Vagina Dialogues – Masturbation Benefits vs Sex Benefits

masturbation vs sexI remember talking to Ryan on the phone when we first started dating and as the night got later our talk got a bit dirtier.  I could tell he never really had a girl he could ask sexual questions to so I wanted to make sure I lived up to all his expectations.

Ryan: “So, do you ever masturbate?”

I responded, “Why would I masturbate when I can have someone do it for me.”   I thought that was the dirtiest response I could come up with to really impress him.  Little did he know, I did masturbate, and in fact, it was the only way I had ever had an orgasm up until that point.

and he was slowly prodding my brain with all the questions a young boy asks a woman t all the questions his young dirty mind Although masturbation is not a replacement for great sex, it is a good alternative if you do not have a partner you want to have sex with, or your partner is not satisfying you.  I will try to explain why.   Intercourse is great because it’s an intimate connection with your partner, physical exercise for your body, and it releases hormones that can bond (addict) you to the partner you are connecting with; dopamine and oxytocin. Those hormones released in your body during intercourse can give your brain a physical connection to a person, their face, and their body.  Since these hormones make sex feels so good, your body gets addicted to the feelings sex with your significant other creates.  This addiction also helps keep a person more faithful in a relationship.   However, some women don’t necessarily have an orgasm during sex, so masturbation can be a way to guarantee that orgasm, which intensifies the positive benefits. If you’re a perimenopause or postmenopausal woman, those orgasms cause the adrenal glands to release estrogen and since your ovaries aren’t producing any/a lot of estrogen, this added boost can make you feel good.

For women who experience dyspareunia (painful sex), masturbation can be a way to “exercise” the organs (including increasing blood flow, vascularity, maintaining nerve health, and keeping the muscles and tissues healthy) without worrying about vaginal tears or pelvic floor tension.

Not only is maturbation the most probable way of producing an orgasm, it also produces the most intense orgasm.  In a now famous study, subjects’ subjective reports as well as recording os their physiological responses (heart rate and vaginal contractions) indicated that masturbation produced a more intense orgasm than either coitus or manipulation of the genitals by a partner (Masters and Johnson, 1966).  It has been suggest that an intense orgasm leads to increased vasculatiry in the vagina, labia, and clitoris (Bradwick, 1971).  In turn, there seems to be evidence that this increased vasculatiry will enhance the potential for future orgasms.  “Frequent orgasms will effect an increase in vasculatiry, which in turn enhance the orgasmic potential.  Nothing succeds like success, and the increased number of orgasms will lead to the psychological anticiapation of the pleasure of sex” (Bardwick, 1971).  This notion that increased vascularity, it is possible that the increased vascularity in the pubococcygeus was responsible for the increased orgasmic frequency.  An increase in pelvic vascularity has also been suggest to explain the effectiveness of androgen therapy in faciliating orgasm (Bardwick, 1971). –  Handbock of Sex Therapy

To summarize, since masturbation is the most probable method of producing an orgasm and since it produces the most intense orgasm, it logically seems to be the preferred treatment for enhancing orgasmic potential in inorgasmic women.

Given the “maintenance” benefit of sexual activity in general, it’s good to have more orgasms than less,  so if your partner is not available, masturbation can be a great addition to your sex life to keep the tissues and glands in good shape.

From a cognitive perspective, masturbation can be good because it is “selfish”. If you are focusing on what you are doing (rather than the pleasure of a partner) then you might be able to be “in the moment” more, more focused on your genital sensations, and more connected with your body. You aren’t worried about whether your belly is bouncing, your breath is not fresh, or whether you should have washed well enough before playtime. You’re just enjoying the moment with nothing else in mind except how to make yourself feel good.  You also are learning your body, learning what makes your body orgasm, and getting familiar with your vagina.  If you are comfortable with your vagina, or actually love how it feels and looks, you will not be uncomfortable later when another person is looking at it during sex.   Spending time and loving your vagina will build confidence later when a man is studying you.  Believe it or not, a lot of women are very unaware of how their vagina looks, or think it actually looks “gross.”  Masturbation can help you overcome these immature thoughts so you’re more comfortable with your body.

The discrepancy with regard to masturbation is doubly problematic because masturbation, it turns out, is a particularly important predictor of sexual health and happiness for women, more so then for men. One of the best predictors of whether a woman will be able to achieve orgasm in her sexual relations is a history of masturbation in adolescence. – Psychology Today

masturbationRegular sexual arousal is also good for keeping the vagina moist and healthy. The added natural lubrication helps to keep things refreshed and the Bartholin’s glands (glands responsible for lubrication) active and healthy. Given that sexual intercourse is partner-dependent, masturbation can be a way to supplement your activity.  However, masturbation (depending on if it’s just a vibrator on your clitoris or you penetrate with a toy) does not involve a penis going inside your body. which is the best way to clean out old bacteria. It is possible that you could masturbate with a dildo and clean your insides out in the same manner though. I personally hate how a dildo feels, so there is no replacement for an actual penis when it comes to cleaning out my insides.  This is usually the key ingredient in my dirty talk with Ryan, “Yea, clean me out and put your fresh cum inside me.”

