“Don’t knock masturbation. It’s sex with someone I love.” -Woody Allen

Just a couple of generations ago, discussing masturbation in a positive light was taboo. Those who openly took part were stigmatized. Some parents scared their adolescent children by telling them, “You’ll go blind.” One smart aleck response perhaps never uttered was, “What if I go half-blind and just get really cool glasses?” With the advent of the Sexual Revolution, or perhaps even before with the Kinsey Report science started to delve further into the realm of sexuality and what they found was the polar opposite of traditional thinking on the subject. It turns out there are a lot of benefits. For many, the stigma remains. But for the practitioners of manual self-love, the rewards are better health and a more satisfying sex life. Do you have trouble sleeping? Masturbation can help. It relieves tension and stress by flooding the system with endorphins. These are the body’s natural feel good chemicals.  A recent study found that those suffering from restless leg syndrome (RLS) found relief through practicing self-eroticism. RLS is a condition where often during sleep sufferers experience pain, cramps, itching and tingling in the legs. According to a report in the journal Sleep Medicine, one patient used sex and masturbation to relieve the symptoms of RLS.

For men, masturbation may help prevent prostate cancer. Toxins build up in the urogenital tract. But men who ejaculate over five times per week decrease the levels of toxins in their system, and so lower their risk of prostate cancer by a third. Ejaculation also releases a little cortisol. This is the stress hormone. But in small doses it is known to boost the immune system. For women, manual self-love can help relieve cramps. It causes more blood flow to the pelvic region. This hastens periods and decreases pain. An orgasm can also help fight cramps. Masturbation fights urinary tract infections by flushing out the cervix. For post-menopausal women, a narrowing of the vagina can make exams and intercourse painful. But masturbation, particularly with a water-based lubricant increases blood flow to the sex organs. This can help relieve moisture problems and prevent the narrowing of the vagina.

Lastly, masturbation can improve your sex life. For both sexes, it can get one acquainted with their body. What makes you orgasm?  Where do you like to be touched? What kinds of sensations, pressure, speed and rhythm cause you to climax? Masturbation isn’t just about pleasure. It’s a process of self-discovery. This is especially important for women who in our society find their sexual expression repressed. Women often don’t often feel comfortable touching themselves even alone or examining their nether regions in a mirror. Sex experts say women should explore their bodies all over and learn how they like to be touched. This exploration will not only help a woman to get in touch with her body but her desires and fantasies too. The point sometimes is to become better acquainted with one’s body rather than to reach orgasm. In this case, a woman should schedule some alone time, put on some music, light candles even take a warm bath. It might feel silly but it’s also enjoyable. Also, women need more to get in the mood. For a woman exploring her body, orgasm isn’t the goal. Instead, she could relax and enjoy learning more about herself and her sexuality.  Different rhythms, positions and sex toys can help. Masturbating with a partner is fun too. It can be erotic as well as a great learning experience. Here is where you discover your partners likes and dislikes. It can open the door for discussing fantasies and desires as well. Feel free to enjoy masturbation without worry, fear or the need to purchase corrective lenses.