Before the 18th century (when masturbation was projected as a heinous sin), not much attention was given to the self-loving act of masturbation. Then things changed and onanism became a term. Since then, solitary sex has had medical and ethical concerns doing rounds in a society pretending to refrain from washing dirty laundry in public.
In an attempt to remove some of the guilt, shame, ignorance, and “I would never” associated with pleasuring oneself, here’s how being master of your own domain can hand you amazing health benefits.
1. It Reduces Stress
Dopamine, a neurotransmitter (a nervous system messenger), is released during masturbation. Being responsible for the brain’s reward and pleasure pathways, increased levels of dopamine trigger the stress response by activating adrenalin. You, thus, feel relief from anxiety and stress.1
2. It Relieves Pain
With orgasms, endorphins are released.2 Endorphins are morphine-like compounds that serve as your body’s natural painkillers and also give you a sense of pleasure.3 This means your best kept secret (read: masturbation) can help you forget about your migraine or menstrual cramps.4
3. It Improves Sexual Performance
Pelvic floor muscles stretch like a hammock from your tail bone at the back to your pelvic bone in the front. Stronger pelvic floor muscles give you better control during sex. However, with age, these muscles weaken, causing sexual dysfunction in women and erectile dysfunction in men.
4. It Induces Restful Sleep
For up to an hour after an orgasm (including masturbation-induced orgasms) prolactin is increased in both men and women.7 8 Prolactin reduces your sexual drive, causes you to feel exhausted, and helps you catch some very welcome kip.9
5. It Fires Up Your Libido
Nitric oxide (NO) is produced in the linings of your blood vessels. It dilates your blood vessels to increase blood flow and is very important for libido.10 (NO is the neurotransmitter of erection.) When you’re healthy, your body produces more NO. As you age and your health deteriorates, NO levels fall. Masturbation helps maintain high levels of NO in your bloodstream, keeping your carnal fire alive.
6. It Improves Sperm Quality
Within 3 days of having sex, men are likely to masturbate and are even more likely to do so within 2 days before the next time they have sex.
Weird random studies? Not really. A study suggests that this is how men ensure that only their most fit sperm inseminate their partners.11 Masturbation removes the older, suboptimal, unfit sperm. So contrary to the myth, masturbation improves sperm quality.
7. It Increases WBCs In Men
According to a study, masturbation-induced orgasms increase the number of natural killer cells (type of WBCs) in men.12 This translates to a stronger immune system and better resistance to disease, including pesky colds.
8. It Reduces Risks Of Prostate Cancer
According to a Harvard study, men who ejaculated more than 21 times in a month were 33% less likely to develop prostate cancer than men who ejaculated 4–7 times a month.13
Other studies have also supported the conclusion that increased ejaculation reduces risks of prostate cancer.14 15 Though the mechanisms of this correlation are unclear, researchers hypothesize that with frequent ejaculation, potential carcinogenic secretions in the prostate are secreted more regularly.16 Though these studies talk about ejaculation that includes sexual intercourse and not just masturbation, it’s good to know that you can take your health into your own hands.
Is Over-Masturbation A Thing? Can You Get Addicted?
Yes, and yes! In search of those easy-to-access endorphins, you may find your hand slipping into your pants more often than you intend. This may interfere with you reaching climax when having sex with a partner. Seek counseling if you recognize the following warning signs:
- Getting distressed as a result of it
- Using it as a means to escape an ugly reality
- Masturbating to the point of unpleasantness and injuring yourself
- Becoming anti-social
- Constantly feeling lustful beyond control
It’s important to try a host of techniques or you may become unresponsive to unfamiliar techniques your partner may use during intercourse. Before your sexual health gets out of hand, get past the taboo and take matters into your own hands.
|↑1||Giuliano F, Allard J. Dopamine and male sexual function. European Urology. 2001.|
|↑2||Russell Eisenman. Scientific Insights Regarding the Orgasm. Europe’s Journal of Psychology. 2008.|
|↑3||Adam S Sprouse-Blum, Greg Smith, Daniel Sugai, F Don Parsa. Understanding Endorphins and Their Importance in Pain Management. Hawaii Med J. 2010.|
|↑4||Ali Ulvi Uca, Hasan Hüseyin Kozak. Masturbation and orgasm as migraine headache treatment: Report of a case. Neurology Asia 2015.|
|↑5||Patricia Gillan, G. S. Brindley. Vaginal and Pelvic Floor Responses to Sexual Stimulation. Psychophysiology. 2009.|
|↑6||Deborah Cohen, Joshua Gonzalez, Irwin Goldstein. The Role of Pelvic Floor Muscles in Male Sexual Dysfunction and Pelvic Pain. Sex Med Rev 2016.|
|↑7||Krüger TH, Haake P, Hartmann U, Schedlowski M, Exton MS. Orgasm-induced prolactin secretion: feedback control of sexual drive? Neurosci Biobehav Rev. 2002.|
|↑8||Exton MS, Bindert A, Krüger T, Scheller F, Hartmann U, Schedlowski M.. Cardiovascular and endocrine alterations after masturbation-induced orgasm in women. Psychosom Med. 1999.|
|↑9||Roky R , Obál F Jr , Valatx JL , Bredow S , Fang J , Pagano LP , Krueger JM. Prolactin and rapid eye movement sleep regulation. Europe PMC. 1995.|
|↑10||Zvara P, Sioufi R, Schipper HM, Begin LR, Brock GB. Nitric oxide mediated erectile activity is a testosterone dependent event: a rat erection model. International Journal of Impotence Research. 1995.|
|↑11||R.Robin Baker, Mark A. Bellis. Human sperm competition: ejaculate adjustment by males and the function of masturbation. Animal Behaviour. 1993.|
|↑12||Haake P, Krueger TH, Goebel MU, Heberling KM, Hartmann U, Schedlowski M. Effects of sexual arousal on lymphocyte subset circulation and cytokine production in man. Neuroimmunomodulation. 2004.|
|↑13||Marc Garnick. Does frequent ejaculation help ward off prostate cancer? Harvard Medical School’s Annual Report on Prostate Diseases. 2009.|
|↑14||Giles GG, Severi G, English ER, et al. Sexual Factors and Prostate Cancer. BJU International. 2003.|
|↑15||Jennifer R. Rider, Kathryn M. Wilson, Jennifer A. Sinnott, Rachel S. Kelly, Lorelei A. Mucci, Edward L. Giovannucci. Ejaculation Frequency and Risk of Prostate Cancer: Updated Results with an Additional Decade of Follow-up. European Urology. 2016.|
|↑16||Leitzmann MF, Platz EA, Stampfer MJ, et al. Ejaculation Frequency and Subsequent Risk of Prostate Cancer. Journal of the American Medical Association. 2004.|