8 Little Known Facts About Masturbation
We won't deny that the almighty act of masturbation is pretty straightforward—we're pretty sure you know how to do it by now, and, in fact, you've likely unlocked all sorts of secrets about the glorious pastime. But even for the seasoned semi-pro or total professional jackers and jillers, there are still some mysteries bound up in your favorite hobby.
Here are eight fast facts you may not have known about having a menage a moi.
1. Everybody does it, right? Not so fast...
Research says that no, not everyone masturbates.
The University of Indiana's Kinsey Institute heads an ongoing comprehensive study, the National Survey of Sexual Health and Human Behavior (NSSHHB), with data so far collected from more than 20,000 participants ages 14 to 102. A significant percentage of those, across gender and age demographics, report never having masturbated.
The survey showed just 67 percent to 94 percent of men have masturbated at least once, and 43 percent to 67 percent have shaken hands with the milkman in the last month. As for women, 43 percent to 85 percent say they've masturbated at least once, with a mere 21 percent to 43 percent having paddled the pink canoe in the past month. Across genders, that leaves a sizable portion of people skipping out on masturbating.
2. It's good for your mental health
Flying solo has long been recognized as a way to help keep us mentally and emotionally healthy, and happy. Masturbation is shown to release a tossed salad of hormones and other chemicals, including serotonin, oxytocin and prolactin, all of which help to reduce stress.
"People can masturbate to relieve anxiety, to relax, or something fun to do if you're bored, depressed, sad or lonely," said Heather McPherson, a licensed sex therapist and founder of Respark, a couples counseling service located in Texas and Colorado. "It's just another tool for self-care. We want to have a lot of tools, and masturbation is one of them."
3. It makes men better in bed
Two of men's biggest complaints about their sexual performance—premature ejaculation (PE) and erectile dysfunction—can be helped via masturbation.
For one, you can learn to overcome PE by using edging in regular masturbation sessions. Learning how to read your own body better and being able to calibrate when you need to slow down can work wonders when with a partner.
Masturbation can also be a great tool in learning to get out of your own way when it comes to sex—including worrying about erections.
"I always tell people to ground themselves in the present moment," said Rhoda Lipscomb, a licensed professional counselor and certified sex therapist practicing in Denver. "Often men who ejaculate more quickly than they want to, it's because they're too much in their head, they're worried about it. The same with erections—they're worried about their erection. Try to let those thoughts go. Get into the moment and get out of your head as much as possible."
4. Masturbation isn't completely harmless
Beyond the occasional chafing from overenthusiastic banister-polishing, most people think masturbation is pretty much an injury-free sport.
However, for the brave of spirit, read on about penis fractures. No, there's no actual bone in there, but robust jerking or intercourse can cause your penis to crack, snapping the thin sheath called the tunica albuginea, which helps maintain the penis' rigidity when erect.
It's also possible to rupture the corpus cavernosa—the tubes that hold the blood in the penis when a man has an erection—requiring surgical intervention that results in a bruised and swollen penis resembling an eggplant.
5. It's good for stress and pain management
We already know orgasms release natural pain relievers like oxytocin and endorphins. But one study published in the Archives of Sexual Behavior went further, indicating a woman's pain threshold was significantly increased after an achieved orgasm.
Another study, published in 2013, reported sexual activity of any kind, including masturbation, helped relieve migraines and cluster headaches.
Next time anyone asks you why you've been in the bathroom for so long, just say you're doing self-care and pain management.
6. Masturbation can help with relationships
Going for solo rides can help you when it's time to go tandem with your partner, too.
One 2015 study showed women who masturbated regularly had higher self-esteem and reported greater marital satisfaction than counterparts who didn't flick the bean on the regular.
Another study indicated women who regularly used a vibrator experienced better sexual function, including more desire, arousal, better lubrication and more propensity to orgasm.
"In terms of mental health, [masturbation] also helps you learn your body, and how your body works," McPherson said. "And that, in turn, will help you have conversations with a partner or partners so that you can tell them what feels good, so that's wonderful for mental health and relationship health as well."
7. Masturbation can cure the common cold
Okay, so maybe cure is too strong a word.
However, a German study published in the journal Neuroimmunomodulation indicated when men masturbated to completion, their bodies released significantly more leukocytes, a type of white blood cell that helps fight off infections and supports the immune system.
That means while you're laid up in bed with a cold, you could help yourself get better by, er, helping yourself. You won't just need extra tissues for your sniffly nose....
8. Masturbation helps you live longer
A Welsh study published in The BMJ looked at the sexual frequency of a group of 918 men between 45 and 59, and examined the lives of those who later died of coronary heart disease more closely, and found the men who had an orgasm at least twice per week died at half the rate of the men who had one orgasm per month or less.
The climactic ending
Masturbation may not be something we talk about in polite company, but it's one human activity that's not going away anytime soon...as in ever. It's too much fun, and it's healthy, too. One stroke at a time.