What better time to roll up your sleeves and show yourself some self-love? Firstly, it’s good for you. And as of today, new coronavirus guidelines mean that having sex with anyone you don’t already live with is illegal. Honestly, if you want a job doing…
As a study finds that six out of 10 of us have gone without sex for the whole lockdown period, it seems likely that plenty of people will already have taken matters, er, into their own hands anyway.
And some of the health benefits of an orgasm are particularly welcome during this time of lockdown: relieving stress, helping you sleep, lifting mood, and boosting the immune system for starters.
If it feels good, do it…
When you come, your body releases oxytocin, which reduces blood pressure and levels of cortisol, the stress hormone.
An orgasm before sleep leads to production of prolactin, a hormone that makes you feel sleepy. Men produce more, which is why they may fall asleep straight after orgasm. In women, oestrogen levels are also boosted, which enhances the REM stage of sleep, allowing a deeper sleep.
That smile of satisfaction after you’ve hit the heights of pleasure also reflects on a corresponding uplift in mood. That’s thanks to the release of serotonin, aka the happiness hormone; and dopamine, responsible for pleasure, desire and motivation.
The evidence for your orgasms’ effect on the immune system is a little light, based on a study of just 11 masturbating men. But there’s so much info reporting that feeling positive helps the body’s ability to fight infection that we’re happy to take it as a given side-effect.
Orgasms also send your heart rate up. This helps to reduce the risk of heart disease
Orgasms also send your heart rate up, giving it a workout that’s roughly equivalent to climbing a flight of stairs. This helps to reduce the risk of heart disease, and can also lower the risk of developing type 2 diabetes.
Gender-specific benefits include reducing the risk of prostate cancer with frequent ejaculation, according to a long study of over 30,000 men.
And for women, protection from UTIs can arise from a process during arousal called ‘tenting’, which stretches the cervix allowing cervical fluids to flush away bacteria.
Masturbation is always a great way to get some much-needed me-time. May was National Masturbation Month (no really) so we’re making June the month of Just One More. Let’s go!
We’re having less sex
According to research, couples living together in lockdown are having sex less often. Laxman Narasimhan, chief executive of Reckitt Benckiser, manufacturers of Durex, reported that condom sales had fallen.
Obviously the introduction of social distancing had limited opportunities for sex. But also couples were being less intimate than usual, possibly because of stress. “Intimate occasions are going down and that is a manifestation of anxiety,” he said.
The Kinsey Institute of Indiana University is conducting research into our love lives during the Covid-19 pandemic. Results show that half of participants are having sex less often during lockdown. (You can take part here, if you fancy).
Yes, that background anxiety we’re all suffering from now, made up of fear of catching Covid, worrying about your nearest and dearest and/or looking after them, concern about your financial future, employment prospects, and whether you can get a supermarket delivery slot etc, etc. It’s not exactly getting us in the mood.
Working it into your routine
Having extra time on your hands but spending it 24/7 with other people means that planning and discussion around this activity is important.
If your self-isolation is solitary, you can take matters into your own hands, without the emotional and physical effort of considering someone else. Excellent – off you go.
Some people feel depreciated by their partner’s desire to masturbate
But if you are cooped up in a couple, familiarity breeds contempt. If you’re not used to spending all day every day together, increased exposure to your partner’s swearing at the computer, playing audiobooks at full volume, forgetting to buy milk on the officially sanctioned shopping outing, and non-stop whistling is unlikely to be a turn-on. And let’s not even talk about the kids being home all the time…
Some people feel depreciated by their partner’s desire to masturbate, seeing it as as evidence that they’re not sexy. That their partner would prefer to ‘rub one out’ than engage in sex with them. This needs discussion. The two things are very different.
Far better to be open about this than hide furtively in the bathroom or whatever. Issues of guilt, or shame around this won’t bring health benefits. It’s probably a good idea to bring porn into that conversation too, and how you both feel about that.
Work it all out
Set the mood, set the boundaries, and make sure there’s no guilt or stress around it. And be clear about those boundaries. Interested/nosy partners might want to join in, or watch, and that might be fine for you. But sometimes being alone, uninterrupted with your own fantasies is what you really need.
Sex is more about intimacy than purely penetration, so indulge in that in other ways. Like sharing a shower, giving each other a massage, stroking hair or simply regular hugs.
You might find that one thing leads to another…