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(A Valentine’s re-post from 2009…)
“If it feels this good,” the old joke goes, “it’s got to be bad for you!” But does it?
In the case of two favorite feel-good indulgences, not so. Masturbation and chocolate feel good and provide a load of benefits. So as a Valentine’s Day warm up, in the spirit of self-loving, let’s look at the things these two favorite indulgences have in common:
Both are loaded with social stigma.
Both masturbation and chocolate are favorite indulgences of many women. (After all, studies have show that an estimated 89 percent of women will masturbate in their lifetime. I suspect that the women who make up the other 11 percent live in red states and are afraid to admit it.) However, lots of women nibble chocolate in private and masturbate in the dark.
In some circles, publicly eating chocolate is tantamount to admitting you’re throwing all diet caution to the wind. And many women think masturbation is only for desperate times when they’re without a partner. Research is showing we’d be happier and healthier with more of both.
What better time than Valentine’s Day to celebrate the two?
Both are great for your heart and your health.
Recent research has found that cocoa and other chocolates may keep high blood pressure down, your blood flowing freely, and your heart healthy. Substances in found in chocolate (at the highest levels in dark chocolate) called flavonoids, may help keep our blood platelets from sticking together and our arteries from clogging. (The way that cocoa powder and chocolate syrups are manufactured removes most of the beneficial flavonoids.)
Likewise, orgasm (achieved with a partner or through masturbation) will provide a light aerobic workout, burn calories, and lower blood pressure. There’s some evidence that a hormone called oxytocin, released during orgasm, may help to prevent breast cancer.
They’ll both make you feel happier, relaxed, and loved.
During orgasm, the body releases a chemical called PEA (phenylethylamine), and this substance is also found in small amounts in chocolate. PEA can create the feeling of being in love. It is also the reason both masturbation and chocolate can give us an energy kick and a mood boost. PEA increases attention and activity in animals and was shown, in one study, to relieve depression in 60 percent of depressed patients.
Additionally, chocolate also contains anandamide, an antidepressant compound that binds to the same receptors in the brain as marijuana and produces a slight feeling of elation. Anandamide is also produced naturally in the body, and other chemicals in chocolate slow the breakdown of this chemical, prolonging its effects. Two more chemicals in chocolate, theobromine and tryptophan, both contribute to an enhanced sense of well-being.
There is also a small amount of caffeine in chocolate, although it should be noted that an ounce of milk chocolate only contains as much caffeine as a decaffeinated cup of coffee.
They’ll give you an endorphin high.
The sweet taste of chocolate can trigger the release of chemicals called endorphins. Endorphins are also released after orgasm and can help to boost mood and decrease our sensitivity to pain. They are thought to be involved in controlling the body’s response to stress. This is the reason masturbation has been shown in several studies to be an effective depression fighter.
While the chemicals in chocolate often make people feel relaxed and happy but alert, masturbation is an effective (and pleasing!) cure for insomnia.
Additionally, masturbation can relieve menstrual cramps and fight yeast infections by increasing blood flow to the pelvis, strengthen pelvic muscles (resulting in increased orgasmic response), and help to balance reproductive hormones, which may ease the symptoms of PMS and menopause.
So with all the things masturbation and chocolate have in common, it seems they might be best in combination:
Italian researchers found that women who eat chocolate regularly have a better sex life than those who deny themselves the treat. Those consuming chocolate reported the highest levels of desire, arousal and sexual satisfaction.
Urologists from a hospital in Milan questioned 163 women about their consumption of chocolate as well as their experience of sexual fulfillment. They concluded:
“Chocolate can have a positive physiological impact on a woman’s sexuality.”
Masturbation can too.
It can boost sexual self-confidence, and in turn, self-esteem. Masturbation provides a readily available sexual experience devoid of social stress and the pressures of pleasing another. It can be a method of self-exploration that will enhance a partnered sexual experience. In short, if you don’t know what pleases you and feels good, how will you be able to show someone else?
So, for the sake of your health, take that box of Valentine’s chocolates and head off to have some private time!