Masturbation Is the Only Winner of This Terrible Sh*tstorm

People are dealing with the reality that we’ve been commanded to stay at home inside our teensy apartments for the foreseeable future a couple different ways: Some of us couldn’t feel less horny. Others are getting kinky with our live-in partners, even if we want to feed them to Carole Baskin’s tigers the rest of the time. Well, ladies and gents, I’d like to make the case for the magical thing that’s been getting me through the monotony and occasional waves of all-encompassing panic: more masturbation. Like, so much more.

Now, I’m a pleasure-seeking person, to be sure. I love sex in almost any form—talking about it, watching it, writing about it, thinking about it and, of course, having it, whether it’s with my partner or by myself. During a normal week, AKA a week in which we have not been crushed by a global pandemic, I probably get myself off at least two or three times. But now that I can’t leave the house, ever? And that I’m working from my bed fairly often, to give my partner some space? And that a feel-good activity that requires total concentration so as to distract from the literal and existential crisis before us feels extremely necessary, even urgent? In this time of need, I’ve turned to my vibrator—a lot.

And yeah, there’s science to back me up on this being a rly, rly good idea. “Pleasure is an excellent stress reliever,” says sex coach and educator Ashley Manta, “and many are understandably feeling intense worry in the midst of the pandemic.” But masturbation is about way more than just delivering physical pleasure while in isolation—it can help you unwind in ways that even watching your fave Netflix show or cracking open a bottle of wine can’t.

According to sex toy company Satisfyer’s Director of Education Megwyn White, orgasming “releases ‘feel good’ factors like endorphins, serotonin, and oxytocin, which help to relieve stress, reduce anxiety, and balance moods.” She adds that orgasming has been shown to keep brain function sharp and focused, help reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease, and—get this—decrease the risk of catching a cold or the flu by activating cells known to fight off illness and infectious diseases.

Can your glass of vino do all that? Methinks not.

And if the law of ~supply and demand~ is any indication, plenty of people seem to feel the same way. Seemingly overnight, er, at least since we’ve been forced inside, the market for self-love is booming. A rep for the sex toy company Emojibator, which makes cheeky remote-controlled vibrators in the shape of popular emojis, told me that they’ve seen a 345% increase in sales since March 13, when many major cities asked its residents to stay home. PornHub made access to its $9.99/month premium site (which hosts all the stuff people *actually* want to watch enough to pay for it) free on March 24, until further notice. Sex-positive podcast Private Parts Unknown has seen over double the downloads the past ten days as compared to weeks before social isolation became the norm.

People are even figuring out how to channel the “alone, together” sentiment in their sexy me-time. New York sex club NSFW has migrated their erotic and sex-positive shows and parties online in the form of video cams, online viewing parties, and a number seriously sexy WhatsApp chats for members. Spaces like that are incredibly important for more than just fun, says publicist Melissa Vitale, who works directly for NFSW:

Since being at home, I’ve realized that, while stress in normal situations doesn’t usually make me horny, being locked up with my partner definitely does. My sex drive has been insatiable. He and I are having plenty of good sex, but I’ve still been feeling the need to supplement with some solo play at least once a day. I recently received a new toy in the mail, so between that and, you know, needing to research for this piece, I’ve definitely been hard at work, and have a whole lotta zen to show for it.

But I know that getting in the right mindset can be easier said than done, perhaps now more than ever, for some peeps. If you’ve been reading this piece thinking “SMDH, I couldn’t feel less like masturbating,” this whole time, allow me to introduce you to some tricks to help ya get there: “It’s harder to get inspired when you’re stuck at home—that’s why watching some lusty movies can be useful to get into the mood,” says Erika Lust, the Barcelona-based ethical porn director of XConfessions and LustFilms. And if you want to work it truly solo, sans virtual community or kinky website, just set up your favorite comfy zone—Manta suggests a bath—and get down to business with a waterproof vibe.

The next time you feel yourself slipping into a COVID-19-inspired anxiety spiral, or you’ve simply run out of yeast so whipping up a ninth loaf of sourdough bread is out of the question, remember: there’s another way to stay busy. Just touch yourself. And while baking bread does lend itself better to a smug Insta (mhmm, I see y’all), there’s something to be said for doing an activity that’s literally just for you. Now if you’ll excuse me, I have a very busy day planned.

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