Conduct an Internet search for “masturbation,” and you will find hundreds, if not thousands, of slang phrases for the act.
This proliferation of slang phrases suggests people want to talk about masturbation, but are uncomfortable about doing so directly. Using comedic terms provides a more socially acceptable way to express themselves.
So before we talk any more about it, let’s normalise it a bit. Masturbation, or touching one’s own genitals for pleasure, is something that babies do from the time they are in the womb. It’s a natural and normal part of healthy sexual development.
According to a nationally representative US sample, 94% of men admit to masturbating, as do 85% of women. But societal perspectives of masturbation still vary greatly, and there’s even some stigma around engaging in the act.
Related to this stigma are the many myths about masturbation, myths so ridiculous it’s a wonder anyone believes them. They include: masturbation causes blindness and insanity; masturbation can make sexual organs fall off; and masturbation causes infertility.
In actual fact, masturbation has many health benefits.
For women, masturbation can help prevent cervical infections and urinary tract infections through the process of “tenting,” or the opening of the cervix that occurs as part of the arousal process.
Tenting stretches the cervix, and thus the cervical mucous. This enables fluid circulation, allowing cervical fluids full of bacteria to be flushed out.
Masturbation can lower risk of type-2 diabetes (though this association may also be explained by greater overall health), reduce insomnia through hormonal and tension release, and increase pelvic floor strength through the contractions that happen during orgasm. (Post continues after gallery.)
For men, masturbation helps reduce risk of prostate cancer, probably by giving the prostate a chance to flush out potential cancer-causing agents
Masturbation also improves immune functioning by increasing cortisol levels, which can regulate immune functioning in small doses. It also reduces depression by increasing the amount of endorphins in the bloodstream.