Why and How Women Masturbate, and the Relationship to Orgasmic Response

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Journal of Sex & Marital Therapy


Masturbation, as a significant sexual activity within its own right, has garnered substantial interest as a research topic only within the past 10–20 years. In this in-depth analysis of masturbation in women, we examined relationships among frequencies of, reasons for, and activities during masturbation, and investigated how such parameters predict orgasmic pleasure, latency, and difficulty. Participants were 2215 women at least 18 years of age participating in a 42-item opt-in online survey that collected detailed information about women’s orgasmic response during masturbation and partnered sex. Higher frequency of masturbation was related to lower satisfaction with partner, greater importance of sex, and higher levels of general anxiety/depression. Frequency of, reasons for, and activities during masturbation predicted both orgasmic pleasure and orgasmic difficulty during masturbation. The pattern of results enabled the development of three typologies of women who differ systematically with respect to their masturbation and partnered sex behaviors.