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A neon image of a vibrator BBCThree

Can an orgasm a day keep my stress away?

I tried it out for 365 days

Contains adult themes

Like most people, I always want to improve my health and wellbeing. Last year, I decided I really wanted better skin, less stress in my life and, ideally, an all-round ‘glow’. But instead of achieving my goals by hitting the gym, or improving my diet, I thought I’d try a different technique: masturbating.

When you orgasm, your body releases the hormone oxytocin into the bloodstream. Oxytocin, typically known as the ‘love’ or 'cuddle' hormone, can decrease stress. No wonder then that a 2006 book exploring the experiences of over 2,600 women found that 39% of them masturbated to relax.

I resolved to orgasm every day for a year. I’d just split up with my long-term boyfriend. I was lost, broken-hearted, and my skin was a mess. I’d taken up running and given up sugar. But everything just made me feel more stressed and tired - until I had a surprisingly good one-night stand and woke up feeling great - with glowing skin.

Neon lipsBBCThree
She resolved to orgasm daily for a year

I’d struggled with my skin for around a year, and dermatologists had told me it was probably down to stress, a possible hormonal imbalance, and various things outside of my control. I googled, ‘Do orgasms help your skin?’, and found that, while the evidence is mainly anecdotal, there’s reason to think they do. "It's really simple — sex decreases stress, which, in turn, reduces stress hormones in the body, which helps to lower inflammation," believes dermatologist Elizabeth Tanzi. And less inflammation typically means less acne.

While others may rubbish this theory, I was sold. If orgasms do improve skin and stress levels, I’d definitely be a different, better person after 365 of them.

The first few weeks were fun. While I don’t always climax during sex, I know exactly how to do it alone. All I need is a fantasy and my fingers.

There was no instant improvement with my skin, but I did feel better. I would typically orgasm in bed at night, and afterwards I’d drop off to sleep immediately instead of lying in bed worrying, as I used to do. I looked forward to my new ‘me time’, and I’d often go all out with candles, music and new vibrators. 

Even my fantasies moved up a level. I stopped imagining normal sex with normal men - instead I pretended I was Cleopatra being pleasured by all my servants. My friends found it hilarious and some were even inspired to up their own orgasm quotas.

But a few months in, I started to get bored. It began to feel like a chore. Instead of putting in the effort to have wonderful, long orgasms, I started to just give myself quick, efficient ones. When I had sex with actual humans, I’d get frustrated that they couldn’t make me orgasm as quickly I could by myself.

I began to cheat, telling myself I could have days off. Masturbation was still fun sometimes - I’d occasionally get the urge to do it several times a day, and then I’d have a few orgasm-free days. But on the whole, my resolution became as tiresome as going to the gym every day. It turns out you can definitely have too much of a good thing.

By last summer, I’d managed to keep it going for almost five months. Then, I had a holiday romance that totally changed my perspective and made me see how far off-track I’d got by fixating on the resolution I’d made instead of the goals I was aiming for. This brief relationship reminded me of how fun it was to slow down during sex and enjoy the whole process - not just the climax. We had amazing orgasms together, and I started to appreciate my body in a way I hadn’t for months.

Neon legsBBCThree
A holiday romance changed things

I came back home with the best skin I’d had all year, and a new resolution: instead of forcing myself to orgasm every single day, I’d aim for as many fulfilling ones as possible. The new goal was quality over quantity.

It worked. I only orgasmed about once or twice a week – and sometimes not at all - but it became fun again. I wasn’t doing it because it was a task that needed ticking off my to-do list anymore, but because of how enjoyable it was. And it paid off; I became less and less stressed.

My skin improved, I felt more tranquil and, most importantly, I learnt so much about my body. I might have failed my original resolution but I don’t care. My orgasms have changed my life in ways I never imagined. I no longer feel embarrassed asking people for what I want during sex. I don’t feel shy about sharing my fantasies, and I'm not afraid to experiment with new toys.

My orgasms have made me happier and feel healthier - which is all I ever wanted. Here’s to another 365 days.

As told to Radhika Sanghani