Let’s talk about female masturbation
I took an informal poll of women in their twenties and asked them about masturbation. The results revealed so many of the same stories: sex-ed in schools didn’t dare cover the topic, parents never brought it up, and friends didn't talk about it (and when they do, they’re uncomfortable and quick to change the topic). The lack of education and talk about masturbation has led to some complicated feelings around the topic.
The kicker? Studies show that over 90% of women worldwide have masturbated. So if you discovered the act all on your own as a kid or teenager, you’re not alone.
Thankfully, we’re witnessing a bit of a masturbation renaissance when it comes to social norms and the media’s representation of female sexuality. In the past five years or so, hip brands have been slinging vibrators on Instagram, we’ve watched dozens of candid conversations between girlfriends on reality shows, and consumed countless podcasts delving into the art of the female orgasm.
Now that all of this information is at our disposal, we know this to be true: masturbating is a completely healthy and natural act. But even with this so-called masturbation resurgence, the topic still remains shrouded in stigma and silence, especially with young women. So, without further ado, we’re going to delve into the world of masturbation and talk through why people masturbate, the truly amazing health benefits, have a candid look at the negative side effects, and even offer up a bit of a “how-to” guide if you’re brand new to masturbation (yay, welcome!)
First thing’s first: Why do we masturbate?
- Because it’s a way to explore our bodies: Masturbation allows us to get familiar with our own unique anatomy, which can have an outsized impact on our own sexual identity.
- To experience sexual pleasure on our own terms: Masturbation is the oldest trick in the book for experiencing reliable sexual pleasure and an orgasm.
- Because it is a natural stress reliever: We’ll get into the health benefits in a bit, but masturbating releases endorphins and tension, offering a natural way to reduce stress, improve mood, and even promote better sleep.
- To build up sexual self confidence: Exploring our own bodies is an amazing way to understand what we like, what we don’t, and can only help you communicate that to your partner.
The many health benefits of masturbation
What if I told you there was something you could do (for free, nonetheless!) that relieves pain, reduces stress, improves sleep, and releases feel-good chemicals in your brain? It would be a no brainer, right? Well, I’m happy to report that masturbation does all of these things.
- Enhanced sexual function: Regular masturbation can improve blood flow, helping to maintain healthy sexual function and potentially reducing the risk of sexual difficulties.
- Pain relief: Masturbation stimulates the release of endorphins, which act as natural pain relievers. This can be particularly beneficial for those experiencing menstrual cramps or other types of pelvic discomfort.
- Stress reduction: Touching yourself can aid relaxation and reduce stress levels. It also improves overall mental well-being and provides a positive outlet for emotional release.
- Better sleep: The release of endorphins during masturbation can contribute to a more restful night's sleep, as it helps to relax both the body and the mind.
Let’s talk about the negative sides of masturbation
While we could wax poetic about the amazing health benefits masturbating does have, it’s important to acknowledge that this is an extremely personal act that can have drawbacks, depending on the person.
If you’re spending excessive time masturbating there might be a problem — for example, if masturbating begins to interfere with your daily responsibilities, your relationships, or your productivity, it’s worth reconsidering your relationship with the practice. If you’re having difficulty reevaluating your relationship with masturbation, talk therapy can be extremely helpful in getting to the root of why.
Additionally, societal taboos and outdated beliefs (hello, religious guilt) can bring up intense feelings of shame around masturbation. Even if you logically know that masturbation is a healthy and natural practice, some of these beliefs are so deeply rooted in us thanks to social norms that we can’t avoid them. Knowing that you aren’t alone and familiarizing yourself with communities that celebrate masturbation (open-minded friends, sex-ed platforms like Real Talk, and sexually liberating media) can help you feel more comfortable.
Also, understanding how common masturbating is can help normalize the practice. When in doubt, turn to the data: A survey published in the Journal of Sex Research revealed that 92% of women worldwide have engaged in masturbation at some point in their lives.
How to get started with masturbation
If you're new to masturbation or simply looking for some guidance to enhance your experience, here are a few tips to help you get started:
- Create a comfortable space: Find a quiet and private place where you feel relaxed and secure. Ensure that you have enough time without interruptions.
- Explore your body: Take some time to explore your own body. Start by touching different areas, such as your breasts, inner thighs, and clitoris. Pay attention to the sensations and notice what feels pleasurable.
- Find your rhythm: Experiment with different types of touch, pressure, and speed to discover what feels best for you. Some prefer gentle touch, while others enjoy more firm stimulation. Let your body guide you and trust your instincts.
- Use lubrication: It can’t hurt to use lubricant to enhance comfort and pleasure. This can reduce any potential friction and make the experience more enjoyable.
- Incorporate porn or erotica: Consider reading erotica or watching ethical porn to get you in the mood. We’re big fans of the women-owned porn company, Bellesa and audio-erotica brands Quinn and Dipsea.
- Experiment with different techniques: You can of course use your fingers, but we also recommend a vibrator (here’s a brand we love), or even exploring the water pressure in the shower. Find what works best for you and enjoy the journey of self-discovery.
Remember, there is no right or wrong way to masturbate. It's a personal and individual experience, so allow yourself to explore and enjoy the pleasure it brings. Listen to your body, be kind to yourself, and always prioritize your comfort and consent.