For far too long, there was an inescapable stigma surrounding masturbation. To a certain extent, it’s still there, but at least we’re making progress. Where we were once told that masturbating could make us go blind, cause hair to grow on our palms or be a sign of mental illness, thankfully, we’ve moved past that and are now focusing on the opposite: how masturbation can improve your health.
Yes, you read that correctly — solo sex isn’t just unharmful; it’s actually beneficial in several ways. Here are a few to get you started:
1. It’s a stress-buster
If you’ve had a rough day and find that you’re a wound-up ball of stress, a little self-love may be just what you need according to Dr. Prudence Hall, founder of The Hall Center in Santa Monica, California. She’s also the author of the new book, Radiant Again & Forever.
“Masturbation is a great stress-reliever,” Domina Franco, a sex educator, coach and writer, tells SheKnows.
2. It can help with pain relief
We’re not saying that every time you feel a headache come on at work you should slip away for a few minutes to take care of it this way, but masturbation (in appropriate settings) can help you manage pain. It’s especially helpful when dealing with menstrual cramps and muscle tension, Franco and Hall add.
3. It works your pelvic floor
We all know about Kegels and how we’re supposed to work on our pelvic floor (especially after giving birth and as we age). Guess what? Masturbation can help with that too by strengthening the muscles down there so you’re less likely to lose urine when you cough or sneeze, Hall tells SheKnows.
“No matter your genitals, all folks can experience benefits of increased pelvic floor strength and prevention of incontinence through masturbation,” Franco adds. In folks who have vaginas, it has been shown to help ease cramps during menstruation.
4. It can help prevent some infections
While we mostly hear about infections caused by sexual activity, we typically don’t hear the flipside: that masturbation can actually do the opposite.
“For people with vaginas, masturbation can help prevent cervical infections and urinary tract infections through the process of ‘tenting,’ which is the opening of the cervix that occurs as part of the arousal process,” explains Franco, who by the way, has one of the most informative, fun and sex-positive Instagram accounts around.
5. It’s good for penises too
Because genitalia are not tied to gender identity, this is a good time to check in regarding what masturbation can do to help people with a penis. Not only can it help with erectile dysfunction, Franco says, but it may mean penetrative sex that lasts longer.
“Repeating the process of masturbating and stopping before ejaculation can also assist someone with a penis have increased longevity when in bed when with a partner,” she says.
6. It could improve your sleep
Both Franco and Hall mention this masturbatory bonus.
“If you do experience orgasm while masturbating, a huge wave of endorphins surge through your system, and that has also been shown to help you have deeper, higher-quality sleep,” Franco explains.
7. It helps you know your own body
Who knows what you like? You do, of course — and masturbating only helps you get to know yourself even better. According to Franco, it “allows us to explore our own body on our own terms and on our own timeline. It gives folks the opportunity to explore and figure out what feels good for them in an intimate and nonthreatening way.”
8. It can make sex with a partner better too
This completely makes sense when you think about it: Sex will get better if know you know how to guide your partner.
“Being able to convey what works for you to a partner may be more challenging — but you’re sure to have better sex if you know what you like than if your own sexual pleasure is still a mystery to you,” Franco says. “The more we are connected to our sexuality and know how to pleasure ourselves, the more likely we are to have pleasure when we engage in sexual activity with others.”
Not only that, but Hall notes that masturbation can help preserve a person’s sexuality when they’re not in a relationship.
So the next time you’re debating whether to pencil in a little me time, remember that masturbating does a body good.