Masturbation: The Positive Effect of Solo Sex on Overall Wellbeing
According to the latest data, around 78% of women in the UK masturbate and 96% of men. Masturbation is not only pleasurable it’s also extraordinarily healthy, and one of the safest ways to boost a positive connection to self while reducing stress and supporting overall health and well-being.
Sexual wellness is a term that has popped up a lot over the last year, it’s a term which refers to how well we are able to connect to our sensuality, and also be in a positive sexual relationship with others. Sexual wellness impacts our physical, mental, and social wellbeing on many levels, and now new research is revealing the integral effect it has on our lives.
HOW HAS OUR VIEW OF SELF-PLEASURE PROGRESSED?
Solo sex to help overall wellbeing is not a new concept. Masturbation tools that aided orgasms have been around for centuries, even if they were first designed to help the treatment of ailments, not for pleasure purposes. The first vibrator that came to market was by an English physician called Joseph Mortimer Granville. Dr Granville invented an electric vibrator in 1883, to treat pain, headaches and constipation. In fact, the first vibrator as we know it was made for men, not women. And though they were not used for ‘sexual’ purposes, they certainly hinted that they could be used for this purpose with an advert that ran in 1908 about women’s needs. Although masturbation was seen as shameful and frowned upon, there was no denying the positive effects it had.
Since then, we have come on leaps and bounds to fortifying the solo sex experience with the respect it deserves. Science has helped us to understand the complexities behind the effects of orgasm, and how this mysterious erotic energy contains natural healing benefits for the body and mind.
When it comes to masturbation for women, a survey from Good Housekeeping found that over half of UK women own a vibrator to aid them. The shame and stigma for women around solo sex thankfully is slowly dying out, as we enter a new era of sexual revolution focused on unlocking the boundless gifts solo sex can bring, while simultaneously freeing women’s voices to embrace the full dimensionality of pleasure and sexuality.
THE MENTAL BENEFITS OF MASTURBATION
DEEPENS THE MIND-BODY CONNECTION
For a women, there is not only a myriad of health benefits, but also the ability to gain access to connect further with the mind and body. The female clitoris, is actually named after the Greek word for key (kleitoris) as it is the only organ in the body that is purely designed for pleasure. Freud, one of the fathers of modern psychology, deemed orgasms that were clitoral as mere infantile, and to be avoided by women as they passed the stage of puberty. Many women are still unaware of the fact that this powerful organ is not a “love button” but rather it extends deeper into the body, flanking the vaginal canal and harnessing a double whammy of pleasure aided by the right type of stimulation.
RELEASES FELL-GOOD CHEMICALS
When someone has an orgasm their body releases a surge of chemicals including dopamine, oxytocin, serotonin, and endorphins. These radical “feel good” factors are rooted in the visceral body and brain and are naturally unleashed with sensual exploration and orgasms. These hormonal and chemical shifts are not only mood balancing, but also give us the unique confidence boost we as humans need to feel intrinsically connected to others and douse our physical beings with the vitality of aliveness that is intoxicating, to say the least.
Oxytocin, sometimes referred to as the “love hormone” is a natural chemical bonding hormone that the body produces when a person experiences the benefits of positive touch, or when breastfeeding, and at the heights of giving birth, which is one of the reasons why a mother’s love is endowed with a special bond. Serotonin, is an extraordinarily important chemical and neurotransmitter produced in both the body and the gut which is believed to help regulate mood, appetite and digestion, sleep, and memory. Dopamine is a motivating chemical messenger in the brain that has many functions. It’s involved in reward, motivation, memory, attention and even regulating body movements. And finally endorphins are what give you that natural ‘high’ experience, and are one of the most potent ways to combat the effects of pain, and depression. This dynamic sexual boost is the cocktail your body mixes when sensuality is explored and will exponentially infuse your being to feel more loving, less stressed, confident, and happy to be alive. Not bad hey!
