Not unlike us humans, we know that animals often engage in sex for social interaction, demonstration of dominance, aggression relief, exchange for significant materials, and even for pure sexual stimulation. So much so, it is quite common to find examples of self-pleasure in nature.

In his book ‘Biological Exuberance: Animal Homosexuality and Natural Diversity’, biologist Bruce Bagemihl argues onanism is a common practice in the animal kingdom, both among males and females.

In female mammals, autoeroticism often involves direct or indirect stimulation of the clitoris, an organ that you might have not known is not only present in humans. It is no secret our cousins the baboons have a well-deserved reputation as ardent sexual creatures, enjoying oh-so-relatable practices like manual stimulation of the genitals using inanimate objects, stimulation of the nipples, and even auto-fellatio. And this behaviour is not limited to primates: lions, cats, dogs, bats, zebras and dolphins all engage in similar activities.

The evolutionary reasons for this behaviour might still be contested, but researchers are certain it provides physiological benefits to us humans. Among the chemicals released by masturbation we can find our usual happiness-inducing substances:

- Dopamine, the neurotransmitter which triggers the pleasure centres of the brain, increasing overall feelings of happiness and reducing stress.

- Endorphins, whose analgesic effects reduce all sorts of pain (and yes, even menstrual).

- Prolactin, which has amongst +300 functions in the body and has been proven to help with insomnia.

- Cortisol, a hormone involved in the regulation of the immune system, which contributes to our overall health and well-being.

If this weren’t enough, public health researchers have revealed female masturbation gets cervical fluid flowing through the female genitalia, which flushes out bacteria and other infection-causing, pregnancy-preventing substances. And if that wasn’t enough, masturbation has even more going on its favour: there is 0% probability of getting pregnant or catching an STD.

Whether it’s boosting your mood or releasing sexual tension, there are plenty of reasons to get on it. But there is one final benefit to masturbation that trumps them all: there’s no better way of maximising orgasms!