The topic of masturbation can be a delicate one. While it’s an exceedingly commonplace practice — Planned Parenthood estimates 70% of men and 50% of women masturbate regularly — many folks continue to hold on to the stigmas and taboos that frame self-pleasure as a shameful event.
However, while not everyone masturbates and it’s okay to refrain from doing it for your own reasons, there isn’t much evidence that points to it being the dangerous or selfish thing some people fear that it is. According to a growing body of data, it’s actually quite the contrary.
Is Masturbating Healthy?
From stress relief to taking time to get in touch with your body and desires, masturbation has a surprising number of varied and useful benefits for both singles and couples alike. The common thread between them is that it feels good (obviously), but beyond pleasure, what else can masturbation do for us?
Here are 18 ways self-pleasure can make you a happier, healthier humanoid. And yes, this includes the advantages of fingering.
1. Reduce Stress
Life can be stressful. Whether you’re single or partnered, it can be nice to process that stress physically, and on your own.
Masturbation can reduce that stress by bringing you into the present moment where nothing else matters other than you and your pleasure.
Focusing on yourself and your desires can help quiet the other nagging, absorbing, or other thoughts that accompany everyday life, and releasing through pleasure can relax both your mind and your body.
2. Help Treat Sexual Problems
Many people are unaware of how good a job masturbation can do at treating sexual problems like low libido or erectile dysfunction.
Surprisingly, when sexual dysfunction occurs, it can be helpful to masturbate because you get to learn new ways to get your body’s sexual energy flowing again.
You also get to understand what is turning you off and how to communicate that with a partner or reevaluate your thoughts to stay turned on — even increase your body’s vaginal fluid, nature’s lubrication — according to WebMd.
3. Sleep Deprived? Masturbate
Insomnia and sleep problems are the actual worst. Good thing masturbating is a great way to get your mind and body ready for sleep whether you’re anxious, have a thrown off sleep pattern, or your mind won’t shut off. Having an orgasm before you go to bed makes the body exhausted due to the release of the love hormones dopamine and oxytocin, Best Health Magazine reports.
4. Menstrual Cramp Relief
“The strength and intensity of an orgasm can relieve cramps,” says Judith Golden, a sex therapist based in Toronto. Keep in mind no two bodies are the same, though.
Masturbating while menstruating may relieve cramps, but it probably won’t eliminate them for good, according to Best Health Magazine.
5. You Can’t Get Pregnant or Acquire an STI!
When you are only having sex with yourself, the thought of getting pregnant or contracting an STD or STI need not cross your mind. This is one of the main benefits of fingering yourself. You can have sex with yourself without a worry in the world, which probably one of the reasons why it feels amazing, as reported by Planned Parenthood.
6. Improve Self/Body Image
Also according to Planned Parenthood, knowing what you want and how to get it boosts your confidence level through the roof. When you add pleasure to that equation it only makes you love yourself more and appreciate your body because you become comfortable with what turns you on and off.
7. Reduces Chances of Prostate Cancer
While studies are still taking place on whether or not masturbation reduces a person’s chances of prostate cancer, one 2004 study from Harvard concluded that people with prostates who ejaculate at least 21 times a month lowered their chance of prostate cancer.
Spending roughly 66% of a month masturbating doesn’t sound too awful to us, especially if it wards off a serious condition.
8. Sex Toys, Porn, and Erotica
Adult toys are a great way to explore your sexual pleasures through masturbation and also a good teaching mechanism if you’re trying to show someone exactly how to please you. While there are sex toys galore, simple erotica, porn, or a good lube can also help you get aroused and release some endorphins.
9. Multiple Orgasms
Masturbation has a tendency to take you on a ride full of orgasms, which is sometimes known as “riding the wave.” Since you’re already in the heat of the moment, it can keep you aroused for long periods of time.
There’s something about pleasing yourself and not having to worry about someone else keeping you turned on that makes this possible. While exploring yourself through masturbation, you can find new ways to achieve multiple orgasms whether they’re clitoral, vagina, anal, or penile without worrying about the pace of your partner or what acts turn them on.
