Sex & Relationships

Last Chance, 'Masturbation Month' Is Ending: All the Ways Self Love Is Good for You

“As we get better at self-love, we get better at making love to others.”

Photo Credit: Shutterstock

In 1995, Jocelyn Elders was fired as Surgeon General of the United States for suggesting that masturbation should (maybe) be taught in schools. That same year, sex-toy company Good Vibrations launched National Masturbation Month to help break down stigmas surrounding the practice. Twenty years later, National Masturbation Month has grown into International Masturbation Month. And while things are slowly starting to come around, there still doesn't seem to be enough love surrounding the act of self-love.

As Susan Block once told me, “You are your own longest term lover.” Now that masturbation month is drawing to a close, it’s important to be reminded of that. While partnered sex is certainly a thrilling endeavor, a little solo practice can go a long way in enhancing the experience. Listed below are 10 examples of how.

1. It helps you get acquainted with your orgasms.

If we were to compare sex to an ice cream sundae, orgasm would be the cherry on top. And while failing to reach that end certainly doesn’t discredit the experience, it can leave you craving something more. Masturbation is an easy way to get acquainted with your orgasms, and more importantly, where to locate them. Of course, some people have an easier time finding their pleasure centers than others. It’s not like guys have to go digging to find their sex organs (unless of course, they’re looking for the pleasurable prostate, but more on that another day). Women, on the other hand, do. But just as the trip to the liquor store gets shorter once you know the route, orgasms become easier to attain the more time you spend looking for them. There are certain things in life we like to leave to chance. When and how you experience orgasm doesn’t have to be one of them.

2. It helps layer the the sexual experience.

Masturbation can take different forms. Some people like using their hands. Others rely on toys. Preferences will differ, but, hey, variety is a good thing. And the more comfortable we become with solo-sexual activities, the more likely we are to bring them into a partnered environment. Masturbation is a pretty reliable way to experience orgasm, so it makes sense to introduce masturbatory activities into other areas of our sexual lives. As clinical sexologist Kat Van Kirk told You Beauty, “Sex begets sex." She added, “The more often a woman is sexually aroused – even by herself – the more likely she is to not only want more sex with a partner, but also be more orgasmic when she does.”

3. It can work as a sleep-aid.

Having an orgasm is a great way to relax. That’s what makes it such a perfect note to end the day on. But while most of us can relate to that feeling of post-pleasure laziness, not all of us have the science down to explain it. And that’s okay, that’s what the Internet is for.  Shape magazine reports that the hormone prolactin is released in the brain following climax. This not only leads to a refractory period after orgasm, but an increase in drowsiness as well. Oxytocin and vasopressin are also present in the cocktail of chemicals released during climax. As LiveScience explains, their “release frequently accompanies that of melatonin, the primary hormone that regulates our body clocks.”

4. It makes being single that much easier.

One of the most obvious perks to being in a relationship is that you’re having sex on the reg (and maybe on the rag, too). Not that single folks aren’t getting laid. Casual encounters can be wonderful experiences, but they can also be unreliable and leave you less-than-satisfied. When that turns out to be the case, it’s nice to know that you’ve got a helping hand to turn to – your own hand, that is. As the late George Carlin once said, “If God had intended us not to masturbate, he would’ve made our arms shorter.”

5. It puts you in a better mood.

WebMD reports “Masturbation increases blood flow throughout your body and releases feel-good brain chemicals called endorphins.” Nicole Prause told the publication, “That may explain why there’s a clear mood benefit, even if you don’t orgasm.” She added, “It takes your mind [off your worries] while activating areas of the brain associated with pleasure.” That all sounds pretty promising. If that doesn’t sell you on the act, maybe a piece of information from clinical sexologist Gloria Brame will. She told Men’s Health magazine, “An orgasm is the biggest non-drug blast of dopamine available… A brain scan of someone having an orgasm looks like a heroin addict’s.”

6. It can relieve pain.

Most people would agree that maturbating is a lot more fun than popping a few Tylenol. And the list of ailments it can help cure is impressive. Medical Daily explains how having an orgasm can help cure anything form headaches to hiccups; menstrual cramps to morning sickness. Back in 1985, famed sex researcher Beverly Whipple conducted two separate studies to help prove the ways in which female masturbation can actually help increase one’s tolerance for pain.

7. It can help keep you hard.

study published in the American Journal Of Medicine found that men who reported having sex less than once a week were twice as likely to develop erectile dysfunction. The message was the more sex (or at least the more orgasms) you have, the less likely you are experience impotence. Or more simply put, you use it, or you lose it.

While some urologists remain skeptical of the findings, most agree that experiencing erections can help maintain sexual function. Men’s Health magazine writes “Regular sex or masturbation works out your pelvic floor muscles to prevent erectile dysfunction and incontinence.” As Gloria Brame told the publication, “It keeps the angle of your dangle perky.”

8. It makes your hair look better.

Michael Roizen, co-founder of YouBeauty writes, “Each hair follicle has a blood vessel to it, and your blood flow is a major determinate of both internal and external beauty.” As we know, orgasms help increase blood flow. Self-induced orgasms are no different. The more blood we get pumping through our system the more oxygen and nutrients reach different parts of our bodies – the scalp included. So every time you head south of the border during a moment alone, remember, you’re not just giving your genitals some love. You’re nourishing your hair as well.

9. It helps mediate the effects of menopause.

Gynecologist Judi Chervenak explained to Web MD that during menopause, “The vagina can actually narrow, which can make intercourse and vaginal exams more painful.” She added that masturbation – especially with a water-based lubricant can “prevent narrowing, boost blood flow, relieve some tissue and moisture problems, and increase sexual desire.”

10. It can help keep you (and your junk) healthy.

Jennifer Landa, a specialist in hormone therapy told Men’s Health, “Masturbation can [produce] the right environment for a strengthened immune system.” She explained that ejaculation can elevate cortisol levels – a hormone that can actually help regulate and maintain immunity, "in small doses." And back in 2003, a team of Australian researchers found that men who ejaculated more than five times week were a third less likely to develop prostate cancer. So gentleman, keep at it, and keep healthy. Your families will thank you.

Carrie Weisman is a writer focusing on sex, relationships and culture.