It should come as no surprise that people are masturbating more during the COVID-19 lockdown.
With more time on our hands, and many of us finding ourselves alone or stressed out, masturbation is a welcome relief.
As if a spike in sex toy sales wasn’t enough evidence, new surveys have shown that masturbation has become almost as popular among young people as quarantine baking, which has taken social media by storm.
Aside from being pleasurable, masturbation may actually have some legitimate health benefits. Research suggests orgasms can help alleviate anxiety, lower blood pressure, and may even improve our mental health.
As a single person during this time of pandemic, you are definitely your safest sex partner right now. So how can you spice up your masturbation practice? Read on to learn more.
Related reading: Sex on lockdown: 3 ways Maca powder benefits your sex life
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Is masturbation good for mental health?
Masturbation is not only enjoyable, but also comes with a whole host of physical, mental, and emotional benefits.
Although the research tends to be more skewed toward sexual intercourse with a partner, the health benefits of orgasms is clear.
Orgasms release a variety of hormones and neurotransmitters such as dopamine, oxytocin, and prolactin which do far more than just show us a good time.
These feel-good hormones fundamentally impact our brain chemistry, and even our capacity for social connection.
Anecdotally reported benefits of masturbation include:
- Increased pleasure
- Deeper relaxation
- Improved sleep
- Lower stress levels
- Improved mood
- Cramp relief
- More pleasure during sex
- Greater body awareness
Masturbation also has the added benefit of not carrying any risk of pregnancy, STDs, or STIs — making it one of the safest sex practices there is!
Does masturbation help anxiety?
Yes, it can. During these anxiety-ridden times, it is perhaps most interesting to note that orgasm signals our body’s parasympathetic nervous system to kick into gear.
The parasympathetic nervous system is important because it is responsible for down-regulating (or calming) the body. This is the opposite of our sympathetic nervous system (fight or flight response) which becomes engaged during stressful situations.
In modern-day life, our fight or flight stress response is too often on permanent high alert — and this can have some serious long-term health repercussions.
Does masturbation improve immunity?
The verdict is still out. Some early research conducted in Germany seems to indicate that self pleasure can strengthen your body’s natural defences. Researchers studied the white blood cell count of 11 male participants before and after climax.
This small study showed that after orgasm participants had an increase in the overall number of infection-fighting immune cells such as leukocytes and natural killer cells.
Despite these positive early signs, this study was very small and focused primarily on men, so more extensive research into the correlation between masturbation and immunity is definitely required.
Related reading: Best supplements to boost your immune system
How can I spice up my masturbation on lockdown?
Try masturbating in the mirror
Don’t be shy. Masturbating in the mirror can be an empowering and steamy way to get to know your body better. So next time you are pleasuring yourself, take a long look at yourself.
Switch it up
We tend to get stuck in a groove with masturbation. Try out some different techniques such as different speeds, pressures, and directions. Surprise yourself — you might just like it!
Bring awareness to your breath
You’ll be amazed at what a few long deep breaths can do to the intensity of your orgasm. The tendency is for us to hold our breaths when we get excited, so try breathing deep instead.
Play with sex toys
Since lockdown, sex toy manufacturers have seen a huge (and unsurprising) spike in sales. From vibrators to butt plugs to dildos — the world is your oyster.
Tease yourself to orgasm
Otherwise known as “edging”, this practice involves taking yourself to the edge of your orgasm and then stopping. Repeat this a few times, and when you eventually climax, it will be explosive!
Experiment with mutual masturbation
If you are lucky enough to be on lockdown with a lover, then masturbating together can be a safe and very arousing way to practice intimacy.
Try natural aphrodisiac Maca
Watch some ethical porn
If you have never watched porn before, this could be the time to try it. Check out Erika Lust’s amazing collection of art-worthy short films — porn for women, by women.
The bottom line
Just because COVID-19 has made our normal lives grind to a halt, doesn’t mean it has to get in the way of our sex lives! Masturbation is the safest way of exploring your own body, experiencing pleasure, and is accessible to us all during these times of lockdown.
Of course all good things should be done in moderation, and excessive masturbation can be harmful if it begins to impair your relationships and everyday life. If you, or someone you know, is suffering from an addiction to masturbation, they should seek professional help or support through groups such as SLAA.