A touchy subject: Masturbate for better mental health
Masturbation. Let’s just tell it like it is. We all do it, or at least want to do it. But while boys can brag from a young age about how many they can knock out in one day, girls are made to feel shame and embarrassment around the subject of masturbation. For them it’s dirty, when it really shouldn’t be.
Aside from making you feel AMAZING during and after, believe it or not, with masturbation comes (sorry, we had to) multiple mental health benefits. Yep. Getting it on with yourself can actually improve your wellbeing.
Let’s crack on.
What the experts say
We had a chat with a few sex, relationship and medical experts out there to get the lowdown, on why you should get down.
LVH’s very own editor-in-chief, Eleanor McKenzie, said: “Social distancing is awkward for all of us. No kisses, hugs, or even shaking hands is contrary to our norms of politeness as well as ways of showing affection and warmth. A lack of human touch definitely affects our emotional and mental health."
“Those people who were fortunate enough to have partners, children or pets with them throughout lockdown have not missed out on touch in the same way as those who live alone. Nobody started lockdown thinking their mental health might be affected by lack of physical contact; it’s something that creeps up on them and that makes it more dangerous for the most vulnerable in mental health terms.”
Know-it-all, of all things sex and relationship wise, Nixalina Watson of Sex & Singapore City says no one should rely on someone else for their orgasms: "Masturbation is a physical and mental relief, particularly when you orgasm. It offers your body and mind deep relaxation, as well as the capability to put you into a sleepy mode once you climax. Relying on someone else to offer you an orgasm and thus this relaxed state seems unfair and unnecessary - what to do if you're single? What if you're in a long distance relationship? Masturbation should be something that is 'normal' for someone to do - self exploration of the body can only enhance a sexual relationship with another person too."
So let’s take a gander at why masturbating should be as part of your daily routine as taking a vitamin or brushing your teeth. Just maybe don’t do them at the same time.
Hormones control how we feel. When there’s an imbalance of hormones it can result in low mental health and cause depression and anxiety. Masturbation helps to stimulate and release the very best of these hormones, the ones that leave you feeling great. Dopamine is responsible for making you feel good and put you in a better mood, and oxytocin (the ‘love’ hormone) helps to combat cortisol, the stress hormone.
So grab your favourite toy or lube up your fingers, and get those hormones swimming.
Dr Earim, Medical Director of wellness platform, Manual, talks about the incredible cocktail of hormones released when you get down with yourself:
“Research and anecdotal reports suggest that sexual stimulation, like masturbation, can: relieve stress and tension, boost your mood, sleep better, improve your sex life by better understaning your wants and needs and so on. Orgasm causes the release of endorphins, which are known to reduce stress and boost confidence. Also released is serotonin, which is a known antidepressant.”
Masturbation; the best stress reliever.
Learn to love yourself
Your self-esteem is closely linked to your physical and mental health, especially your stress levels. Feeling low and bad about yourself can make it more difficult for you to cope with everyday tasks and stresses, and beating yourself up all the time takes up a lot of energy.
But thankfully, there’s a very enjoyable way to boost your self-esteem available right at your fingertips. Did you know that masturbating has been linked to a positive body image? Spending time getting intimate with yourself is a relatively untapped form of self-love and self-acceptance. The more you get to know and understand your body, the more you’ll start to cultivate a loving relationship with it.
Megwyn White, a Certified Clinical Sexologist and Director of Education at sexual wellness brand Satisfyer, adds that we can develop a deeper connection between our mind and body when we masturbate:
“It’s not only orgasm that can conquer the negative impacts of lack of social touch. When we explore self-pleasure we can also help to activate neural receptors within the skin called c-tactile afferent nerves, which especially respond to slow and gentle touch."
“We can help support this neutral connective feature of mind/body awareness through slow conscious touch of the body, and this can result in a slowing down of the stress response and a more positive relationship to our surrounding environment. In a very real sense, when you touch your own body you are in direct communication with your mind.”
A better night’s sleep
Sleep is incredibly underrated. In a world where social media makes us feel like failures if we’re not constantly busy, it’s no wonder that our anxiety and stress levels cause us to lie awake at night, and then that sleep deprivation makes us even more stressed and anxious, which causes low moods and to feel physically ill. It’s a vicious cycle.
Before you reach for the sleeping pills, give masturbation a try. Orgasms can actually act as a natural sedative that helps you unwind and relax before you drift off to sleep. Those amazing hormones we talked about earlier - oxytocin and prolactin - are released during masturbation and orgasm and can leave you feeling nice and sleepy, helping you get that good night’s sleep you’ve been daydreaming about.
Let’s face it, we’re all having a tough time at the moment. Lockdown hasn’t been easy on any of us, especially those who live alone or are away from partners. Or even if you’re someone who enjoys being single, there’s no reason why you should miss out on all the fun. And while nothing can replace the touch of a loved one, masturbation could be a way to fill that gap.
Dr Earim weighs in again here, “During this period of lockdown, human touch isn’t as available to us, and singles have had to put dating on hold. Masturbation allows you to take pleasure into your own hands if you’re self-isolating. As we know, masturbation is great for your mind and might reduce some negative emotions you’re experiencing presently. Above all else, it’s important to enjoy yourself and embrace your sexuality.”
If there’s one thing we’ve learned here, it’s that masturbation is a wonderful thing. Not only does it make you feel like you’re getting electrocuted in a good way, but it turns out it’s fantastic for your health. So, if anything, masturbation is just what the doctor ordered.
Thankfully we are here to help as LVH will ensure you can get in the mood for self love after just a few pages of stimulating reading - the exciting story of Lady Victoria Howard is adult romance at its very best!