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Female Masturbation Survey Results

Highlights of the survey:

  • Females who masturbate prone are less likely to have orgasms in intercourse than females who masturbate supine
  • Considerably more females than males say masturbating is more fun than intercourse - 41 percent of females vs. 18 percent of non-TMS males
  • Females are more likely to learn how to masturbate from another person or from media (books, movies, etc.) than are males
  • Females get no more instruction from their parents about masturbation than males do
  • 86 percent of females stimulate the clitoris and 74 percent insert fingers and objects into the vagina
  • Females are 50 percent more likely than males to switch hands while masturbating
  • Among intercourse positions, women are most likely to reach orgasm when they are on top

An online survey was conducted on the Traumatic Masturbatory Syndrome (TMS) website from September to November 2003 to determine the masturbatory habits of females and to probe whether prone masturbation, previously documented as a cause of sexual dysfunction in males, has implications for female sexuality. The survey was conducted among visitors to the TMS website (who came there to read information about male and female masturbation) and was promoted in Usenet groups dealing with sexual issues.

The respondents are obviously not a representative sample of any population. This is most clearly indicated by their sexual orientation. Only 47 percent claimed to be exclusively heterosexual. 23 percent said they were mostly heterosexual. 18 percent were bisexual, 6 percent mostly lesbian, and 6 percent confused. Interestingly, not one respondent claimed to be exclusively lesbian. Undoubtedly the high occurrence of females "in the middle" of the sexual orientation continuum results from the way the survey was advertised in Usenet groups like alt.sex.masturbation and soc.sexuality.female.

Nevertheless, the survey provides a swath of information about female masturbation and highlights some key differences between females who masturbate in the prone position and those who do not.

There were 178 responses to the female masturbation survey. Respondents ranged in age from 9.92 to 59.4 with an average age of 24.1 and a median of 19.7. 119 had experienced sexual intercourse and 59 had not. 173 had masturbated to orgasm and only one had not. This points out again the non-representative nature of the survey, mostly targeted at females who not only masturbate but are also interested in studying it.

119 of them (68%) learned to masturbate by self-discovery. This is considerably less than the 87 percent of males who reported the same thing in a similar survey in 2002. 41 of the women, or 23 percent, learned from another person, and 15, or 8 percent, learned from media. This suggests that self-discovery is less important among women and that other people and media are more important.

The average age at first masturbation was 13.1 and the median was 12.6. This is similar to the male survey.

Most surveys show that girls receive more sex education from their parents than boys. This does not hold true on the question of masturbation, at least not for this group. 70 percent of the females reported their parents told them nothing about masturbation, not much different from the 71 percent of males in a similar survey. Only 19 percent informed them about masturbation, compared with 20 percent of males. In addition to those two choices, the male survey also gave as an option that the parents told them myths, which 9 percent indicated. In the female survey, the misinformation category was broken in two: six percent said their parents told them myths, and another four percent of parents told the specific myth that masturbation was something boys do but that girls shouldn't, a double standard.

The average female in the survey masturbates 21.84 times per month currently, and the median was 18 times per month. The average female took 10 minutes to masturbate to orgasm, with a high standard deviation of 10.5 minutes. The median masturbation time was seven minutes.

Ninety-one females in the survey reported having a current sex partner, and they reported intercourse 13.69 times per month on average, with the median being eight times per month.

The females were asked to report which percent of their masturbation was done supine, prone, and sitting. They were asked to force the percentages to add to 100. The average for the survey was 58.8 percent supine, 20.7 percent prone, and 20.5 percent sitting.

25 females reported masturbating only in the supine position, and nine reported masturbating only prone. Twenty females reported masturbating prone 60 percent of the time or more.

86 percent of females reported stimulating the clitoris in masturbation, and 74 percent insert fingers or objects into their vaginas at least some of the time. Some of the frequently mentioned objects were candles, dildos, vibrators, cucumbers, carrots, bananas, hairbrush handles, bottle tops, pencils, and markers. Less frequently mentioned were icicles, teddy bears, wood sticks, and hammers. Younger respondents seemed to make do with electric toothbrushes as vibrators.

