5 benefits of masturbating (that you probably don’t know)

Curated by BBXX

In addition to being a pleasurable experience, masturbation can provide mental and physical benefits in both men and women. BBC World explains five of the most popular benefits here-

1. It strengthens your immune system and helps you avoid getting sick

According to the article published in the Sexual and Relationship Therapy magazine, men who masturbate have a better functioning immune system and are less likely to get an infection.

“The fact that the seminal route and the ejaculatory ducts circulate the semen outward prevents opportunistic infections that can be caused by external bacteria," says Rosselló. Several studies have shown that individuals who experience a greater number of orgasms have higher levels of immunoglobulin A (IgA), which is the first line of defense against the cold and flu and an indicator of the strength of our immune system.

A 2004 study led by Philip Haake of the University of Essen showed that arousal and orgasm after masturbation activate various components of the immune system. Other research from the Cancer Epidemiology Center in Melbourne said that the more often men between the ages of 20 and 50 ejaculated, the less likely they were to develop prostate cancer. The research, published in 2003, showed that the protective effect of ejaculation was greatest among men in their 20’s who ejaculated on average seven times or more a week. This group was one third less likely to develop aggressive prostate cancer compared to other men of the same age who ejaculated less than three times a week.

In the case of women, masturbation can reduce the risk of urinary tract infections, said researchers at Sydney University Spring Cooper and Anthony Santella. In an article in the British newspaper The Independent, Cooper and Santella said that this is because of the process of opening the cervix that occurs with excitement. Its stretching improves the circulation of fluids, which allows expels not only cervical fluids but also bacteria along with it.

2. It improves sleep

There are many alleged treatments for insomnia out there, but mastubation might be one of the more pleasant, safe, and natural options (and is particularly effective for men).

An investigation by the French Institute of Health and Medical Research scanned the brains of men during orgasm, and they found that the brain deactivates the sensation of sexual desire afterwards. The cerebral cortex, responsible for conscious thought, actually comes to rest upon reaching orgasm. Two other areas- the cingulate cortex and the cerebral amygdala- then release serotonin and opioids to the rest of the brain. Several other chemicals- oxytocin, vasopressin, and melatonin- are also associated with sleep and are released during and after orgasm.

3. It can help relieve menstrual cramps

Masturbation can help relieve pain, particularly that related to menstrual discomfort and other gynecological symptoms, by preventing and mitigating inflammation.

Following an orgasm, the circulatory system and bloodstream produce a sequence of events that release chemicals that act as painkillers against premenstrual pain," explains Mariano Rossello Gaya, an andrologist and expert in sexual medicine at the Medical Institute Rosselló, in Spain. "It also reduces inflammation in the genital area, which can additionally reduce pain and discomfort.”

For women who have already hit menopause, masturbation can help prevent dryness in the genital area.

4. It generates a sense of well-being

Masturbating is good for overall good health- both biologically and psychologically. Masturbation “produces the release of complex chemical substances, the most important of which is dopamine,” Peter Saddington, a sex therapist at Relate, told BBC World. Dopamine is associated with a strong sense of well-being. "Because of this, there are people who become addicted to masturbation," says Saddington.

The association between masturbation and lower levels of stress has also been reported in studies, citing that masturbation both produces and requires a feeling of "calmness and relief.” (Without it, “erection or sexual desire cannot easily be maintained," says Saddington.) Experts say that masturbation is especially beneficial for adolescents because it helps them learn to control the mechanisms of their own arousal. "Young people can learn to connect their imaginations with a psychological response, which is good," Janice Hiller, a psychologist at the Tavistock Relationships Center in London, told BBC World.

5. It can enhance relationships

There’s a myth that masturbation can have negative consequences for a relationship. But according to experts this is not only false, but the truth is quite the contrary.

Masturbating can improve sex within a relationship because it helps each person learn about their body, their reactions, their sexual stimuli, and as a result, enhances the experience and pleasure of intercourse. “It can help cultivate sexual activity and intimacy, and having good orgasms strengthens the relationship,” says Rosselló.

Masturbation can also help women who do not yet know how to have orgasms. "Through greater knowledge of one’s own anatomy, self-stimulation is proven to help women achieve their first orgasm" says Professor Streicher. 

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