10. Slows Down Orgasm
Sex can be very exciting, sometimes a little too exciting where it may cause a partner to climax pretty early during a session. With masturbation, you can learn to control your orgasm better by trying different techniques, such as practicing timing and breathing while exploring what turns you on even more, according to Consumer Health Digest.
It can also help you feel more comfortable sharing what keeps you from premature climaxing with your partner.
11. Dopamine and Oxytocin Galore
Part of the reason orgasms feel amazing, according to a 2009 University of Michigan study, is due to the release of several neurochemicals like endorphins, dopamine and oxytocin. Endorphins give you a sort of happy high. Dopamine, the “love” hormone makes you reconnect with yourself and grateful for the wonderful session focused entirely on you.
Oxytocin the “cuddle” hormone makes you feel like cuddling. The two being released together gives you a natural high which can last for hours or days.
12. Helps Prevent Cervical Infections and UTI
According to Women’s Health Network, masturbation is said to help prevent cervical infections because when a person with a cervix masturbates, it brings more blood flow to the area, causing the cervical opening to “tent,” and allowing bacteria and the like to pass through. UTIs are prevented through masturbation because it helps relieve pain and lubricates the vagina which helps flush out “old bacteria.”
13. Enhances Your Mood
Due to the release of endorphins when orgasming, masturbation also enhances your mood. A person doesn’t have to reach a full-on mind-blowing orgasm to relieve a little tension while masturbating.
Simply teasing the genitals can release a ton of stress because the mind is focused on the most sensitive, pleasurable zone of the body. Since happy hormones are soaring throughout the body during, before, and after moderate masturbation, a person will find themselves living a more satisfied life reports Women’s Health Network.
14. Pelvic Floor Strengthening
When you’re masturbating your heart rate, breathing, and muscle tone all increase as your body builds up to orgasm. According to Women’s Health Network, your pelvic floor also gets a workout.
For women, it will lift off the pelvic floor as you climax, which increases muscle tensioning and strengthens the entire pelvic region. Men can also strengthen their pelvic floor through masturbation, either by pulsing their anal muscles during prostate/anal play or by squeezing and releasing the muscles that make the penis bounce up and down.
15. Fun with a Partner (Mutual Masturbation)
Mutual masturbation is basically just masturbating next to someone. You can still touch and kiss, but each person is primarily getting themselves off.
This is something that can lead to a deeper connection with your partner. It’s a way to teach and learn from your lover.
It can be a little more arousing because some people find that they enjoy being watched while they satisfy themselves. Another pro to mutual masturbation is it can be done in multiple ways such as pleasing yourself in front of your partner and vice versa, or you pleasing each other while only fingering or giving a hand job.
16. Improves Heart Health
Another benefit of being fingered to orgasm is improved heart health. Think about it for a minute, when you finally reach climax, your heart is racing, right?
Masturbation, even if you’re not dialing up the intensity, is a cardio activity that gets the blood pumping, keeping your heart in tip-top shape. Of course, you’ll need to do more than just play a few times a week to reach peak fitness, but this is one benefit of fingering yourself — it’s healthy!
17. Increases Immune Function
If you want to improve your immune system, get to stroking. According to experts, one of the benefits of fingering yourself or otherwise masturbating, is improved immune function. How? By increasing cortisol levels.
Plus, when you’re relaxed, as you often are after an orgasm, you tend to sleep better. This can help your immune system get the boost it needs to tackle any illnesses and it’ll even improve your energy levels.
As if you needed another reason.
18. Masturbation Helps During Pregnancy
That’s right! You shouldn’t stop playing with yourself, even when you’re pregnant. There are a number of ways it can help.
For example, pleasuring yourself is a great way to get over the pregnancy blahs that come with morning sickness, sciatica or lower back pain. Instead, you can focus on feeling good, even when it’s hard to maneuver enough to have sex.
Unless you have medical issues and your doctor warns you to take it easy, you can have sex and masturbate — including fingering yourself — up until you give birth. So don’t think that just because you’re growing a life you need to put your needs last.
