They say there are two types of women in the world – those who masturbate, and those who lie – and while that’s a harsh and untrue depiction of womankind, it does raise a question about just how many women practice self-satisfaction.
What is masturbation?
Masturbation is the manual stimulation of your genitals using your hand, although it can involve sex toys, too. Often, but not always resulting in orgasm, masturbation not only feels great, but it has a number of benefits, too, including health, happiness, and better sex with a partner.
Do women masturbate?
Because masturbation is not something we often talk about, some people – both men and women – can feel like it has a stigma attached, and either don’t do it at all or attach a massive amount of guilt to it and feel like they’re doing something wrong.
While it’s probably not something you’d want to discuss at dinner with the in-laws, the more we talk about it as the natural experience it is, the less guilt will be associated with it and the easier it will be to see it as perfectly normal.
What are the benefits of masturbation?
There are so many benefits to masturbation that it should be prescribed on the NHS.
Masturbation, like any kind of sexual activity, is a holistic activity; that is, it involves the whole body and mind. By exploring your own body, you will gain a new perspective on yourself, and get to know the parts of you (physically and mentally) that you’ve maybe never known before.
Knowing what works
When you take the time to pleasure yourself, you will gain an in-depth knowledge of what turns you on and what doesn’t. You’ll learn whether you like clitoral stimulation with a light touch or with more pressure, if you prefer it slow or fast – or a mixture of both – and whether you enjoy the other parts of your vulva being touched, such as the area between the vagina and anus (perineum).
Sharing of knowledge
Knowing your own body intimately and what works for you is knowledge that can be passed on to your lover or lovers, leading to much better sex for you. If you don’t know what you like, they won’t have a clue either.
Relief from period cramps
Believe it or not, masturbation can be highly effective at reducing or even stopping period cramps. When we orgasm, two feel-good hormones are released – serotonin and dopamine – which can act as painkillers. In addition, when we climax there is a rush of blood to the uterus, which can also effectively relieve cramps.
While a gentle session of self-love will only burn a low number of calories, indulging in a more vigorous session can, in fact, burn a substantial amount. By drawing out the session using different techniques, positions, and toys, you can give yourself a mini workout that can help with getting rid of those excess calories.
If you’ve ever experienced the sleepy afterglow of sex with a partner, you’ll know the feeling of drifting off to sleep with a satisfied smile on your face. But according to Dr Jeff Foster, an author and GP, the mind doesn’t know the difference between partnered sex and flying solo. He says: “Sexual activity, usually that which results in orgasm, causes a release of multiple hormones, including dopamine, serotonin, oxytocin, and prolactin.”
These happy little hormones leave us feeling relaxed and sleepy and will help us drift off into a blissful sleep. He goes on to explain that sexual activity has a sedating effect – a deliberate move to allow us time to recover from the strenuous activity.
Modern lives come with stress, and sometimes quite a lot of it. Masturbating means you have to be present, which pushes other thoughts from your mind. This, in turn, can help to lower stress and anxiety.
It can increase your libido
If you find, as many women do for so many reasons, that your sex drive is diminishing, masturbating can actually amp this up again. Think of it this way; can you stop at just one square of chocolate?
Pelvic floor strengthening
Finally, masturbating can help to strengthen the pelvic floor, which can be a massive boost to women’s sexual health. Pregnancy, menopause, and weight gain can all play havoc with our muscles down there, and regular masturbation is like an exercise programme for those muscles, meaning not only a better sex life but also an improvement in things like urinary incontinence.
How much is too much?
There is no such thing as too much when it comes to masturbation, unless it interferes with your daily life. Some women do it once a week, others every day, and some even do it several times a day. There is no right or wrong answer to how often you should do it; it’s your body.
A study in the Huffington Post suggested that while men masturbate approximately 140 times a year – or 2.6 times every week – women partake much less, with an average of 53 times a year…that’s just once a week. That means that globally, there’s a 62% difference. However, in the UK the difference is even bigger, at around 66%.
Can you masturbate on your period?
Absolutely. Contrary to common masturbation myths, masturbating while on your period can help to relieve cramps, but the release of the orgasm hormones can also relieve headaches and other pains associated with menstruating. A woman’s mood can also take a downturn at her time of the month, and masturbating can help to reverse that.
There is even anecdotal evidence that periods can be shortened because the contracting of the uterus that happens during orgasm can help to expel more of the uterine lining in one go. And of course, the blood can act as a natural lubricant, giving a smoother feel to the act.
If you’re worried about the mess, simply lay a towel down on your bed or wherever you are when the mood takes you, or alternatively do it in the shower.
How to masturbate
We’ve given you all the whys and wherefores about female masturbation, so now we’ll move on to how you do it.
