We Surveyed 200 Women About How Much They Really Masturbate

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masturbation survey
Paula Boudes

Masturbation is a taboo topic for some—especially women—but let's face it: we're all a little curious about what's going on behind closed doors (or not-so closed doors). Recent studies, like the one conducted by the Kinsey Institute, found that over 70 percent of women have masturbated at some point in their lives. Other studies by organizations such as the National Survey of Sexual Health and Behavior and the University of Indiana have also reported similar findings. But seriously? Masturbated at some point in the course of their entire life? We need a little more nuance here. So, nosey and ever persistent, we surveyed 209 readers ages 18 to 75+ (yep, the fun doesn’t have to stop, people), to find out how much we’re doing it, how we’re doing it and every other question you probably had.

A pie chart with title How Many Times a Week Do You Masturbate

Most Women Masturbate at Least Once a Week

Dr. Kinsey would be very intrigued to know, at least when it comes to our readers, that the aforementioned 70-percent-once-in-a-lifetime figure is quite a low guestimate. Nearly 85 percent of those surveyed told us they hop on the self pleasure train at least once a week. A solid 33 percent are what we call Super Users, hitting the sheets (or shower as it turns out) three to “all the damn time” times a week.

A pie chart with title What Do The "All The Damn Timers" have in Common?

What Connects the All-the-Damn Timers?

What do the Super Duper Users (aka the 6.2 percent of women who told us they masturbate all the damn time) have in common? Interestingly, age groups and relationship categories were evenly distributed—from 18 to 75+, married, divorced, single or otherwise, women are still going at it. And not so shockingly, for the most part, the Super Duper Users’ outlook on masturbation is positive, citing “it’s human nature!” In contrast, the majority of those who said they basically never masturbate had a negative outlook on the solo sport. Our All-the-Damn-Timers also seem more flexible with their time, seeking out opportune windows to masturbate instead of sticking to strict schedules. It seems our Super Duper Users have an “if you want it, take it” attitude when it comes to m-bating.

A pie chart with title What do married women think about masturbation?

Married Women Are Doing It the Least (But It’s Not Why You Think)

We know from our married life sex survey that the majority of our readers are having sex at least once or twice a week. And half of our married respondents cited their active sex lives for the lack of masturbation. But the other half say their reasoning is not because they’re having sex, but because they haven’t figured out self-pleasure. Though we can’t point to why exactly this is, maybe it has something to do with having less privacy and/or alone time being coupled up and all. Maybe it’s also generational? Since our married survey takers skew older, perhaps “sex positivity” is still pretty fresh on the menu. Even access to sex positive dialogue and information is fairly new compared to those coming of age in the free-for-all TikTok era where you can learn ten tips to reach orgasm while roasting a lemon chicken.

A pie chart with title how are women masturbating?

So, How Exactly Are Women Masturbating?

Lots of overlap here, but the clear winners are au natural (with hands) and/or with a vibrator or toy. Other stimuli like porn, an IRL lover or screen experiences are less frequent. Long story short, most roads lead back to the toy aisle. For all the women curious about toys, it’s never too late to roam the (digital) shelves and see what’s out there. In fact, check out our 30 best sex toys for women.

The Biggest Roadblocks? Time, Opportunity and Shame

Time, you sneaky lynx, you. Of course you get in the way of people having a good, well, time. When asked why she doesn’t masturbate, one survey taker responded simply: “DONT HAVE TIME.” We have a feeling the caps are intentional. Similar answers citing “time and output” imply that a lot of us are just stressed as hell. But, psst—among several other benefits, masturbating can relieve stress. Still, one has to have the opportunity to masturbate like one respondent who said they tried to masturbate “WHEN NO ONE ELSE IS HOME.” Again, the all caps feels important.

But there’s also the shame aspect, which can be a lot harder to solve for. One person wrote, “I'm too self-conscious and have mental blocks against [personal] intimacy.” Another said that it was embarrassing. All these thoughts circle back to the idea that masturbating is taboo. It’s not only not your typical dinner table fodder, but it’s not even addressed in sex ed. So many of us grow up completely detached from our own anatomy, which no doubt helps to usher in the shame. Good thing for us, the internet exists and the education is ongoing. In the meantime, maybe we can all take a page from one reader who files self-pleasure into the self-care folder: “Saturday. That is my self-care day. I do my hair and take a long bath and rest. I also masturbate on that day, usually in the afternoon.”

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Dara Katz

Executive Editor, Frazzled Mom, Bravo-Holic

Dara Katz is PureWow's Executive Editor, focusing on relationships, sex, horoscopes, travel and pets. Dara joined PureWow in 2016 and now dresses so much better. A lifestyle...
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