In case you haven't noticed, it's Masturbation Month. You know what that means: it’s time to get fap-happy. And, as you celebrate your sexuality, you could also celebrate by taking some time to recognize how much science has taught us about self-love.
Long gone are the days of lore when masturbating led to blindness and insanity, made your genitals fall off, or caused infertility. Once a diagnosable psychological condition, masturbating is now widely considered a normal and healthy thing to do. We now know better - and we have rigorous lab tests, self-reports and a lot of statistics to thank for it.
On average, 95% of men and 74% of women report masturbating at some point in their lives. In other words, it's a popular pastime, one that delivers a laundry list of benefits - not to mention orgasms!
Let's take a look at some of the amazing things we've learned about it.
Age Is Just a Number
The desire to masturbate doesn’t diminish with age. One study found that almost 60% of men age 50 and up report masturbating; just under half of women do the same. The prevalence of STIs is on the rise in older populations. Masturbation, and mutual masturbation, is a safe alternative that brings enjoyment and intimacy.
The Clit Is It
If you have a clit, clitoral stimulation is likely a favorite method for achieving orgasm, whether during partnered sex or masturbation. According to one study, 69% of women say it’s their preferred technique. I guess “flicking the bean” became a colloquial moniker for a reason. Men (and women) should take note for future mutual fun.
It Does a Prostate Good
In the U.S. alone, one in nine men is diagnosed with prostate cancer. While researchers are working hard on a cure, we do know that masturbating can help keep the prostate healthy. In fact, ejaculating more than 21 times in a month has been found to reduce the risk of prostate cancer. So protect your prostate - and have a good time in the process.
Most Asexuals Masturbate Too
This is kind of fascinating. While an asexual is defined as someone who experiences little or no sexual interest or attraction to others, many still enjoy masturbation. According to one study, over half of asexuals (56%) reported masturbating at least once a month. Most say they do it for “release” purposes.
Ejaculation ≠ Orgasm
Men can orgasm without ejaculating (a dry orgasm). Some men "train" themselves to do it while masturbating, to avoid making a mess. During the male sexual response cycle, orgasm occurs right before ejaculation. This allows an orgasm to happen without the ensuing ejaculation.
Testosterone Is Linked to Higher Sex Drive - in Women
Testosterone has long been linked to a higher sex drive. It’s also commonly associated with the male gender. One study throws a kink in the popular stereotype. It shows that women with more testosterone have more desire to masturbate (and have sex). Interestingly, the same is not true of men.
Masturbation Can Relieve Restless Leg Syndrome
Restless leg syndrome is a neurological condition that affects at least 30% of the population. It’s marked by itching, aching, burning and leg spasms at night. Masturbating at bedtime can bring relief to sufferers. Orgasm causes the brain to release dopamine, which works like a painkiller.
Masturbation Goggles are Kind of Like Beer Goggles
Masturbating can make men more attracted to unusual things. One study showed that during masturbation, men respond with higher rates of attraction than they normally would to things that wouldn't normally arouse them. Their stimuli even included questions about animals, a 12-year-old girl, and someone they hate.
Masturbation Shuts Down the Anxiety Center of the Brain
Many activities increase blood flow to specific regions of the brain. But for women, masturbating to orgasm increases blood flow to the entire brain and shuts down the anxiety center. Activating many different brain regions like this is the ultimate brain teaser.
Masturbation Improves Sexual Performance
In the good old days, athletes would go abstinent before an event. They believed it would boost testosterone, giving them an edge on the competition. As it turns out, masturbating before a sporting event improves performance for over half of athletes. It's also a great way to calm pre-game nerves!
Masturbation Improves Male Fertility
Couples hoping to conceive used to think masturbating wasted precious seed. So, men were encouraged to save their sperm for reproductive-only activities. What we know now is that sperm has a shelf life of just five to seven days. Masturbating produces a newer sample of stronger swimmers that are more likely to make it to a waiting egg.
Humans Aren't the Only Species That Do It
Humans aren’t the only animal species that masturbate. Plenty of other animals engage in some form of autoeroticism, including primates, dogs, horses, cats, rodents, elephants, penguins, dolphins, turtles, bats, birds, squirrels, lizards, walruses, porcupines and ferrets. Whew! It’s a completely natural thing to do.
It Makes for Better (Partnered) Sex
Some people think masturbating can unwittingly replace the need for a partner. But, in fact, people who masturbate more often have more partners and enjoy more sex with those partners. Frequent masturbaters are also happier in their relationships and experience more sexual satisfaction. Which makes sense, since masturbators tend to be more open with their sexuality.
Science has proved it: Regular orgasms have proven benefits, and masturbation is a reliable way of reaping those rewards.
Don’t wait, masturbate.