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5 Things You Didn't Know About Masturbation

WebMD explores common concerns women have about masturbation and self-pleasure.

3. Masturbation can improve your sex life with your partner.

Women who masturbate on a regular basis learn what feels good for them, Segraves says. "It helps build sexual confidence," she says. "It helps you guide the partner when you have a partner.”

You can say, for instance: "Please put your hand here," and not be embarrassed, she says.

Women who use a vibrator during masturbation tend to have better sexual functioning with a partner, Herbenick says.

Sex therapists typically recommend masturbation for women who have a difficult time reaching orgasm. It can help them learn about their body and feel less self-conscious.

"We know that women compared to men have a harder time learning to orgasm," Herbenick says. Masturbating can help, and masturbating with a vibrator may help even more, she says. "Using a vibrator, for reasons we don't understand, helps women orgasm." The survey is published in the Journal of Sexual Medicine.

Those who used a vibrator, she found, even if it had been a year since the last use, "had better sexual functioning in terms of vaginal lubrication, desire, arousal, and ease of orgasm, and they tended to have less pain or discomfort during intercourse."

But "it may be that those who don't find sex painful tend to use a vibrator,” she says.

4. Masturbation can help you relax.

Women are more apt than men to over-analyze a bad day and think: "How could I have done this better?" They are more likely than men, some researchers have found, to replay an argument or bad interaction with people in their head. It all adds up to excess stress.

Researchers call this rumination, and it has been linked in numerous studies to depression.

"If you can start pleasuring yourself, that will often interfere with ruminations," Segraves says. "Not all the time," she says. But it may help.

5. Masturbation can provide pain relief.

Women who masturbate often report that it helps relieve menstrual cramps and to improve the symptoms of premenstrual syndrome (PMS or PMDD), such as irritability and crankiness.

Masturbating to orgasm may help migraine, too. Although orgasm has sometimes been found to trigger a migraine headache, it may also relieve it, according to some research. Scientists speculate that some factor associated with orgasm (by yourself or with a partner) may suppress pain or actually suppress the migraine process.

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Reviewed on September 05, 2011

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