Is Masturbation Healthy? A Neuroscientist Weighs In

Is masturbation healthy? When it comes to sex—which is already so taboo—talking about masturbation is one of the most uncomfortable of subjects. It’s one thing to admit to being sexual with a partner, but quite another to admit to taking pleasure into your own hands—literally and figuratively. Especially for women. But as a certified sex therapist and neuroscientist, I’ve got good news: masturbation isn’t just pleasurable, it’s good for you.

For years I’ve worked with people with anxiety, depression, or relationship issues, treated people with problems in the bedroom, and taught human sexuality courses (when I’m not busy conducting sex research as a neuroscience Ph.D.), and yet, I continue to be amazed about how uncomfortable people are when it comes to discussing sex in general and their own sexual health in particular. It isn’t unusual for me to have to reassure a talk show host who cautions me to be careful about what I say on the air since they don’t really “talk about sex” on their show. I think to myself, “What? you’ve had a show for decades that deals with health and lifestyle issues and you haven’t talked about sex?”

My work with couples and in the lab conducting studies has proved time and time again that pleasure isn’t just important but necessary—something I explore in my Glamour column Ask. Dr. Nan and in my new book Why Good Sex Matters—based largely on my research of the female orgasm, which can relieve stress, improve mood, reduce pain, boost immunity, and enhance self-esteem.

So, when someone asks me if masturbation is healthy, the answer is a resounding yes. Here’s why:

Do most people masturbate?

The short answer? Yes. The longer answer? More men do than women.

Despite the persistent taboo around masturbation, statistics show that in western cultures, most people do it. In the U.S., roughly 80 percent of women between the ages of 25-40 say they’ve masturbated at some point in their lives, with 50 percent of women between the ages of 18-24 reporting having masturbated during the past year.

Men tend to masturbate more often than women—largely because women are still shamed for being “too sexual.” If you group men and women together, nearly 76 percent of young adults between the ages of 25 and 29 report self-pleasuring over the past year

Is masturbation healthy?

I consider masturbation to be one of the best forms of self-care. Not only does it feel good, it’s good for you.

First, there are the physical benefits of masturbation. My research involved having participants masturbate to orgasm in an fMRI scanner to document how the brain responds to genital stimulation leading up to and culminating in the big O. We found that when you experience sexual pleasure, many areas of the brain receive more oxygen.

Sufficient oxygen is absolutely critical to healthy brain function, so the widespread increase in blood flow to the brain (particularly regions involved in sensation, movement, cognition, reward, and hormone production) make orgasm a great workout for nearly your whole brain. Orgasm triggers the release of a cascade of substances such as natural painkillers, stress relievers, and mood enhancers. Think of your brain enjoying a delicious cocktail of increased dopamine, (associated with reward and enthusiasm), endorphins (our own internally produced opioids promoting feelings of wellbeing), serotonin (calming), and oxytocin (facilitating bonding). The result is a health-promoting natural high.

A regular masturbation practice also has other benefits. When women learn to cultivate the pleasures of masturbation, we radically challenge some of the sex-negative notions pervading our culture. Rather than focusing on being a sex object for someone else, masturbation allows us to focus on being intrinsically sexual beings whose bodies are places of pleasure that exist at times just for us. It puts your pleasure first.

Are there side effects of too much masturbation?

Any behavior which becomes compulsive can become problematic. I have treated men whose masturbation practices have gotten out of control, causing physical and emotional distress, even interrupting their ability to go to work. These compulsive sexual behaviors appear less frequently in women, although they have been reported. In general, out of control sexual behaviors can result when people have trouble regulating their moods and use sex to self soothe.

The bottom line? By making a commitment to prioritizing your own pleasure though cultivating a regular masturbation practice, you will reap big benefits.

Nan Wise, Ph.D., is AASECT certified sex therapist, neuroscientist, certified relationship expert, and author of Why Good Sex Matters: Understanding the Neuroscience of Pleasure for a Smarter, Happier, and More Purpose-Filled Life. Follow her @AskDoctorNan.

