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Is masturbation healthy?

Is masturbation healthy?

Polina Plotkina

Most of the things you’ve heard about masturbation are wrong. It doesn’t make you intellectually impaired, doesn’t make you grow hair on your palms, nor is it shameful in any way — and none of the other myths that usually come with a conservative outlook on self-pleasure. According to statistics, self-satisfaction is practiced by up to 94% of men and up to 86% of women. This is a natural, fast, and convenient way of getting pleasure that also helps you understand your sexuality and body. Here’s some bad news, though: excessive masturbation can cause depression. So, what are the benefits and side effects of masturbation? Sexologist Mira Lisovskaya talks about the pros and cons of self-pleasure.

A helping hand gives us…

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  • Calmness

Our body produces hormones responsible for relaxation. Masturbation can help us alleviate stress, help calm down, and relieve anxiety.

  • Getting to know your own body

When you’re by yourself, you can surrender to pleasure fully without thinking about your appearance, insecurities, or focusing on your partner. Only your preferences — no restrictions here. Playing with yourself is a great opportunity to not just explore your body but connect with it on a deeper level. It’s okay to explore your body. People who practiced masturbation from a younger age are more likely to experience positive intimate experiences in adulthood: they have a healthier self-image.

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  • Healthy relationships

Sexologists recommend incorporating self-satisfaction into mutual intimacy. This helps women in achieving climax if they’re having trouble — and helps men control theirs. It also helps to get rid of discomfort and open up to each other organically. It’s been proven that partners who masturbate regularly are less likely to cheat. Masturbation is healthy in a relationship.

  • Better libido

If partners are having difficulties with intimacy and it’s hard for them to get in the mood, solo games can help. Regular self-satisfaction stimulates libido. It also prolongs the act — a nice bonus. So, masturbation improves your sex life.

  • Immunity boost

Any kind of intimacy stimulates the immune system — including self-pleasure. Very relevant these days!

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  • PMS relief

Climax speeds up blood circulation in the pelvic organs. Masturbation will alleviate (or even completely relieve) menstrual cramps and other PMS symptoms. 

  • Hangover cure

Self-satisfaction helps relieve headaches and even out the hormonal imbalance caused by alcohol consumption. Masturbation is very beneficial as you can see.

When masturbation turns into an obsession

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As homo sapiens, we have an internal reward system that encourages us to survive and reproduce. The main fuel of that system is dopamine, a hormone responsible for our satisfaction, feelings of love, and reward. We strive for things that trigger dopamine release. So, what are the side effects of excessive masturbation? When masturbation becomes excessive, a large dose of dopamine dulls the receptors, and other needs become less important. Frequent masturbation can cause addiction. As accessibility to getting that dopamine fix increases, the desire and attachment to the act itself grow. This mechanism is to blame for adult video addiction, getting millions of users hooked on unrealistic (and often exploitative) NSFW videos.  

First, excessive masturbation causes decrease of your desire to sleep with someone in real life. Then it becomes more challenging to achieve climax: you get used to watching videos and suddenly realize that the pleasure they bring is quicker and “easier” than intimacy with partners. 

Masturbation may then turn into an obsessive need. If it starts to interfere with your daily life, such as missing work, being late, experiencing distress, or refusing to get intimate with someone — that could be considered a problem. 

A few years ago, the term "procrasturbation" became a thing — when a person puts things off in favor of self-satisfaction practices. This can also make one’s intimate life worse and facilitate depression.

What to do if you’re addicted? 

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Masturbation is healthy and completely normal, but it shouldn’t be a substitute for actual intimacy with another person. Even though masturbation is a part of healthy sex life, it’s not a replacement for a relationship. There needs to be moderation — the same way they tell you to consume alcohol in moderation. And in case we're late with the advice, here's what you can do.

  • Understand the cause and evaluate the damage

You can only resolve a problem by analyzing where it stems from. Masturbation addiction negatively affects the body and mind just like any substance abuse. Some resort to excessive self-pleasure as a stress relief tactic, others as a way to get dopamine. 

  • Business with pleasure. Recovering from an addiction is a long process

It will become infinitely more pleasant if you come up with a reward system for reducing masturbation or replace self-pleasure with another, more useful and healthy habit.

  • Avoid adult content

How to overcome masturbation addiction? Try to stay away from xxx-sites and not keep up with NSFW content. The brain will begin to wean itself from external triggers and shift the focus to reality.

  • Stay active

Working out helps us get rid of excess hormones. As a result, your well-being and appearance will improve. Two in one! Making exercise a part of your routine can be your sustainable and useful long-term goal.

  • Variety matters

In case you’re suffering from a particular self-pleasure method, acquiring new techniques can help you overcome the dependence — you probably haven't tried everything yet, so head straight to an adult shop.

  • Consider seeking help

If self-pleasure has become a really destructive practice and you can’t seem to deal with unhealthy masturbation on your own, consulting a therapist or a sexologist should be something to consider. Don’t shy away from seeking help — in fact, this might be the shortest path to a better, healthier life.

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