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How masturbation boosts your immune system

Can an orgasm a day really keep the doctor away?

Image by Yurchanka Siarhei on Shutterstock

Sexual arousal and orgasm increase the number of white blood cells in the body, making it easier to fight infection and illness.
Key Takeaways
  • Achieving orgasm through masturbation provides a rush of “feel-good” hormones and can rebalance our levels of cortisol. This helps our immune system function at a higher level.
  • The surge in feel-good hormones also promotes a more relaxed and calm state of being, making it easier to achieve restful sleep, which is a critical part in maintaining a high-functioning immune system.
  • Just as bad habits can slow your immune system, positive habits (such as a healthy sleep schedule and active sex life) can help boost your immune system, which can prevent you from becoming sick.

How masturbation affects immunity…

Orgasms are a very common human phenomenon. The physical and mental health benefits of orgasms have been researched frequently, yet there is still so much to be learned about how our bodies and brains react to the chemicals and hormones released during and after experiencing this type of sexual release.

“The amount of speculation versus actual data on both the function and value of orgasm is remarkable,” explains Julia Heiman, director of the Kinsey Institute for Research in Sex, Gender, and Reproduction.

Masturbation causes a rush of dopamine, which is a chemical that is associated with our ability to feel pleasure. Along with the rush of dopamine that is released during an orgasm, there is also a release of a hormone called oxytocin, which is commonly referred to as the “love hormone.”

This concoction of chemicals does more than just boost our mood, it also can play a key role in decreasing stress and promoting relaxation. Oxytocin decreases cortisol, which is a stress hormone that is usually present (in high volumes) during times of anxiety, fear, panic, or distress.

According to BDSM and fetish researcher Dr. Gloria Brame, an orgasm is the biggest non-drug induced blast of dopamine that we can experience. By boosting the oxytocin and dopamine levels and subsequently decreasing our cortisol levels, the brain is placed in a more relaxed, euphoric, and calm state.

Masturbation boosts your immune system

How do those effects on the brain from reaching orgasm translate to boosting our immune system and making our body healthier?

The increase of oxytocin and dopamine that causes a decrease in cortisol levels can help boost our immune system because cortisol (well-known for being a stress-inducing hormone) actually helps maintain your immune system if released in small doses.

According to Dr. Jennifer Landa, a hormone-therapy specialist, masturbation can produce the right kind of environment for a strengthened immune system to thrive. A study conducted by the Department of Medical Psychology at the University Clinic of Essen (in Germany) showed similar results. A group of 11 volunteers were asked to participate in a study that would look at the effects of orgasm through masturbation on the white blood cell count and immune system.

masturbation affect immunity
(Credit: vipman4 / Adobe Stock)

During this experiment, the white blood cell count of each participant was analyzed through measures that were taken 5 minutes before and 45 minutes after reaching a self-induced orgasm. The results confirmed that sexual arousal and orgasm increased the number of white blood cells, particularly the natural killer cells that help fight off infections.

The findings confirm that our immune system is positively affected by sexual arousal and self-induced orgasm and promote even more research into the positive impacts of sexual arousal and orgasm.

Masturbation can ease and prevent pain, which allows you to achieve the restful sleep that helps your immune system stay strong and healthy. 

The benefits of masturbation have long been debated, but the more research that is done on the topic, the more we understand that there are many positive reactions that happen in our bodies and brains when we orgasm.

Orgasms can help prevent or mitigate pain, which boosts the immune system, preventing cold and flu symptoms. According to neurologist and headache specialist Stefan Evers, about one in three patients experience relief from migraine attacks by experiencing sexual activity or orgasm. Evers and his team conducted an experiment with 800 migraine patients and 200 patients who suffered from cluster-headaches to see how their experiences with sexual activity impacted their pain levels.

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The study showed that 60% of migraine sufferers experienced pain relief after participating in sexual activity that resulted in orgasm. Of the cluster-headache sufferers, about 50% said their headaches actually worsened after sexual arousal and orgasm.

Evers suggested that the people who did not experience pain relief from migraines of headaches during their sexual activity did not release as large amounts of endorphins as those who did experience pain relief. According to rheumatologist Dr. Harris McIlwain, people who suffer from chronic pain have immune systems that are simply not functioning at full capacity – therefore, alleviating pain (through orgasm, as an example) can help boost the immune system.

Orgasms can also promote relaxation and make it easier to fall asleep. Serotonin, oxytocin, and norepinephrine are all hormones that are released during sexual arousal and orgasm, and all three are known for counteracting stress hormones and promoting relaxation, which makes it much easier for you to fall asleep.

There are several studies showing that serotonin and norepinephrine help our body cycle through REM and deep non-REM sleeping cycles. During these sleep cycles, the immune system releases proteins called cytokines, which target infection and inflammation. This is a critical part of our immune response. Cytokines are both produced and released throughout our bodies while we sleep, which proves the importance of a good sleep schedule to a healthy immune system.

Masturbation promotes a high-functioning immune system

The immune system is a balanced network of cells and organs that work together to defend you against infections and diseases by stopped threats like bacteria and viruses from entering your system. While there are many things we need to do to keep our immune systems functioning at optimal levels, masturbation (or other means of achieving orgasm) has proven to have positive effects on the immune system as a whole.

Just as bad habits (such as an inconsistent sleep schedule or harmful chemicals in your body) can slow your immune system, positive habits (such as a healthy sleep schedule and active sex life) can help boost your immune system.

In a 1977 interview with Glenn O’Brien for the marijuana lifestyle magazine High Times, O’Brien asked Andy Warhol if his teachers recognized his early “natural talent.” “Something like that,” Warhol responded with his characteristic unconventionality, “unnatural talent.” Warhol’s “unnatural talent” quip alluded not only to his mass-produced, machine-like paintings of soup cans and silk screen portraits, but also to his sexual orientation — the “unnatural” life of a homosexual. Just as Warhol turned that verbal double play, art scholar Michael Maizels tries to touch those two bases of Warhol’s art in “Doing It Yourself: Machines, Masturbation, and Andy Warhol” in the Fall 2014 issue of Art Journal. For Maizels, the way that Warhol made art reflected the way Warhol lived his life as a homosexual male in late 20th century America. When we look at Warhol’s art, Maizels suggests, we should see not just a critique of commercialized society and its art, but also a critique of that same society’s sexual tolerance.

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