May is not only International Masturbation Month, but also Mental Health Awareness Month! On this Myth Monday, we are acknowledging the two events by busting the myth that masturbating causes a decrease in sex drive. A huge misconception regarding masturbation is that regular self-pleasure can cause sexual “dysfunction” or inability to orgasm while engaging in sexual play with partners. There is no evidence that engaging in regular masturbation results in any sexual dysfunction. Some people fear that if their partner regularly self satisfies it will negatively impact of drive their partner feels toward them and this is not the case. Masturbation can be a healthy part of any relationship.
Mental health can also have a huge impact on sexual drive and functioning. Have you ever been stressed and completely lost the desire to engage in any sexual activity when you normally do? You are not alone! Anxiety, depression, or even just an elevation in general stress levels can significantly affect one’s libido by making it more difficult for the person to relax. Especially with everything that is happening in the world, stress levels have the potential to be greatly heightened, your arousal levels may have decreased significantly (they may have even increased, it varies person to person). If this is the case, there are methods to decrease levels of stress. Meditation, exercise and maintaining healthy sleep and eating habits can help to limit the levels of distress. Please note these suggestions are for general stress and are not intended as treatment solutions for serious mood disorders.
A lower libido can also be attributed to a number of other factors including hormones, medication, and age. Medication, especially psychiatric medication, can result in hormone shifts that lower arousal levels. Some medications can also cause side effects that have an adverse effect on sexual desire. A common side effect of many medications, including anti-depressants and even birth control, is that they reduce libido! Doesn’t that seem counter-intuitive?
So, if you’re normally a self-pleasure savant but haven’t been feeling the same excitement recently, give yourself a break! There are many factors that can contribute to a lower libido.
Written in collaboration with our volunteer Rachel Saunders.