In a society where sex, nudity and desire have become commonly talked about and displayed, masturbation, and specifically, female masturbation, still stands as a taboo.
Is it only the subject that is taboo, or does it also concern the practice itself? Let’s have a look at what surveys tell us.
1. Women masturbate (duh!)
The subject of female masturbation might be a taboo in daily conversations and media, but it is not for researchers! At Smile Makers, we have travelled the world and asked personal questions to thousands of women. This is what we have learned.
Overall, in all countries we have surveyed masturbation practice, more than 50% of women declared they do masturbate.
In Asia, 2 out of 3 women said they enjoyed solo sessions. Same in Australia, and Switzerland. The UK with 58% and Belgium with 50% were a bit behind.
In a study conducted in 2010, in the US, more than half of women surveyed engaged in masturbation during the past 3 months. That number goes up to 60% in the 25-29 age bracket, stabilizes at 50% until 50.
2. Women masturbate less than men.
Another survey from Indiana University documented masturbation habits for men and women in the United States, suggests that the frequency of masturbation for men is always higher than women's.
This fact can be surprising if you consider that women are gifted with the only organ in the human body solely designed for pleasure, and that this amazing organ can even go for several rounds of pleasure. We’re obviously talking about our dear friend, the clitoris. But sadly, many of us do not know where our clitoris is, and have been shamed enough not to have a look at our vulva to find it.
3. Women like to masturbate alone… and with a partner.
Sharing is caring. And masturbation is a very intimate moment to share with a partner. In the U.S, Debby Herbenick, conducted in 2010 a survey on Women Sexual Behaviours, Relationships and Perceived Health Status and documented that practice. Though a bit less common, partner masturbation seems to get traction among 18-24 women (one out of 4 said they had done it in the past 3 months), and 25 to 29 (a third of women).
4. Women enjoy using vibrators.
Vibrator use by women is probably much more widespread that 1) what we think, 2) what is admitted. Depending on the country, the ratio of women who have used a vibrator ranges from 20%-25% in Singapore, Belgium, Taiwan, to 30-40% in France, Hong-Kong, or Switzerland, and 56% in the UK (a percentage higher than the % of households with dishwashers!).
In countries we have surveyed, among women who had NOT used a vibrator before, more than half were open to try (carpe diem!). In general, 9 out 10 women view owning a vibrator positively.
Overall, female masturbation is common, diverse, and sometimes accessorized. But it is also still held back by old stigma, taboos and basic anatomy knowledge. Hopefully, things are starting to change, and this is great news, because female masturbation holds many health benefits, and has also a significant and positive impacts on a woman’s sexuality, be it alone or with her partner.
- The National Survey of Sexual Health and Behavior (NSSHB) from Indiana University , 2009
- Survey conducted by Flair, Belgium, 2015