Dating and sex are tough in the time of coronavirus, but that doesn’t mean you can’t have pleasure. The New York City Health Department released a guide on safer sex practices during the pandemic, urging people to remember that “you are your safest sex partner.” In other words, they’re praising the benefits of masturbation.
“Masturbation will not spread COVID-19, especially if you wash your hands (and any sex toys) with soap and water for at least 20 seconds before and after sex,” the memo continued.
In case you thought you read that wrong, the government is indeed encouraging masturbation. Apart from being impressively sex-positive, this message just makes sense. After all, self-pleasure can relieve stress and improve immune function (two particularly invaluable properties right now) among a host of other health benefits.
So, what are the health benefits of masturbation? And, is masturbation good for you? Let’s get into it.
It relieves stress
As the news gets darker and the world tries to avoid cabin fever as we stay indoors, stress is a major concern. Masturbation is an excellent balm, according to Dr. Jordin Wiggins, sex expert and owner of Health Over All, a naturopathic and wellness clinic for women.
Pleasuring yourself releases mood-enhancing neurochemicals like oxytocin, dopamine, and endorphins that can help you relax your muscles and ease your worried mind, even during high-stress times like these.
“During a time when everything is chaotic and the public is facing a high level of anxiety, masturbation is a private and safe technique to relieve that stress,” Dr. Wiggins tells Teen Vogue.
It improves immune function
Dr. Wiggins also cited improved immune function as an essential benefit of masturbating. While it’s a debated topic among doctors, some studies have shown that orgasm can give your immunoglobulin levels a boost, thus strengthening your immune system and fending off illness — love to feel responsible and sexy at the same time!
(Of course, that doesn’t mean that you can masturbate and then just forgo hand-washing, hand sanitizer, and social distancing! Be safe!)
It strengthens pelvic floor muscles
If kegels stress you out, there’s another way to strengthen your pelvic floor that’s a whole lot more fun.
Masturbation can tone those same muscles, which leads to better sex and less of a risk of uterine or bladder prolapse! Both of those things are good, but one is admittedly sexier than the other.
It alleviates pain
If you experience chronic pain or have a condition that is flared up by stress or change, the pandemic may be even more of a nightmare. Dr. Wiggins strongly recommends masturbation as a form of self-treatment.
“Orgasm can be a natural pain reliever,” Dr. Wiggins explained, highlighting that it can also relieve headaches and menstrual cramps.
Additionally, while more research needs to be done, a particularly fascinating 1985 Rutgers University study found that participants had an elevated pain threshold while masturbating. The women in the study didn’t just become numb to pain — they just became considerably (almost 75%) more tolerant to it, while their ability to detect pain increased by more than 100%.
Again, masturbation shouldn’t be a replacement for other treatments, but if it helps, why not do it?
It helps you sleep
Lately, it’s felt like a “Choose Only One” challenge: stay updated on the news or get a restful night’s sleep. It can be difficult to stop your mind from reeling when you lay in bed at night, and that’s exactly why Dr. Wiggins highlights masturbation’s sleep-promoting properties.
According to Women’s Health Network, through both hormonal and tension release, masturbation can help prevent insomnia due to the calming effects of good ol’ oxytocin and endorphins, which can help you drift to sleep.
So yes, everything is scary. But you have more alone time than ever, and masturbating is good for you. Go ahead and treat yourself — you may just learn a little something new about what you like.