You’ll have plenty of time for that in the future. For now, enjoy!
Are There Side Effects to Masturbation?
As with any exercise or activity, of course there are side effects to masturbation. According to educators, they may differ between men and women, but they’re not typically long-lasting nor are they detrimental to your health.
Men might experience edema, which is the swelling of the penis if they masturbate frequently. They also run the risk of losing sensitivity which can affect pleasure during regular sexual activity, if they stroke too vigorously.
This is easily fixed by adapting a different technique and loosening your grip during self pleasure.
Women who use sex toys might lose sensitivity in their clit with intense stimulation from a vibrator too often. This could potentially affect the ability to reach orgasm during cunnilingus. Again, decreased use of a toy should be enough to remedy this.
Can a Person Become Addicted or Masturbate too Much?
As with anything, it’s advisable to masturbate and participate in other sex acts in moderation. It’s perfectly fine to pleasure yourself once or more, daily.
But, it’s when it starts to disrupt your life that it becomes an issue. If you find that you’re skipping other activities, such as work or social gatherings, to masturbate, you might want to consider evaluating your situation and potentially seeking help from a counselor who can help you get to the root of why you’re prioritizing self-pleasure over your daily life.
We’re sure you’ve heard the many, many masturbation myths and we’re here to help you debunk them.
- Masturbation will make you go blind. Or develop hairy palms, we’ve all heard it before, but is it true? Absolutely not. You will not develop any physical issues except maybe a slight desensitization or some swelling if you play too much or too hard.
- Masturbation destroys your sex life. Not true at all. As a matter of fact, many experts encourage self-play to boost your sex life. Some partners even play in front of each other, which dials up the intensity.
- Masturbation is a sign of discontent with your partner. Nope, again, this isn’t true. The fact is that sometimes it’s quicker to self-pleasure than it would be to have sex. Other times, it’s just the act of wanting to be in tune with your body. Either way, there’s no correlation between masturbation and satisfaction in the bedroom.
Fingering Techniques & Tips for Solo Play
If you’re looking for solo play tips, you’ve certainly come to the right place. The first — and probably most important — tip is that there’s no wrong way to self pleasure.
If you’ve found something that works for you, by all means. But don’t be afraid to play around.
- Discover new techniques — if you’ve always stuck to external clitoral stimulation, you might just be missing out on a G-spot orgasm. Learning how to finger yourself and reaching the G-spot is a good place to start. Insert your fingers into the vulva opening, then do a “come-hither” motion toward the front. You’ll know when you’ve found it, trust us.
- Try new toys — there are some out there designed to feel like the real thing when it comes to oral sex. Clitoral stimulators mimic cunnilingus while pocket pussies and Fleshlights feel like a blow job. Women can rub the toys around their labia during foreplay to discover new sensations.
- Explore the back door — granted, this isn’t for everyone, but anal play and sex can be rewarding in its own way. For men, the prostate orgasm is a must-try.
Final Thoughts on Masturbation and Fingering
Masturbation clearly has a ton of benefits and it’s great for your sexual health. However, while much research has shown it to be both mentally and physically beneficial, there are still many stigmas around it that need to be dismissed.
Instead of shaming people for masturbating or seeing it as some sort of sign that people are dissatisfied in a relationship (it’s not at all), we should get in the habit of normalizing it, accepting that it’s a healthy form of sexual expression, and treating it as something that can benefit both us and our partners, especially when it comes to health care.
The best way to continue to destigmatize masturbation is to keep spreading its positive importance and to talk about it openly. Tell your friends, have appropriate discussions with your family, or masturbate whenever you might feel stressed, tense, depressed, bored, happy, etc.
Sharing the experience with a partner can help enhance the experience. Break the silence on masturbation so people can see it less as a taboo and more as a common and exciting fact of life.
As Surgeon General Dr. Jocelyn Elders famously said, “Of all the kinds of sex people can have, masturbation is the most universal and important, yet few people talk about it freely. Worse, many people still feel it is “second best” or problematic in some way … It’s natural, common, and fun!”