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Better than a pill: how orgasms can help to overcome anxiety

One of the things I’m dreadfully good at is Constant Worrying. The more technical definition of it is Anxiety, a state of alertness and discomfort related to some perceived or real threat. In my case, the threats are possible and impossible bad life scenarios I come up with so that I can be prepared when the given, imagined bad scenario will occur. It rarely does, yet unless I do something about it, my brain will stay fixated on the negative. 

Consider this: Recently, while driving through the beautiful, majestic Canadian Rockies, I was obsessing over how the movers will manage to get the oversized leather sofa through the narrow living-room entrance of my new place. (When I first got the sofa, the delivery guys said it wouldn’t fit; it did but barely, and we had a terrible time, three strangers sweating in August.)

In the Rockies, we hurtled down a mountain and climbed another one, an eagle flew over the car, the drama of the endless forest was fully on display, and there I was inside my head, wrestling a leather couch out the door, a week from then, in a different city. 

“It’s so beautiful,” I said every 20 minutes, to show my hosts some appreciation for the drive (and because I couldn’t come up with anything else). My voice wavered; I sounded bummed out. My friend Angie asked if I was okay. I said yes, but I wasn’t; I was freaking out, quietly, inside. 

I make it sound worse than it is. I can actually manage some of that anxiety okay with a few mental exercises, and I can re-route some of the more outrageous thoughts by distracting myself. The best way to distract myself is probably by doing something wholly absorbing and pleasurable, like painting. Or swimming. Or watching Netflix.

Or fucking. 

Or thinking about fucking. 

Or cumming. 

Orgasm is one of the most accessible ways to help anxiety, and unlike alcohol or a pill—that people use to take the proverbial edge off—the high is natural, and it doesn’t have to carry adverse side effects. An orgasm can annihilate depressive thoughts even if for just a moment; it’s a perfect break from worrying, and it’s one of the most powerful distractions we can give ourselves.  

During orgasm (and even hugging!), the body releases the hormone oxytocin, referred to as the “love” or “cuddle” hormone, which is known to decrease stress amongst other benefits. When I was in labour with my son, I was administered oxytocin to ease the birth; this miracle hormone stimulates contractions and causes the cervix to open up, helping to move the baby through the birth canal. 

During sex, oxytocin helps women bond, and it’s said to be associated “with empathy, trust, sexual activity, and relationship-building.” It floods the body with feel-good sensations; for those of us who treat it as a kind of medicine it can be the perfect antidote to stress.

A study cited in a book, Women’s Sexualities by Dr. Carol Rinkleib, found that 39 percent of 2,600 women sampled masturbated to relax.

I didn’t make the connection until later on in life when I began to work for myself, from home, and struggled to find the self-discipline to meet my deadlines. I always did manage, but I was almost always stressed. A self-employed ex-boyfriend confessed that he watched porn during the day to relax. I dismissed him as a “sex addict,” but then I tried it myself one time, and indeed, having that kind of a sexy pause made all the difference. It was definitely weird to take a break out of my workday to please myself, but eventually, it became my go-to when stress would be too much.  

I don’t drink but I used to, often, because of “stress.” After many years of trying to quit for many, many good reasons, it was the hangovers that finally, actually did me in. Not as dramatic as having some spectacular rock-bottom (I’ve had plenty), but it was mostly because I just couldn’t take feeling like shit all the time. 

What is my point? I can’t think of the time when I’d feel hung-over from having an orgasm. And, when I’m with someone, I also love the post-orgasm state, those blissful minutes when I replay the filthy thoughts and whatever was going on to make me come.

The key ingredient to orgasm is having to be very much present in the moment. Your focus has to be crystal clear, which shouldn’t be too hard as you only have one goal. Having discovered this goal at a very young age, I’ve been able to get there most of the time on my own and often with lovers.  Always with toys. And since I have a thing for new technologies—that is not limited to the latest iPhone—one of my latest favourites is a German toy called Womanizer, which is a powerful, intuitive stimulator that can make you writhe and moan through gentle sucking and vibrations and non-direct stimulation of a clitoris. Unlike other toys on the market, Womanizer doesn’t rely solely on a bunch of speeds; its magic lies in touchless sensation, and surprise; it is the closest thing to a great lover’s unpredictable mouth. Since lovers aren’t always around or DTF, Womanizer can be your silent (it is silent) go-to when anxiety strikes.

It’s true that for many womxn, an orgasm begins in their mind, and without full attention and focus, an orgasm can become elusive. Fortunately for me, I’ve never had a lot of problems paying attention to that particular event. It’s one of the very few things that can override my anxiety, and even when I’m not able to get myself off—sitting in a minivan with a bunch of friends, driving through the Rockies, would not be an ideal masturbatory occasion—thinking about cumming can sometimes be enough to derail me. This is what ended up happening during my drive—at one point, a sexy text came through on my phone, and I started recalling a few scenarios starring my boyfriend and me. It was much more pleasant than obsessing about the future move; I felt more relaxed and eventually connected with the gorgeous views outside the window—it really was beautiful, and the next time I said so, I truly meant it. 

When my worries about the couch came back that night, I took a few deep breaths, melted into a magnificent orgasm, and passed out proper without a worry in my head. 

This piece is part of a series of sex-positive essays sponsored by Womanizer. Read more personal essays here, and check out our Womanizer x Shedoesthecity Boudoir shoots too.

 

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