Whether we like it or not, two things that are critical to our well-being are often still stigmatized and considered too taboo to talk about. What am I referring to? I’m talking about masturbation and mental health. What makes the stigma ironic is that masturbation can actually help improve your mental health. But whether it’s sex toys or depression, we’re just not talking about it.
“Self-pleasure can indirectly and directly affect several aspects of your life that can, in effect, improve your mental health,” said Adina Mahalli, a certified mental health consultant and sexual health expert of Maple Holistics.
Our society still shies away from having open conversations around self-pleasure or what it means to have a mental illness. Maybe if we opened up a little more as a community, it’d be more common knowledge that masturbation can improve your mood instantly.
Masturbation is a Natural Mood-booster
Daniel Sher, a registered clinical psychologist and consultant for the Between Us Clinic, offered a scientific explanation behind masturbation’s mood-altering effects. “Despite all the taboo surrounding the topic, masturbation can promote health in several powerful ways. For example, masturbation is also a mood-booster, given that orgasms lead to a burst of feel-good brain chemicals, such as dopamine and serotonin.”
Masturbation Is a Way to Reduce Anxiety
Not only can masturbation be a mood-booster, but it can act as a natural way to reduce anxiety. According to Cara Kovacs, sex, love, and relationship coach, masturbation is also a stress reliever thanks to those two happiness hormones—dopamine and serotonin—being released at orgasm.
Rather than being seen as shameful, masturbation can be reframed as being part of a wellness routine. “Self-pleasure is a way to connect to your body, it is truly a self-care ritual that can ease away the stress of the day,” said Kovacs.
Masturbation is Self-Discovery
To further dive into the idea of connecting with the body, masturbation can be a safe and accessible way to participate in self-discovery. Claudia Luiz, a psychoanalyst at Your Hidden Self, affirmed this self-discovery notion by expressing how self-pleasure “helps you learn who you are, what you like, what you don't like, and how you feel about it.”
When you know what you like, especially when it comes to sex, it helps you communicate with your sexual partner more effectively for a fulfilling and judgment-free sexual experience.
“Using self-pleasure as a barometer for how free and uninhibited you want to feel can help you bring your partner into a safe space when you’re together. In that safe space, you can enjoy as much freedom from fear, judgment, and shame as possible,” said Luiz.
Masturbation Can Improve Your Sex Life
One way to explore your sexual freedom is by incorporating sex toys or arousal oils in your self-pleasure. Using toys gives you an additional tool to survey the body and could be a fun and exciting addition to bring into the bedroom with your partner.
If you’re extra adventurous, Masturbation Can Improve Your Sex Life. Why is good sex important to mental health? Well, Mahalli claims that having a healthy sex life and relationship is positively correlated with good mental health. What’s more? Mahalli also suggests that “there is a positive correlation between women who masturbate and their propensity to climax during intercourse.”
A tool worth having in your mental health toolkit
While self-pleasure certainly isn’t the answer to healing mental illness, it’s undoubtedly a tool worth having in your mental health toolkit. Good mental health requires a holistic approach to living, which, to Mahalli, likely includes “a moderate amount of masturbation to help reduce stress, release tension, elevate your mood, and enhance your sex life.”
As for eliminating the taboo around masturbation? Don’t just take it from me, take it from Dr. Fran Walfish, Beverly Hills family and relationship psychotherapist and author of The Self-Aware Parent, regular expert child psychologist on The Doctors, CBS TV, and co-star on Sex Box, WE tv.
“Let go of preconceived judgments about masturbation. Many people, especially women, still believe it's bad or evil to masturbate. It simply isn't. Those archaic beliefs and ideas only inhibit, constrict, and limit one's ability to enjoy their own body and sexuality. Abandon stifling messages you may have gotten and free yourselves to enjoy one of three inherent human needs--food, sleep, and sex!”
Sonya Matejko is a writer, yoga teacher, and communications consultant living in New York City. She’s on a mission to help people express and empower themselves mentally, physically, and spiritually. By embracing vulnerability, Sonya hopes to move people toward their highest potential. Her writing has been featured on HuffPost, Elite Daily, Thought Catalog, I AM & CO, Mogul, and Yoga Magazine. In 2018, she also founded @aforceofnurture on Instagram as a dedicated home for inspiration and self-expression.