It’s May 1st and you know what that means — it’s the first day of National Masturbation Month! Yep, a whole month devoted to the practice of self-love. After years of hands-on experience, you may think you know all there is to know about getting busy with yourself. But, these eight masturbation facts just might surprise you.
1. It was a medical treatment
Medical professionals once diagnosed women with a condition called “hysteria,” which included symptoms such as “vaginal lubrication” and “erotic fantasizing.” (Because who would ever want that?). The cure: masturbation. Doctors would give women a “pelvic massage” to induce a “hysterical paroxysm” (aka orgasm) as a healing remedy. This treatment for “hysteria” in female patients is what lead to the invention of the vibrator.
2. Cereal was invented to discourage it
Dr. John Harvey Kellogg believed masturbation was a sin and bad for physical, mental and spiritual wellbeing. He was convinced that eating “plainer” foods could help curb these sexual urges and created the flaky breakfast cereal we call cornflakes as a healthy, anti-masturbatory morning meal. Who knew?
3. People who do it have more sex
That idea that masturbation is for lonely people who can’t get laid? B.S. People who engage in solo sex actually have more active sex lives than those who abstain, according to a study published in the Journal of Psychology & Human Sexuality. The more sexual you are with yourself, the more you’ll want to share that with your partner.
4. It helps you catch more zzz’s
Forget counting sheep. Masturbation releases a flood of feel-good, sleep-inducing hormones and it relieves tension, helping you stress less and fall asleep faster .
5. You can do it with your mind
It’s true! Some women reach climax without ever touching themselves. “The pleasure centers of the brain associated with orgasm light up in women who think themselves to orgasm in exactly the same ways as in women who orgasm through more conventional means,” says Bary Komisaruk, co-author of The Science of Orgasm. His research found women were able to do this through a variety of breathing exercises, fantasizing or pelvic floor exercises.
6. It can relieve period pain
Dread that time of the month? Rubbing one out can help relieve those awful cramps associated with menstruation. How? The pleasurable sensations may improve blood flow and reduce your perception of pain—plus, feel-good hormones released during orgasm may act like a natural pain reliever.
7. Your technique could cause yeast infections
Women who masturbate with saliva have an increased risk for recurrent yeast infections, according to researchers at the University of Michigan. Spit may disrupt the delicate balance of bacteria in the vagina, leading to yeast infections. Takeaway tip: If you need lube, stick with bottled kind.
8. Vibrators are more popular than you think
Pocket Rocket, Rabbit, Bullet—whatever vibe turns you on, you are definitely not alone. More than 50 percent of women and 45 percent of men have used a vibrator, according to a study in the Journal of Sexual Medicine. Women who used the sex toy reported better sex, including higher sexual desire, arousal and orgasm. Vibrators not your thing? That’s cool, too. Researchers found no significant difference in overall sexual satisfaction between vibrator users and non-users. The best part about masturbation: You only have to please yourself.