To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before 3: Here’s Everything We Know So Far

By this point, you’ve probably watch the sequel to To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before, To All the Boys: P.S. I Still Love You, on Netflix. Or maybe you’ve already sat through multiple viewings, which…fair. The films, based on the books by Jenny Han, have captured the hearts of so many since we first watched Lara Jean Covey (Lana Condor) and Peter Kavinsky (Noah Centineo) fall in love.

The second film, however, brought some complications to the fairytale romance by way of John Ambrose McLaren, one of the other boys Lara Jean wrote a love letter to in the first film. In fact, the two model UN pals end up volunteering together at a retirement home now that John Ambrose has moved back to town. Plus, Lara Jean is navigating a lot of firsts in her relationship with Peter, making her insecure and casting doubts on their future as a couple. But by the end of To All the Boys: P.S. I Still Love You, all is well with our happy couple—thank goodness.

There’s no cliffhanger moment like there was at the end of the To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before, so we don’t yet have a teaser for the third movie—but it is definitely happening.

Here’s everything we know so far about To All the Boys: Always and Forever, Lara Jean.

The release date. The movie has already been filmed, but we don’t yet know when it will premiere. Since Han’s third book opens in the fall of Lara Jean’s senior year, some think we may get the final installment in August or September 2020.

The cast. Of course, Condor and Centineo will be back as the stars—what would this movie even be without Lara Jean and Peter?

Condor reflected on her role after she wrapped filmed back in September. “I’ve been really struggling how to put into words my feelings towards this ending… words will never be able to describe my love for Lara Jean,” she wrote on Instagram. “Her family, her friends, Peter. Words will never be able to describe the long nights on set, where it would suddenly hit me, like a ton of bricks, that I was getting the honor of portraying a girl so fiercely determined in love, who represents strength in softness. Words will never be able to describe my gratitude to YOU, for loving her as much as I do.”

From the looks of the IMDB page, it appears that the rest of the Covey family, along with LJ’s friend-turned rival, Gen, and her BFF, Christine will all be back. Janel Parrish told Entertainment Tonight that the eldest Covey sister will get more screen time in part three. “You will see a lot more Margot in the third movie,” she said. “You get to see a lot of family time in the third movie, which I love. I think it’s one of my favorite parts of the film is the bond between the sisters because I’m so close with mine and my family, so I love that.”

Outlander Season 5 Review: Jamie and Claire Are Back and Better Than Ever

Aimee Spinks

At least there’s a wedding!

It’s not all angst and militia talk this season. The season premiere starts with a happy occasion: Brianna and Roger’s wedding. For the cast, it was a fun way to bring everyone together. “For us all to be in a scene together is quiet rare,” Sophie Skelton, who plays Brianna, says. “So it really did feel like a big family affair. You can feel the love and celebration.” Adds Richard Rankin, who plays Roger: “It’s not that common in Outlander for everyone to be together and for everyone to be having a good time. So that was a very enjoyable experience. I think the fans are really going to love it.”

It’s an emotional ceremony—but not too emotional. “Roger and Brianna have a sort of lighthearted, cheeky kind of relationship,” Skelton says, “and there’s a little smile there as if to say, ‘We’re putting on this big spectacle for the family.'” Brianna and Roger are already married in their minds, she explains. “They would happily just run off and do it really quietly. I think the big spectacle at Fraser’s Ridge, as beautiful as it is, for those two might be slightly uncomfortable. So there’s a nice little bit of banter between the two of them, to make the whole wedding a little bit more lighthearted.”

And speaking of Brianna and Roger…

“They’ll have their bumps along the way, in true Outlander form,” Davis promises, “but we’ll see a real deepening of their relationship this season.” They didn’t have much of a courtship in season four—because, you know, drama—so this season will be about their married life and how they navigate raising baby Jemmy together. “I think they’re better at communicating with each other now,” Skelton says. “There’s a security that comes with marriage, knowing you can fight and it’ll be OK. So we start to see them battling life together more.” That said, she adds, expect things to shake up a bit “toward the middle of the season” for the two.

While season four featured a lot of fighting between the two, this season will be about the foundation that brought them together in the first place. “They’re a solid unit,” Rankin says. “So whenever you see them being apart, whether it’s a disagreement or physically apart, you should be rooting for them to come back together again.”

