Historically, the stigma surrounding masturbation has been skewed against women. The Kinsey Report of 1948 – the first thorough study of human sexual habits found that 92% of males reported having masturbated, as opposed to 62% of females. Perhaps the classic Victorian view of the pure and proper lady laid the foundation for the shame and silence that is more associated with female than with male masturbation.
Females tend to start masturbating later in life than men. This might partly be due to the stigma but it may also be due to the fact that the penis is simply more accessible than female genitalia, and males begin handling their genitals as early as toilet training. As females move from a subordinate role in society towards one of equality, they have become more empowered sexually. As early as the late 1900s, feminists began to speak about their sexuality and encouraged women to find out exactly what they like.
The Kinsey Report challenged many other myths surrounding masturbation, finding that “Masturbation was the most important sexual outlet for single females and the second most important sexual outlet or married females, providing 7-10% of orgasms for those 16-40 years.” These findings are significant because they tell us that marital status has very little to do with a woman’s masturbatory habits.
Other myths include that which compels many women to hide their masturbation from their partners. Masturbation is a supplement to intercourse, not necessarily a replacement, in many healthy sexual relationships. Reassuring your partner of this can prevent possible feelings of rejection and inadequacy. It might be intimidating at first, but allowing your partner to watch you masturbate can be a very powerful and empowering step. Showing them or being able to tell them what you like will help both of you get the most out of your sex life.
The external female genitals are called the vulva. Pubic hair grows on the labia majora or outer vaginal lips; inside are the labia minora, which are pinker and moister. If your own genitals are not familiar to you, you might examine them in a hand mirror while bathing or showering. The clitoris is found where the labia minora join at the top. This highly sensitive pink knob is about the size of a pea and is protected by a hood, which retracts during sexual arousal. Below the clitoris is the tiny opening of the urethra, through which urine passes, and below that is the opening to the vagina.
Masturbation is best when you have plenty of time and when you won’t be interrupted. Go somewhere private, quiet and warm. Beyond that, it’s completely up to you: some women like to lie on their back, some on their front; some like their legs pressed tightly together, while others like them spread wide apart or propped above the body. Using a lubricant can help while you explore with your fingers or an object such as a vibrator. Experimentation is the key.
Women who need prolonged clitoral stimulation are encouraged to experiment with a vibrator. For some, a vibrator is the only way to reach climax. Women looking for a simple, inexpensive vibrator will want to try the Waterproof Delight. As the name suggests, this vibrator is completely waterproof, allowing you to bring it in the shower or bathtub. Explore your erogenous zones and discover what truly pleases you.
The most common method is to caress and massage the clitoris to orgasm; the clitoris may be covered by skin or partially exposed, so take some time to explore this area carefully. How much and what kind of stimulation works best varies widely from woman to woman, but beginners are encouraged to explore and lightly touch the genital area for pleasure spots, and to stroke and caress these spots as they find them.
Experiment with pressure and speed: many women find the clitoris too sensitive for direct stimulation at first, so you might begin by rubbing the whole vulva before gradually moving to the clitoris with delicate fingers. Combine this stimulation with caressing, massaging and touching of other erogenous areas for maximum pleasure: the breasts, thighs, vaginal lips and vagina itself can all add to the experience.
Some women are able to masturbate by repeatedly squeezing their thighs together and releasing, often with their legs crossed at the knees. The advantages of this are obvious: it can be done discreetly, and it frees up the hands for other things. Contracting the thighs and vaginal muscles often makes clitoral stimulation more intense and pleasurable.
Another popular technique is the “waterfall.” Many women enjoy this stream-of-water technique, which is most commonly done in a bathtub with the faucet running, or in the shower with a removable head. Set the water to a comfortable temperature (usually warm) and level of force, and have the water flow directly over the clitoris. This should provide enough pressure to stimulate the clitoris and other erogenous areas to orgasm.
One important note. While vibrators and other stimulators are an excellent way to masturbate, it is never advisable to use household objects. Not only is this unsafe and unhygienic, but a trip to the hospital for removal could be very embarrassing! Vibrators and dildos are safer, more reliable, and almost guarantee orgasm. Vibrators and dildos are also advised for those women who desire intense, continuous stimulation.
When you feel a gathering tension in the vaginal area and a build-up of warmth, orgasm is on the way. Don’t let up, as if you stop these sensations will fade and it might be difficult to get them back again. The clitoris will become increasingly sensitive whether you are stimulating it directly or not, and then orgasm will break out with waves of vaginal contractions. Most women like some form of genital contact during orgasm: either continued stimulation by inserting a finger or simply by pressing or holding the vaginal area.
Learning to masturbate is in many ways taking control of your sexuality. It is the best way to learn how to orgasm, and knowing your own anatomy and sexual responses is key to enjoying great sex with a partner. Self-love is safe, natural and healthy, and will keep you in touch with your sexual challenges, needs and desires.