Masturbation among young women and associations with sexual health: an exploratory study

J Sex Res. 2009 Nov-Dec;46(6):558-67. doi: 10.1080/00224490902878993.


Much research into young people's developing sexuality is concerned with risk avoidance and the reduction of negative outcomes. Little research has been conducted into sexual self-exploration and, in particular, masturbation among young people, and this has generally been concerned merely with its prevalence. Little is known about the potential role of masturbation in relation to young people's developing sexuality, especially among young women. This study aimed to explore, using a qualitative approach, how young women reported their experiences of masturbation and whether and how these related to other aspects of their sexual activity. Thematic analysis of interview transcripts was employed to identify the range of reported experiences across participants, as well as the relations between various aspects of sexual development and experiences within participants. The findings revealed a broad continuum of views and opinions on female masturbation, which had strong links with parent and partner communication and the young women's beliefs and values concerning their sexual selves. The article concludes by drawing attention to the apparent relation between positive early childhood communication, young women's positive views of their sexual self, and their subsequent sexual activity.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Arousal
  • Body Image
  • Communication
  • Culture
  • Female
  • Gender Identity
  • Humans
  • Interview, Psychological
  • Libido
  • Masturbation / psychology*
  • Orgasm
  • Psychosexual Development
  • Self Concept
  • Sexual Behavior*
  • Social Values