People talk about anything and everything but, for many of us, having a conversation about masturbation is still taboo; we won’t discuss the subject at work or at dinner parties. My two favorite quotes about this are “Don’t knock masturbation, it’s sex with someone you love” and “I am such a good lover because I practice a lot on my own.”

Masturbation is a topic that could do with some airing. It is easy to explain why, over the ages, religious groups have condemned masturbation, claiming it inhibits self-control and promotes sexual promiscuity. Given these negative messages some of us receive while growing up, it is not surprising that there are still feelings of shame and embarrassment about this very natural and healthy activity.

Several studies have shown that close to 100 percent of men masturbate, which is quite understandable, and for women, it’s about 82 percent, depending on age. The television series Sex and the City certainly made it easier for women to discuss self-pleasure while at the same time making the rabbit vibrator famous.

Masturbation is important for helping you to discover your body and to find out what you like. Contrary to popular belief, you are responsible for your own orgasm. So if you know your body and know what excites you, you will be able to communicate that to your partner.

Jane Langton, a Canadian adult-sexual educator appeared in a TEDx video in October 2013, talking about the importance of masturbation, which is one of her favorite topics. She normalizes and validates self-pleasuring behavior for women and also helps those who feel guilty, dirty, or repressed to enjoy their sexuality.

The charity organization Youth Empowerment Against HIV/AIDS (YEAH) produced an informative video for its Red-Aware campaign, which features representatives talking about the myths of masturbation and how it is depicted in the media.

From a religious perspective of masturbation, Rachel Held Evans asked seven Christians if masturbation is an acceptable component to healthy sexuality for Christians.

The best thing about masturbation is its many unexpected health benefits for both women and men.

Masturbation May and Its Benefits:

1. Promote the release of endorphins, the neurotransmitters associated with happy feelings that can improve overall mood and fight off depression.

2. Produce a chemical called oxytocin, which works as a natural pain reliever.

3. Help reduce headaches and muscle aches.

4. Relieve stress and tension and aid relaxation after a stressful day.

5. Provide a sexual outlet for people who are on their own, by choice or circumstance.

6. Help to induce sleep, or conversely, help to start the day with more energy.

7. Improve the immune system and contribute to overall health.

8. Strengthen muscle tone in the genital and pelvic floor area, which can lead to better sex.

9. Keep you free from sexual transmitted infections as it’s the safest kind of sex.

10. Help people who suffer from Restless Leg Syndrome (RLS), a neurological disorder causing leg pain, cramps, tingling and itching, (published in the medical journal Sleep Medicine). Several doctors in the US have had confirmation from their patients that it helps.

11. Translate into better sex as stimulating each other at the same time is intimate and rewarding. People often masturbate into old age.

Possible health benefits for women:

1. Combats pre-menstrual tension and other physical conditions associated with the menstrual cycle, such as cramps.

2. Relieves painful menstruation by increasing blood flow to the pelvic region; which will also reduce pelvic cramping and related backaches.

3. Builds resistance to yeast infections.

4. Allows women to explore and understand their bodies better, so they will know what they like when they have sex with a partner.

Photo by Taryn Elliott on

Possible health benefits for men:

1. May help combat premature ejaculation by training to last longer; it’s easier to practice control when on your own.

2. Regular flushing of the system keeps semen healthy.

3. Frequent masturbation helps in preventing the development of prostate cancer. Cancer-causing chemicals can build up in the prostate if men do not ejaculate regularly.

Photo by Andrea Piacquadio on

It’s a good idea to make masturbation part of your health routine and have fun at the same time.

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This post originally appeared in The Sydney Morning Herald and was published on November 25, 2013. This article is republished here with permission and updated on May 5, 2021.