This summer seems to be the summer of teenagers contacting me about how to get a vibrator. I have gotten at least a few comments or e-mails every week, and sometimes every day, from young women who want help getting a vibrator. (I have also gotten the occasional e-mail from a young man interested in a masturbation sleeve, but these have been far less common. My response, while tailored to the young women, is equally relevant to the young men.)

My heart goes out to these young women. They are sexually frustrated and they feel like society generally, and often their parents specifically, are directly hindering them from sexual release. These young women are often confused, and rightly so, about why the people who tell them not to have partnered sex want to keep them from releasing the physiological desire to engage in partnered sex through solo sex.

The thing is, masturbation is good for young men and women. Moderation in all things, of course, but nevertheless, masturbation is good. It helps release sexual tension in a safe and solo environment. (“Look Mom! No STIs or unplanned pregnancies!”) It helps them get to know their bodies so they can feel more confident in themselves when they do eventually choose to engage in partnered sex. It’s fun, releases stress, and increases immune functioning! There is really very little to dislike about teenagers masturbating.

Regrettably I have little hope to offer them in obtaining a vibrator.

Most of these young women have tried talking with their parents, or are deeply aware of how anti-masturbation and anti-vibrator their parents are. Sometimes there have already been big fights in their homes over the issue.

There are ways that these young women can obtain a vibrator without their parents’ knowledge, of course. They can have an older friend or family member purchase one for them from a good sex shop. (Forbidden Fruit in Austin or Good Vibrations in San Francisco, Berkley, or Brookline Massachusetts are great examples of female-friendly sex shops!) They can ask for an gift card (or perhaps they have their own debit card), and they can order one without their parents necessarily knowing. But both of these paths to vibrator ownership are potentially problematic because they are relatively easy for parents to find out about.

So here’s the ultimate and somewhat depressing advice that I have to offer you, young women who are in futile search of a vibrator:

Try varying your masturbatory routine, while still relying on your fingers and hands. A vibrator might seem like the greatest thing in the world, and they are pretty great, but you can do a lot without one. Take your time and explore. You’ll get through the next few years, maybe very sexually frustrated, but you’ll live through it, and on your 17th (or 18th, depending on the store) birthday, you’ll be able to get yourself a vibrator and your parents won’t be able to stop you. Just be sure and hide it really well if you still live at home.