It’s the portmanteau that combines two guilty pleasures into one doozy of a word: procrasturbation, the act of masturbating while procrastinating. But is it possible that procrasturbation might actually motivate you to get stuff done? Dr. Christopher Asandra, chief medical officer of NuMale Medical Center, and exercise physiologist Dr. Scott Weiss explain what happens in your brain and body when you procrasturbate, and why (spoiler alert) it’s actually a pretty good way to kill time.
Why would procrasturbation be a good thing?
Wouldn’t it be a better idea to, you know, do your work instead of playing with yourself? HELL NO, and if you feel that way, just close this article now, you Puritan. Research by Dr. Barry Komisaruk and Dr. Nan Wise of Rutgers University shows that orgasm sends blood, oxygen, nutrients, and neurochemicals to the brain, shifting the entire organ into high gear. "Mental exercises increase brain activity but only in relatively localized regions,” Komisaruk told The Times in 2013. “Orgasm activates the whole.”
So... why does that happen?
“All these chemicals and hormones are getting secreted all over your brain,” says Weiss, “coming from the cerebellum, amygdala, pituitary gland. Your neurons are on hyperdrive.”
After orgasm, blood that’s been hanging around the genitals surges back to the brain. Some people believe the little tsunami of endorphin- and oxytocin-laced blood ramps up your ability to concentrate, but Weiss says they’ve got it twisted. The brain isn’t getting superpowers -- it’s just getting back the blood that had been throwing a rager in your nether regions.
“While there is a massive increase of neurochemicals and hormones to the brain, everything is a replenishment. Everything is going back to homeostasis,” he says. “People are thinking, ‘Hey, that surge might be positive.’ But that might be a reach.” In other words, after you orgasm, the simple fact that your brain is returning to normal is enough to make you feel like you’re super-focused.
Does that mean procrasturbation actually helps you get stuff done?
In a word: YES! Masturbation can help you concentrate, though not necessarily because of increased blood flow to the head. Orgasm releases endorphins -- the “feel-good chemical” that relieves pain and discomfort -- and oxytocin, Asandra says. “Oxytocin can decrease anxiety and help you relax more,” Asandra says. “If the brain’s in a more relaxed state physiologically, you’ll be able to concentrate better and focus on whatever task is at hand.”
Sweet! How often should I masturbate for optimum concentration powers?
According to Asandra, one or two self-pleasuring sessions a day are plenty. If you masturbate much more than that, you risk depleting neurohormones and the neurotransmitter acetylcholine, which plays a role in the nervous system. “You can burn out neurohormones if you masturbate too much, which causes stress levels to increase in the brain,” Asandra warns. “Then [your adrenal glands] release adrenaline, and that causes more stress.”
So yes, you can get addicted to masturbation, just as you can with almost any ridiculously pleasurable experience. Asandra says it takes “prolonged years of excessive (more than three or four times a day) masturbation” to drain your brain of acetylcholin, which should come as good news to high-school students and camgirls everywhere.
All right. I’m going to procrasturbate!
Great! But before you do, keep in mind that procrasturbation is a bit of a double-edged sword. If you’re totally overwhelmed by a looming deadline, sure, masturbation might help you relax and step down from the ledge. But don’t get too relaxed, Weiss warns.
“Once you’re relaxed, you make better decisions, but if you’re too relaxed, you won’t want to [act on] those decisions,” says Weiss, who advocates getting physically active as a way to boost energy levels. “A body in motion tends to stay in motion. The more you stay on the couch, the more you’ll find things to do on the couch... like masturbate.”
Not that there’s anything wrong with that.
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Missy Wilkinson thinks the obvious thing to say here is that she procrasturbated before writing this article, but that would be a lie (she actually ate Indian food). Follow her for more prurient health news: @missy_wilkinson.