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Sexual Self-Care: The Benefits of Masturbation for Your Mind and Body

From blindness to hairy palms, there have been a lot of myths, misconceptions, and taboos surrounding masturbation and your health as time has gone on. But luckily, with modern science and non-biased points of view, we actually know that not only is masturbation not harmful, its actually really beneficial if you're willing and want to.


Sexual Health

Despite the misconception that masturbating can take away from your desire and ability to have sex, it is actually quite the opposite! masturbation can be an amazing way to learn what sensations, intensities, vibrations, textures, etc. your body prefers, which you can then apply to your sex life with partners to maximize your sensitivity and pleasure in bed. In addition to this, masturbation can really help you view your own body as a sexual being, not just as a flesh suit, and can even increase your own attraction to yourself (this is speaking from experience)


There are even some studies that back this information up, such as one conducted by researchers at Indiana University that showed that vibrator use when masturbating is correlated with higher sexual function and satisfaction [1] and that male masturbation is broadly associated with better erectile function, but that it differed from individual to individual [2].


I would like to note that this information, and everything else in this guide assumes you aren't masturbating more frequently or harder than is normal for you and your body, as excessive masturbation can actually decrease some genital sensitivity [3].



Reduces Stress and Anxiety

Masturbation has been shown to have potential benefits for reducing anxiety. When you masturbate, your bodies release endorphins and other feel-good hormones, such as dopamine and oxytocin, that can promote relaxation and reduce feelings of stress and anxiety [4]. These hormones act as natural painkillers and can help to lower heart rate and blood pressure, creating a sense of calmness and relaxation in the body.


Additionally, masturbation can provide a temporary distraction from stressful thoughts and emotions. By focusing on your own pleasure, you may be able to shift their attention away from negative thoughts or worries and instead focus on the present moment. This can be especially helpful for people who experience racing thoughts or difficulty sleeping due to anxiety.


Of course, it's important to note that every person's experience with anxiety and masturbation is unique, and not everyone may find that masturbation is a helpful coping mechanism.


Boosts Your Immune System

I'd also be remiss to not talk about the immune boosting potential of masturbation! As mentioned before, masturbation causes your brain to release all sorts of endorphins to make you feel good and to reduce stress, BUT these same chemicals, namely Oxytocin, actually play a vital role in the function of your immune system.


One study even states that Oxytocin and its related systems can aid in the "development of thymus and bone marrow, perform immune surveillance, strengthen immune defense, and maintain immune homeostasis" [5]. In simpler terms, oxytocin plays a MAJOR role in boosting your immune system and even just the basic functioning of it as well.


In other words, if you want to try and avoid COVID and the flu this season, getting to masturbating!


Sources:

[1] Herbenick, D., Reece, M., Sanders, S., Dodge, B., Ghassemi, A., & Fortenberry, J. D. (2010). Women’s vibrator use in sexual partnerships: Results from a nationally representative survey in the United States. The Journal of Sexual Medicine, 7(4 Pt 2), 186–197. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1743-6109.2009.01639.x


[2] Huang, S., Niu, C., & Santtila, P. (2022). Masturbation Frequency and Sexual Function in Individuals with and without Sexual Partners. Sexes, 3(2), 229–243. https://doi.org/10.3390/sexes3020018


[3] Jenkins, L. C., & Mulhall, J. P. (2015). Delayed orgasm and anorgasmia. Fertility and Sterility, 104(5), 1082–1088. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.fertnstert.2015.09.029


[4] Cardiovascular and Endocrine Alterations After. . . : Psychosomatic Medicine. (n.d.). LWW. https://journals.lww.com/psychosomaticmedicine/Fulltext/1999/05000/Cardiovascular_and_Endocrine_Alterations_After.5.aspx


[5] Li, T., Wang, P., Wang, S. C., & Wang, Y. (2017). Approaches Mediating Oxytocin Regulation of the Immune System. Frontiers in Immunology, 7. https://doi.org/10.3389/fimmu.2016.00693


Kamryn Gillham (They/ Them)

Social Work Student and Sexuality Advocate


Kamryn is a social work student at the University of Georgia that has a special interest in sexuality and working with erotically marginalized communities. They teach sexuality and relationship workshops and groups at Revolution Therapy, where they are an intern.







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