May is International Masturbation Month – one of our favourite months here at Killing Kittens. To mark the occasion, we’ve compiled this handy list of masturbation benefits.
The Benefits of Masturbation
A little bit of self-love goes a long way, especially considering masturbation’s unexpected wellbeing benefits.
From boosting your mood to reducing the risk of heart disease, the benefits of masturbation are tenfold. Playing with yourself can improve your mental health, physical health, sex life and beyond. It is great for getting to know your body, what you like and what turns you on so that if you decide to have partnered sex, you know exactly what you want.
However, myths about masturbation abound. For centuries, people said it made you blind or impotent and even today it’s still pretty taboo. The coronavirus pandemic has separated couples and turned casual sex into a dying art, so masturbation is probably the most popular sex act of 2021 so far. You may as well learn about some of its benefits. More than anything though, touching yourself feels good and that alone is reason enough to treat yourself to a self-love session.
Masturbation is a great stress reliever. It lowers your blood pressure and can help fight depression by releasing happy hormones like oxytocin and serotonin. Professional sexpert Jess Wilde suggests that masturbation is beneficial for your mental health because “the more we flood the brain with happy hormones, the more practised it is at receiving them. It is better at using those hormones or the receptors in your brain geared up to soak them all up.” So next time you’ve had a stressful day why not swap the wine for a wank? It’s better for you and you won’t wake up with a hangover the next day!
A better night’s sleep
The endorphins released in your brain if you reach orgasm help promote deeper sleep. Over time, this lowers your chances of insomnia by relieving tension and relaxing your body and mind. Sleep is so important for helping to reduce stress and depression. If you are having trouble sleeping, try masturbating more mindfully. A few ways to do this include trying new masturbation methods and techniques, making sure you’re in a private space and using lube. “You don’t have to go as far as lighting candles or playing special music,” Jess Wilde explains. “My top tip is to make sure that you have a private space. Include your masturbation time in your shower time or your bath time. Anyone else in your household generally understands that time in the bathroom is private time and everyone is entitled to a peaceful time.” Peaceful times before bed can lead to more peaceful sleep so next time insomnia strikes try winding down with a bit of self-love.
Raising your self-esteem
It’s called self-love for a reason! Taking time out of your day to focus on yourself and your pleasure can do wonders for your self-esteem. Try making love to your body with the same affection and attention that you would give to a partner. Make masturbation part of your journey towards loving yourself. “There is some evidence to show that masturbation is really great for self-esteem and body image,” says Jess Wilde. “This all feeds into our self-worth and making that relationship between our brain and our body a better one.”
Some people say that masturbation can get in the way of a healthy partnered sex life. This is a myth. Masturbating can actually stimulate your desire to have sex by giving you a better understanding of your sexuality. It gives you time to explore your sexual desires and let your imagination run free. Getting to know your body will give you more confidence in the bedroom and knowing what you like can make you feel more comfortable in communicating your desires to a partner.
According to sexologist Dr Sunny Rodgers, “masturbation draws additional blood flow to the pelvic floor. This healthy blood flow and circulation can help increase sensitivity and arousal so masturbation will help prepare your body for sex play.”
Additionally, mutual masturbation with a partner – in person, or over video – can be a great way to demonstrate what you like and to find out what they like at the same time.
Your physical health is just as important as your mental health. Good news: masturbation is beneficial for both! “Knowing your body is good for your health,” sexpert Jess Wilde explains. “Being familiar with what is normal for you means you’ll be more likely to be able to spot if something is not quite normal; lumps, bumps, bits and pieces like that.” Experts at Berkeley Wellness at the University of California also note that orgasms may help with heart disease prevention. Research has found that masturbation lowers your chance of diabetes. Even the NHS suggests that sexual activity – solo or partnered – can help boost your immune system, making it easier to fight off coughs, colds and more. It also helps with pain relief and can soothe menstrual cramps.
Strengthening your pelvic floor
Regular masturbation can help strengthen your pelvic floor muscles, which has a range of benefits itself. Masturbation helps keep pelvic floor blood flow circulating, which in turn helps to keep vaginal tissues healthy. “During orgasm, pelvic floor muscles naturally constrict,” explains Dr Sunny Rogers. “Strong pelvic floor muscles can provide a range of benefits, such as improved sexual arousal and response, increased pleasurable sensations during sex play, and even heightened orgasms.” It can also prevent urinary incontinence and promote overall sexual health.
Improving your skin
Maybe she’s born with, maybe it’s masturbation! Looking after your skin and looking after your orgasms are both great ways to indulge in some self-care. However, a complicated skincare routine can be time consuming and expensive. Fortunately, masturbation can improve your skin too. Dr Sunny Rodgers says that because masturbation that leads to orgasm can increase oestrogen, it can lead to “gorgeous glowing skin. DHEA is also released during an orgasm and is a hormone known to keep skin healthy and helps a person look younger, longer.” This is one skincare secret we’ll be keeping in mind.
It’s the safest form of sex
Masturbation is one of the safest forms of sex – you don’t need to worry about pregnancy or STIs. There’s also not really such a thing as too much masturbation. The only time it can become a problem is if it is getting in the way of other life responsibilities – such as work, family, hygiene etc. “There’s no such thing really as masturbating too much unless you have an addiction,” says Jess Wilde. “People should masturbate as often as they see fit. Some people say, ‘a wank a day keeps the doctor away.’ If that works for you, go for it, but honestly, listen to your body. Listen to your libido. You will have a natural rhythm that works for you.” While some recommend daily masturbation, there’s really no optimum frequency, but with all the health benefits it offers, it’s definitely worth making some time for.
For more information on why masturbation is so beneficial, and how to step up your solo sex game, check out our Love Thyself workshop with sex educator Lola Jean.
Note: the class is intended for people with vulvas!