Do you masturbate? If you answered ‘no’, you’re probably one of those automated internet bots; or else you’re probably lying, according to a recent survey on sexual health and behaviour. The study showed that for people in their twenties, 84.6% of women and 93% of men admitted to masturbating! Masturbation is certainly a taboo subject if ever there was one. Since Victorian times there have been doctors, religious figures and concerned parents ranting and raving about how masturbation represents the moral decay of our society. Ask any doctor or sex therapist, however, and you’ll be reassured that masturbation has some real benefits for your body and brain. In this article, we look at four ways that masturbation might be adding to your health. Read on to learn more.
1. Masturbation mixes the right sort of cocktail in your brain
We all have hormones or chemicals – known as neurotransmitters – that are active in our brains. These are linked to our mood, mental functions, behaviours and a range of bodily processes such as our breathing and digestion. If we have too little or too much of a certain neurotransmitter, this can lead to the development of an illness such as depression or schizophrenia.
When you have an orgasm, whether on your own or with a partner, your brain’s chemical cocktail is changed for the better. For example, post-orgasm your brain balances its levels of cortisol, the stress hormone. This is a good thing because too much cortisol can lead to high blood pressure, weight gain, inflammation and other stress-related illnesses.
Feel good hormones are also released after an orgasm: dopamine, oxytocin, serotonin and endorphins. While dopamine creates a sense of pleasure, oxytocin makes us feel safe, serotonin makes us feel content and endorphins make us feel positive or optimistic. In sum, therefore, tugging the slug is so much more than just a physical act: you’re literally changing your brain chemistry in a way that makes you feel better about the world.
2. Masturbation exercises help prevent sexual dysfunction
Many people find it hard to believe that you can masturbate your way out of sexual dysfunction. When it comes to a condition called premature ejaculation (PE), proper masturbation strategies are exactly what the doctor would order. PE is a sexual disorder in which a man climaxes too soon, before he or his partner are ready for sex to end. Affecting up to 30% of men, this condition can lead to feelings of shame, embarrassment and anxiety whilst also negatively affecting your relationship.
Luckily, this condition is very much treatable and one of the most effective strategies involves training you to use specific masturbation techniques, such as the ‘squeeze’ and ‘stop-start’ methods. These techniques train your body and mind to delay orgasm by increasing your awareness about your body’s responses to sexual stimulation, which helps you to recognize when you’re about to ejaculate so that you have more control over the process.
Most men experience premature ejaculation from time-to-time, but if you’re finding that it’s happening often enough to cause problems in terms of your relationship, self-esteem and emotional well-being, then you would do well to have it treated by a sex therapist. Alternatively, if you want to learn more about what causes PE and how you can treat it, take a look a this post for a comprehensive overview.
3. Masturbation reduces the risk of prostate cancer and improves immune function
Your risk of getting prostate cancer is based on many factors: age, genetics and lifestyle to name a few. But according to this study, the frequency of ejaculation can also affect that risk; more specifically, it can reduce it. In other words, scientists believe that regularly draining the main vein keeps the prostate healthy by flushing out potentially harmful cancer-causing cells.
Beyond that, sexual arousal and climax can also improve your immune system by activating hormones that are necessary for the healthy functioning of our bodies. This means, then, that a regular masturbation schedule – especially if you’re not having sex as often as you’d like – can buffer your system against colds and infections, whilst also protecting against cancer.
4. Masturbation could improve your sex life
This is another shocker for many men, who seem to think frequent masturbation equals loneliness and the lack of a sex life. But research tells us that the opposite is true: this study showed students who masturbate more frequently also tend to have sex more often! The authors suggested that this is because thinking more about sex (i.e. during masturbation) primes your body and mind for the real thing.
But blowing your own horn can also increase your sexual self-awareness. Why? It gives you an opportunity to explore your body in your own time, allowing room for discovery of what feels good for you. This increased awareness, when communicated with a partner, can lead to better sex for both of you. This means better intimacy and sexual satisfaction in your relationship.
However: if you’re frequently choosing to masturbate instead of having sex with your partner, this may suggest the presence of underlying relationship problems; and it may also leave your partner feeling rejected and inadequate. If this describes you, it may be a good idea to have an open conversation with your partner about what’s going on so that you can address the underlying intimacy issues between you.
Despite what 20th century doctors – and perhaps your grandmother – have been saying: masturbation won’t make you go blind, become impotent or grow hair on your hands. Quite the opposite, doctors today will tell you that masturbation, especially when done correctly, is healthy! For this reason, it’s time for us as a society to start letting go of the shame and stigma that’s still attached to this natural act. In other words, if you’re looking to reduce your stress, improve your physical health, prevent premature ejaculation or increase your sexual self-awareness, know that these health benefits and more can be accessed with just a little bit of self-loving!