The Relationship Between Feelings About Masturbation and Sexual Function in Women

The Relationship Between Feelings About Masturbation and Sexual Function in Women

A new study published in The Journal of Sexual Medicine aimed to explore the relationship between masturbation frequency, feelings about masturbation, behaviors, sexual function, and genital self-image in young women.

The authors of the study noted that recent cultural shifts may empower women to explore pleasure through masturbation, but they also acknowledged how societal discomfort remains when it comes to discussing this topic. Masturbation has been linked to enhanced sexual desire, orgasm, and self-esteem, but its impact on sexual function and genital self-image among young women remains unclear. Therefore, researchers investigated masturbation frequency, reasons for masturbation, and associated feelings among female undergraduate students at Brazilian universities, hypothesizing that higher frequency of masturbation and positive emotions about it would correlate with improved sexual function.

The study employed a cross-sectional design, recruiting undergraduate female participants via social media platforms like Instagram and WhatsApp. Participants, aged 18 or older, completed an anonymous online questionnaire covering sociodemographic information and masturbation-related queries, including masturbation frequency and reasons for masturbation.

Sexual function was assessed using the Female Sexual Function Index (FSFI), including the subdomains of desire, arousal, lubrication, orgasm, and satisfaction, while excluding the pain subdomain. Genital self-image was evaluated using the Female Genital Self-Image Scale (FGSIS).

In the end, 113 women completed the survey, but three were excluded for not being undergraduate students. Women in stable relationships showed higher sexual function scores compared to single individuals, and those in noncommitted relationships reported lower sexual satisfaction. Psychopharmaceutical drug use was associated with decreased sexual function.

Regarding masturbation, it was a common practice, with 75% reporting monthly engagement and 10% daily engagement. Clitoral stimulation was the most common technique. Casual sexual relationships correlated with higher masturbation frequency. Vibrator use was linked to lower sexual satisfaction, possibly because women in stable relationships, who have higher sexual function, tend to use them less.

Women feeling powerful during masturbation had positive correlations with desire, orgasm, and satisfaction. Negative feelings during masturbation, like shame or guilt, were relatively uncommon but were associated with lower sexual satisfaction and a negative view of one’s genitals. Feeling relaxed or selfish during masturbation did not significantly affect sexual function. Considering masturbation important was positively correlated with sexual desire.

Ultimately, this study found that various factors influence the sexual behaviors of undergraduate women in Brazil. It showed that while masturbation frequency does not appear to strongly affect sexual function or how women view their genitals, having positive feelings towards masturbation can improve sexual satisfaction. Being in a stable relationship and having a positive view of one’s genitals were also linked to better sexual function, while using psychiatric medications was associated with lower sexual function. Overall, the study provides insights into the complex relationship between sexual behavior, attitudes, and satisfaction among young women in Brazil.

For more information on this topic, please read these publications from the ISSM Journals: The Journal of Sexual Medicine, Sexual Medicine Reviews, and Sexual Medicine Open Access:

Relationship Between Masturbation and Partnered Sex in Women: Does the Former Facilitate, Inhibit, or Not Affect the Latter?

Male and Female Sexual Dysfunction in a Rapidly Changing Cultural Environment: Addressing Gender Equality versus Equivalence in the Bedroom


References:

Soares, R. F., Leites, G. T., Araujo, T. G. de, Pedreti, G. P., Cerentini, T. M., & Rosa, P. V. da. (2024). Masturbation, sexual function, and genital self-image of undergraduate women: a cross-sectional study. The Journal of Sexual Medicine, 21(3), 211–216. https://doi.org/10.1093/jsxmed/qdad173

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