Masturbation, or solo sex, has long sat in the realm of shame. Something that most people do but very few admit. Luckily, exciting forward-thinking brands such as Fine Bone are working towards moving self-pleasure from the shadows to the forefront of our consciousness by designing beautiful toys which you can proudly display on your bedside table. As a doctor, I understand sex is a basic human need, alongside breathing and eating but much of the population are not aware that solo-sex comes with a multitude of health benefits.
I am here to share with you a few of my favourites:
Our skin is our largest organ, important for protecting us against the world. During masturbation and orgasm, a cocktail of hormones with anti-inflammatory and
anti-oxidant properties are released. This has great anti-acne effects as well as boosting the overall health of our skin. During orgasm, we get a large dose of oestrogen. This enhances the elasticity in our skin, protecting us from developing wrinkles. Depending how “active” you are during your self-pleasure time, you can get a gorgeous dewy glow to your skin as an after effect.
We all know that eight hours of sleep is the ideal, however a large proportion of people suffer from sleep disturbance. A typical situation is feeling exhausted but having a mind racing full of thoughts when trying to get to sleep. This is where solo-sex can be of benefit! Fully giving in to your pleasure requires you to fully focus on what you are doing. This intensity of focus combined with repetitive, rhythmic motion allows us to completely empty our heads; this makes solo-sex an excellent mindfulness tool! Orgasm releases oxytocin and prolactin, which is essential for a deep and restful sleep, and endorphins which lower our blood pressure, helping us relax.
Ensuring our mental health is looked after is essential for our overall wellness. Masturbation can be a key tool to boosting our mood as it activates the brain’s store of “happy hormones”, predominantly dopamine and oxytocin. Oxytocin reduced the levels of our stress hormone (cortisol) and dopamine boosts our mood, allowing us to be more relaxed.
Regular masturbation appears to be directly related to how good we feel about our bodies and about ourselves. It is shown to have a subject increase in our self esteem. It is thought to be due to the fact that masturbation requires us to acknowledge our bodies, predominantly the amazing things it can do for us, like orgasms. Once we are able to consciously accept what we are capable of on our own, we experience an overall increase in confidence levels.
Reducing health anxiety whilst improving sexual health.
Nicely combining the two above subjects, solo sex is shown to improve health anxiety. Sex education has long focused on shame, stigma and avoidance, leading to phobias of unwanted pregnancy and STIs. As an adult trying to enjoy sex, it can be quite stressful when all you can think about are those graphic photos you were shown in year 9 PSHE. A great benefit of masturbation is that you can enjoy pleasure, even orgasm, without any worry. There is no risk of pregnancy with solo-sex. Infection is also very unlikely, as long as you clean your toys properly between uses! Studies have shown that people who regularly use sex toys are more likely to be in tune with their sexual health; such as attending regular STI checks and have their smear tests, which is the best way to prevent cervical cancer. This is likely due to the removal of stigma associated with your genitals. Regular masturbation also means you know your body better. This makes you more likely to notice a change in your discharge or any lumps and bumps, getting them checked out sooner.
Better sex, stronger orgasms!
Using a toy helps train your body to be more responsive to sexual stimulus. You become aroused quicker, get wetter and orgasm deeper. It’s essentially a natural way to help kick start your libido, with almost no associated side effects. It is also shown to lead to better partnered sex. Solo sex allows you to understand how your body works, educating you on what you enjoy and what brings you the most pleasure. Once you understand this, it is easier to talk to someone else about it. You can directly tell your partner what you enjoy and even give them instruction on how to do it. Partnered sex should be about mutual enjoyment! A happy side effect is that when barriers around talking about sex are broken down in relationships, it then also gets easier to talk about the stickier stuff like condoms and boundaries, which can often place strain on a couple.
When we masturbate, our body releases endorphins which are the body’s source of natural pain relief. These hormones act in multiple ways, one of which is that they act directly on receptors to kill pain. Endorphins hang around in the system, dulling our ability to notice pain up to hours later. This is great for any general aches and pains, especially post work out soreness! When we masturbate, there is improved blood flow to the pelvis. This is very useful if you happen to be on your period. The increased blood flow can help reduce abdominal cramping and back spasm, which is excellent as an adjunct or alternative to paracetamol.