Half of the world’s population get their periods each month and most of them struggle with different painful side effects. (Not all women menstruate, and not all who menstruate are women – author's note.) Although these symptoms are common, they are hardly researched – like so many topics around women's health. The so-called Gender Health Gap describes this gap and shows that women have historically been neglected in medicine and research. (Slawson, Nicola. ‘Women have been woefully neglected’: does medical science have a gender problem? The Guardian. December 2019. Hamberg, Katarina. Gender bias in medicine. Women’s Health, May 2008, p. 237-243. Verdonk, Petra et al. From gender bias to gender awareness in medical education. Advances in Health Sciences Education, 14, 2009, p. 135-152. Nobelius, Ann-Maree & Wainer, Jo. Gender and Medicine. A conceptual guide for medical educators. Monash University School of Rural Health, 2004.)
In May 2020, Womanizer launched the Menstrubation Study (Menstruation + Masturbation) – the first clinical study worldwide to find out whether masturbation can help against period pain.
The result: Yes, masturbation can help against period pain.
The study design and procedure
The study was conducted in collaboration with Dr. Jones, a clinical psychologist and sex therapist. Almost 20,000 people who menstruate responded to their call for participation last May. The final study participants were selected through a randomised procedure.
Over a period of six months, a total of 486 people who menstruate took part in the study. In the first month, the participants recorded the current status of their period pain in a questionnaire. For a period of three months (test phase), they were asked to forego their traditional methods of pain control and to masturbate instead. Each month they recorded their symptoms in another questionnaire. The fifth month served as a control month in which they went back to using their usual tools. After another month, the last survey took place.
Why do women experience period pain in the first place?
Dr Naomi Sutton (NHS Sexual Health consultant and doctor on E4’s The Sex Clinic explains: “The most common pains associated with periods are menstrual cramps. They are a result of spasmodic uterine contractions and contraction of the blood vessels which supply the uterus, resulting in the endometrial lining, which has built up over the month to prepare for a potential pregnancy, to be shed as a bleed. These contractions are stimulated by hormones known as prostaglandins and levels of these hormone have been found to be higher in women who suffer with severe menstrual cramps”.
Dr Sutton continues, “Other common period symptoms include headaches, back pain, diarrhoea and nausea. It has been shown that psychological factors, such as stress and anxiety, can have a significant impact on the intensity of these symptoms. There is not just one explanation as to why some women will experience stronger pain or more symptoms than others do. Pain is a complex and multidimensional perception affected by our genetic, developmental, psychological, social and cultural variables”.
90 per cent recommend masturbation
When asked whether masturbation or medication worked better for period pain, equal numbers favoured each method: 43 per cent chose medication, 42 per cent masturbation. The most common answers from the remaining 15 per cent were: A mix of both (23 percent of the remaining 15 percent said so – author's note), heat, CBD (oil), sleep and exercise. A full 90 per cent would recommend masturbation for pain relief and 85 per cent plan to maintain their (new) masturbation routine after the study.
Pain intensity demonstrably decreases
Participants recorded both the intensity and frequency of their pain each month on a standardised 10-point scale. The results show that both parameters decreased noticeably over the course of the test phase. And even more remarkable: even after the control month, the values were still lower than at the beginning of the test phase.
The average intensity in the initial survey was 6.7 points (on a scale from 1 – not intensive to 10 – extremely intensive – author's note), after the end of the test phase only 5.4. This corresponds to a decrease of 1.3 points. Particularly striking: Already in the first month of the test phase, the value dropped by 0.8 points, which shows an almost immediate effect of orgasms on pain intensity. After the control month, this value was 5.9 and thus still 0.8 points below the initial value.
Furthermore, when asked directly whether regular masturbation had an effect on pain intensity, 70% answered “yes”. Of these 70% (341 participants), 31% confirmed that masturbation reduced the intensity a lot. For 62% there was at least a slight decrease in pain (the remaining 7% did not specify – author's note).
Frequency of pain decreases
The same effect was also visible in the frequency of period pain. On average, the score was 7.4 points at baseline (on a scale from 1 – every couple of months to 10 – each cycle for several days – author's note), but after the test phase the score decreased by 2.8 points and stood at 4.6. Already at the end of the first test month, the score was only 5.1 (-2.3 points). After the control month, the value was 6.7, which still corresponds to a decrease of 0.7 points.
Overall, 42% (206 participants) of the participants said that regular masturbation had an effect on the frequency of their pain. Of these, as many as 22% reported that the pain was much less frequent than before, while most (64%) perceived a slight reduction in frequency (the remaining 14% did not specify – author's note).
Why can orgasms help against period pains?
Dr Naomi Sutton explains “We know that masturbation can have positive effects on health and general well-being for several reasons. Following orgasm, the hormone dopamine is released which activates an inner bliss. This, combined with the increase in blood flow resulting from climax, are both ways orgasm may alleviate period pains”.
Dr. Jones, head of the study: “It is remarkable how quickly the participants felt an improvement in their symptoms. After only one month of conscious masturbation the values already dropped significantly. In addition, my assumption that masturbation also has a long-term, positive effect on well-being was confirmed. Even after the participants returned to their usual methods of pain relief, the values for intensity and frequency remained lower than at the beginning. It is likely that both parameters would have improved even further with an even longer test phase.”
All results and the full report are available at www.menstrubation.com
Womanizer develops high-quality pleasure products for your love life. Founded in 2014 with the invention of the patented Pleasure Air Technology, Womanizer is now an internationally recognized brand with offices in Berlin, Hong Kong, Ottawa and Shanghai. More than 4 million people in over 60 countries have already purchased a Womanizer. With the global #IMasturbate campaign, the brand is committed to destigmatizing masturbation and sexuality, and thrives for an open, shame-free dialogue about sex, because every person deserves a sexually fulfilled life. Womanizer is, like Arcwave and We-Vibe, a brand of the WOW Tech Group.
Press release provided Nadezhda Shishkina, a representative of WOW Tech Group in Russia.