Benefits and effects of masturbation on the body and mind
You know that feeling you get after masturbating when you feel relaxed, happier, and just more content all-around? Maybe you no longer feel as “on edge” and can finally experience some inner calm. Well, there are scientific reasons to explain why after a good self-love sesh, you reap several benefits of masturbation like feeling at ease, less stressed, and able to sleep better.
There are several antiquated myths around masturbation, like masturbation will make you go blind, for one. While we may laugh at the ridiculousness of this myth, we also seek to create a world where people receive proper sex ed and normalize healthy sexual behavior.
Another myth is that self-pleasuring does not have health benefits. Those myths have been debunked by sexologists and scientists who instead know there is no evidence to support any of these bizarre, incorrect, and damaging claims. Quite the contrary, masturbation benefits extend from the mind to the body.
We’re here to remind you that self-stimulation is completely normal, healthy, and can benefit your sex drive, sexual relationships, and health. So, get yourself some lube, and get to it!
Benefits of masturbation
From easier sleep to better moods, the benefits of masturbation are myriad. After a healthy masturbation session, you know you feel good, but why? Multiple regions of the brain are involved in sexual responses and release various feel-good neurotransmitters and hormones during self-stimulation and orgasm. Basically? Your brain on masturbation is a brain lit up like Christmas lights.
Lower stress levels
Masturbating impacts stress levels by the chemicals expelled during arousal and orgasm. For example, the hormone oxytocin is released during orgasm and lowers cortisol levels. Cortisol is the primary stress hormone, so less cortisol equals less stress. Another hormone, prolactin, is discharged during orgasm and helps with stress responses. So yes, you can actually masturbate your stress away.
Several chemicals are released during and after masturbation that can account for how after you masturbate, you typically feel better and happier. For one, the brain releases the chemical dopamine. Dopamine is responsible for pleasure sensations. During orgasm, oxytocin is released, which aids emotion regulation. Other feel-good chemicals, endorphins, also come into play during masturbation. Several hormones and neurotransmitters support that masturbating makes you feel better and can improve your mood.
Not only do endorphins improve mood, but they also decrease pain. Sexologist Jess O’Reilly says that when the pituitary gland is activated (which controls the sex organs), there is a release of endorphins, oxytocin, and vasopressin which all reduce pain. Masturbation can help with pain, from ailments associated with menstrual cramps to headaches. One study by sexologist Beverly Whipple Ph.D. supports that vaginal stimulation can increase pain tolerance drastically by over 40%.
Because of pain reduction during masturbation, there’s also an explanation behind why activities like hair pulling, slapping, and scratching are less painful during sexual stimulation than they are in a non-sexual context.
To keep your immune system in optimal condition, don’t smoke, don’t drink, eat your veggies, exercise, and...masturbate?
While there haven’t been enough studies to connect the effects of masturbation on immunity, there was a small 2004 study where men’s lymphocytes (white blood cells) were taken before and after masturbating. Low and behold, men had a higher lymphocyte count afterward. White blood cells are responsible for fighting bacteria and viruses.
Improved sexual relationship with self and partners
Time spent masturbating is time spent getting to know yourself and figure out what’s pleasurable. Through masturbation, you get to explore what your preferences are. Knowing how you like to be touched can help you guide someone else to learn, too. You can’t communicate what you enjoy if you haven’t figured out what feels good yet. Another perk of masturbation is that because it’s the safest form of sex to have, there is no risk of getting an STI.
It may be easier for some people to lean into the sensations from stimulation through self-exploration before experimenting with a partner. Some studies also support that masturbation can improve sex drive and sex in relationships.
So what happens to your body when you masturbate? Some pretty desirable effects, we’ll say!