58 percent reported using pictures or videos, 35 percent used lubricants, 51 percent used vibrators, 33 percents used dildos, and 26 percent use other masturbatory aids.

Objects figure more prominently in prone masturbation among females than among males. For males, prone masturbation consists of thrusting against some smooth or stimulating surface, like a pillow, mattress, comforter, hand, or even a floor. Relatively few males try to replicate a vagina. For females, it frequently involves thrusting against or onto some penis-like object, like a dildo, cucumber, or vibrator, or sometimes a non-penis-like object like a stuffed animal. Some females copy the TMS experience of some males exactly and thrust against pillows or the floor in the same manner.

88 percent of the females are right handed, 8 percent are left handed, and 4 percent are ambidextrous. It is noted that the right-handed percentage is much higher here (and in the 2002 male survey) than in the general population, and might indicate some trend in handedness on the Internet that is beyond the scope of this survey.

43 percent report switching hands or using both hands while masturbating. 40 percent masturbate with the right hand, 11 percent with the left hand, and five percent use no hands. The switching percentage is significantly greater than in the 2002 male survey, which found only 28 percent of males switch hands or use both. This suggests that the choice of hand is a more integral part of the masturbation experience for males. 43 percent of females masturbate with their dominant hand and 7 percent with their non-dominant hand, compared with 49 percent and 14 percent among males.

63 percent of the females had experienced orgasm from manual intercourse, 59 percent from vaginal intercourse, 56 percent from oral intercourse, and 20 percent from anal intercourse. (These numbers include those females who have never experienced intercourse.)

The average age at first intercourse was 16.8 with a standard deviation of 3.3. The median age was 16.4 and the range was 8.33 to 25.

102 of the non-virgin females (86 percent) had experienced orgasm in sexual intercourse. Among those who had experienced intercourse, the breakdown by position was as follows:

Had orgasm No orgasm No experience
Missionary 70% 28% 3%
Woman superior 77% 18% 4%
Rear entry 59% 25% 16%
Sitting 45% 29% 25%
Standing 29% 38% 33%
Other 42% 19% 39%

The most interesting question on the survey might be which is more fun, intercourse or masturbating. (This question asked only of those who had experienced sexual intercourse.) Overall, 41 percent of the females said masturbating is more fun. Among bisexuals, this was also the percentage. But among heterosexuals, only 34 percent said masturbating is more fun. Among those who called themselves "mostly heterosexual," 43 percent opted for masturbating, illustrating that on this question at least, the mostly heterosexual females are closer to the bisexuals than to the heterosexuals. Among the "mostly lesbian" females, 86 percent said masturbation is more fun, and among the "confused," 67 percent said masturbation is more fun.

In the 2002 survey of males, only 30 percent said masturbating is more fun, and when the males with TMS are excluded only 18 percent said so. The conclusion to be drawn from this is obvious: Intercourse is much more enjoyable for heterosexual males than for females as a group, and among females, the stronger her heterosexual orientation, the more likely she is to prefer intercourse to masturbation.

103 females in the survey reported a frequency of orgasm during intercourse. The average frequency is 57 percent, with a standard deviation of 36 percent. Eight females reported a frequency of zero or close to zero. (14 percent, as noted above, had never experienced orgasm during intercourse.) The median frequency, however, is 70 percent, indicating that the small number of women who never have orgasms during intercourse bring the average down.

The question of whether there is a female equivalent of TMS is elusive to answer. An analysis of the reported prone masturbation frequency and the reported orgasm in intercourse frequency yielded a rather weak correlation of -.2. This small difference is caused not so much from a high incidence of orgasm among females who masturbate prone, but from a relatively low incidence of orgasm among females overall. In the 2002 survey of males, conversely, practically the only males who ever suffered from orgasmic disorder were those who masturbate prone. (Such data produce a more compelling correlation.)

