After learning that self-pleasure can help you sleep better, we started to think: Are there any other health benefits of masturbation? As it turns out, there totally are. From strengthening your pelvic floor to helping you feel more empowered, here are six health benefits—both physical and mental—of masturbation. (Plus, three sex toys to help you reap said benefits.)
6 Health Benefits of Masturbation (If You Need an Excuse for a Little Self-Love)
1. It Can Relieve Stress
When we need to de-stress, we typically draw a bath or watch a favorite TV show with a glass of wine in hand. Next time we’ll consider a little solo time. Why? According to a study published in the Journal of Sexual Medicine found that orgasming—alone or with a partner—releases oxytocin and decreases levels of cortisol in the body. Oxytocin is a neurochemical sometimes referred to as the love hormone, while cortisol is the body’s main stress hormone. When oxytocin levels are up and cortisol levels are down, stress melts away.
2. It Can Help You Sleep Better
Yep, according to experts and studies alike, self-pleasure can actually improve your quality of sleep. One 2019 study published in Frontiers in Public Health, looked at online survey responses from 778 people who were mostly in their 20s or 30s and heterosexual. Researchers found that 54 percent of the volunteers said they slept better after having an orgasm from masturbation. Another recent survey by the female-focused sex toy brand Femme Funn found that 95 percent of people polled said they experience a better quality night’s sleep after having an orgasm. (Note that there isn’t enough data to say whether an orgasm is necessary to reap the positive sleep benefits of masturbation.)
3. It Can Make You Feel More Confident
Self-pleasure can be empowering, folks. In fact, one 2013 survey published in the journal Psychology of Women Quarterly found that most of the almost 800 women polled reported that masturbating helped them feel sexually empowered, causing the lead researcher to note, “Results lend support to the feminist theory that when women are able to focus on their own sexual pleasure or learning, without the concerns of pregnancy or pleasing a partner, they may feel sexually empowered.”
4. It Can Strengthen Your Pelvic Floor
Your pelvic floor is made up of the muscles that support the urinary and reproductive tracts and controls your bladder and bowels. In women, the pelvic floor keeps your bladder and uterus in place. Pregnancy—along with natural aging and certain surgeries—can cause pelvic floor dysfunction, which can lead to issues like frequent urination, constipation, painful sex and more. There are a number of ways to strengthen your pelvic floor, from doing Kegels to investing in a pelvic floor gym like this one. You could also, according to some experts, masturbate your way to a stronger pelvic floor. Jessa Zimmerman, a certified sex therapist, tells Insider, “The contractions that occur with orgasm strengthen your pelvic floor muscles, helping with urinary issues like incontinence and erectile function.”
5. It Can Improve Your Immune Function
This one is still a debated topic among experts, but some studies—like this one from researchers at Wilkes University in Pennsylvania—have shown that orgasming can strengthen your immune system by boosting your immunoglobulin levels (immunoglobulin is a fancy word for antibodies). While you shouldn’t throw out those Emergen-C packets just yet, this could be another positive side effect of self-pleasure.
6. It Can Help You Learn What You Like in Bed
Masturbating is a great way to figure out exactly what gets you going without the pressure of having another person present. When you’re alone, you probably feel more comfortable exploring things that you might not want to try for the first time with a partner. If you figure out that you do like what you try, you can carry that over to partnered sex, making for an all-around more pleasurable experience.
3 Sex Toys to Try for Your Next Solo Session
1. Better Love Butterfly
Made for solo or partner use, this vibrator is a bestseller for a few reasons. The handle shape makes it super easy to maneuver and it has ten vibration modes with different speeds and patterns. One happy customer says, "Like medicine for the body and soul. This little beauty definitely does the job and then some. Definitely a must have."
2. Satifsyer Pro 2 Clitoral Stimulator
This mega-popular clitoral stimulator uses pressure-wave technology to deliver suction-like sensations to all your sweet spots. Designed to recreate the sensation of receiving oral sex, this rechargeable device is equipped with 11 settings, comes with a USB charging cable and features a thick, silicone-tipped head, which can form a soft-but-firm seal over the clitoris or other areas of the body that you position the device over.
3. Smile Makers The Firefighter
This dainty vibrator has a clitoris-focused shape for direct external pleasure, which can lead to some seriously explosive sessions. It's waterproof and made from premium silicone that's sourced from Japan.