HELPS WITH RELAXATION AND SLEEP
An orgasm also releases a hormone called prolactin, this hormone makes you feel relaxed and sleepy, which is why most of us feel extra tired after sex. The release of this hormone leads us to that nice drowsy state which is why masturbation is great at helping you both de-stress and to help with sleep.
THE PHYSICAL FACTORS
GIVES THE BRAIN A BOOST
Solo sex does not only give you a huge chemical rush but it fortifies the body – modern MRI studies have revealed that when our brain experiences orgasm, up to 80 regions can potentially light up with effortless ease. In fact, masturbation, which is sometimes seen as a secondary measure to achieving orgasm, has been shown to more consistently light up the subcortical and cortical, also known as the higher thinking executive dimension of your brain responsible for planning and thinking quickly on your feet.
AIDS HEART HEALTH
As well as the positive mental aspects that come from masturbation, there has also been some studies into the physical benefits. US Doctor, Dr. Gersh has looked at how our heart gets a health boost and how orgasm may prevent heart disease, which is still the leading killer for men and women in the western world. He says “regular orgasms can help to maintain our innate rhythms and lower inflammation, fostering regular cycles.”
REDUCES RISK OF PROSTATE CANCER
The physical benefits of solo sex are like an abundant gold we need to mine. Harvard University undertook a study around prostate cancer and if orgasms can help lower the risk in older men. They additionally found that men who ejaculated more frequently were less likely to develop prostate cancer. Men who ejaculated 21 or more times a month enjoyed a 31% lower risk of prostate cancer.
REGULATES MENSTRUAL CYCLE
Women who struggle with difficult cycles have also been studied to reveal that regular orgasms can play a huge role in healthy regulation of the menstrual cycle. Its effect on supporting circadian rhythms help a woman’s body to stay balanced, improving immunity, and mental health. You’ll be happy to know that orgasms may help with dreaded menstrual cramps as well. Painful periods are the result of your uterus contracting to release its lining. When you have an orgasm, the muscles of your uterus contract, which can help ease things along with a natural and seamless release within the walls of the uterus coupled with the pleasure filled orgasm. Endorphins additionally aid in pain relief, a double reason to partake.
FIGHTS OFF FLU
Orgasms can help during the dreaded cold and flu season, too. A 2004 German study found that immediately after sexual arousal and subsequent masturbation to climax, 11 men showed increased levels of leukocytes, white blood cells that help protect your body from illness and infectious disease. That same 2015 study from Indiana University showed that sexually active women had “greater changes in helper T cells,” which help activate the cells your body needs to fight off foreign invaders that cause disease and illness.
START YOUR JOURNEY OF SELF-STIMULATION
Orgasms do not need to be reserved for “special occasions”. Modern sexual wellness products, and the more widespread sharing of the natural benefits of orgasm allow us an entirely new opportunity to take power back into our hands. And it’s not just orgasm that helps to yield many of these benefits. Simply tending your bodies’ sensual needs help it to respond to stressors, help you to learn about what uniquely turns you on, and further support the brilliant wiring of your sexuality to become more responsive. Regular masturbation has been associated with triggering an easier ability to orgasm with a partner, and of course linked to leading more confident happy lives.
The best way to start benefiting from this incredible well-spring of vital energy is to start exploring it regularly. Take time out to create a space for pleasure to be explored. Experiment with different types of touch, create the setting of sensuality by minimising distractions and focusing on where your body needs attention. With regular practice you will pleasantly be surprised that your body has the capacity to slow down and light up with the intelligence and current of self-love. It may take time, and that’s why taking the pressure off can be half the battle.
Rather, breath deep, relax and explore. The positive emotional and physical effects of solo sex, as you can see, are incredible and there is still a lot we are finding out about just how beneficial masturbation can be. So next time you feel stressed, under the weather or can’t sleep, try a little self-love. It can make a real difference in shifting your state and giving your body the boost it needs, to feel “oh so good”.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Megwyn White is a Certified Clinical Sexologist, and the Director of Education for sexual wellness and sex tech brand, Satisfyer.