Sex and Stress: How to Relieve Stress Without Falling

Wrapping up the mini-series on the four weak areas for women.

Bored.  Discouraged.  Lonely (Alone).  Stressed.

Stress-relief has to be the most popular argument I have seen on behalf of lust.  Typically, I have seen it used for masturbation.  I don’t hear from many women who take the time to look up pornography when stressed.  Take this comment, for example, left on a post I authored entitled, “How Do I Kick a Masturbation Addiction.”

“I feel sorry for all of you who read this article and actually feel guilt for a practice that does not hurt anyone else. I understand why you would want to refrain from masturbation in a marriage because it fires up your sex life, but especially to advise a single girl against the practice is beyond me…. Masturbation can be very fulfilling contrary to what this article states and has many health benefits including increased blood flow and circulation, stress relief, and pain relief. I’m sorry to hear such restricted close minded views here…. I respect your faith, I just think it’s awful to take a woman’s sexuality away from her because you think it’s dirty. God bless.”

First off, let me be clear on one thing (well, maybe a few).  The idea that something would be OK in singleness and then not be OK in marriage is ridiculous.  In fact, the stating of that would seem to indicate that it has the potential to ‘hurt’ someone else (read: husband).

Second, “masturbation can be very fulfilling”– true.  The article never stated otherwise.  I’ve never stated otherwise. I struggled with masturbation longer than I struggled with pornography, and let’s be real here: I loved it.

Sorry, if that’s too much information, but I’m not going to lie about that.  Sex is very fulfilling.  Sin is fulfilling as well.  Eating chocolate is fulfilling too.  It doesn’t mean it’s good, God-honoring, or right.  Our measure for that should always be our hearts compared to the word of God, not our logic compared to who we think God is.

Thirdly, the ‘health benefits’ of masturbation listed in this comment are not exclusive to masturbation.  Massage creates increased blood flow and circulation.  Walking creates increased blood flow and circulation.  Stretching creates increased blood flow and circulation.  A hot shower increases blood flow.

As for pain relief, masturbation ‘relieves’ pain by releasing hormones called endorphins, which act as an analgesic (pain killer) like morphine.  Coincidentally, you can also release these hormones through exercise and, my favorite, eating spicy foods.  So next time, instead of masturbating, hit up a local Chinese restaurant and throw in some extra Asian Chilis.

In all seriousness, I’ll come back and tackle these in greater depth in a later post.  What I want to address right now is the idea of masturbation as stress-relief.

Masturbation Relieves Stress: Truth

It does not, however, remove stress.

Technically, masturbation is one way to release a hormones that help us relieve stress.  Let’s be clear though, “stress” in this case is usually bodily stress like muscle tension.  In other words, it makes us feel good.  It helps us relax.

It does absolutely nothing to remove stressors from our lives.  In fact, it just turns around and adds to them.  Now, on top of whatever was stressing us out to begin with, we have to deal with the fact that we wasted time, and now feel guilty.

We know that is how this cycle is going to work, yet we keep getting ourselves back into it.

Here are our options: We can either learn to break the cycle, or we can stop getting ourselves so stressed out.

I would love to be able to do the latter, honestly.  I really wish that somehow I could master the euphoric life of a surrendered Christian who doesn’t have a care in the world and truly trusts God with tomorrow and everything happening today.  But, I’m not there yet.  I doubt any of us are.

On any given day, we have to do lists that demand our time.  People that demand our time.  Things that demand our attention, and as much as we want to practice the principle of casting all of our cares upon Jesus, fixing our eyes on things above, and giving no thought to tomorrow, the fact is that’s hard.  We can get stressed out about being stressed out.

I am naturally a high-energy intense person (I’m sure that shocks you).  I love staying busy, am psycho about details, and just don’t know how to sit down and breathe.  On a normal day, I am usually fine and tackle my tasks with ease, and delegate others.  Then, there are days– those days.  From dawn to dusk, nothing works right, and by bed time I feel like I have the entire weight of the world on my shoulders.  I’m tired, irritated, have a headache, and am frustrated.  Since I didn’t manage to keep myself from getting stressed out, in that moment, I have a choice.

One of my options is masturbation, but far better choices exist.  The best of these is to simply pause and actually decompress.  Maybe, for you, that is through prayer.  For me, it’s actually through writing– journals, e-mails to friends, etc.  Find a way to actually unpack what is going on. Process whatever is weighing on you, don’t ignore it, or numb it by turning to things like masturbation.

If you are dealing with physical tension then go get a massage, take a warm bath, or go for a walk.  While you are at it figure out what is causing that tension.  As Christians, we aren’t supposed to live lives of stress, numbed by a daily shot (or two, or three) of masturbation.  We have to learn to handle life properly, and in a way that doesn’t enslave us to our bodies, which is exactly what masturbation for stress relief will do.  

Turning to lust in any form for stress relief doesn’t fix our problems; it takes our eyes off the One who can.


  1. Wow. Another amazing article.

    I know I’m being a little open (and I honestly feel that I’ll regret it later, forgive me), but so much of what you write and say really speaks to me personally. It’s like we’re in the same boat. It’s as if you’ve written it unknowingly for me.

    You really strengthen me. Thank you.

  2. I wrote something, but it didn’t show up for some reason.

    1. Due to the content of the site, there are some rather unsavory characters that can stop by and try and link in the comments. Rather than let those sorts of things get out there, I choose to moderate all of the comments, so they don’t show up right away. Your comments are live now.

      1. Oh, okay, and thanks again!

  3. So why did God create us this way? is the question I often find myself asking, I completely agree that masturbation is sin with or without marriage. I’ve been struggling with it as well. Sometimes when I’m very stressed out my body is screaming to have that release that I started to think that I probably should’ve been born a man. I often feel like I’m an abnormal Christian woman with a serious lust problem or just an uncontrollable sex drives. I used to think that lust is just men’s problem but I’m a living proof that it is not. I’m still struggling to be completely free and God has been very gracious. However the struggle is often so hard. Too hard. I lose the battle sometimes because I just can’t function and then I’m left feeling so discouraged. I want to be pure. I ask God to help me all the time. I want to please God, but why am i being tempted this way? I know He has set me free but why am I still defeated? It’s hard for me to think that sex is a gift from God because it’s more like curse. I don’t want this stupid sex drive in me, at least not now. I prefer not to be a sexual being if that is what it takes to please God better. Why doesn’t he just take it away? I know we have to wait, right? But then my prayers for a husband don’t seem to be heard either. I know that God doesn’t give us anything beyond our ability to endure. I’ve experienced that too many times, but I often think that lust is the only thing that that doesn’t apply to, at least in my case. It’s really like being given the forbidden fruit right in your hand while you’re starving and being told that you’re not supposed to eat it. I also know celibacy is not an option for me and I’m learning to wait for God’s best, but then when I see the statistics we all know that about in 6 women 4-5 will end up alone. There are just more women than men in this world. Let’s face it. I am sorry if I sound so angry with God. I’m actually not. I’m angry with lust. I’m frustrated with it.

  4. Apart from my lust problem, I know God loves me. Yes He does, very much. I feel and experience that every day in my life. I know I’ve been set free. Freedom in Him. Yes. I have it. Except in this particular area. I often wonder why am I not freed from lust? Even after my personal encounter with Jesus when I recommitted my life to Him. I’ve seen His work in many other areas of my life, including purity. But I soon fell again. It’s been a battle. It’s been too long. I’m sick of it.