But that strife is what Skelton likes about the characters’ relationship. “Jamie and Claire’s relationship is amazing, but it’s almost this fantastical, ideological relationship that you can look up to,” she explains. “Bree and Roger are so real. They fight, they say stupid things, and they’re quite complicated. I think it’s nice when you can watch flawed people on TV, and find some strength in that in your real life.”

Sad Love Movies & Shows: 31 Best Tearjerkers on Netflix 2020

Sometimes we’re just in the mood to cry but can’t muster up the emotions. That’s where tearjerkers on Netflix come in.

Hear me out. At times, a problem arises when you want to cry but can’t seem to get there. This stifling state of purgatory is beyond frustrating: All you want to do is release, but your eyes are on the fritz. But moving TV shows and sad love movies on Netflix can help. With their emotionally taxing plots and weepy protagonists, tearjerkers on Netflix have the ability to unlock even the most ironclad tear ducts. From Grey’s Anatomy (a tear-inducing stalwart) and modern classics like The Notebook to newer stories like Pose and Marriage Story, you’ll find something to tug at your heart.

These angsty TV shows and sad love movies on Netflix have a 100 percent success rate. Gallons of tears guaranteed. Stock up on tissues accordingly, my friends.

Demi Lovato Cut Her Long Hair Into an Asymmetrical Lob — Photos

We’re only halfway through February and Demi Lovato has already had a banner year. After going dark on Instagram in early December, she returned to the spotlight at the Grammy Awards for a moving performance of her new song, “Anyone,” and then she welcomed the world to the Super Bowl with the national anthem. For both appearances, Lovato was seen wearing her hair in beautiful, waist-length waves. But it seems the powerhouse singer has already tired of the long look.

On Friday, February 14, Lovato shared several photos to her Instagram Stories in which she can be seen sporting significantly shorter hair. She blows a kiss to the camera for Valentine’s Day in a selfie and poses with friends for Galentine’s Day, each photo showing her in a hot-pink, puff-sleeve mini dress. But the real standout in the pictures is her sleek, asymmetrical lob.

Instagram/Demi Lovato
Instagram/Demi Lovato
Instagram/Demi Lovato

The side-parted, straightened look is a major departure from the Rapunzel-like long waves she’s worn for most of 2020 thus far, but it’s just as gorgeous. And it’s not too far off from the bob she’d been seen wearing for most of 2019. It was last April when she first cut it, introducing her Instagram followers to the new look with a caption reading, “New hair wassupppp.”

Considering this new haircut was much more likely just the removal of extensions, we wouldn’t be surprised to see long hair on Lovato again soon. But in the meantime, we’re loving this chic shorter look.

More celebrity hair makeovers:

Now check out 100 years of iconic hairstyles:

Follow Marci on Instagram and Twitter, or subscribe to Allure’s newsletter for daily beauty stories delivered right to your inbox.

The Sneakers Kate Middleton Wears on Repeat Are on Sale Right Now

Though we’re used to Kate Middleton blessing us with graceful ball gowns and sparkling tiaras, the Duchess of Cambridge knows no casual outfit is complete without a few key essentials: a comfy top, a pair of jeans that make you look (and feel) like a million bucks, and a pair of classic white sneakers.

While the royal’s lineup consists of mostly pumps, the Duchess of Cambridge isn’t above a good pair of trainers when the occasion calls. And it just so happens Kate Middleton’s sneakers of choice are among the most affordable out there, especially today.

Kate wearing Superga sneakers earlier this month, for the inaugural King’s Cup regatta competition.

Antony Jones/Getty Images

Back in 2016, Kate wore Supergas while on a royal tour in Canada.

Karwai Tang/Getty Images

Kate wearing Superga sneakers ahead of a reception honoring London Marathon runners.

Chris Jackson/Getty Images

The mother of three has worn the Superga 2750 COTU Classic Sneaker on repeat over the past few years—and they’re currently on sale on Amazon for under $50. Honestly, you might even want to stock up on more than one pair at this price because you’re going to want to wear them as much as Middleton does.

Shop her exact pair below, and check out even more simple white sneakers discounted for a limited time.

