4 Benefits of masturbation (besides pleasure) that you might not know
Masturbation is a normal part of sexual development in humans. Contrary to what some of us hear growing up, there’s nothing immoral or shameful about self-pleasure. However, as someone who grew up with masturbation as a taboo subject, I understand that it can be difficult to shake off the feeling of guilt and embarrassment when first discovering masturbation.
Learning about how ordinary and beneficial masturbation is, helped me to break away from the stigma surrounding it. So if you are still struggling with intrusive thoughts, here are a few positive side effects of self-stimulation that go beyond pleasure.
1. Reduces Stress
While masturbation doesn’t necessarily have to end in an orgasm, it is safe to assume that most individuals masturbate to experience that rush of heightened pleasure. Achieving this state, however, usually requires a person to slow down their thinking and focus on achieving pleasure. Also, when a person orgasms, the body releases endorphins (also known as the hormones that reduce pain and increases pleasure) which help to reduce stress. In fact, a scientific study has found that individuals who use masturbation to reduce stress saw an increase in clarity, relaxation, and calmness.
2. It can help you sleep
While masturbation is not a replacement for sleeping aids or a cure for insomnia, it can help you get tired and get a good night's sleep. This is because when engaging in sexual activities our bodies go through a sexual response cycle, which is essentially a series of physiological and emotional changes that start with desire, followed by arousal, then orgasm, and finally resolution. While the time spent in each phase and the order might vary from person to person, the last stage is characterized by a feeling of fatigue. That is because your heart rate increases (like in a workout!) and some of the endorphins released, such as melatonin (the one responsible for regulating our body clocks), can make a person feel sleepy.
3. It helps discover what you like and dislike
As a heterosexual person with a vulva who felt ashamed of masturbation, it took a while to discover what felt good and what didn’t. I remember the first time I had sex I didn’t understand why it hadn’t been as good as I heard it would feel. The answer came a while later when I realized that that self-pleasure allowed me to explore what my preferences are and what is enjoyable. This realization did not only increase self-pleasure but also allowed for better communication with my partner about what I like and dislike.
4. It can be sexually empowering
Masturbation can help you in feeling more in control of your sexuality, your needs, and your desires. Although it doesn’t necessarily have to be a solo activity, the fact that you can dictate the movement, pressure, and pace can make you feel like you have the autonomy to dictate your pleasure, and that can, in turn, be quite empowering.
As a final note, I think it’s important to mention that these experiences have been based on my sexuality as a heterosexual person with a vulva, and what might work for you could be a bit or completely different. The bottom line, however, is that we are all sexual beings and masturbation (if it doesn’t disturb your day-to-day life, activities, and relationships) is part of a healthy sexual life.
Find more around this month's topic on Sexs and Reproduction here.