Masturbation is a touchy subject (pun completely intended), but we are all adults here and should be able to talk about it as such. I’m not telling anyone how to live their lives or what to do with their free time, I’m just point out what researchers are saying about masturbation and its potential ill-effects.
Now, on one hand, science has said that regular masturbation is a good thing. There are documented health benefits of regular release like lowered stress levels, prostate health in men, help with sleep issues, immunity boosting, and relief from menstrual cramps. But, just like anything else in life – too much of a good thing isn’t always a good thing.
WHAT EXCESSIVE MASTURBATION DOES TO YOUR BRAIN:
The human orgasm is actually a pretty complicated bodily function, especially when it comes to your brain. It is easy to assume that your brain if effected the same way during masturbation as with intercourse simply because the end result is the same. Not true. Several studies have proven that your brain reacts differently when having sex than it does when you masturbate. For instance, in a study conducted by Dr. Stuart Brody and Tillman Kruger found that certain hormones are released in as much as 400% higher concentrations during sex as they are when you masturbate. In this particular study, they measured the amounts of prolactin which is triggered by another hormone: oxytocin. Why is oxytocin important? Oxytocin is often called the “love hormone” because it is what gives us the desire to cuddle after we’ve had an orgasm. According toPsycheCentral, “oxytocin is thought to be released during hugging, touching, and orgasm in both sexes. In the brain, oxytocin is involved in social recognition and bonding, and may be involved in the formation of trust between people and generosity.” Higher levels of oxytocin equal higher levels of prolactin, which is the hormone that is responsible for a feeling of “satisfaction” because of its ability to offset the effects of dopamine.
Dopamine is important because it is responsible for our pleasure/reward reactions. The problem with too much dopamine release is that our brains become desensitized to it. Any behavior that is responsible for a dopamine flood in our brain can desensitize us, and require more of the same behavior to get the same feeling of pleasure or reward. Dr. Mary Klein has done brain scans of people with porn addictions and found that “the part of their brain that lights up (the mesolimbic pathway) is the same part that lights up when a heroine addict has injected heroine.”
So basically, although masturbation provides a sense of pleasure and release that floods our brains with dopamine, it doesn’t produce as much of the hormone that counters dopamine. Therefore, our brains become desensitized to the dopamine release and require more and more of the activity to get the same resulting pleasure. It can become a literal addiction.
The problems with dopamine desensitization stretch much further than just creating an addictive response to a particular activity. Our brains can only produce so much dopamine at a time, so if you are using it all up on feeding into your brain’s need for pleasure with masturbation it isn’t being released at any other time. Without dopamine releases in other aspects of your life, you begin to lose motivation to do even the simplest things like spend time with friends or engage in activity that used to make you happy.
Excessive amounts of dopamine also make your brain more stressed out, which is physically exhausting.According to Dr. N.K. Lin, “Since dopamine is the precursor to the stress hormone epinephrine (adrenaline), excess dopamine results in the adrenal glands overproducing epinephrine and putting the body in a prolonged state of fight-or-flight stress. At the same time, norepinephrine is synthesized from dopamine and released from the adrenal medulla into the blood as a hormone, along with the stress hormone cortisol. Epinephrine, norepinephrine and cortisol fuel the fight-or-flight response, directly increasing heart rate, triggering the release of glucose from energy stores, and increasing blood flow to skeletal muscle. All of this has a severely taxing effect on the body.”
In the end, I do think there is a medical benefit to regular masturbation. There is plenty of research that supports that notion. But just like anything else in life that we get pleasure from, we can sometimes go overboard with the need for that pleasure. Moderation becomes the key to maintaining that balance between what is good for us, and what can ruin our lives. So, take care of your brain, and slow down of the fapping. A mind is a terrible thing to waste.
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