Despite myths about hairy palms, poor eyesight, immorality, decreased sensitivity, and infertility, masturbation is, unsurprisingly, a completely natural and not even remotely risky (depending on how you're doing it) activity. Often there are feelings of shame associated with masturbation taught to us from a young age rooted in our cultures, religions, or the general prudishness of our society which can make it a touchy subject (no pun intended) but, in case you were still feeling any of those pangs of guilt, I would like to argue the point for masturbation.
Now, it can be argued that men's masturbation habits are widely more accepted than their female counterparts, and a lot fewer women are comfortable admitting that they masturbate but, in one of the largest studies to date by the Journal of Sex Research, they found that actually men and women had masturbation habits that were far more similar than you'd probably think. 98.9% of men and 85.5% of women said they masturbate during the study, a good argument that it is, in fact, what the majority of people are doing, and there are a lot of good reasons why (no, not just as straight forward as being horny).
Before I jump in, it is worth noting that if your masturbation habits begin disrupting your social life, responsibilities, and wellbeing then you could be dealing with addiction at which point I would obviously recommend trying to cut back and finding other ways to release that tension (I'd say go for a run but, honestly, unrealistic for most of us), definitely talk to a professional if you feel like masturbation is in any way ruining your life. But, for those of us who aren't jacking off instead of going to our friends' birthday parties or work, here are some genuine benefits of some alone time.
Masturbation can be great for you mentally. It can relieve stress, improve your mood through the release of Dopamine and Oxytocin, improve your self image and feelings of connection with your body, and can even help you sleep more peacefully. It can even effectively decrease feelings of loneliness- something that I'm sure most of us have felt a lot more often in lockdown. Some studies even found that masturbation or regular sexual activity can improve memory later in life. People who engage in masturbation regularly are reported to have lower levels of stress, anxiety, or depression and, let's be real, we all want to be those people. Disclaimer though- it won't cure mental health issues so don't stop seeing your doctor because you bought a new vibrator.
Did you know orgasms can relieve physical pain? Sorry to everyone who uses a headache as an excuse to get out of sex (but if you're doing that please evaluate or just have a talk with your partner about your differing sex drives because yikes), but orgasms have been noted to help relieve headaches, cramps, back pain, some women have even taken a stance on masturbating during childbirth (I'm not even joking). There's not much sexy about being in physical pain but it's worth keeping in mind. It's also good for heart health just like any other cardio, works out various muscles, can increase blood flow to vital areas, and some experts even believe it can boost your immune system. A great one for my guys too- it is believed that regular masturbation can decrease Prostate cancer risk!
It won't hurt you:
Other than the potential of addiction which honestly is a potential side effect of anything good (sugar, the internet, adrenaline, wine, videos of racists being put in their places) there are very few risks to masturbation. None, if you're not into some outlandish toys. It doesn't have a lasting effect on sexual sensitivity or libido, in fact, some believe it can increase both of those things, and it is claimed to have no impact on fertility. It isn't bad for your relationship and, on the understanding you're seeing an actual adult who doesn't shame you for masturbating (which is perfectly normal even when in a long term relationship, and yes even when you're having sex regularly), doesn't indicate any issues at all and can actually help with knowing how to climax with a partner. Another bonus is that there is absolutely zero chance of you giving yourself clap, even if you decide to forgo the posh wank and do it unprotected.
Basically what I'm saying is that you can and should do it. If you still feel like you can't or you still have that shame then let me be that adult in your life who tells you it's okay and all the cool kids are doing it. This is the one instance where the popular stance is the right one. How, when, where, and why you do it are all up to you but the bottom line is DO IT. And if you're already doing it? Well, now you have extra validation as to why it's a great idea, perfect self care, and medically not even a little bit bad. Proud of you.