As SELF previously reported, during masturbation (or partnered sex), your body cycles through different stages that come with very real physiological changes. In the first phase (sexual desire), your heart and breathing rates start climbing, and your clitoris becomes engorged with blood. Your muscles tense up, too, as they prepare for that exhilarating climax.
So when you finally come, all that pent-up energy and tension is released. Your muscles may spasm. Your blood pressure, heart rate, and breathing spike. Is it any wonder that all of this can be kind of exhausting?
No, masturbation isn’t a fail-safe sleep aid, especially if you’re dealing with serious bedtime troubles like insomnia. However, research suggests that, for some folks, the relaxation that an orgasm provides can get you feeling really tired, really fast (or slow, depending on how you go about getting off). “It naturally just puts people in an almost meditative state, and it’s great to do right before bed, in the bath, or during other relaxing nighttime rituals,” Kitely says.
3. Masturbation may increase your sex drive.
The reality is that many folks have dealt with low libido (or sex drive) at some point. There’s a wide range of potential culprits, including depression (and antidepressants), pain during sex, drinking too much alcohol, chronic illness, and fatigue, according to the Mayo Clinic. Regardless of the specific cause, it can be awful to feel like you’re losing touch with the sexual part of yourself. That’s where self-pleasure can come to the rescue.
“For someone who is looking to tap back into their sensual side, masturbation can help by leading to more sexual thoughts and better sexual response,” Wendie Trubow, MD, a board-certified obstetrician and gynecologist based in Newton, Massachusetts, tells SELF. That’s because when you get a taste of something pleasurable, like a delectable piece of carrot cake, say, or a delightful orgasm facilitated by your favorite vibrator, you’re probably going to want to keep the good times, um, coming. So the more you stimulate yourself, the more you’ll want to be stimulated, Dr. Trubow says.
That said, sometimes solo fun isn’t enough to boost a low libido, so don’t feel like you’re failing if this is your experience. You can voice your concerns to your primary care provider, a sex therapist, or an ob-gyn if you have one, Dr. Trubow suggests. These experts are better equipped to get to the root of the issue and offer tailored recommendations, such as evaluating your hormone levels or exploring any shame around sex that may be holding you back.
4. If you’re in a relationship, touching yourself can make you more interested in sex with your partner.
As we just mentioned, once you’ve satisfied your sexual cravings, you may find yourself wanting more of that good stuff. That might translate into even more masturbation (in that case, go you!) or more sex with others.