Too much of it will make you go blind – or so you might have been told. But for some, masturbation might have a real clinical benefit: it can ease restless leg syndrome (RLS). The insight could provide sweet relief for the 7 to 10 per cent of people in the US and Europe who suffer from the condition.
RLS is a distressing neurologic disorder characterised by an urge to move the legs. It is usually associated with unpleasant sensations in the lower limbs such as tingling, aching and itching.
The exact causes of RSL have yet to be pinpointed, but brain autopsies and imaging studies suggest one contributing factor is an imbalance of dopamine – a hormonal messenger that, among other things, activates the areas of the brain responsible for pleasure. It is suspected that dopamine imbalance is responsible for some of the symptoms of Parkinson's disease.
Drugs that increase dopamine have been shown to reduce symptoms of RLS when taken at bedtime and are considered the initial treatment of choice.
Although such drugs provided significant improvement of symptoms for a 41-year-old man with RLS, he found an even better treatment – complete relief after masturbation or sex.