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5 Overlooked Benefits Of Masturbation Everyone Should Take Advantage Of

From brain function to decreased performance anxiety.

The topic of masturbation has evolved beyond something too taboo to discuss in the mainstream — especially in the time of coronavirus, which has added seemingly endless new challenges to dating and intimacy. But despite how common masturbation is, regardless of gender, the real-time benefits of the act are often overlooked — and there are a lot.

"Anytime a person or partner starts to stimulate the mind, body, and spirit, we open a pathway to self-discovery and pleasure," Billy Beyer, CEO and founder of luxury sexual wellness e-commerce site, Lickerish Love, shared with NYLON over email. "There are so many benefits from self-discovery to self-soothing to actually training yourself and your partner in better love making. The ability to be in one's body and teach new sensations and appreciations will enhance a couple or individual like no other experience."

Author and gynecologist Dr. Heather Bartos agrees, sharing with NYLON that its benefits go far beyond what folks might consider. "Anyone who has enjoyed masturbation knows well that it can be used to release tension and promote relaxation, but there is so much more," she said. "According to Tenga, creators of new adult concepts, 80 to 90 percent of Americans find masturbation to have a positive effect among most aspects of our lives — specifically, our mood, health, brain function (including memory and multitasking), sexual confidence, energy, and productivity."

Whether you're new to the world of self pleasure, or just haven't been so aware of the benefits of masturbation in your own life, the experts lay out five of the biggest benefits of masturbation, regardless of gender, below.

1. Increased self awareness with your body and partner(s)

Masturbation allows you to get direct feedback from your own body, giving you a chance to see what it is that your body responds to — how, when, and how often. "Research shows that both men and women can orgasm much faster during masturbation, with both sexes climaxing within [an average of] four minutes or less," says Dr. Bartos. "You can really hone in on when you are about to orgasm, and learn to control your release and timing." This, in turn, can be a major benefit for your partners, too. "If you are comfortable with your own body, you’ll be more comfortable directing a partner to give you pleasure as well."

2. Quieter Brain (and Easier sleep)

It's been long understood that masturbating and subsequent orgasm can result in quickly falling asleep. But why? According to Dr. Jennifer Berman, LA-based urologist, sex expert, and co-host of the CBS Emmy Award winning The Doctors, oxytocin is released in the brain, which causes relaxation. "It also decreases cortisol levels (the stress hormone) which helps decrease anxiety and quiet the brain," she says. As a bonus, Dr. Berman notes that decreasing stress levels also helps to improve memory and cognition for when you wake up, too.

3. A well-toned pelvic floor

Joking about masturbating being a "workout" isn't necessarily an exaggeration. "When we orgasm we are actively toning our pelvic floor muscles," says Dr. Bartos. "A well-toned pelvic floor can help improve bladder control [for everyone]. In women specifically, it can also help us reduce risk of pelvic organ prolapse, support recovery from childbirth, reduce pain during intercourse, and may even assist with menstrual cramps."

4. Increased sense of exploration

"Masturbation can be an equilibrium for couples that have different sexual desires and needs," says Beyer, noting that it can build intimacy by exploring together. "The opportunity to explore one's body and another’s, the ability to tantalize the mind, the feeling of different erogenous zones creates an ideal blue print to create many new and exciting sexual acts."

5. Diminished performance anxiety

If you find yourself holding back during sex with a partner(s), Dr. Bartos notes that masturbation can ease that discomfort. "Because masturbation can be done alone, performance anxiety is typically gone, leaving space for the freedom to explore," she says. "If you’ve been holding back a certain body movement or noise, give that a try on your own. All of this attention to yourself eventually leads to having increased sexual confidence and owning your inner sexiness."

See some of the experts' recommended aides in self (or partnered) pleasure, below.

We only include products that have been independently selected by Nylon’s editorial team. However, we may receive a portion of sales if you purchase a product through a link in this article.

Known as one of the most popular Kegel exercising aides, Luna Beads work to offer pleasure and to workout vaginal and pelvic floor muscles. When used consistently, users will find increased resistance over time, making for longer, stronger, and more frequent orgasms.

This wearable vibrator can be worn hands-free during sex — benefiting yourself alone, or you and a partner.

Crafted with simulated wood and dust-free silicone, this shower-proof vibrator can be set to 10 different speeds, depending on your comfort level and preference.

This popular, hands-free and strap-on vibrator is made of ultra-smooth silicone, designed to be used together or alone.