Whilst men are widely believed to all ‘have a quick wank’ sometimes, female masturbation remains a hushed subject, with some women feeling shame or embarrassment for touching themselves. Male masturbation is a widely talked about, joked about, and even bragged about subject, so why the double standards?
Whilst it is a private and intimate topic, masturbation is certainly not something to be ashamed of. Touching yourself is relaxing and pleasurable and can even boost your self-esteem – there’s few things that will make you feel better than an orgasm!
Considering we have multiple erogenous zones, which of those you choose to pay attention to is your call. Most women masturbate by touching or rubbing their clitoris but others will touch or use sex toys for vaginal and/or anal stimulation. Whatever you prefer, masturbation grants you sexual agency in knowing exactly what does it for you.
Many women masturbate from a young age and have self-pleasure as a regular part of their routine! But for others, masturbation is a more infrequent occurrence, or even something they’ve never tried before.
If you’re masturbating for the first time, or are wanting to explore a bit more, it might be worth setting aside some ‘me time’ purely for this purpose. Lock the door, turn your phone on silent and pick your method of stimulation. If you need some prompting to get you in the mood, a lot of people enjoy porn whilst others prefer erotic literature, sexy pictures, or a trusty imagination. A little lube can also help you feel turned on.
Some of the myths that surround female masturbation include the belief that it’s not a common occurrence; that the action has to penetrate the vagina; and that you have to orgasm every time.
Of course, no one really knows how many women masturbate, as it’s not something that can be accurately measured. However some surveys have found that around 90% of women do, meaning there is nothing abnormal, unusual or unnatural about it.
Secondly, most women orgasm more readily through clitoral stimulation - in fact 80% of women struggle to achieve an orgasm solely through vaginal intercourse. For many, masturbation consists purely of touching the clitoris.
Thirdly, it’s normal not to orgasm every time you masturbate. Some women touch themselves just to relax, without feeling the need to build to a climax. And if you’re new to masturbation, it may well take you a while to relax and figure out exactly what gets you to that point.
If you’ve been at it a while and are getting frustrated, try something new. Alter your position, location or stimulation method. Some women find that tensing muscles or holding their breath as they get more turned on can help them build to a climax. Body confidence and self-esteem can also affect your ability to climax, with emotions such as anxiety and stress significantly getting in the way, so try to give yourself time to relax and enjoy!
If you’re struggling to reach orgasm, it’s worth getting checked out by your GP or local sexual health (GUM) clinic to see if there are any contributing physical factors. You can also speak to your GP or a counselling service about receiving psychological support, as mood disorders and trauma could be the cause.
Go to the NHS Choices website to find your local sexual health clinic or GP. LGBT Foundation offers counselling, including psychosexual counselling. Click here or call 0345 3 30 30 30 for more information.
Article by Claudia Carvell