Whether you’re single, in a committed relationship or somewhere in between, you deserve a fulfilling sex life! Unfortunately, poor communication and cultural stigma surrounding sexuality often make it challenging to achieve fulfilling sex lives. But, no matter how difficult, overcoming these barriers and understanding your body will be worth the effort!
Does Masturbation Have Health Benefits?
It may come as a surprise, but the answer is yes! Solo orgasms provide various benefits to your physical and mental health, and it’s essential to understand their potential value. Research has demonstrated that white blood cells, especially those that fight off infection, increase during sexual arousal and orgasm. This benefit should not be underestimated since white blood cells are a critical element of our immune systems.
Another unexpected benefit of orgasm is headache relief. One study found that over 50% of migraine sufferers found their pain decreased after orgasm. Of those who suffer from cluster headaches, however, 50% said that sexual arousal and orgasm worsened their headache symptoms. So, while masturbation and orgasm are not a cure-all for severe headaches, we shouldn’t rule them out either.
The last physical health benefit worth mentioning has to do with sleep. Anything we can do to improve our sleep should be considered! Research has indicated that masturbation and orgasm can help in this regard. Sexual activity releases oxytocin and vasopressin, hormones that help your body regulate stress. Higher levels of these hormones will not only make your day more pleasant; they’ll help you drift off to sleep faster, too!
To experience an increased level of oxytocin is to become less anxious, which means that orgasms might help those who suffer from social anxiety. Research indicates that over 15 million Americans currently deal with this type of anxiety, so it is by no means an isolated issue. If you’re one of them, the oxytocin increase resulting from orgasm might be worth exploring.
Can Orgasms Really Affect My Mental Health?
A healthy relationship with masturbation, for many people, leads to increased confidence in their bodies. This increased confidence, in turn, leads to a more generalized boost in self-esteem. One study found that women in relationships who masturbate have higher self-esteem than women in relationships who do not masturbate. Masturbation and orgasms aren’t the only ways to boost your self-esteem, but they’re worth trying!
In addition to the anxiety-reducing effects of oxytocin, sexual activity and orgasms provide other helpful hormones. One example is endorphins, which you might have heard about in the context of exercise. These feel-good hormones are responsible for the “runners’ high” phenomenon, providing a sort of natural high resulting from vigorous physical activity. It’s no surprise, then, that endorphins can also come from sexual activity, whether solo or with a partner.
What Is the “Orgasm Gap”?
This phrase, which has been picking up a lot of traction recently, refers to the different rates of orgasms experienced by men and women. Even in relationships, for example, it’s reported that men experience orgasms considerably more frequently than women. One study found that 85% of men and only 65% of women reported experiencing orgasms during their last episode of relationship sex.
The good news is that there is a solution, and it’s easier to come by than you might think. A benefit of masturbation is becoming more familiar with your body, your processes of sexual arousal and the stimulation type you need to reach orgasm. This is the key to closing the orgasm gap: communicate with your partner what kind of stimulation brings you to orgasm when you’re on your own and add that stimulation when you’re engaging in sexual activity together.
This process will require you to pay additional attention to your communication, but it will be worth it! Whether you’re in a relationship or not, you deserve to understand your body and your needs, and, hopefully, these physical and mental health benefits will be enough of an encouragement to improve your sex life!