😮 It’s Masturbation Month on Swell! This May, we’re bringing you all the ways self-love can improve and affect your life—whether you’re partnered or not. 😮
It’s not exactly a secret that masturbation is amazing. Orgasms are an essential part of self-care. Giving yourself pleasure should be as fundamental to your daily routine as breakfast and brushing your hair. When we orgasm, our brains release a whole host of feel-good chemicals that offer a state of calm and well-being.
If you need a little more convincing that masturbation is all we’re making it out to be, consider the health benefits. Yes, masturbation is straight-up good for your physical health—not just in a “feel more connected to yourself” way (which is true, too). While they are very fun and feel very good, orgasms offer everything from stress relief and immune-boosting effects, to releasing sleep-inducing chemicals and the relief of menstrual cramps.
Since it’s Masturbation May, we decided there was no time like the present to show you why orgasms are good for your health, as shown by science.
Orgasms Lower Stress Levels
During these uncertain times, our stress levels are extremely high. And orgasms have positive impact on stress. “The simple effect of lower blood pressure from a self-induced orgasm is a noticeable benefit to the cardiovascular system and reflects lower stress levels,” says Dr. Katherine Zagone, N.D., the medical director and a sexual wellness expert at Gentera.
Aall that lovely oxytocin also plays a part in our overall wellbeing. While being an excellent pain reliever, studies also show that this wonderful little hormone helps to decrease anxiety. We can all use that right now, amiright?
Even non-orgasmic pleasure can boost our health. During foreplay and sexual excitement, your brain naturally releases the chemical serotonin, which helps to increase sexual satisfaction and regulate mood. Self-love offers a cocktail of brain-balancing delights.
Self-Love Can Tone the PC Muscles
Are you a gym bunny? Well, masturbation happens to be a great muscle workout. For the PCs, anyway.
There are five stages of orgasm: desire, arousal, plateau, orgasm, and resolution. The plateau phase, the one right before orgasm, has been shown to help the Kegel muscles (the PCs or pubococcygeus muscles). This hammock-like set of muscles is responsible for holding in your internal organs and plays a role in sexual satisfaction. “Having toned PC muscles is a good way to prevent everything from vaginal prolapse to the dreaded sneeze-pee phenomenon,” D’Angelo explains. “As we age we naturally begin to lose muscle tone in the pelvic floor, so experiencing frequent orgasms is a great way to keep our largest muscle group active, toned and healthy.”
Here is where the plateau phase of the sexual response cycle comes into play. According to The Association for Pelvic Organ Prolapse Support, during the plateau stage, the pelvic floor begins to receive an increase of blood, preparing the pelvic floor for orgasmic contractions. This inadvertently gives the pelvic floor a really good workout. So, instead of doing your daily “squeeze and release” PC routine, masturbation could be all you need.
Orgasms Relieve Pain
While it’s not exactly mainstream (yet, for some reason) that orgasms can help with pain management, we’ve known about it for quite some time. A 1986 study from Rutgers University found that women experience a higher pain threshold after orgasm than before.
What’s more, it also helps reduce pain. “Orgasm is a strong analgesic, which means experiencing an orgasm can reduce varying levels of pain,” explains Kristine D’Angelo, a certified sex coach and clinical sexologist. When we orgasm, the brain releases the neurochemical oxytocin. This chemical is nature’s natural bonding hormone and a pain reducer. Masturbation can be super-helpful in relieving period cramps, headaches, muscle pains, and hangovers.
Orgasms Boost the Immune System (Maybe)
These are quite scary times, friends. And anything we can do to boost the immune system is a good thing. Luckily, masturbation can help with that, too!
While more research on this topic is definitely needed, the scientific results are promising thus far. One study in men showed increased absolute leukocyte numbers post-orgasm. Zagone explains that these are Natural Killer cells. “Natural Killer cells are a big part of the innate immune system. The innate immune system is the first line of defense against viruses—another reason to add it to your quarantine routine,” she explains.
Gigi Engle is a certified sex coach, sexologist, educator, and writer living in Chicago.