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| April 1, 2021, 4:50 CDT

How (and How Much) Women Masturbate

Masturbation isn't a boys club, but it does look different for women than it does for men.

Despite societal notions that men might masturbate more than women, the Tenga 2020 Self-Pleasure Report indicated that 80 percent of American ladies partake in sexual self-love. Every woman has her own preferences and techniques, but some overall trends can provide valuable information.

What to know about masturbation

Masturbation—deriving sexual pleasure from self-stimulation of the genitals—is a normal part of sexual expression. Single women and those in relationships masturbate. Some women do it only when a partner is gone; others engage in the practice frequently. Masturbation with or in front of a partner is common. Some people don't enjoy it and don't do it. There are no right masturbation practices.

Female masturbation: the stats

The gender stereotype is somewhat accurate on this one: Women do masturbate less often than men in the United States. Eighty percent of ladies masturbate, compared to 88 percent of men, according to the 2020 report by Tenga, a manufacturer of men's sex toys.

A 2016 Tenga study of 1,200 American women found they masturbate, on average, about eight times a month, compared with 15 times a month for men. Younger women masturbate more than older ones. Millennial women masturbate more than any other generation studied. Single women masturbate more than those in a relationship. Interestingly, 30 percent of women, versus only 21 percent of men, derive more pleasure from masturbation than from a sexual encounter.


The practice can reduce stress, promote relaxation and sleep, and help you get in touch with your own body. It may also increase self-esteem and confidence, improve mood, treat sexual problems and relieve menstrual cramps. Studies indicate masturbation can actually increase sensation, arousal and sexual function.

A few health and safety tips:

  • Wash your hands with soap and water before you touch yourself.

  • Use lubricant to reduce friction and skin irritation.

  • Don't share sex toys—they can spread sexually transmitted infections (STIs)—and always clean them carefully as instructed by the manufacturer.

Four things women do while masturbating

Half of Americans have a masturbation routine. The most popular habits for women include the following (statistics come from the 2016 Tenga study unless otherwise noted):

  1. Fantasizing. This is the most common addition to a masturbation routine, done by 51 percent of U.S. ladies, 28 percent of whom fantasize about past encounters. A further 17 percent think about celebrities, and others about people they know. Some may fantasize about a pumpkin-spiced latte or a sweaty session in the gym. You do you, girl.

  2. Viewing porn or other adult material. According to Pornhub, in 2016, women watched 16 percent more porn on their mobile devices than men did. Surprised? Maybe you shouldn't be, considering 37 percent of women watch porn while masturbating, and another 12 percent look at pictures (which I'm guessing are not rated PG).

  3. Using a sex toy or object. Thirty-one percent of women said they incorporate a toy (77 percent of which vibrate) into solo performances. With toys that include clitoral vibrators, suction-cup dildos, vibrating "rabbits" and nipple stimulators, it's no wonder so many women are capitalizing on the plethora of options.

  4. Reading erotica. While most ladies may prefer to fantasize, watch porn and use high-tech toys, 13 percent like to keep it old school with some tried-and-true literature erotique (from "Emmanuelle" to "Outlander" to "50 Shades of Grey").

How women touch themselves

According to the famous Hite Report, most women—73 percent—report masturbating while on their back; 5.5 percent prefer to lie on their stomach, 4 percent rub against an object like a pillow, and 2 percent use water flow from a faucet or showerhead. External stimulation of the clitoris was by far the most commonly reported method, and just 12 percent of women said they sometimes include vaginal penetration with a toy or finger(s).

No matter what your body enjoys, masturbation is normal, healthy and just plain fun. Remember to keep things clean—meaning both your genital area and any toys you use—and consider changing your routine once in a while, maybe with one of the techniques you read about here. You might even want to invite your partner into some mutual masturbation sessions. After all, fun for one is often fun for all.

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