#GirlBoner Quickie: Solo Sex and Body Image

“Good sex is like good bridge. If you don’t have a good partner, you’d better have a good hand.” ― unknown

Young woman playing with her self on bed

One thing I’ve learned about body image is that self-nurturing goes out the window along with it. When we perceive ourselves as not attractive or worthy of love, we treat ourselves as though we don’t deserve either. Our healthy eating habits tank. We work out excessively or not at all, sleep too much or struggle for any, and let everything from annual physicals and dental checkups to well-deserved rest time slide. If sex enters our brain, it’s likely to seem like a chore, a waste of time or even something horrifying. (“I can’t let him/her see this!”) Luckily, we can turn all of these factors around. From a Girl Boner standpoint, I believe that doing so starts with masturbation.

There’s SO MUCH I’d like to say on this topic, and probably will (though some is top secret for publishing reasons—shhh!). *secures blurt guard* Since we explored self-perception last week, I couldn’t resist at least dipping in today. (I ♥ GB puns!)

“Women who masturbate are usually more comfortable with their bodies and with sex in general,” says Ian Kerner, PhD, a sex therapist and the author of Sex Detox

Multiple large-scale studies have shown that women who masturbate routinely also have more positive self-esteem, positive views on sexuality and happier interpersonal relationships. Sadly, many women feel uncomfortable masturbating or discussing self-stimulation. (I certainly was, early on.) The more we learn about our bodies, and the beautiful things we’re capable of sexually and otherwise, the more comfortable and fulfilled we’re likely to be in our bedrooms, relationships and big, wondrous lives. Don’t you think?

5 Fab Facts About Female Masturbation 

1. Masturbation boosts our moods, instantly. Our levels of feel-good hormones, epinephrine and dopamine, skyrocket during self-arousal. Orgasm furthers these effects, making way for relaxation and a sense of euphoria.

2. Masturbation is a form of self-nurturing. Taking time for ourselves and prioritizing self-pleasure, in my opinion, is a lot like treating ourselves to healthy, gourmet meals rather than scarfing processed food from packages. All self-care habits lend themselves to others; we essentially tell ourselves we’re worthy, which goes a long way.

3. Masturbation staves off infections and disease. Masturbation stretches the mucous in the cervix, according to Sex: A Natural History, by Joann Ellison Rodgers, which acid levels and stimulates “friendly” bacteria production. This allows more fluid to move from the cervix to the vagina, washing away bacteria that cause urinary tract and yeast infections. Sexy self-play also helps relieve pain when infections set in. Masturbation and orgasm are associated with a reduced risk for type 2 diabetes and improved cardiovascular health.

4. Masturbation promotes restful sleep. Many women masturbate to “wind down after a hectic day or to fall asleep at night,” says Carrie Levine, a certified nurse and midwife. In addition to simply feeling good and distracting us from the day’s stress, the happy-hormones released during arousal and climax provide a “warm afterglow” that can help us sleep with peaceful ease.

5. Masturbation improves sex and intimacy with our partners. We can learn so much about our bodies, what feels great and what doesn’t, through self-exploration. “[Masturbation] helps build sexual confidence,”  explains Kathleen Segraves, PhD, a sex therapist and associate professor of psychiatry at Case Western Reserve University. “It helps you guide the partner when you have a partner.” It also helps women who have difficulty reaching orgasm climax with ease, making sex more satisfying for both partners.

All of these solo sexy play perks are associated with positive body image. Stress, illness, a lack of self-care and sleep deficiencies make us feel worse about ourselves. (If you don’t believe me, try looking in the mirror after after a spree of sleepless nights, or when your whole body is pressed with worry.) Next time you’re feeling challenged in any of these ways, I hope you’ll consider a little naked TLC. When you do, try looking in the mirror afterward. I’m telling you—instant improvements. 😉 If you’re new to masturbation, check out Dr. Laura Berman’s article, A Woman’s Guide to Masturbation, for some stellar tips.

Have you noticed a link between your body image and sexuality? Are you comfortable talking to girlfriends or your partner about masturbation? Any related questions or topics you’d like Girl Boner to address? All respectful thoughts are welcome. You can also join me on Twitter and the Girl Boner Facebook page for between-post fun.