I have to get up if I want to get a shower in before work, but I can’t resist going for one more. In the end, I rush for the bus in a haphazard outfit, my self-induced bedhead neatly packed away in a bun.
My stress levels are generally quite high. I work in a fast-paced environment where tight deadlines come as part of the package and my mind is constantly "on." I also suffer from anxiety, which adds another layer of tension to my already overworked brain. Switching off is difficult – as a natural workaholic, my evenings and weekends are frequently filled with more work.
Masturbation allows me to completely empty my mind. I focus purely on the pleasure and sensation of what I’m doing. For a few minutes, there’s nothing else that requires my attention: no bills to pay, no deadlines to meet, no worries about the future.
After an orgasm, I am also much calmer, and I've found that it's actually a fantastic way to stimulate the brain. In the state of bliss that follows, I have come up with some of my best ideas.
People usually frown when I talk about my masturbation habits; the stigma that women shouldn’t be vocal about having a wank is alive and well, despite it being one of the many glorious things that our vaginas were built for. Getting to know your own body is important, because if you can’t get yourself off, how will you be able to show your future partner how to do you well (and from personal experience, I can tell you it’s rare to find a man who knows his way around a clitoris). Top tip guys: don’t rub it raw, please.
A few years ago, a 24-year-old friend of mine told me she had never orgasmed and rarely played with herself. What’s more, her sexual partners had no idea, because she found the idea of talking about her own genitals uncomfortable and embarrassing.
It’s not uncommon; women have been shamed into not touching themselves for hundreds of years. We were told it is dirty and wrong, when in reality it’s completely healthy and good for you.
A recent survey by Tenga, a Japanese sex toy brand, revealed that 64% of Brits use masturbation as a form of self-care and just over half (52%) agreed that it improves their wellbeing. By owning your pleasure when you’re alone, you’ll feel more confident in yourself.
Mutual masturbation is also fantastic. It can be more intimate than sex because you’re putting yourself out there. A former boyfriend loved watching me make myself come, because it meant I trusted him enough to show that side of myself (and also, it’s pretty hot).
Putting the physical aside, there are the aforementioned significant mental health benefits.
"Masturbation ultimately leads to the release of neurotransmitters like serotonin, endorphins and oxytocin, which bring a feeling of calm as well as offering pain relief," Dr. Shirin Lakhani from Elite Aesthetics tells me.
"The resulting blood flow to the genitals is beneficial to the physical health too and can have a positive impact on the tissue in the area.
"The more you engage in physical stimulation, the more you train your body to want it and anticipate it. Your body essentially learns how to feel sexual pleasure and have an orgasm, which can in turn have a significant impact on relationships and a person's self-esteem and confidence."
There have been moments where I’ve not been able to express what’s going on inside my head or not wanted to talk to anyone about it, and instead had an orgasm that served as tension relief.
It’s comparable to how runners feel when they’re at top speed, with their lungs burning and their heartbeat in their ears. You’re too busy focusing on the task at hand to worry about anything else and afterwards you’re beat.
Occasionally, if I’m in a weird headspace or having a bad day, whatever comes into my head post-orgasm is also something I need to deal with – and the masturbation helps me identify that.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m not obsessed with touching myself – there is such a thing as too much – and I never force myself to play, as that would defeat the purpose.
But I often wake up during the night and have trouble sleeping, and feel stressed before the day has even started. By masturbating first thing, I can push these feelings aside and start my day giddy with endorphins, feeling empowered and sexy instead.
And frankly, having an orgasm is the best way to wake yourself up in the morning.