We’ve teamed up with HANX to create a safe & open space to answer your sexual health & wellness questions

When we look back at our sexual history, most of us can vividly remember the first time we had sex, though how many of us can remember our first orgasm?

We place so much emphasis on our sexual relationship with others that we sometimes forget the most important relationship you have is with yourself.

What’s the orgasm gap?

If you’re a woman, it’s likely that a disproportionate amount of your sexual discovery has been about your role in someone else’s pleasure. This unbalanced dynamic is one of the causes of the orgasm gap. The orgasm gap refers to the number of orgasms women receive in contrast to men. Unsurprisingly men experience more orgasms than women. It's multi-faceted, with heterosexual women coming out the worst, below lesbian women, gay men, or bisexual men and women.

What are the benefits of self-pleasure?

It’s a stress release

Self-pleasure can be a very healthy stress release. Masturbation triggers the release of dopamine in your body – a chemical which creates feelings of contentment and happiness. If you reach orgasm, the hormone oxytocin is also released which reduces the presence of our stress hormone, cortisol.

It can fight insomnia

For the same reasons, masturbation has a similar relaxing effect if you’re having trouble sleeping.  As well as the increased levels of dopamine and oxytocin, the post orgasm release of the chemical prolactin can cause a state of drowsiness and slumber. Orgasms can also help women to heighten their REM stage of sleep, deepening sleep and enhancing recuperation.

Gives you self-confidence

Spending time on self-pleasure can boost confidence. Your sexual fulfillment shouldn’t depend on having a partner, and when you’re capable of giving yourself orgasms you’ll no longer be reliant on other people for pleasure. This is an incredibly empowering place to be and you’ll feel a sense of independence.

If you’re not sure where to start with self-pleasure, Dr HANX has a few tips:

1. Make sure you’re relaxed with no distractions. Your mind needs to be as clear as possible, this means no phone, or TV in the background. If you find some genres of music relaxing, pop your favourite soundtrack on.

2. Set aside 15-20 minutes so you’re not rushing. If you’ve got somewhere to be, you’re running late or your flatmate is in the room next to you, you’re probably not going to be able to get in the zone. Find a time when you’re completely free and comfortable.

3. Try a water-based natural lubricant. Using a gentle lubricant can enhance the sensations you’re feeling, reduce friction and make it easier to reach the pace you prefer.

4. Experiment with different positions and environments. Some people find showers enhance the experience of masturbation, others prefer a warm bath and for some women laying on their front can be more pleasurable.

Investing time in self-pleasure is the beginning of a journey towards sexual fulfilment. Before we explore sex with a partner it’s healthy to spend time getting to know ourselves, finding out what turns us on and what makes us feel good. When you’ve got into your own personal rhythm, you can use your knowledge of your own body to help guide future sexual experiences. Once you have a good idea of what you like, you can communicate this more effectively to a partner and you can also use self-pleasure as a self-care tool whenever you need it.