If Being Sad Makes You Horny, You’re Not Alone
The end of year chaos is unavoidably in the air and with it, a pesky season of hayfever and the remnants of a difficult break-up. As a result, I’m a little bit more solemn than usual.
I’d normally describe myself as quite an upbeat person. I get energy from being around others, having fruitful conversations and making connections with strangers.
But recently, I’ve been feeling more drawn into spending time alone… with my vibrator.
Weirdly, although I don’t have much social energy; I have heaps of pent up sexual energy. My perfect night right now is total indulgence. It looks like a depressing movie or documentary, a bottle of wine, a block of chocolate and an orgasm. Or three.
The other night, after my fifth or sixth (I literally lost count) solo orgasm, I started to panic. Is wanting to orgasm this much in a time of deep sadness normal? Furthermore, is it healthy?
It’s actually real common, says sex and relationships therapist Christine Rafe.
“Some people may might turn to masturbation as a self-care ritual to experience pleasure,” she says.
“Masturbation creates hormonal release, which is proven to improve your mood, so it makes perfect sense.
Masturbation (and orgasm) releases hormones such as oxytocin (‘love’ hormone), endorphins (the body’s natural pain-relieving and de-restressing hormone), and dopamine (known as the ‘happy hormone’), explains Rafe, which are linked to improved mood. For some people, masturbation rituals may increase during periods of heightened emotion as a way to release hormones that can improve mood and relieve stress. Fluctuations in hormones can also influence masturbation motivations and interest.
Through times of sadness, our hormones are almost always at play and contributing in some way. As women, our bodies are connected to our hormones and our reproductive system, which is obviously closely linked to sex and orgasm.
But while it might be super normal for some people to utilise masturbation as a release technique, a way of feeling better and expressing emotion; others may go in the other direction,
“While changes in masturbation during emotional changes are common, they could present in different ways, because every individual’s connection between masturbation and emotion is different.”
Can Being Sad Make You Less Horny, Too?
For sure, says Rafe.
“For many people, feeling stress, anxiety, low mood/depression, grief, and fear can reduce libido generally, and as such can result in changes to a person’s more typical masturbation habits.
“These people might see a drop in masturbation interest and behaviours during situational or chronic experiences of these emotions.”
You might also experience some guilt and shame surrounding masturbation, which is also sadly quite common. For people who experience these feelings, they will inevitably have an impact on your self pleasure routine, too. If you’re already feeling sad, doing something that makes you feel shameful or guilty is probably not high on your list of things you feel like doing.
Is There Such Thing As Masturbating Too Much (Or Too Little)?
Again, this depends on the individual. There’s no instruction manual on what’s right and wrong for you, your body, your emotions and your desires.
Try not to overthink it too much, says Rafe. A healthy relationship with self-pleasure is anything that feels supportive and enjoyable for you and your body.
“A healthy relationship with self-pleasure would include the way you think and feel about sex and pleasure more broadly, and the development of a healthy belief about masturbation which celebrates it as part of overall human functioning and body awareness.
“There’s no ‘recommended’ frequency or style that would constitute a healthy relationship with self-pleasure, everybody is different!”
The idea of there being an ideal amount of time to spend on self pleasure, is likely due to beliefs held by religious organisations or just the general patriarchal literature surrounding sex that most of us have been brought up with.
“I often notice (but of course not in all cases) that those who don’t or haven’t really masturbated hold beliefs about masturbation being ‘bad’ or ‘dirty’ and this could be impacting masturbation interest.”
However, in saying that, it’s also important to take note of how you’re body is responding to things. For example, if you’re noticing an extreme rise or drop of your libido, alongside some pretty extreme emotions and changes in your life; it’s definitely not something to ignore. You can chat to your therapist or friends about it, or even get yourself a sex therapist or sexologist. Sex and pleasure is pretty fun, educational and important to talk about, after all.
So, Will Self Pleasure Help Us Be Less Sad?
In short, not totally; according to Rafe. However, with other elements of emotional support and work, it can definitely be a useful tool.
“Masturbation and sex could provide a temporary resolve to emotions through the release of hormones and distraction; however they won’t permanently cover up significant or ongoing emotional distress,” says Rafe. “Suppressed emotions almost always come to the surface at some stage and in some way, whether we are ready or not. This is why building emotional awareness and working through emotions is a useful skill set.”
Orgasms are so desirable in moments of sadness or difficult emotions, because there is an uncontrollable release of physical and emotional tension within the body.
“It is not uncommon for people to experience uncontrollable laughter, crying or sadness immediately post-orgasm (known as postcoital dysphoria), or other emotional responses following self-pleasure or partnered sex. This is nothing to be concerned about, but is likely associated with the power of pleasure and orgasm.”
How Can We Use Masturbation to Our Advantage?
Mindful masturbation is the answer, says Rafe.
Mindful masturbation is a technique that describes slow, embodied self-pleasure, tuning in to all the senses and experiencing them for what they are in the moment, rather than rushing through, or making the goal of masturbation to have an orgasm, explains Rafe.
“Slowing down allows space to tune in to what is happening in our bodies, which includes our emotional states.”
Rather than immediately rushing back to life, take a few moments post a self-pleasure session to tune in to your body (depending on how long you have) and notice if there’s anything coming up for you, she recommends. Self-pleasure is an embodied practice as you are tuning in to physical sensations within your body, and as such it can be a good way for people to connect with their felt sense, and emotions.
“Self-pleasure is one of the greatest forms of self-care, and allows us to prioritise ourselves in a world where we often de-prioritize our own need for rest, processing, pleasure and play.”
The Take Away
What I’ve taken from this, is that if you’re feeling sad and you want to use self-pleasure as a form of self care, go for your life. It can be super useful in helping you release difficult emotions.
Alternatively, if the last thing you feel like doing is having an orgasm; that’s totally okay too.
But either way, it’s important to make sure you’re not masking your emotions with something else. Whether that be masturbation or a lack of desire, it’s integral that you do your own work to understand how you’re feeling and what you need, to best take care of yourself.
And if that’s giving yourself several orgasms, with a bottle of wine, a block of chocolate and a sad movie in tow — then go off, queen.