10 benefits of masturbation to your health
Dr. Elesha Vooght explores ten key benefits of masturbation on health and wellbeing.
Bedtime routines are healthy for a good night’s sleep and can take a variety of forms. Wash your face, brush your teeth, 10 minutes of meditation, pack your work bag, masturbate… that’s right, I said it; masturbation.
Should I make masturbation part of my bedtime routine? Definitely.
You’d think by 2020 we would be over the concept of regular masturbation being weird or a bit dirty, but we still have some way to go to break down that stigma. I’m working with new sexual wellness-focused online adult toy shop Kandid, to open up the communication around self-pleasure and make sex toys seem less scary. Our goal is to get them on your bedside table alongside your candles and tiny cacti. One great way to help normalise masturbation is to think of the huge variety of health benefits it can bring. Here are a few to get you started:
How many nights do you switch the light off then lie there for what seems like hours? A million thoughts deciding that they want to flicker through your head? Masturbation can help with this! To masturbate in a satisfying manner, you have to concentrate completely and give over to your own pleasure, emptying your head of thoughts. The motions involved in getting yourself off are often repetitive and consuming. These two elements combined make masturbating the perfect mindfulness activity, allowing your restless mind to empty itself. When we orgasm, oxytocin and prolactin are released, which are the biochemical agents we need to ensure deep sleep. Endorphin release also leads to a decrease in blood pressure, leaving you deeply relaxed.
Along with great sleep comes great skin. A good night’s sleep reduces the likelihood of acne developing. More than this, the hormones released during masturbation have a variety of anti-inflammatory properties, which helps your skin’s overall health. When we masturbate, especially to the point of climax, our heart rate goes up. This gives you a full body work out, leaving your skin with a dewy glow. When women orgasm, there is a huge rush of oestrogen into the bloodstream. High levels of oestrogen are associated with improved skin elasticity and fewer wrinkles.
3. Self Esteem
Regular masturbation appears to be directly related to how good we feel about our bodies and about ourselves. This could be easy to interpret as people with high self-esteem tend to masturbate more regularly, but actually what it means is that anyone who starts to masturbate on a regular basis will have a subjective increase in their self-esteem. That’s pretty amazing, right?! This is felt to be due to the fact that masturbation requires us to acknowledge and appreciate our bodies, predominantly the amazing things it can do for us, like orgasms. Once we are able to consciously accept what we are capable of on our own, we experience an overall increase in confidence levels.
4. Better orgasms
Remember that rumour about regular masturbation with a vibrator means you can never cum from manual stimulation again? This isn’t true. Regular masturbation with a vibrator, especially toys which produce rumbles like The Small One or The Big One from Kandid, can actually improve nerve sensitivity.
If you happen to have a clitoris, this tiny powerhouse has 8000 nerve endings, so imagine what improving that sensation could be like. Regular vibrator use can also lead to higher levels of desire, arousal, wetness and orgasm. It’s essentially a natural way to help kick start your libido, with almost no associated side effects.
5. Reduction in health anxiety
For most millennials, sex education focussed on avoidance and shame. We were told the most important thing about sex was to avoid STIs or unwanted pregnancy, whilst nothing about pleasure or queerness was covered and even very little on consent. This further cemented the idea that sex is nasty. So, as an adult trying to enjoy sex, it can be quite stressful when all you can think about are those graphic photos of genital warts. A great benefit of masturbation is that you can enjoy pleasure, even orgasm, without any worry. There is no risk of pregnancy with solo-sex. Infection is also very unlikely, as long as you clean your toys properly between uses!
6. Pain relief
When we masturbate, our body releases endorphins. These are the body’s natural pain relief, which also happen to be released during exercise such as running or when eating dark chocolate. Endorphins act in a few different ways. One way is that they act directly on receptors to kill pain. They also hang around in the system, dulling our ability to notice pain up to hours later. This is great for any general aches and pains, especially post work out soreness! When we masturbate, there is improved blood flow to the pelvis. This is very useful if you happen to be on your period. The increased blood flow can help reduce abdominal cramping and back spasm. So next time instead of popping a pill, you can think about popping an orgasm instead.
7. Better sex
We have talked about better orgasms, but did you know that regular masturbation can also lead to better partnered sex? Masturbation allows you to understand how your body works. Ultimately, it tells you what you enjoy and what brings you the most pleasure. Once you know what you enjoy, it is easier to talk to someone else about it. You can directly tell your partner what you enjoy and even give them instruction on how to do it. Partnered sex should be about mutual enjoyment! A happy side effect is that when barriers around talking about sex are broken down in relationships, it then also gets easier to talk about the stickier stuff like condoms and boundaries, which can often place strain on a couple.
8. Strengthening your pelvic floor
The pelvic floor is the group of muscles that support our bladder, bowel and the internal parts of our genitalia, lining the base of the pelvis. If you gave a vagina, sex toys known as kegel balls, can be great at improving the strength of these muscles.
A stronger pelvic floor leads to more intense orgasms, an increased likelihood of multiple orgasms and gives you better control over your bladder. Using an internal vibrator, such as Kandid’s The Smooth One or The Wild One, can improve the elasticity of vaginal walls and increase your natural levels of wetness, making sex much more comfortable.
9. Better sexual health
As a young professional, I know how difficult it can be to go for regular STI checks, despite online services such as SH:24 or Fettle making this much easier. Studies have shown that people who own or regularly use vibrators are more likely to be in tune with their sexual health. They are more likely to attend regular STI checks and have their smear tests, which is the best way to prevent cervical cancer. This is likely due to the removal of stigma associated with your genitals. Regular masturbation also means you know your body better. This makes you more likely to notice a change in your discharge or any lumps and bumps, getting them checked out sooner.
10. Combat anxiety and depression
Mental health is a key issue for many of us at the moment, with current society not giving us adequate opportunities to manage our stress. Solo-sex is a great way to combat this, especially with a vibrator. Masturbation activates and releases the brain’s store of “happy hormones”. The big players here are dopamine and oxytocin. Dopamine acts to give you a temporary mood boost. Oxytocin reduces levels of cortisol in our blood. For those of you who don’t know, cortisol is the hormone produced by the adrenal glands which is the chemical signal for “stress”. By reducing the levels of cortisol in our blood, we become more relaxed.
Elesha Vooght is a sexual wellness Doctor at Kandid.