Masturbation helps you learn what you like sexually, plus, it just feels good. But did you know that masturbation can help your mental health, too? While masturbation alone isn’t an effective treatment for any mental health condition, it can relieve some symptoms, such as stress and difficulty sleeping.
"Orgasms are truly amazing things," Vanessa Marin, sex therapist and creator of Finishing School: Learn How To Orgasm, previously told Refinery29. “[But] if you have any real concerns about your mental health, you're better suited talking to a therapist and coming up with a more comprehensive care plan. [Masturbation won’t] obliterate crippling depression.”
In other words, masturbation shouldn’t be the only item on your mental health treatment plan — it’s not a cure-all. But here’s what it can do.
How masturbation affects your brain
When you masturbate, your body releases a number of "feel-good" hormones called endorphins, and although studies differ on exactly how, research indicates that it also affects the prefrontal cortex of your brain.
How does masturbation affect my mood?
Can masturbation relieve stress and anxiety?
Studies show that the presence of oxytocin lowers the levels of another hormone — cortisol, which is associated with high stress. Some people find that masturbation’s stress-fighting effects also work for managing anxiety. “After an orgasm, I am also much calmer, and I've found that it's actually a fantastic way to stimulate the brain,” one woman wrote for Refinery29.
Does masturbation help with depression?
Anecdotally, some people with depression say that the mood boost provided by masturbation can temporarily alleviate their symptoms, but this hasn't been sufficiently studied yet.
Can masturbation help you fall asleep?
Can masturbation help your self-esteem?