In case you hadn’t heard, it’s totally normal and healthy to masturbate—and yet, many women shy away from solo sessions, according to an Indiana University, Bloomington study.

If you’re one of those women, you’re missing out on more than just orgasms on demand. Here’s why you should take matters into your own hands—literally:

It can improve your sex life

Just 57% of women have orgasms most or every time they have sex with a partner, according to a 2015 survey of 2,300 women aged 18 to 40 conducted by Cosmopolitan magazine. Before you can consistently get off with another person, you need to know what works for you, says Emily Morse, sex and relationship expert and host of the podcast Sex with Emily. “Run your hands down your body, take time for yourself, and see what makes you feel good,” she says. By figuring out what gets you going, you’ll not only be able to get some solo pleasure, but also help your partner understand what makes you tick.


It may reduce stress and help you sleep

Instead of counting sheep, try counting orgasms. When you orgasm, your body releases prolactin, a relaxation hormone, and serotonin, a happiness hormone. While it hasn’t been thoroughly studied, many women have found masturbating helps them relieve tension and sleep better, says Lauren Streicher, MD, author of Sex Rx: Hormones, Health and Your Best Sex Ever.

For the best effect, Morse suggests creating a calm, nurturing environment before you get busy. “Just turn off your phone, go into your room for 10 minutes, start to breathe and touch your body,” she says. “By doing this, you’re taking care of yourself, experiencing pleasure, and getting in touch with your body—all of which give you a sense of well-being.”

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