Masturbation is an activity few talk about but in which many partake. Despite being taboo in many parts of the world, history tells us that masturbation has been around pretty much forever, and it’s not going away anytime soon. We know the most obvious side effect of masturbation (it feels good), but few realize that the pastime can have many other side effects, both good and bad.
Stress and Pain Relief
Masturbating, like any sexual activity, releases endorphins, chemicals in our body that promote a sense of happiness and can relieve stress, Best Health Mag reported.
“In both men and women it [masturbation] provides release of stress, a time to commune with oneself (taking stock of one’s emotional state and needs), and for some even the possibility of greater self-awareness or insight,” Dr. Jordan Tishler, of inhaleMD.com, a Harvard physician who focuses on human sexuality, told Medical Daily in a recent email.
In addition, the calming effects of masturbation can also help you sleep better, and can even reduce the pain associated with menstruation and postmenopausal intercourse.
“It causes more blood flow to the pelvic region, which hastens periods and decreases pain,” Dr. Sandra LaMorgese PhD, author of Switch: Time for a Change, and an expert in sexual intimacy, told Medical Daily. “For postmenopausal women,a narrowing of the vagina can make pelvic exams and intercourse painful, but masturbation, particularly with a water-based lubricant, increases blood flow to the sex organs.”
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Believe it or not, there may actually be some positive health benefits associated with masturbation, for both men and women. For example, according to LaMoregese, masturbation could help to prevent prostate cancer by allowing men to safely get rid of toxins that naturally build up in their urogenital tract.
“Men who ejaculate over five times per week decrease these toxin levels, and thereby possibly lower their risk of prostate cancer by a third,” wrote LaMoregese.
In addition, LaMorgese explained that masturbation could help to fight urinary tract infections in women by flushing out the cervix.
Pathway To Addiction?
Unfortunately, not all of the possible side effects of masturbation are necessarily good. For example, Dee Wagner, a licensed professional counselor and a board-certified dance therapist told Medical Daily that, in some cases, masturbation can serve as a chronic way to avoid intimacy with others, which in the long run can cause anxiety.
In addition, masturbation stimulates a reward response in the brain, and just as with any rewarding activity, it is possible to get addicted to the chemistry of an orgasm. Not only is this bad for your mental health, but orgasm addiction can require individuals to need more and more stimulation to get the same results, which can lead to bodily harm, Wagner explained.
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