Masturbation, particularly among women, has always been considered a taboo topic.
But why? It’s very safe (no risk of pregnancy or STDs), very common, and delivers a wide range of mental and physical health benefits. To help eliminate some of the stigma surrounding female masturbation in particular, I’ve detailed eight different ways masturbation can improve your health.
Let’s talk about the physical health benefits first.
It’s good for your heart
Women who frequently experience sexual pleasure and/or orgasms, whether they’re going solo or with a partner, have a greater defense against both heart disease, and type-2 diabetes. This might simply be due to the stress relief masturbation provide (studies are still unclear), but given that heart disease is one of of the main killers in women, any precautionary measure can help.
It makes for a good night’s sleep
Sexual pleasure leads to an increase in dopamine, also known as the “‘feel-good hormone.’” Afterwards, particularly if orgasm is achieved, the body releases oxytocin and endorphins, which aid in feeling sleepy. Given the amount of women who suffer from insomnia (at almost twice the rate of men), this is an incredibly important benefit of masturbation.
It’s great for increasing vaginal lubrication
This is especially true for those going through, or who have already gone through, menopause. Menopause can make it more difficult for the vagina to self-lubricate, which sometimes leads to dry, uncomfortable sex, and difficulty becoming aroused. “Masturbation…activates various neural pathways responsible for clitoral swelling, vaginal congestion, lengthening of the vagina, and lubrication.” Basically, masturbation can turn you on, and give you the ability to continue getting turned on easier.
It eases headaches, period cramps, and other forms of physical pain
Though orgasm doesn’t have to be the end goal of masturbation (more on that later), having one certainly doesn’t hurt. Studies have shown that reaching orgasm can eliminate “migraine pain or cluster headaches.” Orgasms can also help reduce the pain of period cramps by temporarily relaxing the uterus and increasing blood flow.
Masturbation also comes with a host of advantages for your mental health and emotional wellbeing.
It cuts down on stress
Masturbation is typically done alone, in private, in a place where you feel safe and comfortable. That sort of environment, paired with a sexual release, is a very effective method of de-stressing. This is because of the release of dopamine and endorphins I mentioned previously; both of these hormones are known for their de-stressing and mood boosting properties.
It encourages self-love and self-awareness
It’s important to take care of yourself, and part of taking care of yourself is getting to know and appreciate your body for all it can do. Besides, knowing what feels good for you when you’re going solo can also come in handy when you’re with a partner.
Speaking of partners…
Masturbation can also improve your sex life with others, if you’re into that. Again, having knowledge of where and how you like to be touched makes it easier for you to guide your partner, which leads to better, more pleasurable sexual experiences for both of you.
There’s zero pressure
Not that there should be any pressure to have to reach orgasm with a partner, but let’s not kid ourselves, there usually is some sort of anticipation to climax. For those who have a hard time orgasming, or just don’t feel comfortable doing so with a partner, masturbation is a great way of experiencing sexual pleasure, with or without reaching orgasm.
Masturbation is a safe, healthy form of expressing your sexuality, and is nothing to be ashamed of. Whether you use toys or skip them, engage in mutual masturbation or just go solo, masturbating is a fantastic way to explore your sexuality and reap some excellent health benefits.
Cover image courtesy of Getty Images.