So, You’re Masturbating More Now…

by | Mar 30, 2020 | Sexuality & Health | 0 comments

In a lot of ways, that’s a GOOD thing.

After all, it releases stress, helps you sleep better, and a host of other things.

You may be discovering new ways to please yourself, or new sensations. Good stuff.

Plus, it takes the edge off.

YAY!

I’d like to bring your attention to something else to keep in mind, though.

Orgasm from masturbation is not chemically identical to orgasm through partnered orgasm.

Now, I know some of you will say that it’s better. That you always orgasm harder by yourself. And that’s cool.

That’s not what I’m talking about.

I’m talking about the chemical dump that happens after masturbatory orgasm versus orgasm with another human.

It’s different.

And that difference can be important.

So, orgasm releases dopamine. That makes us feel GOOOOOOD, man. It makes us feel like we accomplished something.

It’s also highly addictive. All abused drugs, from alcohol to cocaine to heroin, increase dopamine in in one way or another.

And anyone who has amazing orgasms can attest that they can be pretty damn addictive/enticing.

Luckily, orgasms also release two other things that help mitigate the immediate desire to “dose up” again:

  • Prolactin
  • Oxytocin

Prolactin provides the feeling of satiation. Satisfaction. A calm and release, if you will.

Oxytocin provides two things:

  1. The feeling of being connected to another person.
  2. Counteracts the addiction of dopamine.

Prolactin and oxytocin are significantly lower in orgasms from masturbation than in orgasms with a partner.

One study shows that only 1/4 of the prolactin is released during masturbation, for example.

That means that masturbation is less satisfying to start, and does not make you feel connected to others.

More, though.

You CAN masturbate to excess.

Releasing dopamine too often leads to our brains becoming desensitized.

That means when we masturbate and release dopamine, when we do it again too soon (much less prolactin), we will feel it less—even when we put in the same amount of effort.

Which becomes a spiral: masturbating more to get more hits of dopamine, and feeling it less each time.

It becomes a literal addiction—without the dampening effects that oxyctocin offers to counteract that addiction.

And it’s more than that.

Our brains can only produce so much dopamine at a time, so if you use all those resources with masturbation, you’ll loose the dopamine hits (and the pleasure you receive from them because of desensitization), and your drive for life activities will go way down.

You could (in an extreme example) lose your normal motivation to do the usual things, like work, spend time with friends, hobbies, etc.

AND, without oxytocin balancing your dopamine, your cortisol levels will go up, making you more stressed, and you’ll be feeling less connected (and more tetchy) with others.

Which precisely mimics the effects of acute depressive episodes on the body.

I’m NOT trying to yuck your yum.

AT ALL.

In fact, I posted something about this in a SEX ED group on FB, and several people reacted as if I were calling them out personally.

Someone told me to let people jack off.

As if I’m saying that you shouldn’t.

I believe that like any consent, informed is better than uninformed.

And that if you find yourself masturbating a lot more during this time of isolation (a friend told me yesterday that he has been, 4-5 times per day), that you might want to pay some attention to whether it improves your mood or not.

And to be aware that if you are prone to depressive episodes, it may be worth moderating—or not. It’s YOUR body and mind.

I’m simply passing on the information.

AND…I’d like to add:

I don’t know of any studies that compare masturbation to mutual masturbation via phone/skype/whatever to in-person sexual encounters with others.

Our bodies seem to know when we are interacting with others. Perhaps that interaction being digital might still make a difference.

I don’t know.

Edited to add: I thought about checking into what phone calls might do to oxytocin levels, and found this link, so it’s entirely possible that interacting with another person at a distance while masturbating could provide more of the benefits of interacting in person: https://www.cosmopolitan.com/health-fitness/news/a9589/phone-call-not-texting-releases-oxytocin-beats-stress/

I guess maybe it’s like many other things that give us pleasure, food, alcohol, TV…everything in moderation (including moderation).

*smiles*

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