How Often Do Women Masturbate?

I don’t know who needs to hear this, but regular masturbation is not only very fun—it’s also legit healthy. Like a workout for your pleasure centers, masturbation is good for you in all sorts of ways. According to sex educators Marla Renee Stewart and Goody Howard, making yourself cum—and, in turn, getting your blood pumping and your juices flowing—is a cardiovascular dream. Howard even says it can help lower blood pressure. It also releases what Stewart calls “the happy hormones,” like dopamine, serotonin, and oxytocin, which contribute to mental stability, clarity, and mood. But perhaps masturbation’s greatest power is the information it can give you about your body and its desires.

“In my personal and professional opinion, the biggest benefit of self pleasure is achieving a better understanding of what pleasure looks like to you,” says Howard. “Understanding your pleasure scripts makes you a better partner and a better lover. When you understand what pleasure looks like for you, you’re more likely to advocate for it and be able to communicate that to your partners.”

That knowledge, she says, gets you one step closer to closing the “pleasure gap,” or the orgasm disparity that exists between men and women.

So if you get all that and more from one toe-curling solo session between the sheets, why don’t more women report masturbating regularly? One widely cited sexual diversity study from 2015 by Indiana University’s School of Public Health found that less than half of the women surveyed reported having masturbated in the previous month. Part of that, Stewart says, is thanks to the stigma that pervades female sexuality within our very patriarchal culture. Women and those socialized as female are often objectified and stripped of agency, meaning they’re less likely to think of their own pleasure as an active, vital, and accessible part of their lives.

“When we understand ourselves as sexual people, then we will engage in things that are sexual, such as masturbation,” she says.

How often should you masturbate?

Stewart recommends three times a week for at least 15-30 minutes each session for a minimum amount of self-love time. If that seems like too big an investment, Stewart says carving out that time just for yourself is more worth it than you may realize.

“I believe that taking the time to masturbate is an act of self-care and the more relaxed you can be about time, the better,” she explains.

As for a maximum? The limit does not exist. At least, not really.

According to Howard, unless your masturbation practice is so all-consuming that it takes over your life and prevents you from tending to “typical adult obligations, relationships, and responsibilities,” there is “no right or wrong time or frequency when it comes to self pleasure.”

How many times per week do you masturbate?

  • “About once every two days. Like, three or four times a week.” —Sam*, 28
  • “I usually don’t masturbate on a regular basis. The amount of times I masturbate varies depending on how stressed I am. I do it more often to release stress and shift my energy when I find myself feeling overwhelmed (which has been notably more often as of late).” —Natalie*, 35
  • “Once per week.” —Desirée, 55
  • “I’d say about five times a week.” —Shelby, 18
  • “Depends on the week and how stressed I am because it’s usually a huge stress reliever for me. I’d say at least one or two times a week.” —Riley, 24
  • “About four or five times a week.” —Jen, 24
  • “Typically six to eight times.” —Sarah, 26
  • “Around three or four times.” —Kaylea, 24
  • “My guess is 14 times.” —Myrna, 29
  • “This can vary greatly depending on factors such as stress, sleep, time of the month, etc., but normally between three and six times per week. Sometimes I can go a whole week without masturbating, while other weeks it will be at least once every day.” —Lilly, 27

    How long is a typical masturbating session for you?

    • “I typically masturbate for about 20 minutes before climax.” —Sam*, 28
    • “The sessions are typically short, ranging from 5 to 10 minutes, but can sometimes last 15 to 20 minutes.” —Natalie*, 35
    • “Twenty to thirty minutes.” —Desirée, 55
    • “It can vary between 30 minutes to 2 hours.” —Shelby, 18
    • “Usually, like, 5 to 10 minutes.” —Riley, 24
    • “Around 15 to 20 minutes.” —Jen, 24
    • “Ten to fifteen minutes.” —Sarah, 26
    • “I’d guess 20 to 30 minutes.” —Kaylea, 24
    • “Five minutes.” —Myrna, 29
    • “Again, this can vary greatly depending on the situation and time available. Normally between 5 and 15 minutes.” —Lilly, 27

      Do you use any sort of toy when you’re masturbating?

      • “I own a wand, which produces a nice hearty rumble. Also a little handheld pod.” —Sam*, 28
      • “I don’t use toys. I do, however, use crystals like fire agate and rose quartz sometimes.” —Natalie*, 35
      • “A vibrator.” —Desirée, 55
      • “Nope! I don’t own any toys, unfortunately.” —Shelby, 18
      • “I don’t always use a toy because sometimes your fingers can stimulate the most pleasure, but bullet vibrators are bomb for quick orgasms, which is usually what I want.” —Riley, 24
      • “Sometimes! It depends on if I have time to properly clean it after. But I have a pink rabbit that is clutch!” —Jen, 24
      • “No, I haven’t thought about buying a vibrator.” —Sarah, 26
      • “Sometimes I use a vibrator.” —Kaylea, 24
      • “I use whichever vibrator is closest to me and whichever one has a full battery. If not, I use my Hitachi wand when I want an intense, full-body orgasm.” —Myrna, 29
      • “Yes! I’ve found that I love it because it’s super quiet and completely waterproof so I can use it in my shower without my housemates hearing. Definitely a plus in a shared house! It’s also much less buzzy than lots of other toys, which I’ve found can lead to longer, stronger orgasms.” —Lilly, 27

        And while we’re on the subject…about how many toys do you own?

