If you’ve read her book or listened to her podcast The Crave Cast, you know that not only is Alexandra Jamieson whipsmart about food, emotions, and sex, the SuperSize Me star and positive psychology leader is also funny and real. So when we asked her to contribute to our Self Love theme this week, she went straight for the zipper and told us how masturbation is a) good for your health, b) good for your body image, and c) supported by science. So share that little finding over drinks with your BFFs.
"Not that you needed a study to prove it but The National Sex Study from Indiana University says that most adults masturbate (at least a little) and that, hey, it’s amazingly good for your health. What the study doesn’t reveal is the emotional and physical CHEMICAL benefits of masturbation," which Jamieson spells out below. And they aren't all that different from the flood of happy hormones you get from a great spin class.
“As Valentine’s Day looms on the horizon, there is no better time to reclaim your birthright of self-love,” says the Brooklynite wryly. Here Jamieson shares some facts to encourage you on a path of self-pleasure—with proof from a handful of studies. So shut your bedroom door and spend some time in there devoted to science. —Melisse Gelula
1. Masturbation helps balance your hormones—and makes your workouts more effective.
Here’s how: Orgasms, according to a 2009 University of Michigan study, cause the body to release dopamine, endorphins, and oxytocin, the "love and bonding” hormone. With the boost of these happy hormones, cortisol, AKA the stress hormone, naturally lowers. Even if you don’t reach climax, the body usually releases these calming hormones. Consistently high cortisol levels lead to systemic inflammation, stress-eating, insomnia, and weight loss resistance. This means masturbation helps your body to maintain the ultimate metabolic state, making your workouts more effective.
2. Masturbation = relaxation = happy gut-microbiome.
You can’t disconnect mental stress from tummy stress. In my book Women, Food, And Desire, I tell the story of a client who was single and didn’t have a regular masturbation practice. She'd been suffering from bloating, gas, and a frustrating muffin top that wouldn’t budge. I encouraged her to treat herself to her first vibrator, and use it regularly. After a few of weeks of regular masturbation, she reported that her belly was less bloated, she had less stomach pain, and her digestion was better.
3. When you masturbate regularly, you’re more likely to like your body.
When you consistently do things to (and for) your body that feel good, you tend to have a higher opinion of your body. This leads to higher confidence, and a natural increase of self-care. When you know how your body works, and what you’re capable of feeling, no matter your relationship status, you make better decisions in your personal life. You stop caring as much about other people’s opinions about your body. When you can bring yourself physical pleasure, you know how sexy you are.
4. You'll feel stronger and more invincible when you masturbate.
A study published in Hormonal Behavior showed evidence that when women fantasize, either via daydream or erotica books, testosterone is released, which raises our libido and turns us on. The added benefit of increases blood flow to both your brain and reproductive organs, helps soothe menstrual cramps and headaches, and decreases other forms of circulatory pain.
5. Masturbation keeps your fire burning.
Whether you’re single, married, in a long-distance relationship, or dating, masturbation is a great way keep your sexual energy alive and well. Masturbation with toys or just manually keeps your reproductive muscles and tissues flexible, strong, and healthy. And masturbation primes the pump, as it were: solo-sex primes your sexual desire in general as your brain will be thinking about sex more often. When you feel pleasure more often, your partner will get the benefits of your renewed passion, and prospective dates will feel your innate magnetism.
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