual appetite overall. Sex life a little stagnant lately? Try masturbating to jumpstart your sex drive.

4. Better mood

Dopamine, a neurotransmitter associated with pleasure and reward, is released during masturbation, as well as oxytocin and endorphins. This is why masturbation leaves you feeling good and boosts your mood. So whenever you’re feeling down or want a pick-me-up, masturbating can make you feel a whole lot better.

5. Alleviate anxiety

Becoming sexually aroused and reaching orgasm from masturbation can release oxytocin, which is known to alleviate stress and anxiety. Masturbation can also release serotonin and hormones that help maintain homeostasis in the body, helping to reduce anxiety, regulate emotional behavior, and support cognition.

6. Improve likelihood of orgasm during sex

Masturbation helps you learn more about your body: what turns you on, where your sensitive areas are, and what your physical map to orgasm is. Overall, it can lead to an improved sexual experience with a partner — and a better chance of orgasming. Knowing what you like allows you to openly and confidently communicate that to your partner. You may come more often and increase your satisfaction when you show them what gets you off (and they can show you the same).

7. Relief from menstrual cramps

If you’re experiencing menstrual cramps, you may not be feeling turned on or in the mood to masturbate, but masturbation can actually help. The stimulation of nerves with masturbation promotes increased blood flow to the pelvic region, and the release of endorphins acts as a natural painkiller, potentially alleviating discomfort during menstruation. Incredible, right?

8. Relieve tension

Another benefit of masturbation is that it can reduce tension as you’re actively experiencing it. The activity helps release built-up tension and relax your body and mind. Think it sounds weird to masturbate if you’re stressed? Masturbating releases the same endorphins as other stress-relieving activities like running, walking, and exercising.

9. Self-awareness

One of the best benefits of masturbation comes back to you and your journey of self-discovery. Masturbation enables you to connect with your body on a profound and uniquely personal level. In the end, exploring your desires and preferences fosters a healthy sense of self-awareness and overall sexual well-being. Don’t be afraid to get to know yourself better. Just do you. Literally :)