This Is What Most Women Think About When They Masturbate

photographed by Ashley Armitage.
Women may not discuss masturbation habits much, but most of us do it. According to a new survey, 78% of British women masturbate, although this figure is far lower than the proportion of men (96%).
Sex toy manufacturer TENGA surveyed 13,000 people aged 18-74 in 18 countries for its 2018 Global Self-Pleasure Study to coincide with international Masturbation Month (yep, apparently a real thing). Globally, women masturbate less often than men. More than a third (34%) of women said they do it a few times a month, while around a fifth (22%) do it weekly, and the average woman does it 4.1 times per week.
The research also revealed some interesting findings about women's "masturbation routines", namely, their preferred way.

Using our imagination

The most popular way for women to get their rocks off? Fifty-four percent enjoy immersing themselves in a sexual fantasy to get themselves in the mood, compared to just 44% of men. According to a separate piece of research conducted in the US last year, the most common fantasies are having sex with multiple people and sex with a famous person.


Sexual fantasies were closely followed by porn, with 35% of women saying they "view adult content" as part of their masturbation routine. It's a good thing there's now a better variety of ethical and feminist porn available online. Men were almost twice as likely (66%) as women to watch porn when they masturbate.

Sex toys

More than a quarter (28%) of women use a sex toy meant for penetration, which includes both vibrating and non-vibrating varieties, while a further 22% claimed to use a toy "meant for penile stimulation". Men were much less likely to use sex toys, with just 12% saying they incorporated any kind of toy into their routine.

Thinking about a past experience

Men and women are similarly likely to think about a past sexual experience when they masturbate (26% and 24% respectively), the research suggests.
Women are more likely (15%) than men (10%) to read an erotic story as part of their routine. It helps that there's so much high-quality erotica available for free online.

Looking at pictures

Men seem to be more visual creatures than women when it comes to masturbation, with more than a quarter (26%) looking at pictures, compared with just 9% of women. The survey didn't specify what kind of pictures women are perusing, but we hear there are some popular Tumblr accounts out there...

Listening to music

Music was the least common way for people to get themselves in the mood, with just 4% of women and 3% of men putting on some sexy vibes.

Why women masturbate

Among respondents who said they masturbated, the reasons why across genders were similar: to achieve pleasure by themselves (29% of women and 26% of men), to relieve sexual tension (23% of men and 18% of women), to achieve sexual pleasure when a partner is unavailable (17% of men and 13% of women), and to relieve stress (14% of both genders).
However, women in the UK were far more likely than men to say they masturbate to help them sleep (8% compared to 3% of men), to explore their sexual preferences and desires (4% compared to 2%), and to feel comfortable with their bodies (4% compared to 2%).
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