Let's Talk About Female Masturbation

2nd Year Law student Rachel Harvey opens the door for open and honest discussion, exploring why women masturbate, types of orgasm, how to masturbate, and some great advice on getting started.

The biggest issue facing young people in quarantine.

Quarantine sucks. I’m not able to see my friends for God knows how long, I can’t earn money without a job and I’ve missed a third of my first academic year at university.

But that’s not the bad news. Oh no… worst of all is the chilling realisation that I’m single, haven’t had sex in five months and now have no hope of getting laid until lockdown ends.

What is a girl to do? Wait for prince (or princess) charming to come knocking down the door and get my end wet? Of course not! Despite being trained to believe otherwise, women (and people with vaginas) get horny too, sometimes so much that we have sex with ourselves. That’s right, women masturbate and, in this article, we’re going to examine exactly how.

Wait, women masturbate?!

More than you probably think. A global 2019 study by TENGA revealed that 78% of British women masturbate and, globally, the average woman does it 4.1 times a week.

If it’s so common, why don’t we talk about it?

I’m a 19-year-old woman that likes to masturbate, and if you’re reading this then you either feel the same or have thought about doing it. You’re not alone and starting the dialogue with women around you can open the doors for open and honest discussion about this natural bodily urge. There are reasons why that might be difficult, however, such as:

Religion

For some, growing up in a strict religious culture can bring feelings of shame around sex, for fear of being a social outcast, being impure or being punished in the afterlife. These effects are often felt more heavily by women.

The influence of porn

“Women and non-binary people are conditioned from jump to be ashamed of their pleasure” says sex and dating writer, Caroline Colvin.

The prioritisation of male pleasure over that of the female in western media and pornography does this at an extreme level. Despite parents trying to keep us safe with child locks on internet browsers, porn is the first sex ed teacher of many young people today. By bombarding us with images of women in submissive poses with titles such as ‘slut gets her pussy destroyed’ and by showing us porn videos that end as soon as the male actor orgasms (regardless of whether the female actress orgasmed or even gave a genuine moan), young people are taught that the female orgasm doesn’t matter.

Young people are taught to associate sexual openness with masculinity, and this causes so many young women to ignore their own pleasure and feel ashamed of it, perhaps even going as far to accept dissatisfaction as a sexual norm.

Sex education

Or, should I say, lack of. “A lot of sex education does not include masturbation, must less female masturbation because female ejaculation doesn't procreate ” says sex educator, Autumn.

And it seems the sex education system is obsessed with talking about sperm swimming to the egg and STIs but fails to address real issues to do with sexual health that affect young people, such as how to find pleasure in sex, how to masturbate, how to ask for consent and even how to properly wash private areas.

Double standards

We all knew a group of boys at school who would talk non-stop about masturbating or getting laid, and if you didn’t you can probably imagine them pretty easily in your head. It’s much harder to imagine the same conversation among a group of girls.

For boys, they are encouraged from a young age to explore their sexuality through pursuing sex for pleasure and gaining ‘high body counts’ to appear attractive, whilst women are pressured to ‘save themselves’ for procreation and suppress sexual urges.

So, why do women masturbate?

It’s good for the brain

Not only does masturbation feel good, but it does a lot of good for your body too. Masturbating increases blood flow within the body and releases happy chemicals (endorphins) in the brain that make us happier and relieved of stress after a good session.

It’s good for your sex life

Masturbation is all about exploring your body and, when you do this, you learn what you like or what you don’t like. This knowledge can be a real confidence booster and allow you to be more creative when satisfying yourself. Alternatively, if you decide to have sex, it can give you the confidence to be more vocal with your partner, so they know how to prioritise your pleasure and make you feel good.

It’s good for your skin

Fuck face masks. A common hormone found in many (frankly overpriced) anti-aging creams is DHEA, the same hormone that has its levels increased in your bloodstream after an orgasm. Not only that, but blood rushes to the face after an orgasm, creating a blushed appearance and transporting important nutrients to your skin. This is the skincare routine that online influencers WON’T tell you about.

It’s good for helping you feel great

There are no downsides to masturbation, only gains. “Masturbating is THE safest sexual practice” says sex educator Cory B, “there are no risks of STI’s, or pregnancy and you don’t have to worry about communicating with anyone else just yet. Think of masturbation like you would a meditation or journaling practice. It is self-care for the sexual and sensual self, and there is nothing shameful about being an autonomous person with desires and boundaries”.

Types of orgasm

Clitoral

The good old classic. Many people use their fingers to play with the clitoris in circles, although applying pressure to the clitoris with vibrators can also feel great *cough cough* or so I’ve heard.

Vaginal

Fingers and sex toys can be used to penetrate the vagina. When using fingers, do the ‘come hither’ motion.

Anal

Anal orgasms can be reached by rubbing the outside of the anal opening or by penetrating the anus with a finger or sex toy.

How do I masturbate?

Most people with vaginas tend to masturbate by stimulating the clitoris. This can be done by:

  • Stroking up and down or side to side with a lubed up finger between your vagina lips
  • Stroking the area around your clitoris in circles with one finger
  • Placing two fingers on either side of your clitoris and rubbing up and down
  • Tapping your clitoris
  • Folding a pillow in half, positioning yourself on your knees with the pillow between your legs and humping it
  • Using a vibrator and moving it around and over your clitoris

Advice on getting started

“I would encourage girls and non-binary kids to take their time exploring their body, for themselves, to figure out what feels good. And if they’re interested in learning more, seek out age-appropriate advice on educational platforms, like O school” – Caroline Colvin, sex and dating writer

“I think there isn’t a reason to be embarrassed, it’s part of the arroja al process and if you enjoy it, there is no reason not to do it unless it contradicts your values. I encourage you to question your shame and where it comes from. Is it innate? If not, go for it.” – Autumn Morris, sex educator

“Just try it out. There is nothing to lose but a lot to gain. Masturbating gives a boost to your mood, that's just the nature of orgasms. It can help with healing from sexual trauma. I recommend getting a vibrator and try that out, sex shops are usually very friendly, but you can also just order one online - they usually have discreet shipping! Also, I swear, most women love talking about it but are too shy to. If you start the conversation you are paving the way for other women to start exploring.” – Alda Hrannardottir, illustrator

“It’s unfortunately normal to be embarrassed. But I would say, be revolutionary, read into it, expose yourself to other ways of thinking. Embarrassment to do with anything to do with ourselves is something to change, and I’d say the more embarrassed you are about it, the more you have to face it, explore it and soon your feelings and your perspective will change and you’ll feel empowered by the pleasure you give yourself. I think it is a vital part of learning to love yourself, and that is a journey you’ll eventually have to go on if you want to get the most out of this earthly life, so why not now!” – G

“Normalizing conversations around masturbation is so important. I talk about masturbation with my friends often and I’ve even gotten to the point where I’ve recommended vibrators to certain family members! It’s taken a long time but leading by example and talking about masturbation in a shameless way has shown the folks around me that it's nothing to be scared of”. – Cory B, sex educator