Masturbation. It’s something we all discover at some point in our lives. Be that through a late-night run in with your bedroom pillow, or a curious sensation from a shower head.
Let’s be very candid here. Many people enjoy masturbation in all of its sexy, weird and wacky forms. But as a womxn, I have often found that the idea of female masturbation is met with a lack of understanding and acceptance.
Throughout our teenage years, we are bombarded by scenes of men masturbating in their bedroom to the hot girl next door. These scenes are clearly created for comedy, but there is also an underpinning acceptance to them that I have yet to see in relation to female masturbation. We see images of men openly discussing, thinking about and being in the very act of masturbating and this is so normalised … so what about the ladies?
Although you may not believe it, womxn do, in fact, masturbate.
Female masturbation is infinitely complex. Not only is female orgasm a physiological response to stimuli, it is also an emotional and psychological response.
The two most common types of orgasm that cis women have are clitoral and vaginal. Clitoral is the most common type of orgasming, and studies suggests that 37% of American women need clitoral manipulation in order to climax (whilst a mere 18% said that could orgasm from vaginal penetration alone). In addition to this, VICE found that an extra 36% of women found that, although not necessary, clitoral stimulation added to the sexual experience.
In fact, cis-women actually have the ability to orgasm from five DIFFERENT areas. No more excuses that you don’t know where the clit is, boys.
- Erogenous zones
Each of these areas additionally have differing effects on our bodies.
Clitoral orgasms are an inherently tingling sensation that happens along your skin which many say they also feel within the brain. The orgasm that is felt ‘deeper’ within the body is a vaginal orgasm. This type of orgasm is created from the pulsating of the vaginal walls, which can often be felt during penetration.
Anal orgasms are a little more complicated. As the clitoris extends back towards the anus, it allows for anal stimulation to cause an orgasm. As Women’s Health magazine explains, there are shared nerves from the anterior wall of the rectum to the vagina, which means that it may be possible for sexual arousal to occur from rectal stimulation. This results in an intensive need to pee (don’t worry, you won’t actually! Unless you’re into that sort of thing, in which case, be our guest and enjoy hun). It can also cause a deep contraction around the anus.
The erogenous zones are ones that don’t often come up in conversation when speaking about masturbation and orgasm, however, there are some cis women that are able to orgasm from erogenous zones stimulation. These zones include lips, ears, breasts, neck, knees and even elbows. In a Men’s Health study conducted on 213 women, 29% said that they had experienced orgasm from nipple stimulation.
Of course, the female orgasm can’t be penned into neat descriptions like these. There is the possibility of having a combination of all of these different orgasms to reach climax. When this happens, you usually see a convulsing movement that looks a bit like the limited representations of female orgasm that we see in films; screaming, panting and writhing in pleasure.
How are female orgasms different?
From Masters and Johnson‘s research, we are able to distinguish between cis-female and cis-male orgasms. Through directly observing human subjects as they masturbated to climax, they were able to distinguish the unique stages of orgasm.
The first stage is excitement. This stage is the physical reaction to a stimulant; your genital blood vessels dilate and this increased blood supply leads to the swelling of the vulva, as well as fluid trying to move through the vaginal walls. Women may also experience flushing from this increased blood supply.
The next stage is the plateau stage. As the blood flow reaches the lower end of your vagina (also known as the introitus) it begins to harder and become firm. Other common effects within this stage include breast enlargement due to increased blood flow to the areolas, as well as the clitoris becoming less distinctive and moving back against the public bone.
The third stage is orgasm. Your body muscles become tense before their eventual release; this includes the genital muscles which have “rhythmic contractions” which can happen every 0.8 seconds.
FUN FACT: cis-women usually have longer orgasms than cis-men (averaging 13-51 seconds). They also have no refractory / recovery period after they have climaxed (unlike men) which means that their bodies are suited to having multiple orgasms.
The final stage is resolution which just means that our body begins to go back to normal again post-stimulation.
What are the health benefits of masturbation?
So why masturbate? Well, needless to say there are plenty of reasons to do it (sexual frustration, boredom, tiredness), but there are a number of health benefits you can get from some alone time.
One thing masturbation can do is increase your sexual desire and sensitivity. In a 2009 study, it was found that using vibrators on a regular basis increased the sexual desire and improved the experience in both men and women.
Masturbation also has the ability to help prevent serious infections such as cervical infections and UTIs (or urinary tract infections). The reason for this is that, during masturbation your cervix opens, lubricates the vagina and gets rid of bacteria from the cervix; an additional orgasm will also aid you in relieving pain.
Orgasming also has the ability to strengthen your pelvic floor muscles; aiding conditions such as vaginismus . During the plateau stage your muscles contract so much that the pelvic floor muscles begin to strengthen; meaning that masturbation is the best type of workout.
Go forth and wank, ladies
Female masturbation is not nearly spoken about enough; the female reproduction organs are so complex, with endless sexual possibilities to uncover.
Masturbation relieves stress, boosts your mood, helps you sleep, and ultimately can make you feel sexy. So ladies, remember that while your masturbating, you are simultaneously working-out, looking after your health and having fun. If you needed any more reason than you’ve already got!