Superga 2750 Cotu Classic Sneaker



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Old Skool in True White

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Stan Smith Sneaker




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Nike Air Force 1 Jester XX




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8 TV Shows and Movies to Watch the Week of February 16, 2020

Clear your queues accordingly, because there are a slew of new, very good movies and TV shows to watch this week—from the return of Outlander and American Idol to a remake of the movie Emma and, of course, the Democratic presidential debate. Hopefully you have some free time to veg!

See, below, all the TV shows and movies to bookmark for this week:

Sunday, February 16

American Idol: Katy Perry, Luke Bryan, and Lionel Richie are back as judges for American Idol season 18, which kicks off with auditions. 8 P.M. ET on ABC

Outlander: Claire and Jamie are focused on their new community in season five of Outlander, which begins tonight. 8 P.M. ET on Starz

Monday, February 17

Hallmark Channel’s Tails of Joy: Read Hallmark’s official description for this, below. 10 P.M. ET on Hallmark

“Follow Paw Works rescue of a group of 60 dogs and cats, starting with transport from a rural area in Central California, caring for these animals, watching them begin to flourish, identifying their unique personalities, and ultimately placing them in loving homes. This heartwarming journey offers a powerful message of hope and encourages families to adopt not shop.”

Tuesday, February 18

We Are the Dream: The Kids of the Oakland MLK Oratorical Fest: Below, see HBO’s official description. 7 P.M. ET on HBO

“Every year, hundreds of children from pre-K through 12th grade take the stage at the Oakland MLK Oratorical Fest, a public speaking competition where they perform poetry and speeches inspired by the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. The film covers the months leading up to the 40th annual festival, as schools across the city send their top-placing students to compete. It is a portrait of young people raising their voices about issues they care about and of the unique community that celebrates and supports them.”

Wednesday, February 19

Democratic Presidential Debate: You should probably watch this. 9 P.M. ET on NBC

Thursday, February 20

Playing for Keeps: This Australian drama is now available for U.S. streaming. Watch the trailer, below. Streaming on Sundance Now

Friday, February 21

Emma: A new retelling of the iconic Jane Austen novel is coming, starring horror-movie queen Anya Taylor-Joy in the titular role. In theaters

Saturday, February 22

Whitmer Thomas: The Golden One: See HBO’s description, below. 10 P.M. ET on HBO

“Comedian and actor Whitmer Thomas combines deeply personal and provocative stand-up with original songs in his first one-hour special for HBO.”

This Photo of Princess Charlotte Has a Special Meaning for Kate Middleton

Kate Middleton just gave her first-ever podcast interview this week and gave the world insight into her life as a mom to Prince George, Princess Charlotte, and Prince Louis.

The duchess sate down to chat with Giovanna Fletcher on Happy Mum, Happy Baby as part of her ongoing work to foster discussions around parenting in the early years of childhood development. She talked about her own “happy childhood” and how she tries to bring the lessons she learned growing up to her own family with Prince William.

“I think the things that really resonate with me most are the simple things and actually I see that now with my own children. Life now is so busy, so distracting and actually sometimes the simple things like watching a fire on a really rainy day provides such enjoyment,” she said. “I remember that from my childhood—doing the simple things, going for a walk together, and that’s really what I try and do with my children as well because it totally strips away all the complications, all the pressures.”

Karwai Tang/WireImage/Getty Images

There’s one photo of Princess Charlotte, in particular, that she feels captures those simple, special times. “I’ve got this one photo of Charlotte smelling a bluebell, and really for me it’s moments like that that mean so much to me as a parent, and I try every day to put moments like that in, even if they’re small or even if I don’t have time… but that in an ideal world is what I would like to do,” Middleton said.

Kensington Palace then shared the sweet image taken by Middleton on Instagram. Charlotte appears to be wearing one of the same outfits from the photos the Cambridges released for her fourth birthday in May, so perhaps it’s from the same shoot.

We love getting these glimpses into the royal family’s life behind the scenes. Please do more podcasts, Kate!

