Girls and masturbation

Several parents have asked me what they need to say to their children/teenagers about masturbation. That, of course, differs by gender. So here are a few of the things girls need to know about masturbation, in no particular order. Come back tomorrow, and I’ll have a post about boys.

  • Masturbation is a private activity. (This is often more relevant for younger children and toddlers to learn.)
  • Masturbation normal and healthy.
  • Many girls masturbate, many girls do not.
  • It is helpful to masturbate before beginning to have sex. Knowing what feels good to you will help you enjoy a sexual relationship even more. (This, clearly, is a conversation to have with a teenager who may be on the brink of beginning a sexual relationship.)
    • and, of course you should mention that…
  • Masturbation is fun!

Now, this can be heady stuff for parents to actually talk with their daughters about. But it’s important, helpful information, and girls need to learn about it somewhere. If you can’t screw up the gumption to have this conversation with your daughter, make sure someone else does. Ask a woman who is close to your daughter to do it. Send your daughter to this website. Find another website and send her to that one. Just make sure she gets the information from somewhere.

But what do you think? What else do you think is important for girls to learn about masturbation?

About Karen Rayne

Dr. Karen Rayne has been supporting parents and families since 2007 when she received her PhD in Educational Psychology. A specialist in child wellbeing, Dr. Rayne has spent much of her career supporting parents, teachers, and other adults who care for children and teenagers.


  1. Mutual masterbation is about as safe as sex comes these days; and its fun!

  2. Depending on her age, if she’s a teen, perhaps mention that some people masturbate via penetration, some masturbate via clitoral stimulation, and some do both. And mention that many women don’t orgasm via penetration alone.

  3. I noticed you mentioned porn for the boys but not for the girls. Any certain reason? Do you feel it’s only harmful for boys to view porn and not girls? Or that girls don’t view porn?

    I think telling all youths that it’s natural and normal to want to use erotic media is a good thing, but to warn them that most erotic media is made with an unreachable supposed perfection in mind and that real sex is with real people and can be funny and awkward and certainly less than “perfect”… and that’s what makes it just right.

    I’ve found that good erotic writing is usually less commodifying and more “real life” friendly than images. (Highly recommended, especially for daughters, is the Herotica series, especially the out of print book #1. Alison Tyler is also a good erotic writer/editor. And anything edited by Susie Bright or Greta Christina will be good. Pat(trick) Califia is also an excellent writer/editor, but hir stuff leans much harder and much more towards S&M.)

  4. Yes, I mentioned porn to boys and not girls. The fact is that boys are much, much more likely to view and masturbate with mainstream porn than girls. And so they need a conversation about it included in their general talks on masturbation.

    It is inappropriate to talk with teenagers about everything and anything they could find sexy or appealing. Specifics are just often unnecessary. Rather, a general discussion about respect in sexuality will often cover these topics for a girl.

  5. Dr. Rayne, I am going to disagree with you slightly on your assertion that guys are “much, much more likely to view and masturbate with mainstream porn than girls.” In my conversations with other girls and participation in various forums where sexuality is discussed, I have found that there are a significant number of girls who use porn during masturbation. I can’t put exact numbers on it, but it is by no means insignificant.

    I agree with C4bl3Fl4m3 in that it should be mentioned as a viable option for girls as well as guys.

  6. To say that teenage boys masturbate to mainstream porn far more often than teenage girls is not to say that teenage girls don’t. I have not personally studies adolescent porn use, but this is what I gather from people who do.

    However, Caitlain I don’t really think anyone needs porn presented to them. Everyone sees porn, generally before they’re a teenager.

    Teenage boys do need to have conversations about pornography and the overt use of power and control. They need to understand that while there are some women who enjoy these things, there are many who do not. And it’s unacceptable to incorporate them into sex without first talking about it with their partner.

    Teenage girls need to have conversations about porn to help them understand that they do not need to try and be the women in those pictures.

    But what I was really talking about in these posts was more about what conversations need to be had about personal masturbation practices, not so much about general societal gender issues.

  7. I realize you weren’t meaning to discuss societal issues, and it wasn’t my intent to bend it that way.

    My point was that porn needs to be presented in the same light to girls as it does to guys with respect to being an acceptable avenue for masturbatory fantasy. You seem to think (I gather, correct me if I am misinterpreting) that it only needs to be presented to males in this fashion. My point was that a great many females use porn to assist in masturbation, and they should be told that that is perfectly acceptable to do this, just as it is with the guys (as you advocate). Many teen girls that I’ve spoken with think they are freaks because they use porn and, like many other aspects of young female sexuality, they sense from society, parents, etc., that is not acceptable or “bad” to do so. It should not be presented any differently to them than it is the guys with respect to these types of uses.

    I definitely agree with you (vehemently, in fact) on the points you made about the conversations that need to be had with boys and girls about porn, though.

  8. With my own teen daughter I have found that putting masturbation in a positive light and offering it up as an option to help put off the “need” one feels to have a sexual experience with a partner was enough to open the door. Since then she has been the one to initiate the conversations and we have talked about everything from when to where to how to what enhancements are popular (porn, vibes, lubes). Last week I gave her her first vibrator. The important thing is to let them know that masturbation is safe and ok and that you are open to talking about any questions they may have. Then BE OPEN TO ANY QUESTIONS they may have. If you don’t have the answer or simply can’t bring yourself to give her one point her in the right direction and please don’t make her feel wrong for asking no matter what the question is.

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