Happy news! Masturbation actually has health benefits
Spring Chenoa Cooper, University of Sydney and Anthony Santella, University of Sydney
Conduct an Internet search for “masturbation,” and you will find hundreds, if not thousands, of slang phrases for the act.
This proliferation of slang phrases suggests people want to talk about masturbation, but are uncomfortable about doing so directly. Using comedic terms provides a more socially acceptable way to express themselves.
So before we talk any more about it, let us normalize it a bit. Masturbation, or touching one’s own genitals for pleasure, is something that babies do from the time they are in the womb.
It is a natural and normal part of healthy sexual development.
According to a nationally representative US sample, 94% of men admit to masturbating, as do 85% of women.
But societal perspectives of masturbation still vary greatly, and there is even some stigma around engaging in the act.
Related to this stigma are the many myths about masturbation, myths so ridiculous it is a wonder anyone believes them.
- Masturbation causes blindness and insanity
- Masturbation can make sexual organs fall off
- Masturbation causes infertility.
In actual fact, masturbation has many health benefits.
Why Masturbation Is Good For You
For women, masturbation can help prevent cervical infections and urinary tract infections through the process of “tenting,” or the opening of the cervix that occurs as part of the arousal process.
Tenting stretches the cervix, and thus the cervical mucous. This enables fluid circulation, allowing cervical fluids full of bacteria to flush out.
Masturbation can lower risk of type-2 diabetes (though this association may also be explained by greater overall health), reduce insomnia through hormonal and tension release, and increase pelvic floor strength through the contractions that happen during orgasm.
For men, masturbation helps reduce risk of prostate cancer, probably by giving the prostate a chance to flush out potential cancer-causing agents.
Masturbation also improves immune functioning by increasing cortisol levels, which can regulate immune functioning in small doses.
It also reduces depression by increasing the amount of endorphins in the bloodstream.
Masturbation can also indirectly prevent infertility by protecting people from sexually transmitted infections (STIs) that can lead to infertility – you can not give yourself one of these infections!
There is one final benefit to masturbation: it is the most convenient method for maximizing orgasms.
And there are plenty of additional benefits from orgasms generally, including reduced stress, reduced blood pressure, increased self-esteem, and reduced pain.
Why Masturbation Is Good For Your Partner
From a sexual health point of view, masturbation is one of the safest sexual behaviors.
- There is no risk of pregnancy or transmission of sexually transmitted infections
- There is no risk of disappointing a partner or of performance anxiety
- There is no emotional baggage
And, only an arm’s length away, is mutual masturbation. Mutual masturbation (two partners who are pleasuring themselves in the company of the other) is a great (and safe) activity to incorporate into other partnered sexual activities.
It can be especially good to begin to learn more about what your partner likes and to demonstrate to your partner what you like.
Open communication with a partner will improve your sex life and relationship, but is also important for modeling communication skills for younger generations.
Talking about masturbation also has benefits.
Promoting sex-positive views in our own homes and in society, including around masturbation, allows us to teach young people healthy behaviors and attitudes without stigma and shame.
Parents and guardians who feel embarrassed or need extra guidance to do this should seek out sex-positive sources of information, like ones from respected universities.
Spring Chenoa Cooper is Senior Lecturer at University of Sydney and Anthony Santella is Lecturer of HIV, STIs and Sexual Health at University of Sydney
This article was originally published on The Conversation. Read the original article.