At Love Not War, part of our pleasure revolution is better education surrounding sex, wellness, and mental health. But can masturbation and pleasure help our mental health or is that a myth?
Mental Health and our Libido
The rise in mental health advocacy has allowed people to have open conversations about how depression and anxiety, as well as other mental health issues, has impacted their lives. While this is a huge step in the right direction within the sexual wellness space, these conversations haven’t delved into the impact it can have on your sex drive, your relationships, your body and yourself.
When mental health and sex are discussed, we tend to focus on the effects depression has on our libido. Unfortunately, depression can be the main reason as to why many people lose interest in hobbies, food, their general wellbeing and of course, sex. Although sex isn’t a necessity in a healthy relationship, the lack of interest in maintaining relationships (caused by having a depressive episode) can have a huge impact on the relationship.
As well as this, many antidepressants can cause a decrease in libido and arousal, erectile dysfunction, delayed ejaculation, and difficulties climaxing. All of this can impact how you view yourself, your self-esteem and your relationship with yourself and your partner.
Like depression, anxiety can also have a huge impact on your sex drive, arousal, and mental state. The main symptoms of fear, stress and worrying about not living up to expectations can make it harder to relax and enjoy sex. In other instances, it can even cause physical reactions such as premature ejaculation, and for vulva owners, can cause tension and muscle contractions in the vulva muscles and vaginismus.
Other ways that mental health can impact sex, pleasure and sexual wellness can be through tricking someone into feeling guilty about enjoying sex or pleasure. Overall, mental health can impact not just our day-to-day lives but also how we perceive ourselves, our pleasure, and our sex drives. However, there are ways that we can bring back our sex drives and use masturbation to help our mental health.
Sex, Mental Health, and the Benefits of Masturbation
For many of us, self-care rituals have become a part of our daily lives. From taking time away from social media, working out and even just enjoying a pamper session, these are destressors to help us relax when our mental health isn’t so great. At Love Not War we have spoken about how sex and masturbation can become a part of your self-care routine as well.
From boosting your serotonin levels to helping you fall asleep; masturbation can be a beautiful tool not just for pleasure but for your health. Although for many of us, when suffering from mental health illnesses, our sex drives are low and in fact, forcing ourselves to go through the motions of masturbating can feel strenuous or even amplify our symptoms. For those who do still want to enjoy masturbating or still retain their sex drive, here are some ways that you can use sex and solo play to help.
Firstly, take the narrative out of a masturbation session! Whether you are about to have sex with your partner or enjoying some time to yourself, take this time to connect with your body and focus on finding things you enjoy. Using a vibrator to focus on your nipples, thighs or other places along your body that aren’t your vulva or penis allows you to use this time to check in with your body, your pleasure and you’re breathing instead of racing towards the finish line.
With a partner, before you begin, have an honest conversation with them about your sex drive, what you want and how you feel to set expectations on how you want the sex to end. Focusing on foreplay and just enjoying being close to each other can be a great way to reconnect, especially when your mental health has impacted your relationship. Use the time to build up pleasure, reconnect with yourself and tap into your needs. And if you find you don’t want to keep going for an orgasm, that’s fine!
A good vibrator could help with the lack of sensitivity. You could try using a wand or clitoral vibrator over not just your vulva or underneath the head of the penis but also to stimulate your nipples or other parts of your body. Start with the lower rumbly vibrations before building in strength, until you find a level that suits your needs and sensitivity levels.
Other side effects can also include a lack of wetness in vulva owners, but using a good lubricant can be a great way to enjoy sex or masturbation if you are finding it hard to get wet. Remember to only use water-based lube for our silicone-based, eco-friendly vibrator range!
As we conclude we want to say that we understand that sex or solo play will not cure your mental health issues. We understand that dealing with mental health can be hard, and has a huge impact on how we perceive ourselves, our comfort levels and our libido which can take a huge downward swing. If you are suffering from mental health issues, remembering to take care of yourself is necessary.
Written by Katrina Fairhurst