So basically, physiologically, masturbation has a lot of the same benefits of sexual activity that results in orgasm in healthy women. Cognitively, it can help you become more in-tune with your body and have “selfish” sexual experiences. Practically speaking, intercourse takes effort and has to be coordinated with a partner, while doesn’t take as much coordination and can be a nice supplement to sex.  However, ever other post on my blog is almost a celebration of great sex, so nothing can compare to good sex.

With all that being said, there is still a fine line with masturbation for a female and our orgasms.  With 70% of women unable to orgasm through just penetration, a lot of us use oral sex, or a toy (or fingers) during sex to stimulate the clitoris while we are being fucked. Other than the penis moving in and out of our bodies, we are still technically masturbating.  Good lovers encourage their women to bring toys or touch themselves during intercourse.  Bad lovers, well, they still believe in magic and apparently believe their wands cast spells on the vagina and magically satisfy us (wrong).   So we use our own magic wand later.

So, a lot of these points may be valid, but with 70% of women probably masturbating while having sex to achieve an orgasm, masturbation and sex for women almost runs hand in hand (pun).   I’d say that is the biggest benefit. Masturbating can almost guarantee you can enjoy your sex life even if you cannot achieve an orgasm through sex.  If you masturbate, you can still do the same thing during intercourse if your are with a good lover who is understanding of your needs, and orgasm multiple times while he is inside you.

A few extra tidbits from The Kinsey Institute:

  • More than half of women ages 18 to 49 reported masturbating during the previous 90 days. Rates were highest among those 25-29 and progressively lesser in older age groups. (National Survey of Sexual Health and Behavior, 2010)
  • Approximately one-third of women in all relationships in the 60- to 69-year cohort reported recent masturbation. (National Survey of Sexual Health and Behavior, 2010)
  • Among women in the National Sex Survey older than 70, solo masturbation was reported by more than half who were in a non-cohabitating relationship, compared to 12.2% among married women. (National Survey of Sexual Health and Behavior, 2010)
  • Partnered masturbation among women was reported highest among women ages 25-29. (National Survey of Sexual Health and Behavior, 2010)
  • Across all age groups, partnered women are significantly more likely to report having engaged in partnered masturbation as compared to nonpartnered women. (National Survey of Sexual Health and Behavior, 2010)
  • Partnered masturbation was most common among women in the 25-29 and 30-39 year-old groups who were single and dating. (National Survey of Sexual Health and Behavior, 2010)
  • In a study of undergraduate college students, 98% of men and 44% of women reported having ever masturbated (Pinkerton, Bogart, Cecil, & Abramson, 2002).
  • Among undergraduate students, men reported masturbating an average of 12 times per month, while women reported an average of 4.7 times per month (Pinkerton, Bogart, Cecil, & Abramson, 2002).
  • In a study of African-American women aged 15 to 64, 62% reported that they had masturbated at some point during their lives (Robinson, Bockting, & Harrell, 2002).
  • About 60% of men and 40% of women reported masturbating in the past year (Laumann, Gagnon, Michael, Michaels, 1994).
  • Nearly 85% of men and 45% of women who were living with a sexual partner reported masturbating in the past year (Laumann, Gagnon, Michael, Michaels, 1994).
  • 35% of American men aged 18-39 do not masturbate while 37% masturbate sometimes, and 28% one or more times per week (Laumann, Gagnon, Michael, Michaels, 1994).
  • 53% of men and 25% of women masturbated for the first time by ages 11 to 13 (Janus & Janus, 1993).
  • 5% of men and 11% of women have never masturbated (Janus & Janus, 1993).
  • About 85% of men report that their partner had an orgasm at the most recent sexual event; this compares to the 64% of women who report having had an orgasm at their most recent sexual event. (A difference that is too large to be accounted for by some of the men having had male partners at their most recent event.) (National Survey of Sexual Health and Behavior, 2010)
  • Men are more likely to orgasm when sex includes vaginal intercourse; women are more likely to orgasm when they engage in a variety of sex acts and when oral sex or vaginal intercourse is included. (National Survey of Sexual Health and Behavior, 2010)
  • Among ages 18-59, older age for men is associated with lower likelihood of his own orgasm; for women it is associated with a higher likelihood of her own orgasm. Age is not associated with the partner’s orgasm for either men or women. (National Survey of Sexual Health and Behavior, 2010)
  • Women are much more likely to be nearly always or always orgasmic when alone than with a partner. However, among women currently in a partnered relationship, 62% say they are very satisfied with the frequency/consistency of orgasm (Davis, Blank, Hung-Yu, & Bonillas, 1996).
  • Many women express that their most satisfying sexual experiences entail being connected to someone, rather than solely basing satisfaction on orgasm (Bridges, Lease, & Ellison, 2004).
  • 75% of men and 29% of women always have orgasms with their partner (Laumann, Gagnon, Michael, Michaels, 1994).
  • About 40% for both men and women said they were extremely pleased physically and extremely emotionally satisfied (Laumann, Gagnon, Michael, Michaels, 1994).
  • 25% of men and 14% of women reported that simultaneous orgasm is a must (Janus & Janus, 1993).
  • 10% of men and 18% of women reported a preference for oral sex to achieve orgasm (Janus & Janus, 1993).
  • It is possible to experience both genital and non-genital orgasm, even for some individuals with spinal cord injuries. (Komisaruk, 2005).  masturbation vs sex masturbation vs sex masturbation vs sex