Let me get this out of the way fast: WOMEN. MASTURBATE. All the time. Women think about sex as much if not more than men, and yes, that often does translate into touching our bodies and making ourselves orgasm. It’s true, not all women masturabte (hint: there are precious few things that all women do, because, you know, we’re all a little different) but of all Americans 14 or older—single, married, polyamorous, gay, straight, bisexual, man, woman, nonbinary, and everything in between—78% report masturbating regularly, according to the National Survey of Sexual Health and Behavior. That’s a lot of people engaging in an activity that we still deem unbecoming to talk about, and that we still refuse to properly educate ourselves about.

I first began masturbating at age 11. I would never have called it ‘masturbating,’ but no doubt, that’s what I was doing. I didn’t know why or how my body was experiencing the sensations that it was, I just knew that it felt good and I wanted to keep doing it. My foray into masturbation came with a premature (and immature, if not nonconsensual) introduction to internet porn, which is a topic for another conversation. To this day, I masturbate regularly; roughly three to four times a week, on average, depending on the time of the month. Of course, because of the way we talk about masturbation in this country (or, in the case of women, the way we choose not to talk about it), I can’t seem to shake the lingering pangs of shame that hit me after each time I make myself come. There are a number of myths about female masturbation that contribute to that shame beyond simply the myth that women don’t do it. Those myths include:

 

1. Women who masturbate are in some way sexually frustrated or dissatisfied with their current sexual situation, particularly if they masturbate while in a relationship.

The most basic response to this myth is that masturbating actually reveals very little information about you as a person aside from the fact that you are, indeed, a healthy, functioning person. Masturbating while in a relationship is a very healthy method of handling sexual urges and providing you and your partner(s) with much-needed space. You can’t rely on one another to fulfill your every desire.

 

2. Masturbating might keep you from being able to climax with a sexual partner.

According to sex educator and PassionbyKait.com (more info here) founder Kait Scalisi, apparently the opposite is true here. She claims that regular masturbation allows people to get in touch with their own needs, which makes them more likely to advocate for what they want during partnered sex, and therefore leads to a higher probability of orgasming with said partner.

 

3. Masturbation is just for men.

"Culturally, men brag about it. For women, it's much more hidden," according to Scalisi. We’ve already established that this myth isn’t true, but listen to the numbers: The Kinsey Institute reports that more than half of women ages 18 to 49 reported masturbating within a 90-day period, which is comparable to the number of men surveyed under the same auspices.

 

4. Masturbation is a mere indulgence and it’s not good for your health.

Again, au contraire! Masturbation is good for you for a multitude of reasons, including but not limited to the following: it can help you sleep better, as well as help to improve self-esteem, body image, and certain stress-related skin conditions—not to mention that it can help to relieve stress, cramps, aches, pains, and inflammation throughout the body.

 

5. There’s only one way to masturbate.

Wrong again! Women get off in a variety of different positions, with a variety of different tools (or none at all). Some women use their hands to stimulate their clitorises, others insert fingers into the vagina. Some women enjoy the friction created by mounting different household objects like pillows, others prefer the stimulation of a vibrating toy. Some like to do it in the shower, others under the covers. Some stand, some sit, some lie down. As with just about everything sexual, it’s all about experimentation and discovering what feels the best for you.


Overall, masturbation is an incredibly powerful tool of self-care, and shame should have no part in keeping you from making yourself feel good.

 

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