Here’s the best news you’ll hear all day: not only is masturbating fun (and totally common and normal), it’s good for your health! At THINX, we love smashing taboos, and masturbation is still a big one for many women. It’s not something that comes up a whole lot in conversation, even between the most open of girl gangs (I bet a couple of you reading this right now are feeling a little cringey—if I say “key health benefits” and “science” do you feel better?) When it is shown on the screen, it’s often a highly stylised, romantic experience with good lighting — something that isn’t exactly realistic for many of us. But, according to a nationally representative US survey, 85% of you do it! So, light a candle and sprinkle around some rose petals (kidding) —let’s jump straight in!
1. Don’t worry, be happy
Having an orgasm releases endorphins, dopamine and oxytocin. These brain chemicals (which have a similar chemical structure to morphine) are designed to make you feel good, regulate your mood, and naturally relieve pain. These feel good hormones also lower cortisol (a stress hormone), which in high levels can cause inflammation, stress-eating, and weight-loss resistance. So we aren’t saying that masturbating will help you lose weight . . . but it certainly won’t hurt (*cancels gym membership*).
2. Get intimate with yourself
Sexuality is not always a straight road; sometimes it’s more like a Coney Island roller coaster (looks cute, but has a tendency to break down). So, getting to know what you like and don’t like in the bedroom isn’t necessarily straightforward. Lucky for us, masturbation is one of the easiest way to learn. Taking some solo time to work out what turns you on can even increase your self-esteem and improve body image. Once you are more comfortable with your own body and confident in articulating what makes you feel good, you can also expect to have better sex (yay!). If you are between partners, or keeping things long distance, a little DIY is also a great way to keep the sex spark burning.
3. Got cramps?
Of course, this one is a fave for us at THINX HQ. Masturbating while on your period may actually ease cramps, as the contractions that occur when a woman orgasms help to expel blood and tissue from the uterine cavity. (If you’re thinking, I would just love to try out that messy experience with a partner, check out our THINX guide to period sex here.) On top of that, endorphins are a natural pain reliever — thanks brain! Tracking your cycle can also help you experience better orgasms. A few tips: think about using lube during your dryer phases (menstrual and follicular). During your ovulation and luteal phases, you probably won’t need it. It’s different for every woman, so listen to your body and do what works for you.
4. Swap that donut for . . . a vibrator?
Too good to be true? DIYing it can lead to higher levels of oxytocin, which in turn can keep a lid on emotional food cravings for things like chocolate ice cream, an entire bag of potato chips, macaroni and cheese. . . (also see, having your period). Oxytocin levels are usually increased even without orgasm, so even if you don’t get quite get there every time, you still get the benefits of this wonder-hormone.
5. Get those Zzzz’s
Having trouble falling asleep? Masturbating lowers blood pressure, increases relaxation, reduces that pesky stress hormone cortisol, and is a great (and non-addictive) way to send you straight into snoozeville.
6. Reduce risk of cervical cancer and UTIs
I told you I could deliver key health benefits! Research has suggested that masturbation can actually protect against cervical infections and UTIs. When women orgasm, it opens the cervix (called ‘tenting’, of all things), and this process can help flush out bad bacteria.
Whether you are a rookie or an expert at the self-love game, there are plenty of resources available to help. Two that we love at THINX HQ:
- OMGyes is working to lift the taboo surrounding women’s sexuality. Using a whole lot of research, they have developed a website that uses real women’s experiences to help you learn more and experiment with their sexuality. (Emma Watson is a fan!)
- Visit a sex shop with a feminist spin. Check out the THINX team’s visit to Babeland here.