The first thing to do is get to know your own body. A handheld mirror is best and can be angled so you can see everything. A lot of women have never seen their own vulva because, unlike men, their genitals are tucked away out of sight. Take some time to learn where everything is; the inner and outer lips, the anus, the perineum, and the holy grail… The clitoris.
While all the parts are important, the clitoris has around 8,000 nerve endings in the tip alone (around twice the amount on a penis) so getting up close and personal will pay off handsomely.
1. Set the scene
Just because you’re going solo doesn’t mean you should make less of an effort. Treat the occasion as you would a date, light candles, dim the lighting, and take a bath or shower beforehand to relax and get you in the mood. Turn off your phone, lock the door, and head to the bed (or wherever you feel more comfortable).
You wouldn’t find it all that appealing to have a lover head straight for ground zero – i.e., the clitoris – so pay yourself the same attention and use your entire body. Take your time to touch your hair, stroke your neck, and run your hands down your shoulders. Feel your way across your breasts, play with your nipples, and explore your stomach. Your thighs are a huge erogenous zone, so stroke the insides gently, and spend time just loving your legs. You could even use oil to add to the sensory pleasure and make it easier.
Not only will doing this add to the experience, but it will also show you the parts of your body that turn you on when touched; something that will benefit future lovemaking, both solo and with a partner.
3. Positions, please
If you are new to masturbation, you will probably want to try the missionary position; that is, on your back with your legs spread. This often offers the easiest way to reach everything, and it is super comfortable so is great if you are nervous or feeling a little anxious.
Lube isn’t just for intercourse, and using it on your fingers will really enhance the experience, and prevent you from becoming sore. Then simply play. Stroke your lips, your anus, your thighs, and finally find the clitoris and begin slowly stroking. Only you will know how hard or soft you like it, and you can vary the speed and intensity to suit. Don’t rush, there are no prizes for coming first.
Once you are comfortable with that method, try switching things up a bit. Many women like to use the side of the bed, a pillow, or even the arm of a chair to rub their clitoris instead of their fingers, and it can open up a whole new world of possibilities. Don’t be afraid to experiment.
Kneeling on all fours is another popular position; it’s erotic and feels completely different to lying down. If you have a mirror, you can add a visual element too, and watch yourself as you cum.
Keeping your thighs together is another way to up the ante because everything will feel tighter and therefore different.
Masturbating is so much more than simply rubbing your clitoris until you climax. Try using your non-dominant hand to make a ‘V’ shape and place one finger on one side of your clit, and the other on the other side. By squeezing slightly, the clitoris will protrude and more nerve endings will be exposed. Then use your other hand to stroke it. If you are pretty coordinated, you can slide the ‘V’ hand up and down as you masturbate, which will stimulate the sides with one hand as you take care of the top with the other. It’s best to use lube with this method as the clitoris will be even more sensitive.
5. Use the bath or shower
If the bedroom isn’t doing it for you, head to the bathroom to get wet and wild. A shower head is a wonderful ‘toy’ to use as you can direct the stream of water exactly where you want it, and even have fun with different temperatures, although make sure it doesn’t get too hot.
If you don’t have a shower, you can still masturbate in the bath. Use your hands as you would on dry land, or alternatively, you can position yourself under the tap with your legs up against the wall and allow the water to run directly onto your clit. The great thing about this method is that it’s hands-free, so you can let the water do its thing without having to move a muscle.
6. Use toys
If you’re new to masturbation, it’s best to let your fingers do the walking, as it’s the only way to really get to know your own body. But once you have mastered the art, a whole world opens up. You can use dildos, vibrators, or clitoral stimulators, or add in some anal fun by using a vibe around the anus.
You can also use whatever is to hand; an electric toothbrush can be a great way to get the clitoris going, and it also adds a little of the ‘forbidden’ to it. Tying a scarf into knots and pulling it backwards and forwards between your legs can also feel great.
7. Don’t rush
While an orgasm is awesome, enjoy the journey as well as the destination. Just like with sex, masturbation might not always end in a climax, and that’s okay. Taking time to love your body through self-stimulation is always worth it, whether or not you cum, so don’t focus on the end game, well, not all the time, anyway.
Now you know how to masturbate
There is no end to the benefits that masturbation can bring. Exploring your own body is the absolute best way to discover what you like and what you don’t, and besides all the health benefits like better sleep and relief from period pains, it will enhance your sex life with a partner as you can show them what you like and how to do it.
With the majority of women being unable to climax through penetrative sex alone, learning how to masturbate will help you to achieve orgasms that you might never have experienced without clitoral stimulation. It’s one of the best ways to practice self-care and improve your sex life.