Ways Women Orgasm

Female masturbation is relatively uncommon

Carolyn, a relationship counsellor in her fifties, told me she thought it unwise to positively encourage female masturbation. She did not give her reasons.

“Many women think of masturbation as unnatural and disgusting and a complete waste of time, and don’t understand why anybody does it and are unsympathetic to the view that people might continue to do it even though they have sexual partners. The majority of men, though they may keep their feelings to themselves, don’t agree.” (p52 Healthy Sex 1998)

It is often implied that for a heterosexual woman, sex is an emotional experience and that orgasm (if acknowledged at all) comes from simply loving her partner. The unspoken fear is that any activity as sexually explicit as masturbation might interfere with the more acceptable loving experiences that a sexual relationship can provide.

Carolyn knew that I masturbated and she asked me, rather tactlessly I thought, whether I had ever had any lesbian tendencies. It reminds me of the joke told by a character in the film ‘Flashdance’. A male chef asks, “What’s this?” and sticks his tongue out flat. The answer – “A lesbian with a hard on!”.

Lesbian women are seen to enjoy explicit sexual arousal (involving the clitoris). For heterosexual women, enjoying sexual pleasure is primarily associated with immoral behaviour. Within loving relationships heterosexual women usually settle for vaginal intercourse, which can be justified morally on the grounds of reproduction.

“Although 58 per cent of the females in our sample were masturbating to orgasm at some time in their lives, it was a much smaller percentage which had masturbated within any particular year or period of years. Because of the considerable discontinuity of most of the masturbatory histories, it is probable that not more than a fifth – 20 per cent – of the females were masturbating within any particular year.” (p143 Sexual behavior in the human female 1953)

We like to underplay the physical aspects of heterosexual women’s sexual arousal. Even though women do have ‘hard-ons’ we rarely acknowledge this fact. We prefer to attribute strong physical responses to male sexuality. I enjoy my own sexual arousal and orgasm but my focus is on what is happening in my head rather than to my body. In general, men are more tuned into the physical side of sex (genital focus) but a woman appreciates the sensuality of her whole body (her power to arouse a man).

When a man masturbates, he uses firm and sustained stimulation of his penis from the outset. When I first masturbated a partner, I was surprised by how vigorous I could be when stimulating his penis with my hand. A man can expect the reverse: he will need to use much more subtle stimulation on a woman’s clitoris than he is used to when masturbating himself.

When I masturbate I don’t even consider clitoral stimulation until I can feel some stirrings of arousal (by tuning into an effective fantasy). Even then I only rub my vulva (stimulating the clitoris through the surrounding skin) relatively slowly and gently with physical stimulation focused mainly on the peak of orgasm itself.

Our interpretation of women’s sexuality is faulty. We assume women are sexual if they support the view that intercourse is mutually orgasmic (despite the known facts). Women who masturbate are dismissed as sexually dysfunctional (pre-orgasmic). In fact such women are more sexual than average because they learn how to orgasm through genital stimulation as men do.

“Masturbation is a normal sexual outlet, which is most common in adolescence, but which is practised at all ages, by people with and without sexual partners. Masturbation is a healthy way of learning to explore your body, of developing your sexuality and your sexual fantasies. All of these are important for a fulfilling sexual life.” (p56 EveryMan 1980)

One disadvantage of masturbation and learning how to give yourself an orgasm early on in life is that your expectation is set much higher than a woman who does not know what an orgasm is. You are then sure to face disappointment if you assume that a sexual experience shared with a lover will necessarily be as easily pleasurable.

Excerpt from Jane’s book Ways Women Orgasm (2011)

4 comments for “Female masturbation is relatively uncommon

  1. Ibrahim_mahmood
    February 24, 2015 at 9:49 am


    just read your story and found it to be very informative…i just wanted to know whether its perfectly normal for a female (or male for that matter) to masterbate even when they have a steady partner ??

  2. Jane
    February 24, 2015 at 1:03 pm

    Masturbation usually involves a person enjoying their own sexual arousal and hopefully orgasm in private. There can be nothing wrong in this and enjoyment of masturbation is no reflection on a person’s feelings for their partner. Men will find that they have much more drive to enjoy their own sexual arousal than women do.

    Women do not experience spontaneous erections e.g. early in the morning as younger men do. Women also do not get turned on (to the extent that they could easily reach orgasm) every time they see an attractive person of the opposite sex.

    Given most women’s antipathy towards eroticism and explicit genital stimulation it seems highly unlikely that many learn how to masturbate to orgasm. I personally enjoy my best orgasms through masturbation alone so I have always masturbated regularly (but not as frequently as many men do).

  3. Ibrahim_mahmood
    February 24, 2015 at 5:15 pm

    thanks a lot for your prompt message…..i agree that 100% men masterbate but i find it very strange when you say “vast majority of women never learn how to masturbate to orgasm”….and when you say that you enjoy the best orgasms through masterbation….it seems that i keep learning something new about the female body…..i, “on the other hand” (and thats an expression :)) had the best orgasms with a partner always…..but i feel that in order to get the most out of the pratner one must have to give more an more pleasure…anyways thanks a lot for your advise and i shall keep following your posts……it seems that i have still a long way to go learning about women because i love them so !!

  4. Jane
    February 24, 2015 at 9:50 pm

    Yes – I was surprised that more women don’t masturbate but I have spent 10 years talking to women about sex and have found very few that do.

    Most women refuse to make any comment about sex at all and appear to be offended even by any reference to sex, eroticism, orgasm, clitoral stimulation or female masturbation.

    Men are really lucky because you are able to mix concepts of love and eroticism. You love a woman and she turns you on. Women have a more difficult time because we don’t get aroused by the sight of a lover’s body in the same way that men do.

    Most women never make the connection between eroticism and sexual arousal. They do not understand why anyone would masturbate because they see sex purely in terms of their loving emotions and their relationship with their partner.

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