A lot of people, most especially students who engage in the act of masturbation do not know that it might have an effect on their brain, thinking capacity, and reasoning? Yes, it can, before we go into the effects of masturbation fully, let’s understand what it truly is.
Masturbation is when you get sexual pleasure from touching your genitals, usually with your hand. You can masturbate yourself or a partner. Masturbation usually leads to an orgasm.
Generally, men and boys masturbate by rubbing or moving their hands up and down their erect penis. Women and girls may use their fingers or hand to rub the area around their clitoris or vagina.
Despite the satisfaction it tends to have, masturbation has a lot of conflicting information, myths, and rumours about its effects on people.
In most parts of Africa for one, a lot of people believe masturbation to be a demonic act. They believe when you do masturbate you are having sexual intercourse with a spiritual being. Though, this has no scientific backing.
Is it right to masturbate?
Know this: Whether you masturbate is up to you and only you.
If you do, it would either have a negative or positive effect on you, sometimes both, but if you don’t masturbate, it would have no effect on you.
Here’s what you need to know about Masturbation
Masturbating releases hormones.
Masturbation causes your body to release a number of hormones. These hormones include:
- Dopamine: This is one of the “happiness hormones” that are related to your brain’s reward system.
- Endorphins: The body’s natural pain reliever, endorphins also have de-stressing and mood-boosting effects.
- Oxytocin: This hormone is often called the love hormone and is associated with social bonding.
- Testosterone: This hormone is released during sex to improve stamina and arousal. It’s also released when you have sexual fantasies, according to a 2011 study (Trusted Source).
- Prolactin: A hormone that plays an important role in lactation, prolactin also influences your mood and immune system.
Masturbating can cause you to release healthy amounts of the above hormones, which is why it can positively affect your mood and physical health.
This affects your mood
Dopamine, endorphins, and oxytocin are all called “happiness hormones” associated with stress reduction, bonding, and relaxation.
Sometimes, masturbating can help you feel a little better when your mood is low.
As well as your focus and concentration
You might have heard of “post-nut clarity” — a situation where your brain suddenly feels focused after you have an orgasm.
Indeed, many people find that masturbating helps them to concentrate better. As such, they might masturbate before working, studying, or taking a test.
There’s no scientific explanation for this, as it hasn’t been studied specifically. However, this sense of clarity and focus might be a result of feeling relaxed and happy after an orgasm.
It can help alleviate stress and anxiety
While oxytocin is commonly known as the “love hormone” and associated with social bonding, it’s also associated with de-stressing and relaxation.
As one 2005 study points out, oxytocin plays an important role in regulating stress and reducing anxiety.
It does this by reducing blood pressure and lowering your cortisol levels. Cortisol is a hormone associated with stress.
So, if you’re hoping to relieve some tension after a tough day at work, masturbating might be a good relaxation technique!
It can help you fall asleep
Anecdotally, many people use masturbation to fall asleep — and it’s no wonder.
Oxytocin and endorphins are associated with relaxation, so it makes sense that masturbation can help you sleep, especially if stress and anxiety are keeping you from getting some shut-eye.
It may also have an effect on your self-esteem
For some, masturbating can be a way of practicing self-love, getting to know your body, and spending quality time on your own.
Because you’re learning to enjoy your own body and figuring out what feels pleasurable for you, masturbation can boost your self-esteem.
All of which could improve your sex life
Some sex therapists even suggest masturbating regularly — whether you’re single or partnered.
In addition to the physical benefits derived from masturbation, a boost to self-esteem coupled with relaxation can be great for your sex life.
As for your libido, there’s some evidence that masturbating can help you maintain a healthy sex drive. For example, a 2009 study links frequent vibrators use to a high sex drive and positive sexual function, as well as general sexual wellness.
Masturbating can help you figure out what’s pleasurable and exciting for you, which can help you show your partner what you enjoy.
But the effects aren’t always positive
While there are proven benefits, some people do have negative experiences with masturbation.
It’s important to remember that it’s totally okay not to masturbate.
You might dislike the feeling, or it might be against your belief system, or you might simply be uninterested in it. That’s fine! Whether you choose to masturbate or not is up to you.
If masturbation is difficult for you, and this difficulty is bothering you, consider reaching out to a doctor or therapist.
Some people experience negative feelings related to social or spiritual expectations.
Masturbation is considered a sin in some religions. There are also many societal stigmas attached to masturbation: Some people believe women shouldn’t masturbate, or that masturbation is immoral.
That’s not to mention the anxiety-inducing myths around masturbation.
Many of us have heard the rumors that masturbation causes you to go blind, or that it can cause you to grow hair on your hands — both completely false claims that seem to circulate widely among preteens!
If you believe those things and go on to masturbate, you might experience feelings of guilt, anxiety, shame, or self-loathing afterward.
It’s totally okay to abstain from masturbation because of your personal beliefs, but if you want to work through feelings of guilt and masturbate without anxiety, talking to a therapist might help.
Certain underlying conditions may also play a role.
Aside from societal and spiritual difficulties, underlying health conditions might make masturbation difficult.
For example, masturbation may be frustrating if you experience:
- erectile dysfunction
- low libido
- vaginal dryness
- dyspareunia, which involves pain during vagina penetration
- post-orgasmic illness syndrome (Trusted Source), a little-known condition where individuals who have a penis can become ill after ejaculating
Masturbation in some cases lower your self-esteem, it makes one be less bold.
It equally causes loneliness, a lot of single people who engage in the act of masturbation would feel no need to have a partner in their life since they can satisfy themselves. They would tend to live a lonely life which is not healthy.
In addition to this, masturbating might be upsetting if you’ve experienced sexual trauma.
If you think you have an underlying condition that makes it difficult to masturbate and it’s bothering you, talk to a doctor you trust.
Likewise, if you’re struggling to masturbate due to emotional distress, you may find it helpful to talk to a therapist.
It ultimately depends on your individual needs and desires
Is masturbation bad for you? No, not inherently. Whether you masturbate and how you feel about it is individual.
Masturbate if you’d like to, but don’t feel pressured to masturbate if you don’t enjoy it — it’s really up to you!
Just like being addicted to cigarettes and alcohol, one can also get addicted to masturbation. Also just like being addicted to cigarettes and alcohol has severe negative effects on a person, being addicted to masturbation equally has a negative effect on the individual.
Some people can and do develop an addiction to masturbation. You may be spending too much time masturbating if masturbation causes you to:
- skip your chores or daily activities
- miss work or school
- cancel plans with friends or family
- miss important social events
If you do feel bad about it and you want to stop doing it, therapy can help you manage your addiction to masturbation. You could also cut down by replacing masturbation with other activities. Next time you have an urge to masturbate, try:
- going for a run
- writing in a journal
- spending time with friends
- going for a walk
Spending time with friends and meeting new people for one would really help feel in the vacuum of loneliness that would make a person masturbate.
In conclusion, don’t ever feel pressured to do anything, and if you ever get addicted to anything that starts having a negative effect on you, try and stop it for good. Always talk to people around, or experts in that field (in this case a doctor or a sex therapist). Be safe. Be healthy!