It goes without saying that a little self-love helps us relax after a busy day, but judging by the health benefits outlined by our experts below, there are multiple reasons why masturbation should be a normal part of your self-care routine... and nothing to feel ashamed of.
1. It improves body image
“Focussing on what our bodies can do rather than just what they look like gives us a greater sense of wellbeing, confidence and love for ourselves,” says PJ Livett, a relationships and sex educator who founded a service called rePHRASE – ‘Providing Healthy Relationship And Sex Education (without the awkwardness)’.
“Our bodies are amazing, complex and beautiful... Remembering this instead of focusing on trying to live up to the current beauty standard is key for nurturing a positive body image.”
Barbara Santini, psychologist and sex advisor at the sex toy website Peaches and Screams says it’s about how masturbation helps us associate our bodies with pleasure: “This thought alone gives complete satisfaction, plus it’s empowering knowing you don't have to rely on another person for sexual fulfilment," she says.
“I've worked with clients who've told me that self-pleasure has helped their recovery from disordered eating, because they realise how many positive sensations they can feel in their body,” adds sexologist Madalaine Munro.
2. It’s a natural pain-reliever
During masturbation and orgasm, the body releases a whole host of feel-good hormones, including the endorphins dopamine and oxytocin.
Endorphins in particular, “enhance the part of the brain that controls the pleasure we experience”, says Livett. “The endorphins react with receptors in the brain during masturbation/orgasm and can alter our perception of pain.”
Dr Sonia Bahlani specialises in pelvic pain, and says that masturbation during your period can really help with menstrual pain itself – as well as feeling extra good (double win!).
“For one, there's increased blood flow to the genitals, perhaps even to the clitoris, leading to increased sensitivity and pleasure,"she says.
"Menstrual blood is also a natural lubricant, which will help if you're using toys.”
The release of our friend oxytocin, too, during orgasm means we could probably skip the Ibuprofen… "It’s a natural pain-reliever that can get rid of some of the worst period cramps,” Dr Bahlani adds.