        • “None.” —Natalie*, 35
        • “Two.” —Desirée, 55
        • “One at the moment, but I usually have more—I just end up tossing out my sex toys if I bought them with my boyfriend at the time and we break up.” —Riley, 24
        • “At the moment, the rabbit is the only one I have. But I have owned several toys throughout the years. At most, I’ve had four at a time.” —Jen, 24
        • “Three!” —Kaylea, 24
        • “Seven, not including whips, handcuffs, and chains. My collection is ever growing.” —Myrna, 29
        • “Twelve.” —Lilly, 29

          At what time of day do you most often masturbate?

          • “Normally around 7.” —Sam*, 28
          • “I tend to masturbate most in the early morning and occasionally when I cannot sleep at night to relax.” —Natalie*, 35
          • “Mornings, usually after sleeping in.” —Desirée, 55
          • “Usually at night, around 11 p.m.” —Shelby, 18
          • “At night, or whenever I feel really freakin’ stressed.” —Riley, 24
          • “At night before bed, usually to help relax at the end of the day and try to sleep.”
            —Jen, 24
          • “The morning.” —Sarah, 26
          • “In the morning.” —Kaylea, 24
          • “Once when I wake up and once when I am about to go to sleep.” —Myrna, 29

            Where and in what position do you most often masturbate?

            • “I like to do it in the bedroom, normally on all fours.” —Sam*, 28
            • “I masturbate in my bedroom lying down on my back and/or stomach and in the bathtub most often.” —Natalie*, 35
            • “In my bed on my back.” —Desirée, 55
            • “Definitely in my room! Privacy! And I find it easier on my back.” —Shelby, 18
            • “In the shower or bath, normally sitting down.” —Riley, 24
            • “In my bed and I alternate between on my back and on my stomach depending on how tired I am.” —Jen, 24
            • “My bed, while lying on my back.” —Sarah, 26
            • “In my bed while lying down.” —Kaylea, 24
            • “In my bed on my stomach.” —Myrna, 29
            • “In bed or in the shower as I’m lying down on my back.” —Lilly, 27

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              Do you orgasm every time?

              • “I only ever orgasm when I’m thinking certain thoughts. I need to be
                imagining that I’m a sexy queen and that a handsome, dominating drone
                will take control of me. For this reason, I masturbate with my eyes closed,
                as reality often disappoints.” —Sam*, 28
              • “Nine times out of ten.” —Natalie*, 35
              • “Yes, since that’s usually the goal.” —Desirée, 55
              • “Yessss.” —Shelby, 18
              • “No, not every time.” —Riley, 24
              • “Nine out of ten times, yes!” —Jen, 24
              • “Just about!” —Sarah, 26
              • “No.” —Kaylea, 26
              • “Yes. Although while clitoral stimulation is a guaranteed O, it’s not my preferred orgasm.” —Myrna, 29
              • “Yes, mostly.” —Lilly, 27

                Do you masturbate more or less often when you’re in a relationship?

                • “I masturbate more often when I’m in a relationship, as I’ve often found
                  relationships not to be quite as sexually gratifying as I need them to be.” —Sam*, 28
                • “Less in a relationship.” —Natalie*, 35
                • “The same amount.” —Desirée, 55
                • “Less often.” —Anette, 24
                • “Probably about the same. Maybe slightly less.” —Bailey, 28
                • “Less, since what would be masturbating can be sex sometimes.” —Carina, 28
                • “About the same.” —Desi, 25

                  What feels the best: clitoral stimulation, internal stimulation, anal stimulation? Or a mixture?

                  • “I prefer external stuff, primarily clitoral stimulation.” —Sam*, 28
                  • “A mixture of clitoral and internal stimulation feels the best.” —Natalie*, 35
                  • “Clitoral stimulation.” —Desirée, 55
                  • “Fun fact: I can actually O from clitoral stimulation.” —Shelby, 18
                  • “Honestly, I haven’t explored many things other than the clitoral stimulation with a bullet because it’s just so reliable.” —Riley, 24
                  • “Clitoral stimulation for sure! Occasionally, internal stimulation is preferable.”
                    —Jen, 24
                  • “Clitoral.” —Sarah, 26
                  • “Internal stimulation.” —Kaylea, 26
                  • “Clitoral and internal.” —Myrna, 29
                  • “A mix. I always need some sort of clitoral stimulation to reach orgasm though. I only recently started to experiment with different methods and sensations. I used to think that every orgasm was pretty much the same and had a set-out formula for how to get there. I’ve been discovering different kinds of orgasms through experimenting with different parts of my body and from using different toys.” —Lilly, 27

                    Any parting words?

                    • “Orgasms are much more clinical when I am single. I tend to be more intentional about masturbation when I am not in a relationship. When I am in a relationship, I look forward to sex and orgasm as a way to connect with my partner as opposed to just needing an orgasm to relax and/or clear my mind.” —Natalie*, 35
                    • “It’s definitely a healthy stress reliever and a non-drug sleeping pill!” —Jen, 24
                    • “I find that I enjoy masturbating in the shower. And also, for me, porn can be nice but it’s honestly thinking of the guy I’m with or someone I have a crush on that gets me going. Playing out a potential real-life scenario in my head is way hotter.” —Sarah, 26
                    • “I was never told that it was normal until I was in college. I felt so dirty and shameful doing it when I was younger. Now I know that I was definitely not the only one masturbating at a younger age. I wish I knew then what I know now, and that’s to own it and it helps figure out what you like.” —Kaylea, 24

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