However, separating the 13 females who report masturbating in the prone position more than 90 percent of the time illustrates a different perspective. We find that the 11 non-virgins in this group have orgasms in intercourse 47 percent of the time, with a standard deviation of 46 percent, an alarmingly high standard deviation. This average is not so much lower than the overall average of 59 percent. But the median of these 11 females is only 20 percent, dramatically lower than the median of 70 percent for the whole survey. Of these 11, six had never had an orgasm in missionary intercourse, and seven said that masturbating is more fun.

From this we must conclude that the practice of masturbating in the prone position is as dangerous to sexual health for women as it is for men.

The implications of such a finding are not clear. The expectation of a high incidence of orgasm among males in intercourse makes any orgasmic difficulty an automatic problem. Indeed, males are made to feel like failures for not having an orgasm rate of 100 percent. On the other hand, women who never have orgasms in intercourse are not only not regarded as failures, some seem to enjoy it more than women who always have an orgasm.

Thus, it might be perfectly rational for a woman to decide to masturbate prone if that enhances her enjoyment of her sexuality, even if it reduces her chances of having orgasms in intercourse. For a man to make the same calculation, given the burden on men to have an orgasm in intercourse (which is also necessary for fertilization), would be utterly irrational.

On the other hand, proper sexual instruction would dictate that young women as well as young men be advised of the potential dangers of masturbating prone.

Further research needs to be done not only on the question of TMS in the female (and male) population, but on the larger questions of female orgasms during intercourse and the implications of masturbation therefor.

