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For a long time – we’re talking centuries – masturbation has gotten a bad rap. Even in the last few decades the cultural conversation around masturbation has been steeped in shame, secrecy, and awkwardness (we even built a whole comedy franchise around it). But all that is starting to change. Why? Because it turns out that masturbation isn’t all that bad—in fact, it might be one of the best things you can do with your free time. From boosting your immune system to reducing stress, the benefits of regular masturbation are numerous—and also, in some cases, unexpected.
It can keep your penis in good shape.
Your penis is a muscle like any other and can lose strength and tone as you get older; masturbation keeps your pelvic floor muscles ripped and can prevent erectile dysfunction.
It can keep your vagina in good shape, too.
The same principle applies to women; masturbation can keep your pelvic floor healthy and strong, which lowers your risk of incontinence and improves the sensation of orgasm—kegels, anyone?
It can ease cramps during your period.
An added bonus: a strong pelvic floor can help you exert control over the muscles that cramp up when you’re menstruating—and when you orgasm, the hormones your body releases have been shown to soothe pain (some women even report that the very act of masturbation stops their pain altogether.)
It can improve your sleep.
Falling asleep after sex might be considered bad etiquette—but the flood of endorphins that fills your body after an orgasm, combined with a drop in blood pressure, means that falling asleep after masturbating might be impossible to avoid.
It can keep your stress in check.
Say thanks again to those wonderful endorphins, which help to stave off depression—and don’t discount the positive effects that taking time to focus on yourself will have on your mental health.
It can help protect you during cold and flu season.
Masturbation has been shown to increase your cortisol levels, which keeps your immune system firing on all cylinders.
It can help prevent heart disease.
We all know that regular exercise is vital for a healthy cardiovascular system; but studies suggest that masturbation, which gets your blood flowing in the same way, can do the same.
It can lower the risk of cervical cancer…
Multiple studies have shown that orgasms resulting from masturbation can clear the cervix of bacteria and therefore reduce infections that lead to cancer.
…and the risk of prostate cancer.
It works the same way for men: researchers believe that regularly clearing the prostate (aka. ejaculating) reduces infection and prevents tumors from forming.
It can make you want to have more sex.
Masturbation can help you better understand your body and what it responds to, which naturally keeps your libido running at peak efficiency; that means more frequent – and more fulfilling – sex for you and your partner.
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