Why Masturbation is Important
In honor of Masturbation May, we are taking a quick look at why many benefit from masturbation.
It is an act that most humans have in common. Including those who are single, divorced, widowed, traveling, in prison, in quarantine, in self-isolation, and so on. Many of these people resort to masturbation, but even within a fulfilling sexual relationship, masturbation is, if anything, more common still. Even the most cloistered and sexually repressed have likely experienced it in one way or another.
Interesting fact: Humans are not the only ones to practice the act. It is well documented that primates, notable bonobos are chronic masturbators.
At the Counseling Center of Cherry Creek, as couples therapists and sex therapists, we like to remind people that “sex organs” can encompass a wide range for people: Everything from the largest sex organ, the Brain, to your pinky toes and everything in-between. And, masturbation doesn’t necessarily end in orgasm, nor should it. The process of masturbation is a process in which new synaptic connections are created and existing ones are strengthened. While often ending in climax and orgasm, many times it can be a process of gentle arousal. Or it could be a quick sprint to the edge only to stop prior to peaking, leaving one.... extra titillated and highly charged. There is really no wrong way to execute the act as long as it doesn’t hurt anyone. Some people enjoy nipple stimulation alone, breathing exercises, anal stimulation, kegeling, through sexual meditation/visualization, etc. And for some people just about any part of their body can become sexually charged to the point of being masturbatory.
7 important benefits of masturbation
1. Pleasure and convenience. To masturbate, there is no need for special equipment, the intricacies of sexual intercourse, or even a partner. Although it is often looked upon as the poor relative of sexual intercourse, many couples engage in mutual masturbation, either alongside or instead of intercourse, to simplify, improve, or enrich their sexual lives and arrive at orgasm.
2. Fewer complications. Masturbation is safe as well as convenient. Unlike sexual intercourse, it is very unlikely to lead to pregnancy or sexually transmitted diseases such as human papillomavirus, chlamydia, gonorrhea, syphilis, herpes, and HIV/AIDS, not to mention other communicable diseases such as flu or coronavirus.
3. Stronger, more intimate relationships. Contrary to popular perception, there is, at least in females, a positive correlation between the frequency of masturbation and frequency of intercourse. People who masturbate more are more sexually driven, and mutual masturbation is likely to increase the frequency and variety of sexual contact. Both in the performance and in the observation, masturbation can teach partners about each other’s pleasure centers, proclivities, and particularities. If one partner is more sexually driven than the other, as is often the case, masturbation can provide him or her with a balancing outlet.
4. Better reproductive health. In males, masturbation flushes out old sperm with low motility and reduces the risk of prostate cancer. If practiced before sexual intercourse, it can delay orgasm in males suffering from premature ejaculation. In females, it increases the chances of conception by altering the conditions in the vagina, cervix, and uterus. It also protects against cervical infections by increasing the acidity of the cervical mucus and flushing out pathogens. In both women and men, it strengthens the muscles in the pelvic floor and genital area and contributes to extending the years of sexual activity.
5. Faster sleep. Masturbation invites sleep by reducing stress and releasing feel-good hormones such as dopamine, endorphins, oxytocin, and prolactin. Orgasm, in particular, brings on a state of stillness, serenity, and sleepiness, sometimes called ‘the little death’ (French, la petite mort), which can usher in a deeper sleep.
6. Improved cardiovascular fitness. Masturbation is, in effect, a form of light exercise. Compared to regular exercise, it is more effective or efficient at reducing tension and releasing feel-good hormones. The muscles and blood vessels relax, improving blood flow, and lowering heart rate and blood pressure. No surprise, then, that studies have found an inverse correlation between frequency of orgasm and death from coronary heart disease.
7. Brighter mood and other psychological benefits. Masturbation reduces stress and releases feel-good hormones, which lift mood and reduce the perception of pain. It promotes better, more restorative sleep, locking in sleep’s myriad physical and psychological benefits. It enables younger people, in particular, to explore their sexual identity and regulate their sexual impulses, leading to happier and healthier sexuality, as well as greater self-awareness, self-control, and self-esteem. It offers an escape from the constraints and demands of reality, an outlet for the imagination in fantasy, and a medium for the memory in nostalgia. And it culminates in a transcending experience that unites the mind with body and life in death.