I bought my first vibrator, a battery-operated turquoise wand with a bulb at the top, when I was 19. Thanks to the internet and an inquisitive mind, I was already well-versed in masturbating, but the concept of orgasms delivered by a plastic wand and AA batteries fascinated me even further.
While my objective for masturbating was by-and-large pleasure/orgasm, I knew intrinsically about the stress-relieving benefits of the act long before I ever read about them. Besides using my vibrator when I was bored or horny, I’d use it when I wanted to relax or fall asleep a bit easier.
I’ve since graduated from that starter toy to options such as LELO’s and . While the toys I’m using have changed, I’ve maintained masturbating as a way to relieve my stress — at least to let me forget about it for a half hour or so.
I’m not the only one who uses masturbation as a stress reducer. According to sex toy company TENGA’s , 21 percent of Americans masturbate to relieve stress. Seventy-four percent of respondents consider masturbation to be a form of self-care or therapy, with 88 percent believing it has a positive impact on mood.
Technically, yes — technically because it’s not masturbation itself that creates stress relief according to Laurie Mintz, Ph.D., author of and , and sexpert for sex toy brand . Masturbation is comforting, but it is orgasm that actually provides the brief reprieve from stress.
The relief comes from biochemical changes in the body, Dr. Mintz explained. The hormones oxytocin (which relaxes you), prolactin (which helps with sleep — which itself helps with relaxation) as well as endorphins are released during orgasm. What’s more is that right before orgasm, the part of the brain responsible for thinking and self-monitoring shuts off, as .
“The bottom line is that an orgasm — whether it’s created by yourself or a partner — just floods your body with relaxation and feel-good hormones, endorphins, chemicals,” said Mintz.
Even better, people with vaginas may be able to experience multiple orgasms due to the lack of . In this context, multiple orgasms refer to someone orgasming a few seconds or minutes after their first orgasm.
So if orgasms reduce stress, does that mean that multiple orgasms reduce even more stress?
Dr. Mintz said she hasn’t come across research or literature about that, but regardless, it probably wouldn’t hurt. In fact, those with vaginas can train their bodies to achieve multiple orgasms.
First and foremost, Mintz recommends training your mind before anything else, in the sense of mindfulness meditation. “Stop focusing on the goal and instead be fully immersed in the physical feelings you’re experiencing,” she said. The state of the brain before orgasm — when thinking and self-monitoring shuts off — is the same brain state of mindfulness meditation.
“Stop focusing on the goal and instead be fully immersed in the physical feelings you’re experiencing.”
Mindfulness has and with my stress, so I wasn’t surprised to hear that the mind goes hand-in-hand with orgasm as well, whether single or multiple. Practicing mindfulness in your daily life will make it easier to bring it to the bedroom. The key is knowing when your mind wanders and bringing it back to the physical, to what your body is feeling, said Mintz.
This means to achieve an orgasm — let alone multiple ones — you have to stop putting pressure on yourself and thinking that you should be orgasming or that your body is not doing what you want it to do. When you’re all up in your thoughts, how can you expect to relax enough to feel your physical body, which is essential to achieving orgasm in the first place?
“There’s so much pressure around women’s orgasms,” said Mintz, “that it’s really important that women not set this up as another goal to achieve… that itself is going to be stressful.”
That’s the great irony of vaginal/clitoral orgasms: The harder you try to have one, the less likely you will. This is why mindfulness is Mintz’s greatest tip. If you pressure yourself (or have some other negative thoughts), your result will be contradictory to what you want to happen.
“There’s no right or wrong except not putting pressure on yourself,” said Mintz.
Beyond the mind, Mintz also has tips on how to help your physical body. After the first orgasm — assuming it’s clitorial, as the — back off. Continued stimulation can be uncomfortable or even painful. Mintz suggested stimulating elsewhere on your vulva or stopping stimulation all together; some people find it helpful to rock their bodies back and forth and to squeeze their pelvic muscles.
Ultimately, follow your body’s cues. If the urge for another orgasm arises after that, stimulate yourself again and . The key is waiting so you don’t overstimulate and cause pain when you want to create the exact opposite of that.
And following your body’s cues can also mean not wanting nor having multiple orgasms all the time. Orgasms are all about what feels good, and that’s it — whether it’s “one and done” as Mintz put it during our interview or several times.
Follow these tips — whether with your toy, partner, or your hand — and you may be able to forget about the pandemic for a few blissful moments… and if not, at least you’ll get an orgasm or several out of it.
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