What Are the Health Benefits of Masturbation?

What Are the Health Benefits of Masturbation?

May is National Masturbation Month, and as such, it is time to acknowledge the benefits of an activity that is often shrouded in secrecy and taboo. While discussions about masturbation may evoke discomfort for some, it is important to recognize that it is a perfectly natural and healthy aspect of human sexuality. Beyond the pleasure it provides, masturbation offers numerous health benefits that can contribute to a person’s overall well-being. For those who may feel ashamed or hesitant to explore this topic, understanding the science behind the benefits of masturbation can offer reassurance and empowerment.

  1. Stress Reduction: Masturbation is a proven stress reliever. When you engage in self-pleasure, your body releases endorphins and oxytocin, often referred to as “feel-good” hormones. These chemicals not only improve mood but also help reduce cortisol levels, the hormone associated with stress. Regular, (though not compulsive,) masturbation can serve as a healthy coping mechanism for managing life stressors.
  2. Improved Sleep: Masturbation may also promote better sleep quality. The release of endorphins and oxytocin during orgasm induces feelings of relaxation and contentment, making it easier to fall asleep and experience deeper, more restorative rest. For individuals struggling with insomnia or sleep disturbances, incorporating masturbation into their bedtime routine may offer natural relief.
  3. Enhanced Sexual Satisfaction: Self-pleasure is an opportunity to explore one’s body and sexual desires without the pressure of a partner. By becoming more familiar with your own preferences and responses, you can communicate effectively with your partner and experience greater sexual satisfaction together. Masturbation can also help individuals overcome sexual dysfunctions such as erectile dysfunction or premature ejaculation by providing a safe space to practice arousal control techniques.
  4. Pelvic Floor Health: Masturbation can contribute to the strength and flexibility of the pelvic floor muscles. The rhythmic contractions that occur during orgasm help exercise these muscles, which play a critical role in bladder and bowel control, as well as sexual functioning. For individuals experiencing pelvic pain or discomfort, gentle self-stimulation may provide relief by increasing blood flow and reducing tension in the pelvic region.
  5. Mood Elevation: Masturbation stimulates the release of dopamine, a neurotransmitter associated with pleasure and reward. This surge in dopamine can elevate mood and alleviate symptoms of anxiety and depression. Engaging in regular masturbation can serve as a form of self-care, promoting emotional well-being and resilience in the face of life’s challenges.

It is important to acknowledge that masturbation is a personal choice, and individuals may have varying levels of interest or comfort with the practice. Furthermore, certain cultural or religious beliefs may influence attitudes towards masturbation, and for some, it may not align with their values or teachings. It is perfectly valid to honor these traditions while still fostering a respectful and understanding attitude towards differing perspectives on sexual expression.

Notwithstanding, for those who feel hesitant or ashamed about exploring self-pleasure, understanding the health benefits may help alleviate feelings of guilt or embarrassment. Masturbation is a normal aspect of human sexuality, and embracing it may lead to greater self-awareness, confidence, and sexual fulfillment.

If you find yourself struggling with shame or negative feelings surrounding masturbation or you feel that you cannot control how often you masturbate and it is negatively affecting your life, consider seeking support from a therapist or counselor who specializes in sexual health. They can provide a safe and nonjudgmental space to explore your concerns and work towards establishing healthier patterns of self-pleasure.

For more information on this topic, please read these publications from the ISSM Journals: The Journal of Sexual Medicine, Sexual Medicine Reviews, and Sexual Medicine Open Access:

Masturbation, sexual function, and genital self-image of undergraduate women: a cross-sectional study

Evidence for Masturbation and Prostate Cancer Risk: Do We Have a Verdict?


Herbenick, D., Reece, M., Schick, V., Sanders, S. A., Dodge, B., & Fortenberry, J. D. (2010). Sexual behavior in the United States: Results from a national probability sample of men and women ages 14-94. The journal of sexual medicine, 7(s5), 255-265.

Shaeer, O., & Shaeer, K. (2008). The Global Online Sexuality Survey (GOSS): The United States of America in 2008. The journal of sexual medicine, 5(10), 2237-2247.

Sbraga, T. P., & O'Donnell, C. R. (2014). Masturbation, mindfulness, and relationships: Exploring the interactions between masturbation, state mindfulness, and relationship satisfaction. The journal of sex research, 51(8), 909-921.

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