Here is a selection of abstract cases of females who masturbate prone:
Demographic information Pct prone Masturbation frequency and history How she masturbates prone Pct orgasm in int Sexual experience Positions experienced orgasm Which is more fun?
White heterosexual female, 26, never married, living in southern U.S. 98% 25 times per month; started age 10 "with pressure of hands on top of vulva." 15% Since age 20 Woman on top Masturbating
Hispanic heterosexual female, 17, never married, living in western U.S. 90% 4 times per month; started age 14 "thrust against my own clothes usually tight pants shorts or underwear" 0% Since age 15 Never had an orgasm in intercourse Intercourse
White heterosexual female, 29, never married, living in midwest U.S. 85% 8 times per month; started age 13 "I thrust against my underwear." 20% Since age 19 Missionary, rear entry Intercourse
White heterosexual female, 18, never married, living in western U.S. 80% 5 times per month; started age 13 "I usually thrust into a small pillow."
White heterosexual female, 28, married, living in southern U.S. 100% 5 times per month; started age 10 Thrusts against pillows and blankets. 0% Since age 17 Never had an orgasm in intercourse Masturbating
Asian heterosexual female, 33, married, living in Asia. 70% 4 times per month; started age 27 "Face down, with a pillow pressed against my clitoris and a vibrator deep inside. Legs are squeezing tight together." 50% Since age 20 Missionary Masturbating
White heterosexual female, 23, never married, living in Europe 90% 25 times per month; started age 11 "I'm rubbing my clitoris (most often indirectly, through the clitoral hood) with my right hand fingers. I masturbate face down, because this is the most effective technique to quickly reach an orgasm. I need as much pressure as possible. I used to like to cross my legs as hard as I can, lying face down. But now I like inserting my left hand fingers into my vagina (rear entry) simultaneously rubbing my clit with my right hand. I apply much pressure. Sometimes the clitoris even hurts afterwards." 0% Since age 21 Never had an orgasm in intercourse Intercourse
White heterosexual female, 21, never married, living in northeastern U.S. 85% 11 times per month; started age 17 "My hand under my body is substantial enough to thrust against. I usually grab something above me and pull up at some points. I also frequently masturbate doggy-style (on all 4s), but I assume this should not be included in the definition of face-down." 0% Since age 19 Never had an orgasm in intercourse Masturbating
White heterosexual female, 17, never married, living in Europe 90% 50 times per month; started age 13 30% Since age 16 Missionary, woman on top, standing Intercourse
White heterosexual female, 19, never married, living in northeastern U.S. 30% 15 times per month; started age 18 "humping bed or vibrator while looking at mag" 20% Since age 18 Missionary, rear entry, other Masturbating
White bisexual female, 20, never married, living in midwest U.S. 33% 20 times per month; started age 4 "hand stimulation or bunched bedsheet/nightgown" 5% Since age 18 Missionary, woman on top, rear entry Intercourse
Asian heterosexual female, 34, married, living in Asia 80% 8 times per month; started age 28 "Vibrator inside, pressing the corner of a pillow on my clitoris from below." 30% Since age 18 Missionary Intercourse
White heterosexual female, 23, never married, living in midwest U.S. 90% 6 times per month; started age 18 "I get on all fours, kind of kneeling, just finger my clitorous, that's pretty much it. Sometimes I'll thrust up against my hand, but mostly I don't." 50% Since age 23 Missionary Masturbating
White heterosexual female, 19, never married, living in southern U.S. 70% 10 times per month; started age 19 Thrusts against pillows. 60% Since age 18 Missionary Intercourse
White heterosexual female, 28, divorced, living in midwest U.S. 100% 6 times per month; started age 9 "I put my hands under me and rub my clit against the bone in my hand where the wrist and palm meet." 0% Since age 15 Never had an orgasm in intercourse Masturbating
White heterosexual female, 19, never married, living in southern U.S. 99% 8 times per month; started age 12 Thrusts against hand 15% Since age 17 Woman on top Intercourse
White bisexual female, 40, married, living in Europe 50% 30 times per month; started age 12 Thrusts against fingers 98% Since age 19 Missionary, Woman on top, Rear entry, Sitting, Standing, Other Intercourse
White heterosexual female, 20, never married, living in western U.S. 50% 20 times per month; started age 19 Thrusts againsts fingers and dildos
White heterosexual female, 22, never married, living in western U.S. 50% 20 times per month; started age 13 Thrusts against fingers, pillows 25% Since age 16 Missionary, Woman on top, Rear entry Masturbating
White heterosexual female, 38, married, living in western U.S. 100% 20 times per month; started age 5 Thrusts against hand 80% Since age 16 Missionary, Woman on top, Rear entry, Sitting, Other Masturbating
White bisexual female, 19, never married, living in southern U.S. 70% 20 times per month; started age 6 Thrusts against hand 99% Since age 16 Missionary, Woman on top, Rear entry, Sitting, Other Intercourse
White heterosexual female, 40, married, living in western U.S. 50% 5 times per month; started age 14 Thrusts against hand 0% Since age 16 Never had an orgasm in intercourse Masturbating
White heterosexual female, 14, never married, living in northeast U.S. 60% 90 times per month; started age 6 "I thrust against my hand or sometimes a pillow or stuffed animal." 30% Since age 11 Missionary, Rear entry, Sitting Masturbating
