While most of us would like to admit otherwise, we have all, at some point in our lives, indulged in some good-ol’ self-love. Yet, when it comes to talking about masturbation, we are still pretty awkward and would rather not acknowledge it. That’s understandable. Historically, masturbation has been viewed quite negatively despite mounting evidence* directly correlating it with multiple health and relationship benefits for both men and women. And, while studies have shown that men masturbate more frequently than women, there’s no denying the fact that women do it too.
Since the month of May is International Masturbation Month, I thought, now would be a good time to shed some of the taboos surrounding ‘women and masturbation’, and talk about why it is completely normal, healthy and something you should indulge in more often.
1. Masturbation makes you happier
The benefits from the act of self-pleasing do not start and end with fertility, as evolution would have you believe. Orgasms achieved as a result of masturbation (and, of course, sex) releases endorphins – and as it is well known, endorphins make you happy. Dr Lauren Streicher, an Associate Professor of Obstetrics and Gynecology at Northwestern University says, “Similar to working out or getting a massage, self-stimulation is a great way for you to relax both emotionally and physically. Instead of buying an expensive massage, you can just stay in and give yourself one. Orgasms release the endorphins dopamine and oxytocin, which can improve your mood and create a natural high. Who needs drugs when you can make your own?”
2. Masturbation improves your sex life
Apart from the tangible physical and psychological benefits that come with self-pleasure, masturbation is a great way for you to explore your body and find out what feels good. “You’ll know exactly what makes you orgasm, and how long it takes to climax,” says Dr Emily Morse, sexologist and host of Sex with Emily. Studies even show that counsellors are increasingly encouraging masturbation as a couples’ therapy tool.
3. Masturbation prevents postmenopausal sex difficulties
With menopause, come a whole host of changes to a woman’s body. And while her sex drive might not necessarily decrease, a woman’s ability to have sex certainly alters. According to Judi Chervenak, MD, a gynecologist from New York City, “The vagina can actually narrow, which can make intercourse and vaginal exams more painful. But masturbation, especially with a water-based lubricant, can help prevent narrowing, boost blood flow, relieve some tissue and moisture problems, and increase sexual desire.”
There you have it, even science agrees that masturbation is good for you. So, clear your mind (and your calendar), take the day off and treat yourself to some ‘me’ time. You know you want to!
*Academic References: Sexual Health and Positive Subjective Well-Being in Partnered Older Men and Women; Masturbation as a Means of Achieving Sexual Health; Women’s Individual and Relationship-Level Attitudes and Behaviors Regarding Solo Masturbation and Vibrator Use