Masturbation: effects on stress and anxiety

Masturbation: effects on stress and anxiety

Masturbation is a form of self-care for many

The Covid-19 pandemic is likely one of the most life altering experiences we have faced as a global population within our lifetimes. Our normal outlets such as exercise, social gatherings or even work have been hugely disrupted. As a result, many of us are living in this altered heightened state where our mental health feels more delicate than ever. For some, it might even be the first time you’ve ever experienced anxiety or stress.

Our intimate relationships have also changed. It’s strongly recommended that we do not have sex with anyone outside of our household. We should also even be reducing physical contact with those within our household as much as possible. The one person who we can in fact touch all of the time with no questions asked is ourselves. The health benefits of solo sex are many and varied, with over half of Brits thinking of masturbation as a form of self-care. With May being masturbation month, it seems like the perfect time to explore the positive impact it can have on our mental wellbeing further.

Masturbation releases feel-good hormones

Under perfect circumstances, our mood is controlled by multiple biochemical components that work together cohesively to help us feel the whole rainbow of emotions. The first hormone we’re going to discuss is cortisol. Cortisol is our stress hormone, which is secreted by the adrenal glands and is responsible for our fight or flight response. Whilst beneficial in the short term, in the longer term it makes us fatigued, irritable and down-right miserable. As our bodies are continuously seeking balance (known physiologically as homeostasis) we have some handy hormones which tip the scales back to relaxed. Oxytocin is one of these – the “love” or “cuddle” hormone.

Oxytocin can stop the effects of cortisol by reducing it in the bloodstream, making us more relaxed. Unfortunately, oxytocin is normally secreted in response to human touch, which most of us are lacking right now. Luckily, masturbation and orgasm also release a nice hefty dose of oxytocin! Intimate toys, such as the The Little One, may give you a better sense of closeness. Cover yourself in a weighted blanket for an increased effect.

Endorphins are another important group of hormones released during masturbation. These little pick-me-ups are responsible for the same kick you get after eating dark chocolate or going for a run. They improve your mood, generally making you feel happier. They also reduce blood pressure, which helps with making us feel relaxed. Endorphins are the body’s natural pain killer, acting directly upon receptors to both dull our perception to pain and hanging around for hours afterwards. Whether it’s the new home workout or periods, masturbation is a handy tool for helping with this. Stimulating the genitals during masturbation also increases blood flow to the pelvis, easing abdominal cramps and back pain.

Masturbation can help us to physically and emotionally release tension

There is a lot of pressure over social media suggesting that we should be “achieving” something during lockdown. Whilst I’m a big believer that achieving orgasms, and brushing my teeth twice a day is enough, it can be difficult to be accepting of that when you’re being bombarded with freshly baked bread and perfect downward dogs. Regular masturbation has been associated with a subjective increase in self-esteem. This is likely due to the introspection that occurs with solo sex, giving it the time to understand how it works and the amazing things it does. This is perfect with battling those challenges towards our self-worth.

Many of us are sleeping badly with the loss of our work life balance. There is no space to switch off from the pressures or to do lists. Regular solo-sex can help improve sleep, as those little happy hormones we have described also need for a deep restful sleep. Orgasms can help us to physically and emotionally release tension. Masturbation also proves to be an excellent mindfulness tool. It gives you the ability to fixate entirely on a repetitive motion, your breath and a single goal, allowing you to empty your mind.

Start your journey of self-pleasure

Covid-19 has made us much more aware of our own health. Staying indoors has never seemed sexier. Masturbation comes without risks to your health – no STIs, no unwanted pregnancy, no drama! It’s just important to wash your hands and toys, before and after solo-sex. So, stay at home, snuggle down and get intimate with yourself. Until the end of May, we are currently offering 25% off using the code STAYHOME25. Take the opportunity to play, explore, have fun…whatever you need it to be!

Dr. Elesha Vooght

Dr. Elesha Vooght

Dr Elesha Vooght is the sexual wellness doctor at Kandid. By day (or night), Dr Elesha is an NHS junior doctor with her clinical experience spanning from gynaecology and urology to psychiatry and public health. Pleasure and its role in health is her passion in all areas of her practice.

Follow Dr. Elesha on Instagram @dr.elesha