White heterosexual female, 28, never married, living in southern U.S. 100% 30 times per month; started age 4 Thrusts against hand 0% Since age 14 Never had an orgasm in intercourse Masturbating
White heterosexual female, 32, married, living in Europe 98% 4 times per month; started age 26 "I lie face down and thrust against my vibrator, up and down." 100% Since age 18 Missionary, Woman on top, Rear entry, Standing, Other Masturbating
White heterosexual female, 19, never married, living in Europe 50% 15 times per month; started age 11 "I lie on my hand and hump against it while diddling with my fingers." 0% Since age 17 Never had an orgasm in intercourse Masturbating
White heterosexual female, 19, never married, living in northeast U.S. 100% 10 times per month; started age 15 "I rub myself against the floor."
White heterosexual female, 27, never married, living in southern U.S. 100% 4 times per month; started age 13 "I thrust against the head of my vibrator." 20% Since age 18 Missionary, Woman on top, Rear entry, Sitting Intercourse
White heterosexual female, 13, never married, living in western U.S. 100% 15 times per month; started age 12 "I use an electronic toothbrush."
White heterosexual female, 41, married, living in midwest U.S. 50% 5 times per month; started age 19 "I lay on my vibrator." Since age 16 Woman on top, Rear entry Masturbating
White confused female, 18, never married, living in western U.S. 60% 45 times per month; started age 11 """If I am using my vibrator, first I get myself wet by using my fingers. Then I take my vibrator and suck on it. Then I massage my clit or my breast while holding my vibrator inside me against my G spot."" " 90% Since age 13 Missionary, Woman on top, Rear entry, Sitting, Standing, Other Intercourse
White heterosexual female, 30, married, living in northeast U.S. 100% 15 times per month; started age 11 """I have a big pillow that I fold over so it's kind of high off the ground, get on top of it and rub my clitoris and vagina against it. (In other words, I prefer the clitoral stimulation.) I used to use a vibrator in conjunction with this method, but I got rid of it and haven't gotten around to buying a new one."" " 2% Since age 18 Woman on top, Sitting Masturbating
Asian heterosexual female, 25, never married, living in western U.S. 70% 40 times per month; started age 12 "Lying face down, left hand over the pubes, finger pressing into the vulva; or sometimes standing up, grinding my vulva against a corner of a table or a chair."
White heterosexual female, 16, never married, living in Canada 50% 4 times per month; started age 12 Thrusts against a pillow
White bisexual female, 14, never married, living in western U.S. 90% 30 times per month; started age 8 "I thrust into a pillow or blankets or teddy bear." 100% Since age 12 Missionary, Woman on top, Rear entry, Sitting, Standing, Other Intercourse
White heterosexual female, 27, divorced, living in southern U.S. 70% 13 times per month; started age 12 Uses pillows, towels, hand, mattress corner 80% Since age 18 Missionary, Woman on top, Rear entry, Other Intercourse
White heterosexual female, 36, never married, living in midwest U.S. 100% 40 times per month; started age 12 "I rub up and down on a small pillow or I sometimes use a dildo." 5% Since age 24 Woman on top, Rear entry Masturbating
White heterosexual female, 29, married, living in southern U.S. 100% 20 times per month; started age 6 Thrusts against a pillow or rolled up blanket 0% Since age 17 Never had an orgasm in intercourse Masturbating
Hispanic heterosexual female, 15, never married, living in northeast U.S. 80% 3 times per month; started age 15 Thrusts against cucumber
White heterosexual female, 37, never married, living in southern U.S. 50% 20 times per month; started age 10 Thrusts against wrist 75% Since age 24 Missionary, Woman on top, Rear entry, Sitting, Standing, Other Intercourse
White heterosexual female, 22, never married, living in northeast U.S. 50% 6 times per month; started age 14 70% Since age 18 Missionary, Woman on top, Rear entry, Sitting, Standing, Other Intercourse
White lesbian female, 18, never married, living in midwest U.S. 65% 30 times per month; started age 12 95% Since age 13 Missionary, Woman on top, Sitting, Standing Masturbating
White heterosexual female, 25, never married, living in western U.S. 98% 15 times per month; started age 7 99% Since age 18 Missionary, Woman on top, Rear entry Intercourse
White heterosexual female, 21, never married, living in southern U.S. 95% 15 times per month or more "If you can picture me lying face down I place my right middle finger between my butt cheeks. Now my hand is completely spread out with my thumb and index finger touching my left butt cheek and my ring and pinky finger touching the right. It's the very base of my palm that rubs up against my clitoris. I start thrusting upward and that puts the pressure on my clitoris causing me to orgasm." 90% Since age 17 Missionary, woman on top, rear entry, sitting, other Intercourse
White heterosexual female, 21, never married, living in Canada 34% 40 times per month; started age 12 2% Since age 20 Missionary, Woman on top, Rear entry, Sitting, Standing, Other Masturbating
Hispanic bisexual female, 18, never married, living in southern U.S. 90% 160 times per month; started age 9 "Will hump just about anything." 2% Since age 14 Woman on top, rear entry, standing, other Masturbating
White heterosexual female, 23, never married, living in midwestern U.S. 50% 2 times per month; started age 13 Roll an object into a ball and rub against it. 0% Since age 21 Never had an orgasm in intercourse Masturbating
White heterosexual female, 16, never married, living in midwestern U.S. 60% 40 times per month; started age 6 90% Since age 13 Missionary, Woman on top, Rear entry, Sitting, Standing, Other Intercourse


