The Mental Health Benefits of Masturbation
It’s no secret that stress, anxiety, and depression can all impact our quality of life. The good news is that you don’t have to go Keto or run a marathon to give your mental health a boost. Masturbation offers an enjoyable way to elicit an uptick in one’s mental and hormonal functioning.
All too often masturbation is touted as a once-in-a-blue-moon activity that wine drunk housewives indulge in when they buy a new vibrator. Or it’s seen as the scandalous wank that antisocial tech bros compulsively indulge, getting carpal tunnel and running through cases of tissues while bent over their computer screens.
This article argues that solo sex is a healthy practice. We’ve gathered the best scientific studies that support masturbation as a positive influence on one’s mental health. Want to learn more? Read on.
That thing everyone does but no one talks about . . .
First of all, we need to fight the stigma associated with masturbation. Across families, religions, and cultures, solo sex has been villainized. Common myths regard self-pleasuring as an addiction, a symptom of perversion, or a sign that somebody’s relationship is a failure. None of these ideas are based on science.
Tragically, the internalized shame that results can cause deep mental and emotional distress. You can imagine how this ripples out into one’s sex life and relationships. And wallet, if said human seeks therapy to eventually liberate themself from such sex-negative conditioning.
Masturbation is a healthy lifestyle practice!
Besides the personal empowerment benefits named in this brilliant article, solo sex can have a considerable effect on our mental health.
Let’s take a brief look at the big-picture benefits. The first is that diving into an exploratory masturbation practice can increase your sense of body positivity and self-acceptance. The second big picture benefit is that celebrating solo sex can help you reclaim your sex life from cultural and religious shame. Finally, once you are actively working toward accepting yourself and your desires you will be better able to communicate them with your partners. This kind of sexual empowerment goes a long way when it comes to peace of mind and a sense of fulfilment.
But what about the science of masturbation and mental health? Let’s dig in.
Brain Boost #1: Masturbation reduces stress and anxiety
Bet you aren’t thinking of the unopened messages in your inbox when you’re chasing that big O. And by O, we’re talking about Oxytocin.
Oxytocin is the superhero hormone of stress reduction. Often referred to as “the cuddle hormone,” it’s the secret ingredient of the brain cocktail that makes you feel a bit, well, sleepy. And it hits us like a tidal wave after we climax.
That means that in addition to being able to set aside your to-do list – at least while you’re rubbing one out – masturbation is likely to lead to a better night’s sleep. And we all know that sleep is the bedrock of a healthy mind and body.
Brain Boost #2: Masturbation increases levels of beneficial neurotransmitters
Ever feel a little bit loopy after a good wank? You may have our good friends dopamine and serotonin to thank for that. That’s because these neurotransmitters are both associated with positive feelings and elated moods. And their levels increase considerably with sexual arousal.
Dopamine is our focus and pleasure chasing hormone. Folks with ADHD, in particular, are familiar with its importance, as it’s needed to motivate one’s brain. When we “heart” an Instagram photo, make online purchases, or – you guessed it – enjoy the perfectly healthy and human practice of self-pleasuring, we get a dopamine boost.
Brain Boost #3: Masturbation boosts activity and oxygen in the brain
From oxygen to circulation to neural activity, masturbation measurably improves brain health.
Let’s talk about grey matter. It’s buzzing with the activity of neurons and electrical impulses. Grey matter responsible for transporting sensory data to the appropriate areas of the brain for processing. That means it’s a huge player in muscle control, sight, hearing, speech, emotions, and the formation of memories.
Studies have shown that in older folks short-term memory is affected as the volume of grey matter decreases with ageing.
The good news is that activities that increase oxygen, circulation, and neural activity in the brain can increase the volume of grey matter. Besides Zumba, meditation, and cold showers, solo sex checks all the brain boost boxes. Women in particular experience cognitive benefits from masturbation with age.
Take it from science, you can add masturbation to the list of things that are good for the space between your ears.
Wondering where to start?
The best place to start is with an attitude check. Notice if you have any embarrassment or shame around masturbation. Remind yourself that enjoying your body is perfectly natural.
Next, revel in sex-positive media! Here are our top recommendations:
– Treat your ears to The Kiss Me Quick’s Erotica Podcast.
– Get classy with some old school hard copy erotica – here’s a list of the best.
– Check out Inner Hoe Uprising podcast on sex, love, and dating hosted by 4 Black feminists.
– Read this Men’s Health article about boosting sexual self-confidence.
– Read the vulva-centric book Come As You Are by Emily Nagoski. You can watch a review by the Body Positive book club here.
– Follow @thefatsextherapist on Instagram.
One last tip:
Invest in high-quality toys. Besides being better for your body, top-shelf toys can introduce us to a completely new world of sensation. Take for example PULSE SOLO LUX, the flaccid-friendly penis sleeve with oscillating PulsePlate™ technology.
Vulva owners: think that once you’ve tried one bullet you’ve tried them all? Think again. AMO from Hot Octopuss is the cleverly contoured bullet vibe with more than meets the eye. Inside this gorgeous and discreet vibrator is a powerful motor that provides deeply penetrative rumbly sensations. That’s right, not buzzy like other vibes. Deep. Rumble.
Not everything that’s good for you has to feel like a chore! The next time you feel a bit lacklustre about your Pilates class or chlorella tablets, consider boosting your brain with a friendly little wank. Science and your friends at Hot Octopuss are fully backing you on this: when you pleasure yourself, you’re making one hell of a healthy lifestyle choice!