Closing the Masturbation Gap

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We wanted to close out Masturbation May by talking about closing the masturbation gap. “The WHAT?”, you may say. The masturbation gap is a term coined to refer to the fairly great difference between the number of men that masturbate regularly (hint: it’s most of them) and the number of women who do the same. It’s definitely a thing, and it has been studied pretty extensively. This post will take a brief look at the societal reasons for the masturbation gap, why it matters, and most importantly, what we can do to make it a thing of the past!

Mind the Gap:

Do women really masturbate less frequently than men? Numerous studies have shown that answer to be a resounding YES…and the gap is pretty large, too. One study by Good in Bed found that 25% of male respondents reported masturbating almost very day, compared to 8.7% of female respondents. Even when reporting less frequent masturbation habits, male respondents still reported a higher rate than female respondents – 35% of men reported masturbating 2 – 3 times per week, versus only 24% of women. An Australian study found that only 1 in 4 women reports masturbating regularly…and that’s less than half the rate of men!

These study results echo others, such as one conducted by Womanizer where male respondents reported that they masturbate an average of 155 times a year, vs. just 54 times a year for women…that’s three times more frequently for men! The National Survey of Sexual Health and Behavior also found that men of all ages were more likely than women to report having masturbated alone in the past year, and men over 18 were more likely to report masturbating with a partner. Either women just aren’t masturbating as much, or they feel like they can’t share about it honestly if they are, which honestly are both problematic!

Why It’s Important:

These results unfortunately back up the general cultural attitude that women are less sexual beings than men, which simply isn’t the case in reality. All humans have fairly equal sexual needs regardless of gender. While sexual wellness is only one aspect of our overall well-being, it’s an important aspect. Committing to our sexual needs and experiencing sexual pleasure can elevate our mental and emotional well-being as well, and the masturbation gap seems to show that women simply don’t place as high a value on that need.

While we can’t pinpoint the exact cause of the massive masturbation gap, it seems like it may boil down to a couple main factors: Shame and time. Many women in today’s society may have unwittingly been raised with a “masturbation is shameful” attitude, at least and especially for women. It seems like men and boys have always been able to openly joke and talk about masturbation, while it’s always been much more hush-hush for women. Male masturbation is discussed much more frequently in TV and movies as well. If women are ashamed to talk about masturbating or think about masturbating, how likely are they to devote time and energy to it? And where do they go for help or answers if they’re unsure about something? It’s an ugly catch-22 that women must work on putting a stop to!

The other differentiating factor may be time. Women often have a lot of responsibilities on their shoulders, especially if they are married or have children. Some studies have shown that just having a husband makes a woman need to devote 7 more hours a week to housework than a single woman! Between work-work and house work, many women may feel burdened by the responsibilities and like they just don’t have time to masturbate. This is valid, but the focus needs to shift so that making time for self-pleasure takes just as high a priority as taking your kid to the doctor, doing laundry, or seeing your therapist. It’s all connected and it’s all important!

Getting to know your own body through masturbation has benefits for your personal pleasure as well as your partnered sex life. When you are intimate with yourself, you can articulate to your partner what you like and how they can bring you the most pleasure. When you can regularly bring yourself to orgasm, you know what you need during sex to get you there as well, so you’re much more likely to experience an orgasm every time. Everyone benefits when we make self-pleasure a priority.

Give it Your All:

If you realize how unfair this all is and are ready to commit to your own pleasure as a proud vulva owner who deserves more, Here are some tips and tricks to make sure you have a toe-curling, eye-rolling experience (and another one…and another…) every time. :

Set a goal:

We’re used to setting goals when working on improving other areas of our lives; it just makes sense to set one here, too. Start small and reasonable: “I’m going to spend 30 minutes twice a week learning to focus on my sexual pleasure”. When you meet those small goals, I can almost guarantee you’ll be ready to set the bar higher!

Use lube:

Some vulva owners talk about wetness like it’s the only sign of being sexually aroused, but that’s a fallacy. You can be super aroused and not wet at all, or super wet and not even remotely aroused…or anywhere in between. Make your self pleasure sessions meet their full potential by using lube every time! It makes it easier to feel your own anatomy, and enhances how GOOD everything feels when you’re doing it to your own anatomy!

Make it mutual:

If you have a partner, your self love sessions don’t always have to be solo. Mutual masturbation – where you and your partner lie together, masturbate, and watch, help each other, and/or talk about it during and after – can be a great coupled activity for improving your orgasm outcomes. It can be great as foreplay or all on its own. Your partner gets to see what you like and vice-versa, and you can work to recreate those motions and sensations during your next partnered sex.

Try toys:

Any vulva owner who is committed to upping their masturbation game should have a basic arsenal of toys to help get the job done. Your fingers are great, but there are sensations they just can’t recreate. Orgasms are all about blood flow, and a good powerful vibrator stimulates blood flow like nothing else can. For masturbation maximization, make sure your pleasure chest consists of at least:

  1. A clitoral vibe: Your clitoris is chock full of nerve endings, and stimulating them usually feels pretty darn good. A pinpoint vibe made for your most sensitive pleasure point like the iQuiver 7 piece set or the Frisky Finger Vibrator. Any of these can be used solo or to spice up partnered sex to help guarantee some mind-blowing orgasms.
  2. A G-spot vibe: Some vulva owners can reach a much more powerful orgasm through g-spot stimulation (though some can’t experience g-spot pleasure at all…none of this makes you weird!). If the G-spot is the spot for you, try a toy with a bulbous head made just for hitting it, like the Patchy Paul G5 Vibrator from Fun Factory or the perfectly angled Eden Scoop Vibrator.
  3. A wand: The deep, rumbly, powerful vibrations from a wand toy just can’t be beat for increasing blood flow. Giving yourself a quick buzz with a wand will make EVERY touch feel that much more intense.

Talk about it:

If we’re going to truly work on closing the masturbation gap, us vulva owners need to normalize talking about masturbation. Sexual pleasure doesn’t happen in a vacuum; we need support and understanding for optimal enjoyment. Some of us also just need advice. While every vulva owner experiences masturbation, pleasure, and orgasms differently, the mysteries others have unlocked about their own bodies can help you figure out what works, too! Sit down with your closest girlfriends, pour some wine or coffee, and start the conversation! It may be awkward at first, but it’s so important. You may even learn new things that will help improve your sex life, so I’d say a little awkwardness is worth it for improved pleasure and happiness!

If you’re in a relationship, it’s important to talk about your masturbation habits with your partner, too. It’s not some shameful secret! Sharing what you’ve discovered about yourself through masturbation can help your partner learn what they can do to please you during foreplay and penetrative sex…and they should be more than grateful for that information. It will keep you two closer and having more fun in the bedroom than ever before! Practice makes perfect!

the author

Kristin T.

A former teacher & trusted relationship expert, Kristin writes science & health-conscious advice that she hopes can help everyone enjoy sex & intimacy more.
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