Is it normal for girls to masturbate? I do, but my friends act like masturbation is gross whenever someone mentions it, and I’m feeling pretty self-conscious about it.

Good news—masturbating is 100%, totally normal for people of ALL genders! There’s absolutely no reason to be concerned. While statistics vary, most women masturbate at some point in their life, and more than half probably masturbate regularly.

For readers who may not be familiar with masturbation, it’s the act of touching your own body for sexual pleasure. You don’t have to orgasm (or come) to masturbate, and people masturbate in all sorts of different ways.

Everyone deserves a shame-free sex life.

We’re sorry that your friends made you feel self-conscious about touching yourself. Unfortunately, we live in a pretty sex-negative culture—especially when it comes to women’s and girls’ sexual health and pleasure. The mainstream media often depicts male masturbation as shameful or dirty (which it’s not!), and ignores female masturbation all together. Combined with the fact that schools in the United States usually teach abstinence-only sex education (and therefore don’t talk about masturbation), it’s easy to see why you and your friends might be confused.

Masturbation is a healthy, normal way to express and explore your sexuality.

It’s a great way to figure out what you like in bed without the pressure of pleasing a partner. It’s also a risk-free sex act, which means there’s no chance that you can get pregnant or get an STI (so long as you’re not using an unclean sex toy, or in contact with someone else’s bodily fluids). Masturbation can also relieve stress, help you sleep at night, ease menstrual cramps, and even improve body image.

Keep in mind, though, that it’s also totally normal to not masturbate. Never make someone feel uncomfortable for deciding that masturbation just isn’t for them.

There are a lot of myths out there about masturbation, so we want to be clear that masturbation will NOT…

  • …make you go blind.
  • …damage your genitals.
  • …make it harder to become pregnant or get someone else pregnant.
  • …hurt your mental health.
  • …stunt your growth.
  • …harm your sex life.

It’s possible that if you masturbate very frequently, you’ll be less interested in having sex with your partner.

However, this is not a long-term effect of masturbation. It just means that you and your partner should talk about how often you both want to have sex, and adjust your self-love schedule accordingly. In general, masturbating can actually make your sex life better, since it’s an opportunity to learn about your own fantasies and get to know your body!

If you have any other questions about sexual health, feel free to stop by Mount Sinai Adolescent Health Center in NYC. We provide completely free, comprehensive health care, including appointments with our health educators who can answer any questions or concerns you may have.