According to the American Sexual Health Association, sexual health is the ability to embrace and enjoy our sexuality throughout our lives. Being sexually healthy includes understanding that sexuality is a natural part of life, respecting the sexual rights we all share, and being able to communicate about sexual health and needs with sexual partners.
However, like many other topics in modern life, sexual health is burdened with myths. Myths attempt to explain the unknown but, in many cases, they just spread information that is untrue.
Let’s explore four common myths that you may have encountered about the topic of sexual health.
Myth #1 – Masturbation Is Bad
This myth couldn’t be further from the truth. How you feel about masturbation is ultimately up to you. Don’t let the opinions of others decrease your personal pleasure and sexual health.
Masturbation can make people happy by releasing endorphins. Endorphins are the neurotransmitters associated with joyful feelings that can improve overall mood and may help fight off depression, according to research published in the U.S. National Library of Medicine. According to WebMD, endorphins can trigger a positive feeling in the body similar to morphine.
Masturbating to orgasm can also produce a chemical called oxytocin, which works as a natural pain reliever and may help reduce headaches and muscle aches. According to research by the University of Alabama at Birmingham, Department of Psychology, oxytocin has been shown to be a multifunctional analgesic for chronic deep tissue pain.
Masturbation and orgasms, for many, are a way of releasing pent up energy and can help people relax while giving them a calm, content feeling.
Masturbation and regular sex may also increase a person’s life span. Every time a person reaches orgasm, the body releases DHEA. DHEA is a hormone known to boost immune systems, improve cognition, keep skin healthy, and helps people look younger, longer. Orgasms also increase Estrogen–which is essential for healthy, smooth skin.
So, as you can see, there are plenty of healthy reasons for masturbation to be considered good.
Myth #2 – Vibration Can Numb The Clitoris
If I had a dollar for every time I’ve been asked about this particular subject. Please allow me to share how this isn’t the case.
I can understand how strong vibrations coupled with the delicate erectile tissue of the clitoris may be a reason to worry. Many people new to sex toys fear desensitization or possible nerve damage when they consider trying vibrators. These concerns are myths and not based on facts.
Have you heard of piriformis syndrome? This condition occurs when you’ve been sitting for too long and your piriformis muscle in the area of the buttocks becomes numb. Some people may experience a temporary numbness when using a vibrator. While it may cause concern, your body just needs time to adjust.
A study published in the U.S. National Library of Medicine states that vibration can affect the skin and may dampen sensations. However, the effect of vibration is immediate and temporary, and the study stated there is no risk of long-term nerve damage.
With my own patients, I ask that they start with low vibration before experimenting with stronger vibrators. Take your time and find out how your body responds to different types of stimulation. For some, suction or another type of sensation may be preferred over vibration.
Myth #3 – Masturbation Ruins Your Sex Drive
On the contrary, studies show masturbation can boost sex drives!
According to The Journal of Sexual Medicine study, solo sex increases sexual satisfaction, sex drive, and self-confidence—all of which are good for your overall sexual health.
There is no right or wrong way to masturbate; there’s just what feels good for you. Do not judge yourself! And, know that you may not climax every time. As long as you spend a short amount of time stimulating yourself and getting healthy blood circulating, this is sufficient to give your sex drive a boost in the long run.
Myth #4 – Vibrator Dependency Is Real
No, it’s not. I have spoken with a few patients that are concerned they’ll become dependent on their vibrators and won’t be able to orgasm without using a sex toy.
Vibration can be incredibly pleasurable, and many may rely on these sensations to reach orgasm. According to a study published in the National Library of Medicine, vibration use is popular, with over half of every woman surveyed admitting to using motorized sex toys.
Vibrators provide ways to increase sexual enjoyment. A study in The Journal of Sex Research supports that vibrator use does not cause dependency, but enhances sexual health and functioning with desire, arousal, lubrication, and orgasm.
I encourage you to adopt a nonjudgmental attitude toward sexual health. Open communication with yourself and your partner can go a long way toward breaking down the fears and anxiety that surround these myths.
Focus on improving your sexual satisfaction and health with exploration that provides pleasure and connection with your own body and in your relationship.
Is there a sex-related myth that you’re interested in knowing more about? Do you sometimes let fear get in the way of your pleasure? Please send me your questions and comments. I’m always here to help you!
Dr. Sunny does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Any information published on this website is not intended as a substitute for medical advice, and you should not take any action before consulting with a healthcare professional.