When it comes to relieving period pain, we’ll try just about anything — heat packs, ibuprofen, exercising — anything to get rid of nasty cramps. But have you ever tried masturbation? A new study shows that not only is masturbation good for short-term period pain relief, but it has long-term benefits, too.
In May last year, sex toys brand Womanizer teamed up with period product brand Lunette to conduct a global clinical study centring around masturbation to determine whether it could help ease period pain, and if so, to what extent. The study was conducted in collaboration with a clinical psychologist, sex therapist, and head researcher and determined that regular masturbation effectively reduced a range of period pain symptoms like cramps, headaches, breast and back pain, belly bloat and diarrhea. But how does it work?
The science behind why masturbation can help relieve period pain
The study sights that during and after orgasm, certain hormones like endorphins, oxytocin and dopamine are released and impact the body in positive ways. “Endorphins have a direct impact on the perception and processing of pain and counteracts the effect of prostaglandins. [While] oxytocin reduces the stress hormone cortisol, which has a relaxing effect and reduces pain. Furthermore, dopamine causes a feeling of euphoria, happiness and inner bliss. Because of this, other physical processes (that cause the feeling of pain) take a back seat, which feels like pain relief.”
Masturbation also increases blood flow and circulation, which has an increased relaxing effect on the muscles. It has the same reaction on the body as an orgasm, only with slightly less intensity. Studies also show that these chemical reactions are at their highest during and after orgasm, so it makes sense that masturbation can provide a sense of relief from pain.
So does it actually work?
After the four-month study, around 90% of respondents said they would recommend regular masturbation, including while on their period, to their friends as a means of pain relief — and 85% of them said they would continue the practice themselves. The study also showed that the act of masturbating, even if you didn’t orgasm, still provided some level of pain relief, with 63% of respondents saying that it impacted it somewhat and 31% saying it helped a lot in the short term.
When it came to long-term results, after 3 months of regular masturbation, the average intensity of pain was reduced by 1.3 points, while the frequency was reduced by 2.8 points. Both were also continuously trending downwards during the test phase of the trial.
As for peoples personal experiences, they ranged from “It was really interesting to see how masturbation was more effective than usual medicine” to “My cramps are worse when I don’t masturbate versus when I do. Masturbation is my go-to method.” And as someone who writes about sex for a living and had to try this method out for herself, I can confirm I notice significantly less pain during my period when I masturbate regularly. It’s also my go-to method of pain relief if cramps strike me down.
Does it work for everyone?
While the results from the study varied from person to person, the majority found that regular masturbating or masturbating while on their period helped relieve period pain. That said, the only real way to know if it’ll work for you is if you try it yourself.
How do you masturbate while on your period?
If you’re someone who can orgasm from clitoral stimulate, you’re in luck. Masturbating while on your period can be pretty pain and mess-free. Try using a clitoral vibration or an egg/bullet vibrator like We Vibes Touch X ($149.95). If you’re more of an internal orgasmer, just make sure you lay down some towel and create a space for yourself that allows things to get messy — it’s the reality of it. Or get yourself a waterproof vibrator like Lelo’s Mia 2 ($119) and jump in the shower.