Masturbation has traditionally been the source of many myths, the most common being that masturbating causes blindness and insanity.
Now, two Australian researchers have claimed that evidence exists which proves masturbation has many health benefits.
Anthony Santella, a public health scientist at the University of Sydney, and his colleague Spring Chenoa Cooper, a senior lecturer, claim that masturbating regularly can protect you from a whole range of illnesses, including cystitis, diabetes, and prostate cancer.
Research has shown that 94 per cent of men masturbate, as do 85 per cent of women. They say that even babies do it when they are in the womb.
Their revelations were published in The Conversation, which is a website where academics write opinion pieces. They assert that:
For women, masturbation can help prevent cervical infections and urinary tract infections through the process of "tenting," or the opening of the cervix that occurs as part of the arousal process.They further claim that "self-pleasuring" can lower the risk of type-2 diabetes, reduce insomnia through hormonal and tension release, and increase pelvic floor strength through the contractions that happen during orgasm.
Tenting stretches the cervix, and thus the cervical mucous. This enables fluid circulation, allowing cervical fluids full of bacteria to be flushed out.
They also address the controversial claim regarding cancer prevention. According to a number of studies, men who regularly have sex may have a lower risk of prostate cancer – possibly due to the release of toxins from the prostate gland. Masturbation achieves this same effect.
Santella and Cooper also argue that masturbation helps prevent depression, due to the "happy" endorphins produced; the levels of the hormone cortisol are also elevated as a result. The combination of these effects may give the immune system a boost.
They add that masturbation is also "the most convenient method for maximizing orgasms." People who orgasm regularly have "reduced stress, reduced blood pressure, increased self-esteem, and reduced pain."
Finally, they point out that there are other benefits from masturbation. Firstly, there is no risk of disappointing a partner – no fear of performance anxiety. And, secondly, there's no risk of unwanted pregnancies or STIs.
And, in the immortal words of Woody Allen, "Don't knock masturbation. It's sex with someone you love."
Some parents did not take quite the same view, and left this note for their son: