Doctors and patient educators at the University of Chicago Program in Integrative Sexual Medicine often talk about masturbation with women. For example, when a woman says she can’t have an orgasm, it’s helpful to know if this is a problem in all situations or just when she has sex with a partner. Findings from a 2009 internet-based study by Debby Hebernick, PhD, MPH and colleagues at Indiana University’s Kinsey Institute show that 85% of women (and 94% of men) between the ages of 25 and 29 and 58% of women (80% of men) 70 and older had ever masturbated (Herbendick et al. 2010). Interestingly, older men and women report less frequent masturbation than younger people and women generally report less frequent masturbation than men. When women present for medical help with orgasm problems, some are interested in learning how to masturbate for the first time, while others are looking for help to address a loss of ability to experience orgasm. When I researched resources for women seeking help with masturbation and orgasm, I aimed to distill it down to one book, one article and one digital app that I think women – and everyone who loves and cares for women – should know.
Betty Dodson is a pioneering sexual educator with a doctorate in sexology. She is a best-selling author and recipient of several awards, including the public service award from the Society for the Scientific Study of Sexuality. In all of the hours I spent looking for the best masturbation resources, I came across her name repeatedly. Sexual education from Dodson is blunt – and, thank goodness, because aren’t we sick of tip-toeing around the subject? This book, her most popular and something of a classic, is a useful resource for learning how to masturbate. Not only does it use words and images to explain the mechanics of masturbation, it also helps to break down mental barriers to masturbation. For some women, learning to masturbate is more difficult than simply finding the clitoris. Learning to masturbate can require overcoming a lifetime of learned shame about masturbation. So, for an all-encompassing introduction to understanding the “why’s and how’s” of masturbation, this book is worth a look. If you don’t find Sex for One on the shelf of your public library, show this information to your librarian and ask if it can be requested for you.
Annamarya Scaccia. “How to Masturbate with a Vagina: 28 Tips and Tricks for Solo Play.” Edited by Janet Brito, Healthline.com, 13 Mar. 2018,
I Googled “how to masturbate” and searched through material I’m guessing most of you would rather not read. So what’s so great about this article from Healthline? It’s thorough! This article targets a wide range of learning styles, levels of experience with orgasm, and different types of orgasm. The author also describes health benefits of masturbation (note –some of these claims lack strong scientific evidence), masturbation techniques, and detailed instructions on how to have an orgasm. This article references academic research as well as articles from the American Psychological Association website and describes findings in a way that is easy to understand. It made me feel like I was talking to my most sexually adventurous friend, only version 2.0; she knows more, she’s organized, and she has a decent grasp of the evidence behind her advice. If you’re really looking to learn about masturbation and want to get straight to the point – this article is a quicker read than Dodson’s book.
I’ve saved what I think is the coolest resource for last. OMGYes is very innovative and definitely stirs the pot when it comes to recipes for learning to masturbate. This website is informed by a large-scale study that included more than 1,000 women who were studied by physiologists and behavioral psychologists to identify and share successful female masturbation techniques (Herbenick et al. 2018). With the goal of smashing taboos and teaching practical skills, OMGYes offers 62 videos from women ages 18-95 years talking all about masturbation as well as 11 interactive videos meant to train women in masturbation techniques. From personable anecdotes to nitty gritty demonstrations, OMGYes offers a diverse and straightforward range of approaches to masturbation education. Of course, the very thing that makes OMGYes a breakthrough for female orgasms might be intimidating or off-putting for some. It is EXPLICIT. You probably don’t want to try it on an airplane. I blushed a bit and you might too, but the women at OMGYes are not holding anything back. This resource costs money and requires online payment in order to access their first installment of videos. For some women, it may be money well-spent. If you don’t have a credit or debit card or a private place to use the app, this resource won’t be helpful to you.
Exploring masturbation can be intimidating. There is a lot to know and not a lot of talk about it. You’re not alone if you’re interested in learning more.
*Note: Any referenced materials are offered as examples and are not endorsements or sponsorship of specific products or tools. We provide examples to help make this information easier to understand. WomanLab does not have funding or sponsorship from these products or places.
- Herbenick D, Reece M, Schick V, Sanders SA, Dodge B, Fortenberry JD. Sexual behavior in the United States: results from a national probability sample of men and women ages 14-94. Jounal of Sexual Medicine. 2010.
- Herbenick D, Fu TC, Arter J, Sanders SA, Dodge B. Women’s Experiences With Genital Touching, Sexual Pleasure, and Orgasm: Results From a US Probability Sample of Women Ages 18 to 94. Journal of sex & marital therapy. 2018.
Edited by Megan DePumpo