Sexual needs and desires should be fulfilled regardless of whether your partner is present or not. Seriously, it’s good for your health—even if you hate talking about the taboo topic. 

In fact, 88% of 1,200 Americans polled said they masturbate but a third have lied about it, according to a 2016 survey from sexual health and wellness company TENGA.  

Go on, start experimenting on your own. It'll help you understand what turns you on, which in turn, can help your sex life with your partner. Masturbating also has tons of benefits that contribute to your health. From boosting your mood to preventing cancer to lasting longer, which will ultimately sky rocket your self-confidence, exploring yourself is probably the most pleasurable thing you can do for your health today.

1. Boosts mood

Everything from work to friends, family to a bump in your commute—stress plagues us all at some point. But good news: You don’t have to find a partner to get the feel-good neurotransmitters that get pumped up with sex. Instead, you can beat the blues by masturbating. According to Ava Cadell, Ph.D., clinical sexologist and founder of Sexpert and Loveology University, masturbation acts as a de-stressor and an antidepressant. It stimulates the release of pleasure endorphins from the brain, which flood the body and boost your mood—just like sex.

2. Improves sleep

You may know that avoiding certain foods can improve sleep quality, but did you know masturbating works, too? Yup, there's a reason why you want to hit the sack just minutes after climax. When men ejaculate, it releases a slew of chemicals including oxytocin, vasopressin, and prolactin, all of which naturally help you hit the pillow, reports Science Line. It makes sense since both reaching orgasm and snoozing requires feeling relaxed and free of anxiety. "Masturbation can have a natural sedative effect on the body, fighting the effects of daily tension and stress," says Cadell.

3. Helps cure a cold

Reaching peak pleasure may also help cure a cold, according to a study published in the journal Neuroimmunomodulation. For the experiment, 11 male volunteers were asked to masturbate from start to finish as researchers drew and recorded their blood. Turns out that reaching orgasm increases the number of "killer" cells (called leukocytes) in men, helping maintain the health of their immune system.

4. Helps you last longer

Nervous about a first date? First, remember these first date tips. Then, try masturbating about an hour beforehand. According to Cadell, “masturbating allows a man to get comfortable with feeling intense sensations without allowing them to overwhelm him.” So it helps build stamina while giving you more control, which in turn, reduces the risk of premature ejaculation. You know what they say, practice makes perfect. 

5. Reduces your risk of erectile dysfunction

The best way to keep things “up” down below, is to keep it pumping, according to this 2008 study published in The American Journal of Medicine. In the five-year study, there were only 16 cases (per 1000) of erectile dysfunction (ED) in men who had sex three times per week, compared to a whopping 79 cases (per 1,000) in men who engaged in intercourse less than one per week. Though the study was conducted using sexual intercourse, Cadell explains that masturbation has the same effect as the “increase in blood flow to the genitals, keeps the fluids flowing and organs functioning properly.”

6. Prevents prostate cancer

Pushing out old fluid paves way for fresh semen and cuts your odds of developing this cancer by 33 percent. A 2004 Harvard study found that men who ejaculated 21 times per month were less likely to face prostate cancer compared to those who ejaculated four to seven times a month. The exact link between masturbation and prostate cancer risk is unclear, but flushing the prostate of carcinogens that could cause problems is the objective, says Cadell.

7. Improves heart health

For those of you who hate cardio, here’s another tactic to try. A study published in The American Journal of Cardiology found men who had an orgasm just once per month were 45 percent more likely to contract a cardiovascular disease or have a stroke compared to those who achieved it more than twice a week. The researchers acknowledge that, yes, healthier men are more apt to be having sex, which means they likely already have healthy cardiovascular systems. But, “the increase in heart rate [you get from masturbating] is directly beneficial to the circulation, and can reduce the likelihood of a heart attack,” says Cadell.

8. Makes you look younger

People who look significantly younger than their age may all share a secret: it’s masturbating more often. British Clinical Psychologist Dr. David Weeks, got the proof when he questioned thousands of men and women (between the ages of 40 and 50) on their sex life and health for a decade. His findings revealed those who appeared younger than their age engaged in sex three times a week, compared to those with older features that matched their age who got it on twice a week. The reason is most likely the rush of blood circulation, activity being done, and impact it has on a sleep which may contribute to a healthy glow. 

The same goes for masturbation, too. Masturbation can make you look and feel younger by altering your brain cells in positive ways, says Cadell. "The key is ‘mindful masturbation.’ Being fully present in your body and truly savoring each sensation during masturbation as it creates new neural pathways in the brain that carry over into your daily life."

9. Prevents sexually transmitted diseases

We know what you’re thinking, this is an obvious one, but honestly, have you ever read about the most common STIs in men and their symptoms? It will definitely make you consider going solo more often, just saying. Plus, single guys may struggle with finding a partner to get it on as much as they would like to. 

10. Increases your lifespan

We already know that a solid exercise program coupled with a clean diet has the perks of expanding your lifespan as well as keeping you looking and feeling great. But did you know more sexual activity (including solo sessions) can tack time on to your lifespan as well? According to a 20-year long study published in the British Medical Journal, men with the highest number of orgasms had a better quality of life and lived longer than who were pleasured less. It makes sense when you consider all of the other benefits you just learned about. When you lower your risk of certain cancers and heart disease, plus decrease disease-fostering stress, that's a recipe for better health and a longer, happier life!