Bella Hadid Is Bringing Back the Fuzzy Bucket Hat

Bella Hadid was recently spotted wearing a ’90s-style fuzzy bucket hat, so you know what that means: We’re about to see a lot more ’90s-style fuzzy bucket hats. And honestly? We’re on board.

If you’ve been scrolling through Instagram or seen stars like Dua Lipa on the red carpet, then you know that ’90s nostalgia in fashion is at an all-time high. From low-rise jeans to claw clips, supermodels like Kendall Jenner and Hailey Baldwin have helped make these what’s old feel new again. So it was only a matter of time until Hadid brought back something as essential to the decade as the fuzzy hat.

On January 19, the model was seen in Paris wearing one that she paired with plaid trousers.

Marc Piasecki/Getty Images

And she didn’t stop there. After wrapping her final New York Fashion Week show on February 13, the supermodel was photographed wearing a black oversized trench coat and a black hoodie with a pair of jeans and Dr. Martens (also very ’90s!). She completed the look with, of course, The Hat.

James Devaney/Getty Images
Gotham/Getty Images

The next day, February 14, she was out in New York in a Valentine’s Day-appropriate pink bucket hat, though it, sadly, does not appear to be of the fuzzy variety.

Robert Kamau/Getty Images

But if you’re thinking, “Hey, that looks really cool—I want a fuzzy bucket hat now!” then we have good news: Bella’s accessory is from ASOS, and it can be yours for just $22. It’s on sale!

ASOS Monogram Faux Fur Bucket Hat




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You’ll want to hurry, though. ASOS cites this as a fast-selling item. Call it the Bella Effect?

Sephora Presidents’ Day Sale 2020: The Best Deals to Shop

We were already excited about the three-day weekend, and then Sephora went and blessed us all with a surprise Presidents’ Day 2020 sale. From now until Monday, February 17, Sephora shoppers can get up to 50% off their favorite products on brands like Fenty Beauty by Rihanna, Clinique, Marc Jacobs, Philosophy, and Too Faced, and the deals do not disappoint. (Then again, would we ever call a Sephora sale “disappointing?” We think not.)

The selection is massive, too: Whether you need a new Anastasia Beverly Hills eyeshadow palette (and if so, see below) or want to stock up on a high-end hair dryer (again, we’ve got you covered below), there are so many opportunities to level up your beauty game. The mega sale also happens to be during Valentine’s Day weekend. So if you’ve had items sitting in your cart for weeks waiting to be purchased, consider this a good time to show some self-love and treat yourself to a new fragrance or face mask while prices are cheap.

PS: The Sephora President’s Day sale isn’t the only good beauty deal this weekend—we have a guide to 17 more here.

Anastasia Beverly Hills Jackie Aina Eyeshadow Palette




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Amika The Accomplice Hair Dryer




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There’s a great deal on the Clarisonic Mia Smart Anti-Aging Cleansing Skincare Device you’ll want to check out. And if you’re set on makeup but need a quick upgrade for your home, we suggest picking up a few of the Voluspa candles and diffusers available.

Voluspa Copper Clove Diffuser




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Clarisonic Skincare Mia Smart Anti-Aging and Cleansing Device




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Sales like these are also a good time to stock up on essentials like new makeup brushes. This set, below, from Sephora is easy to use. (Maybe pair it with that Anastasia Beverly Hills palette we know is already in your cart?) And this KVD Vegan Beauty fragrance is a bestselling item, thanks to its soft blend of sweet jasmine flower with notes of mandarin and caramel.

Sephora Collection Smoky Eyes: Uncomplicated Brush Set




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KVD Vegan Beauty Saint Eau de Parfum




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Of course, some of the best finds at a beauty sale are skin-care products, so consider Perricone MD’s Cold Plasma Plus+ neck and chest moisturizer. Also key: cult favorite makeup items, like the Milk holographic stick highlighter.

Perricone MD Cold Plasma Plus+ Neck & Chest Broad Spectrum SPF 25




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Milk Makeup Holographic Stick




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You’ll have to move fast, though, because the sale only lasts until Monday, February 17 and we all know how quickly cult items sell out at Sephora. But even if that happens, there are hundreds more beauty products marked down. We’re sure you’ll find plenty to purchase at the Sephora Presidents’ Day sale.