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Wellness > Sex + Relationships

The Collegiette’s Guide to Pleasuring Herself (Oh Yeah, We’re Going There)

As collegiettes, we get immense gratification from a variety of things: finding the perfect nude peep-toe pump, running three miles without stopping, acing the impossible-to-pass biology final. Finding pleasure in things isn’t a difficult topic to discuss. But, pleasuring ourselves? (Yes, like that.) Well, that’s a whole different story.

Are you blushing? Did you just choke on your lunch? Don’t worry. That’s normal. And so is female masturbation.

At Her Campus, we don’t like to shy away from delicate subjects — not even the blush-inducing, make you choke on your lunch ones. We surveyed a group of 75 real college girls to find out everything you’ve always wondered about female masturbation. Read on to see what the girls had to say, and get answers to your most pressing questions from sexperts Amber Madison, author of Hooking Up: A Girl’s All-Out Guide to Sex and Sexuality and Are All Guys Assholes?, and Dr. Debby Herbenick, founder of MySexProfessor.com.

The Subject Has a Taboo Stigma…

Mom may have given you the speech about your growing body and the birds and the bees, but we can bet this is one topic she didn’t dare delve into. Though it’s pretty safe to assume our male counterparts weren’t getting tips and advice from their dads either, the stigma that male masturbation is okay while female masturbation isn’t still exists.

“Women just aren’t ‘allowed’ to be the sexual creatures that men are, and as a result girls feel like there is something shameful about masturbating,” Madison says. “Look at the words we have for masturbation. Guys get to jerk off, jack off, wack off, or 8 million other funny sounding words. Girls have to go with ‘masturbate,’ which is just a gross word, or something ridiculous like, ‘flicking the bean.’”

…But it’s Totally Normal.

Out of the 75 collegiettes we asked, 55 percent of the girls admitted to masturbating. So, those sweaty palms and side-to-side glances that occur at the mention of the topic really aren’t necessary — especially within your own group of friends.

“Sex and the City changed that for many women, as have in-home sex toy parties such as those by Pure Romance and Passion Parties, among others,” says Herbenick.

The final verdict? Female masturbation is more common than you think (collegiettes everywhere are doing it!) and it’s the best way to figure out what you like down there. So, let’s dive in a little deeper, shall we?

What does it feel like?

Masturbating may have the same end result as actual intercourse, but being in control of your own satisfaction can make a world of difference. “When a partner touches you, it’s a little mysterious what or where they will touch next,” says Dr. Herbenick. “You can’t really surprise yourself, but your own body can surprise you in terms of how it feels.”

Those feelings that Dr. Herbenick is referring to can vary from woman to woman, but a lot have reported warmth, breathlessness, tingling or throbbing. Often, masturbating can end in orgasm — 90 percent of the ladies we surveyed can achieve the big “O” from doing it — but, don’t be devastated if it doesn’t always. The bottom line is masturbating should never leave you in complete physical pain or make you feel totally uncomfortable emotionally.
How should I start?

If you’ve never masturbated before, it can take a few times to figure out what you prefer. Don’t rush it. The key is making yourself happy, not pleasing anyone else.

Dr. Herbenick suggests that first timers use their own hands and fingers. “Slowly learn what you enjoy, with a focus on pleasure rather than orgasm,” she says. But, if you feel uncomfortable touching yourself just yet, Madison suggests beginning with a different technique. “For some girls, a vibrator might be the best place to start. It’s a baby step to get there. After you become comfortable with the idea of a vibrator, then you can move up to using your own hands,” she says.

Are there other ways to do it?

A majority of the ladies we surveyed get their pleasure with their own fingers or a vibrator, but they did offer a few other suggestions, too. Some say watching porn or reading erotic stories can get them in the perfect mood. Others utilize the increased pressure of water by placing themselves directly under the bathtub stream or showerhead.

If you’ve tried it, chances are someone before you has too. “Anything is normal,” Madison confirms.

How often is too often?

A lot of factors go into how often you masturbate. Some collegiettes’ lack of private living spaces affects the frequency with which they do it, while others slow down when they’re having regular sex with their boyfriends.

“As long as you’re not too sore and not stuck in your room masturbating all day, you’re fine,” Madison says. 20 percent of the ladies we surveyed reported that they now find it harder to have an orgasm from a guy, but Dr. Herbenick says, “There is no evidence to suggest that masturbation will make it more difficult to experience orgasm from partnered sex play.”

How do I compare?

As we’ve been stressing throughout this entire article, if it makes you feel good, go for it. But, if you really must know…

The stigma behind female masturbation won’t fade overnight, but as one of the anonymous collegiettes we surveyed said, “Masturbation shouldn’t feel like it needs a support group.” Now that we’ve given you the facts and the numbers, have no shame in embracing your sexuality — sans partner if you like!
Amber Madison, author of Hooking Up: A Girl’s All-Out Guide to Sex and Sexuality and Are All Guys Assholes
Dr. Debby Herbenick, founder of MySexProfessor.com
Anonymous college women

Sarah Weinberg is a student at San Diego State University, Class of 2012. She is attempting to overcome her aversion to multitasking as she pursues courses in Liberal Studies, Spanish, and Journalism. Sarah has always been interested in the “behind-the-scenes” aspects of the fashion and lifestyle industry with journalism being a prominent prospective path. Now, much of the time that she should spend working on homework and writing papers is instead spent pouring through magazines and lusting over ridiculously priced shoes, impeccably styled pictorials, and the glamorous lifestyles of the cover models. It isn’t unusual to find Sarah baking (anything with a large amount of chocolate), traveling (last stop: summer abroad in Granada, Spain), playing in her closet (never too old to play dress up), or hanging out with friends and family (how cute and cliché). She is currently a Style Guru for CollegeFashionista.com and is thrilled to become a writer for Her Campus.