Here are the survey questions:

  1. What is your gender?

  2. What is your age (in years and months)?

  3. What is your sexual preference?
    Exclusively heterosexual
    Mostly heterosexual
    Bisexual
    Mostly lesbian
    Exclusively lesbian
    Confused

  4. Which of the following best describes what your parents told you about masturbation?
    They told me myths like I'd go blind, hair would grow, etc.
    They told me it was normal for both boys and girls
    They told me it was something boys do but that girls shouldn't
    They never said a word

  5. Which of the following best describes you?
    I currently masturbate face down
    I used to masturbate face down but now masturbate other ways
    I have never masturbated face down regularly
    I don't masturbate at all

    If you have never masturbated at all, please skip to question 24

  6. How old were you when you first masturbated to orgasm? (In years and months)

  7. How did you learn how to masturbate?
    Self-discovery
    From a friend or sister or another person
    From a book or movie or other media

  8. When you first started, how many times a month did you masturbate?

  9. How many times a month do you masturbate now?

  10. How many times a month do you have penis-vagina intercourse with partners now?

  11. Please estimate the number of times you've masturbated in your life.

  12. How long does it take you to masturbate to orgasm on average? (In minutes)

  13. Since you started, what's the longest you've gone without masturbating? (In days)

  14. How much of your masturbating is done in these positions? (These three percentages should total 100)
    Lying face up
    Lying face down
    Sitting

  15. Which of the following do you use while masturbating? (Check all that apply)
    Lubricant
    Pictures or videos
    Vibrators
    Dildos
    Other

  16. If you masturbate face-down, please describe how you do it. What do you thrust against or into when masturbating face-down?

  17. When masturbating, do you directly stimulate your clitoris?
    Yes
    No

  18. When masturbating, do you insert fingers or objects into your vagina?
    Yes
    No

  19. Do you ever use running water to masturbate?
    Yes
    No

  20. If you said yes to the last question, what percent of the time do you masturbate with running water?

  21. Please describe any objects you use for masturbating. Do you "need" them in order to masturbate to orgasm?

  22. Are you left or right handed (for writing, etc.)?
    Right-handed
    Left-handed
    I'm ambidextrous

  23. Are you left or right handed for masturbating?
    Right-handed
    Left-handed
    I switch hands or use both
    I don't use my hands

  24. In which of these ways have you experienced orgasm? (Check all that apply)
    Masturbation
    Manual stimulation by a partner
    Vaginal intercourse
    Oral intercourse (cunnilingus)
    Anal intercourse with male

    If you have never had sexual intercourse, please skip to question 30

  25. How old were you when you first had sexual intercourse? (In years and months)

  26. What percent of the time do you have an orgasm during penis-vagina intercourse?

  27. For each intercourse position below, indicate whether you have experienced it and had an orgasm with it.
    Missionary
    Woman on top
    Rear entry
    Sitting
    Standing
    Other

  28. Which is more fun?
    Masturbating
    Intercourse

  29. How long does it take you to reach orgasm on average during sexual intercourse? (In minutes)

  30. What is your race/ethnicity?
    White
    Black
    Hispanic
    Asian or Pacific Islander
    Middle Eastern
    Mixed or other

  31. What part of the world do you live in?
    U.S.: Northeastern states
    U.S.: Southern states
    U.S.: Midwestern states
    U.S.: Western states
    Canada
    Latin America/Caribbean
    Europe
    Africa
    Asia
    Australia
    Pacific Ocean
    Other

  32. What is your marital status?
    Married
    Never Married
    Divorced or Separated
    Widowed

  33. Do you have any other comments you'd like to share with us?


HealthyStrokes.com is not designed to provide medical advice and does not provide medical advice. All material is for information only and is not intended to be a substitute for professional or medical advice, diagnosis, and treatment. Please review the information contained on HealthyStrokes.com carefully and confer with your doctor, psychologist, or other health care professional as needed.