How Often Should You Be Masturbating, Really?

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Back in 2011, women around the world began buzzing about an erotic story from an amateur author that had them all hot and bothered. Six years, three books, and two movies later, the Fifty Shades phenomenon is still on fire. And while the erotic franchise has stirred up its fair share of controversy, the success of the series makes me giddy for one good reason: It's got women super stoked on sex.

We all know February's the month of romance, but whether you're partnered up or flying solo, the most important relationship you have is with yourself. And you deserve love, pleasure, and all the feel-good, toe-curling, mind-blowing benefits of a rockin' sex life, no matter what your status is. And while nourishing foods and relaxing activities are important ways to treat yourself well, true self-love includes sexual satisfaction too and sometimes that means masturbation.

If the word alone makes you cringe, it's time to check your attitude toward self-stimulation and educate yourself on the positive possibilities the practice holds for your overall well-being.

10 wonderful things orgasms do you for you

I see so many women let their sexuality fall by the wayside when they're not in a relationship. But ignoring this crucial piece of your being does a huge disservice to your mind and body and can actually be detrimental to your health. Don't believe me? As I go into detail in my book WomanCode, here's why you should channel your "inner sex goddess," and prioritize your orgasm:

  • Improved circulation. Orgasm boosts blood flow, which helps circulate vital nutrients and regulate your menstrual cycle. Studies show women who have intercourse at least once a week are more likely to menstruate normally than women who don't do the deed often or at all.
  • Regulated reproductive system: By energizing your hypothalamus gland, orgasm helps regulate everything from your appetite to your emotions, and the subsequent boost to your pituitary regulates reproductive hormones necessary for regular ovulation and adequate cervical fluid production.
  • Natural detoxification: Orgasms provide an overall lymphatic massage to your body, which improves your digestion and mood and flushes out toxins.
  • Healthy estrogen production: This keeps your vaginal tissues supple and helps protect your bones and heart.
  • Deep relaxation support: Virtually nothing makes you feel more at peace than the amped-up endorphins and cortisol flush you get from an orgasm.
  • Brain boost: Orgasm spikes your body's DHEA levels, which help keep your brain, skin, tissues, and immune system healthy.
  • Fountain of youth: Research has shown that sex three times a week in a stress-free relationship can make you look a decade younger.
  • Cold buster: Regular orgasms increase the amount of infection-fighting cells in your body by up to 20 percent.
  • Migraine cure: Orgasms kick your pain threshold up a notch, making it much easier to cope with life's aches and pains.
  • Sensitivity enhancement: Thanks to increased oxytocin, orgasm makes you more passionate, intuitive, and social.
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What's the benefit of masturbation, specifically?

OK, so orgasms are essential! But you shouldn't have to rely on a partner to deliver the goods. And—this may blow your mind—you shouldn't rely on electronics either.

Some of you vibrator devotees may be shocked, but it's true: Battery-operated toys shorten one of the most important phases of your orgasm—the plateau phase, cheating you of some monumental benefits. Here's why: Your orgasm isn't just a one-dimensional shebang; it's made up of several important phases including arousal, plateau, climax, and resolution. The longer the plateau, the more nitric oxide and oxytocin you build up in your body, and as you already know, this is where the real hormone balancing payoff is. While your vibrator may send you straight to climax fast, it bypasses the beautiful benefits of a full orgasmic experience. Why cheat yourself of all that good stuff?

If the thought of abandoning your power tools leaves you anxious, trust me: You can get the big O on your own, and when you learn how to pleasure yourself manually, you'll be on your way to reaping all the big-time benefits.

As with every health issue, you have to start the healing with food: Regaining a good balance of progesterone, estrogen, and testosterone is crucial to achieving peak arousal. Healthy fats like nuts, avocados, and seeds, plus a good vitamin C supplement that contains bioflavonoids and ashwagandha will get you on your way.

Next, get hands on. There are five Cs to consider when you're just getting familiar with your body: center, circle, clitoris, climax, and calm. Set the mood and get centered with some relaxing music or mood lighting. Then spend 15 minutes circling the areas you'd normally go to for direct stimulation (nipples, areolae, and clitoris); instead, focus on your inner thighs, hips, abdomen, and upper chest. Then take the time to build your orgasmic sensation by stimulating your inner labia and areas around your clitoris with your hands, and when you're ready to climax, use your hands to get you there. When it's all said and done, take the time to feel the cortisol-flush-calm after you climax; this is called the resolution phase. Put one hand on your heart and the other on your belly, breathe, and relax.

So, how much should I be masturbating to get the benefits?

Given all the juicy payoffs of a self-pleasure practice, my general rule of thumb is, "the more, the better!" The hormones produced during orgasm (oxytocin and nitric oxide) are different from sex hormones (estrogen, progesterone, and testosterone), and they're power players when it comes to maintaining hormonal balance, healing adrenal fatigue, and maintaining regular ovulation.

But if this whole self-pleasure thing is new to you, a few guidelines can help. First, I recommend setting a minimum for yourself of two 15- to 20-minute self-pleasure sessions a week and build from there. Then, consider cycle syncing your self-pleasure to capitalize on your body's natural endocrine ebbs and flows.

The best path to orgasm changes depending on which phase of your cycle you're in and what's happening with your hormones. Tracking your cycle will help you know the info that can lead you to better Os. A few take-away tips: Always, always, always use lube during your dry phases (menstrual and follicular). If your hormones are healthy, you shouldn't need extra lubrication during ovulation and luteal phases. These are also the times to really rely on your hand to get you to climax; if you just can't quit the vibrator, only introduce it during your follicular and menstrual phases, but always use it on the lightest setting over your panties. This will protect your delicate clitoral nerve endings from overstimulation, ensuring you maximize that amazing orgasmic plateau every time.

Happy self-loving!

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