Experts Explain the Benefits of Masturbating – and Yes, It Goes Deeper Than Orgasms

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Masturbating is a deeply personal and pleasurable act that allows individuals to explore their own bodies, desires, and sexual preferences. And while you probably don’t need me to lay out the more obvious perks that come with masturbating, you might not know that the quality time you’re spending with your vibrator is important for more than just orgasms.

That’s right; masturbation has a whole list of hidden health benefits that have a lot to do with the endorphins released during your solo sessions. “When masturbating, our brains release a number of hormones, including dopamine,” says ob-gyn Sarah Welsh, MD, co-founder of HANX sexual wellness brand.

And fortunately, endorphins like dopamine can combat stress and anxiety, promote better sleep, reduce headaches, and relieve period cramps, among other perks, she says.

Though an unfortunate stigma around solo pleasure still exists – particularly for those with a vagina – masturbating is a perfectly healthy and important act that’s quite literally good for your health. Let’s take a look at some of the best masturbation effects and why you should prioritize “me time” more often.

Related: Masturbating With Your Partner Is Sexier Than You Might Think

Is Masturbation Healthy?

Let’s be real, health is a nuanced subject, and what’s “healthy” to one person might not be “healthy” to another person. But if masturbation brings you joy, pleasure, happiness, or any other positive adjective, you can absolutely say that masturbation is healthy. As an added bonus, masturbation also happens to come with mental and physical health benefits that would also qualify it as being “healthy,” which really just makes masturbating a win-win here.

Benefits of Masturbation

There are a ton of mental and physical health benefits that come with masturbation, but perhaps the biggest benefit is gaining a greater understanding of what your pleasure looks like and how it manifests. Masturbating can help you understand what you like and how you prefer to be touched, which is especially important to know not only for yourself, but also before entering the bedroom with someone else.

“Masturbating helps you identify what feels pleasurable to you, and you can bring that information back to your partner for whenever you have partnered sex,” says sex therapist Lyndsey Murray, therapist at Relationship Matters Therapy.

If you know how to make yourself orgasm, you can use that information to help your partner so they’re not going into sex blindly. Plus, on the kinkier side, you can turn things into a mutual masturbation session, which is a “fun way to have sex,” says Murray.

Touching yourself also provides plenty of physical health benefits for solely your sake, too. For one, masturbation reduces stress by releasing endorphins. “The surge in these feel-good hormones, including dopamine, the ‘pleasure’ hormone, and oxytocin, the ‘love’ hormone, helps us feel more calm,” says Dr. Welsh.

Masturbation also helps you sleep. Yep, touching yourself before bed may actually be more beneficial than those Melatonin gummies you snack on. “Masturbating releases sleep-positive chemicals to the body and inhibits the production of chemicals that tend to keep us awake,” Murray explains.

Another benefit: your solo sessions also greatly impact and improve your self-esteem and mental health. The release of those feel good endorphins could make you feel better and more confident. After all, your body is sexy, and it deserves to be explored.

Lastly, masturbation has been known to relieve muscle tension and period cramps. “When you orgasm, even through masturbation, the blood rushes to the uterus and helps relieve your cramps,” Murray says. The dopamine, oxytocin, and endorphin boost will also help relieve any pain or tension. “When you orgasm, your body releases dopamine and oxytocin – natural pain relievers that can get rid of some of the most intense period pain,” Emily Morse, a sexologist and host of the Sex With Emily podcast, previously told POPSUGAR.

What Are the Masturbation Effects on Kidneys?

While there are rumors that claim masturbation can promote kidney health (i.e. by helping you pass kidney stones) and other theories that argue it can damage the organ, according to Dr. Welsh, there’s no concrete evidence on the subject. Murray echoes this sentiment: “There is not any impact on the kidney, either positive or negative,” she says. “Your kidney will function as usual whether you masturbate or not.”

How Does Masturbation Affect Immunity?

Looking to ward off the flu? Masturbating just might be the answer. “There is some evidence that components of our immune system are activated by orgasm,” Dr. Welsh explains. “Orgasms, whether through sexual intercourse or masturbation, cause an increase in the levels of adrenaline and other immune cells within the bloodstream, which can indicate the positive impact sexual arousal can have on the immune system.”

As Dr. Welsh further explains, orgasming can increase white blood cell production, which is important to fighting off a pesky cold or even more serious disease.

So, Is Masturbation Good for You?

While there are different interpretations for what can be considered as “good for you,” I’d argue that if masturbation is enjoyable and makes you happy – even if it provided zero physical and mental benefits – it would be, in fact, good for you. Simple as that. According to Murray, it fortunately checks off more boxes than just that, though.

“Masturbation is good for you both in terms of your own mental and physical health,” she says. “It can also improve your sexual relationships and sexual functioning.” And as Dr. Welsh explains, in addition to all the feel-good benefits, when it comes to pleasure, “[It’s] is a great way to explore different sensations and discover what really turns you on, so you can guide others along the way.”

Related: How to Actually Enjoy Shower Sex, According to Experts

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