Though it is often a topic that women shy away from discussing, the act of pleasuring yourself is far more healthy than you might know.
Editor’s note: This article was originally published on April 21, 2020. It has since been updated.
Flicking the bean. Flying solo. These are just a couple of the many euphemisms for masturbation. For a long time, the word itself was considered taboo and was spoken of in hush-hush words. Even today, there are many who believe that masturbation can cause mental health problems or damage to your genitals.
Unfortunately, because of this, many women have missed out on the number of physical, mental and emotional health benefits the act of giving pleasure to yourself has. So here are eight benefits that you stand to reap:
Dr. Lauren Streicher, an Associate Professor of Obstetrics and Gynecology at Northwestern University explains it to HuffPost. “We know that pleasure makes people feel good," Streicher says. This is based on the fact that orgasms release endorphins such as oxytocin and dopamine, both hormones that make you feel pleasure and give you a natural high, according to ScienceAlert.
It isn't just dopamine and oxytocin that are released when you reach orgasm. There are a flood of other neurotransmitters, one of which is called serotonin, otherwise known as the "sleep" hormone, according to Medical News Today. So be prepared for a good night's rest after bringing yourself to climax.
Women are more prone to heart disease than men and it is one of the most dangerous conditions we have to deal with. However, if exercise and diets are tough to keep up with, self-stimulation can get the blood flowing just as well. In fact, Women's Health Network mentions that there are studies that have found women who have more orgasms have greater resistance to coronary heart disease (CHD) and type-2 diabetes.
Due to the contraction of your pelvic muscles during orgasms, those muscles end up becoming stronger and this can help prevent urinary incontinence, infections related to the vagina and promote your overall sexual health.
"You cultivate very good feelings with yourself, and you can transfer that to the rest of the world," says clinical sexologist Dr. Tanginika Cuascud. "Confidence is the most potent aphrodisiac." It's one of the best ways to learn to love yourself. “It is extremely important that women have an appreciation of their own anatomy and how to self-pleasure,” Dr. Streicher says.
Through masturbation, you can find out what works for you and how you achieve the most pleasure. That way, when you do engage in intercourse, you will know how to guide them so that both of you can achieve climaxes. This sort of communication can even heighten the experience.
The contractions you feel in your vagina after an orgasm can actually relieve menstrual pain. Additionally, the dopamine and oxytocin released during this time can help numb pain from not just the cramps, but from other body aches. “If you have a uterine contraction while self-stimulating and a uterine contraction can help menstrual blood come out faster... theoretically it’s going to help with cramps,” Dr. Streicher says, though she also mentions that there is more research yet to be done on this.
It's not like you can transfer an STD to yourself with your fingers or with your personal toys. So masturbation can actually keep you safe from STDs and prevent unwanted pregnancies as well.