So you probably don’t need an excuse to orgasm more — the act kind of sells itself —but did you know that orgasms have health benefits? Yup, in direct contradiction to what your grandma used to say about masturbation causing hair to grow on your hands, orgasms are actually good for you in a number of ways. The first and foremost one is, obviously, that they make you feel great in the moment (and probably also does some great pair-bonding with your partner, if you’re orgasming with a partner) but if you’re orgasming a lot, you’re going to see some direct health benefits.
Personally I find that if I go for more than a week without orgasming, I get really irritated. It’s similar to that feeling I get right before my period, when everything is just that much more annoying and I can’t really figure out why. It’s like an itch that won’t go away until I realize — oh yeah! — it’s been awhile since an orgasm. Luckily there’s an easy solution to this problem (unlike PMS), and either my partner is about to get jumped mid-day or I’ll take a little solo time.
So yeah: Masturbation (and other ways of getting off) will not cause hair to grow on your hands, will not make you blind, and might actually make you live longer. Check out these nine health benefits of orgasming a lot, as if you needed an excuse. But first, check out our video on sex positions to last longer in bed:
1. Stress Relief
Orgasms release oxytocin into your brain, which is a pleasure hormone that makes you feel so goooooood. In fact, one study from 2,000 by researcher Carol Rinkleib Ellison that included 2,632 women between the ages of 23 and 90 found that 39 percent of women who masturbate do it in order to relax.
2. Better Sleep
Orgasming regularly is also associated with better sleep quality. Another study by the same researcher that found that a lot of women are masturbating to relax also found that 32 percent of the 1,866 women included in another study masturbated in order to help them fall asleep. According to experts, that’s because of the combination of relaxation hormones like oxytocin and lower blood pressure post-orgasm. Hell, that’s been my go-to trick for quick naps for years!
3. A Healthier Heart
I have a family history of heart disease. My great-grandma worked her way through at least two pacemakers and quadruple bypass surgery before she passed and both of my grandpa’s also had to have their chest cavities opened. So I’m not playing when it comes to heart health! I already quit smoking; I don’t eat a lot of red meat; and I now I’m going to up my orgasms.
That’s because a bunch of studies have found that sex and orgasm are good for your heart, both because they’re a good workout and because they lowers your blood pressure, reduce stress, and improve your emotional health. Hell yes!
4. Natural Headache Relief
Suffering from another migraine? Or maybe a cluster headache? Or perhaps you had one too many cocktails last night? Before you reach for the painkillers, why not get your orgasm on? Bustle writer Kristine Fellizar reports that a 2013 study from researchers at the University of Münster found that out of 1,000 people who had either migraines or cluster headaches, 60 percent of migraine patients had some relief and 91 percent of cluster headache patients had “moderate to complete relief” after orgasming.
5. Pain Relief
Beyond just headaches, frequent orgasm is also associated with general pain relief. According to Renee Jacques in the Huffington Post, researcher Beverly Whipple found that pain tolerance increased by 74.6 percent and pain detection increased by 106.7 percent in women who masturbated to orgasm.
6. Better Immunity
Orgasming more frequently might boost your immune system, too. In a study from researchers at Wilkes University, 111 undergraduate men between the ages of 16 and 23 were asked how often they had sex over the previous month. They also measured levels of immunoglobin A (IgA), an antigen that helps our bodies fight back against colds and flus. They found that the men who had sex less than once a week had slightly higher levels of IgA than those who didn’t have sex at all.
In another study, researchers from the University Clinic of Essen instructed 11 men to masturbate until complete. The researchers drew blood continuously throughout the process (impressive focus, guys) and found that orgasm increased number of leukocytes in their blood. Leukocytes are our body’s white blood cells that attack foreign substances and disease. So, while there may not be a cure for the common cold, masturbating just might help you get well quicker.
7. Increased Blood Flow To The Brain
While the dudes were getting blood drawn while masturbating, researchers at Rutgers put women in an MRI machine and instructed them to masturbate. They found that blood flow to the brain increased at the point of orgasm.
8. Better Memory
Could that increased blood flow be why people who orgasm a lot also have better memories? It’s possible, as a 2014 study from researchers at the University of Maryland found that people who have sex a lot grow brain cells.
9. A Longer Life!
If you thought the key to a long life was a healthy diet and regular exercise… You were probably right. But sex and orgasm can definitely be included in that exercise, as a 1997 study from researchers in Wales found that in 918 men between the ages of 45 and 59, the men who had two or more orgasms per week were half as likely to die from coronary heart disease than those who orgasmed less than once a month.
As for the ladies, a long-term study from Stanford researchers examined the sex lives of couples living in California in 1941. Other researchers compared that original data with the death certificates of all of them women, 20 years later, and found that the women who orgasmed more frequently lived longer than those who weren’t getting off regularly.
Images: Andrew Zaeh/Bustle; Giphy (9)