Want to decrease your stress levels, make yourself feel happier, boost your self-esteem, improve your sex life and your sexual health? You need to masturbate more. The physical and emotional benefits of female masturbation are so extensive that it should be a priority on every woman’s weekly to-do list, yet in the UK, a survey of people aged 16 to 44 years, which was conducted from 1999 to 2001 found that seventy-three percent of men and just 36.8% of women reported masturbating in the 4 weeks prior to being interviewed. In the US, according to the US National Health and Social Life Survey, only 39 percent of American women aged 18 to 60 reported masturbating during the previous year, compared with 61 percent of American men.
There is a clear link between a woman’s sexual confidence and her willingness to engage in solo sex. Research into the female masturbatory habits show that it is more prevalent amongst women who engage in more frequent vaginal sex, and also, in those who report a more varied sexual repertoire. It is also more prevalent in women with higher levels of education, higher socioeconomic status, and those who feel positive about their genitals, use vibrators, have regular gynecologic exams and perform vulvar self-examination in the past month.
Fingers and vibrators are two common methods of women’s masturbation but in a study by Debby Herbenick, PhD, MPH, associate director of the Center for Sexual Health Promotion at Indiana University, 46.3% of 2,056 female respondents had used a vibrator during masturbation (and more than half had used a vibrator for either solo or partnered sex). Other women who masturbated reported using the back of a vibrating toothbrush head, the handle of a hairbrush, or water jets in the bathtub. Herbenick found that women who used a vibrator “had better sexual functioning in terms of vaginal lubrication, desire, arousal, and ease of orgasm, and they tended to have less pain or discomfort during intercourse.” However she added that this may be because women “who don’t find sex painful tend to use a vibrator.”
Encouragingly, research shows that there are no differences between pre-menopausal and post-menopausal women when it comes to being physically able to get sexually aroused. When researchers have looked at vaginal congestion — increased blood circulation to the walls of the vagina, which is a marker of sexual arousal — in response to erotic stimulation, they found that older women are just as capable of becoming sexually aroused when they are stimulated.
The Health Benefits of female masturbation
Masturbation is particularly beneficial for women who are heading in to, or out of, menopause. As women age, the vaginal canal narrows and shortens and declining oestrogen can thin the skin and make it more sensitive and prone to infection. “Masturbation, which may include stimulation of the clitoris, urethra, and vagina, activates various neural pathways responsible for clitoral swelling, vaginal congestion, lengthening of the vagina, and lubrication,” says Cathy K. Naughton, MD, director of the Metropolitan Urological Specialists’ Center for Sexual Health in St. Louis.
Masturbation can also help prevent cervical infections and relieve urinary tract infections because when women masturbate, the orgasm “tents” or opens the cervix which stretches and pulls the mucous within the cervix, allowing for a rise in acidity in the cervical fluid. This increases “friendly” bacteria and allows more fluid to move from the cervix into the vagina. When “old” fluid moves from the tented cervix, it not only lubricates the vagina, but also flushes out unfriendly organisms that can cause infections.
Orgasm also increases pelvic floor strength and that improves orgasm. In the “plateau” stage of orgasm, the pelvic floor gets a real workout. The clitoris surges with increased blood pressure. Muscle tone, heart rate, and respirations increase. The uterus “lifts” off the pelvic floor, increasing pelvic muscle tension. This strengthens the entire region, as well as your sexual satisfaction.
Masturbation is also associated with improved cardiovascular health and lower risk of type-2 diabetes. In a number of studies, women who experienced more orgasms, and overall greater frequency and satisfaction with sex — whether with a partner or not — were shown to have greater resistance to coronary heart disease (CHD) and type-2 diabetes.
Masturbation relieves pain. Women who masturbate often report that it helps relieve menstrual cramps and to improve the symptoms of premenstrual syndrome (PMS or PMDD), such as irritability and crankiness. Masturbating to orgasm may help migraine, too. Although orgasm has sometimes been found to trigger a migraine headache, it may also relieve it, according to some research. Scientists speculate that some factor associated with orgasm (by yourself or with a partner) may suppress pain or actually suppress the migraine process.
Masturbation can help work against insomnia naturally, through hormonal and tension release. Many women masturbate as a means to wind down after a hectic day or to fall asleep at night, but they often don’t know that there’s a hormonal reason why it works. Dopamine, or the “feel-good” hormone, is on the rise during the anticipation of a sexual climax. After the climax, the calming hormones oxytocin and endorphins are released, making us feel the warm afterglow that helps us sleep.
Masturbation helps relieve depressive emotions. Women who feel down have a tendency to ruminate on their problems, going over and over the same issues again and again. Besides helping to shift a woman out of an unhelpful mindset, arousal increases the levels of the mood boosters dopamine and epinephrine which make us feel better and decrease our stress levels.
Masturbation can also help bridge the gap between differing sex drives and show us what kinds of stimulation our partners use so that we can learn what they enjoy. And for women who no longer have an active sexual partner because they are divorced, widowed, or have a partner who is ill, masturbation can be a satisfying substitute for sexual intercourse.
Masturbation improves your self awareness and gives you a better understanding of your sexual response cycle. It helps you to understand what you need to achieve an orgasm. With solo sex, there is no distraction, and you can focus on your own experience without making sure someone else is having a good time.
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