5 Reasons Why Masturbation is Good for Your Mental Health

Besides the obvious — pleasure

Stacey Herrera
May 21, 2020 · 6 min read
Photo: Depositphotos by Estradaanton

The elephant in the room is that a lot of people have negative feelings about masturbation. The stigma that has long lingered about masturbation causes them to feel guilt and shame. For some, masturbation conjures self-hatred and anxiety. Why? Social conditioning. Fear-mongering. Transgenerational bologna that says that sex of any kind that is not for the explicit purpose of procreation is dirty.

But masturbation is not evil. Spilling your seed outside of a vessel is not a waste. You will not grow hair on your palms if you rub your vulva or stroke your penis. And if you are a masturbator with hairy palms, I promise it’s a total coincidence. Masturbation does not lead to insanity, epilepsy, blindness, or neurosis. And it doesn’t cause infertility either (quite the contrary, actually).

Solo-sex is normal.

Being intimate with every part of your body, including your genitalia, is a good thing. Whether you masturbate for pleasure, purpose, or to soothe your mind — it’s all okay.

In truth, masturbation does not generate pleasurable feelings for everyone. And yes, guilt and shame can exacerbate feelings of anxiety. Like all sex, masturbation should be a consensual act. So if you don’t want to masturbate — don’t.

But if self-pleasure is something you enjoy, here are five reasons why masturbation is good for your mental health:

Stress Relief

Stress is one of those things that won’t kill you directly, but it can cause a host of medical problems that will, which is why stress management is such an important skill to develop. And adding masturbation to your stress management toolbox is an excellent idea.

“Masturbation can be a form of stress relief or self-intimacy — an escape from the mundane, or a form of self-soothing…It is a perfectly natural and healthy approach to promote emotional regulation, enhance your mood, and be with yourself. After a busy day, masturbation gives you an opportunity to take a break from the pressures of life to reconnect with yourself — to chill, and relax.” — Dr. Janet Brito, psychologist, certified sex therapist

The physical act of masturbation causes a release of endorphins, which have been accused of boosting confidence, increasing satisfaction, and generating euphoric feelings. Endorphins also regulate the release of oxytocin during sexual stimulation, which does what? Reduce stress.

Better Sleep

Incidentally, stress reduction makes for good night sleep, because stress will keep you at night. Thinking about what happened or what you anticipate is going to happen is a recipe for dark eye circles, mood swings, and paranoia — which happen to be symptoms of sleep deprivation — just saying.

But you know what will help you reduce stress and sleep better? You guessed it, masturbation.

When sexually aroused, most bodies release dopamine, which is a neurotransmitter that enhances pleasure. So while you’re building up to orgasm, your body is getting high on dopamine. You hit your stride. You’re almost there… almost there and then — BOOM! Your body gets flooded with oxytocin, which relaxes you so much that you feel compelled to drift off to la-la-land. It’s quite an effective system. Fine print: works well with or without a partner.

You know what they say, a well-rested body makes for a peaceful mind. Okay, I just made that up, but I stand by it 100%.

Confidence Booster

Masturbation can make you feel good about yourself, not instantly — but over time. When you touch and explore your own body, regularly, you become more accepting of yourself and all your parts. And because acceptance is a building block for confidence, it just makes sense.

Having sex with yourself makes you feel sexier. Incidentally, people who feel sexy exude the kind of confidence that commands attention. Like a moth to a flame, confidence is magnetic. And I’m not just talking about attracting people, I mean that’s part of it. But when you’re confident you also attract more opportunities and more money too!

On a fundamental level, self-pleasure reminds you of how amazing your body is that you deserve to feel good. That you are worthy of your desires — because you are.

When you’re wearing your post-pleasure glow, you stand up straighter, you walk taller, and your smile is brighter because it feels good to feel good. And also because masturbation causes that dopamine and oxytocin bath we talked about before — which makes you feel like everything is possible, and the world is yours. And it is!

Feeling good about yourself improves your overall wellbeing — mentally, physically, and emotionally.

Pain Reduction

Masturbation is an act of self-care. But if I’m honest, sometimes masturbation is an act of self-mercy. For people living with chronic pain, masturbation can be a game-changer.

“We see that vaginal stimulation and orgasm produces analgesia, specific pain blockage.”- Dr. Barry Komisaruk, neuroscientist and author of The Science of Orgasm

Orgasms have been known to reduce arthritis pain, menstrual cramps, headaches, and some types of back pain. Orgasm related pain reduction appears to be more prevalent in female-gendered bodies. Studies have shown that “pain tolerance could increase by up to 75% during orgasm,” for vulva owners.

Masturbation is my first line of relief when I have a headache. More often than not, I experience relief reasonably quickly. But I have found that when masturbation doesn’t ease the pain, I probably not experiencing pleasure. Remember, orgasms are sometimes a response to stimulation, but they are not evidence that pleasure has occurred. So just like in partnered sex, if the goal is pain relief, centering pleasure is your best bet.

The bottom line is most people feel much better mentally when they are pain-free. Because the experience of physical pain can cause mental and emotional discomfort, but masturbation could be the pill you didn’t know you needed.

Safest Sex *

In the interest of keeping it 💯, sexual anxiety is a thing, for a lot of reasons, one being the fear of STI transmission. Even if you’re playing safe, there is still a risk, however minor. And for some people, that truth can inhibit pleasure and cause significant mental discomfort during partnered sex, especially if you are not in an exclusive relationship.

So if hooking up is not your thing and you’re in between partners, self-pleasure is the way to go. After all, masturbation is the safest form of sex. As a bonus, the odds of reaching orgasm with yourself are pretty high — performance anxiety be damned!

In closing, I just want to remind you that masturbation is sex. It’s also a pathway to self-intimacy. Believe it or not, it can help to improve the relationships you have with others. Because the familiar you become with yourself and your body, the easier it is to be vulnerable and intimate with others. And feeling good about your relationships increases fulfillment in every area of your life.

For more masturbation tidbits check out this interview I did with Melissa Drake host of UnCliqued podcast, where we talked about masturbation, mental health, and a host of other things.

Image by the author (click the image to view the interview)

Stacey Herrera is a relationship-ing practitioner, jalapeño junkie, and chronic library fine payer. She’s also an Intimacy + REALationship coach residing in the Port of Los Angeles. Sign-up for her newsletter for updates.

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Stacey Herrera

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Library Fine Payer | Relationship-ing Practitioner | Jalapeño Lover | Intimacy + REALationship Coach | Get updates💋 http://bit.ly/StaceyMails

Sex in Real Life

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Stacey Herrera

Written by

Library Fine Payer | Relationship-ing Practitioner | Jalapeño Lover | Intimacy + REALationship Coach | Get updates💋 http://bit.ly/StaceyMails

Sex in Real Life

The good, the bad, and totally surprising experiences that happen when you have sex in real life.

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