Is the accompaniment easier for men or women

Masturbation: Differences between women and men smaller than assumed

Masturbation as a psychological construct. Neele Neunaber, a graduate of the Hochschule Fresenius Cologne, dealt with this topic in her thesis in the Applied Psychology (B.Sc.) course. In doing so, she dealt with stereotypes, highlighted how women and men of student age actually masturbate and what differences - and similarities - there are between the sexes. In the interview, she reports on her results.


How did you come up with the topic of your thesis?

In search of a topic for my bachelor thesis, I researched in the field of sexual psychology. I came across the article by Silja Matthiesen (2013) "Youth Sexuality in the Internet Age - A Qualitative Study on Social and Sexual Relationships of Young People". While reading the research article, I noticed that the male students surveyed masturbated significantly more often than their classmates. It was also shown that women in adolescence had problems bringing themselves to orgasm through masturbation. They were also introduced to sexuality much more frequently by men. Whereas almost all male classmates stated that masturbation was their first sexual experience. The male essentials also masturbated earlier than the female adolescents. Both the difference in frequency as well as the difference in orgasm frequency between the sexes aroused my interest in checking in my bachelor thesis whether the gender differences in the frequency of masturbation, the orgasm frequency and the time needed to masturbate continue in student age.


In your work you come to the conclusion that the differences between the sexes in student age are smaller than assumed. Did that surprise you? And what similarities did you find?

Basically, I was not surprised by the similarities, as gender differences are often exaggerated. Men and women are usually more similar than is portrayed in public discussions.

The women and men I interviewed, aged between 18 and 26, both “always” orgasm on average after masturbation. Both sexes find it "natural" to masturbate. More than half of women and men say they feel “excitement” while masturbating. With 48 percent of women and 39 percent of men, the most frequently cited motivation is “direct sexual satisfaction”. Another 30 percent of men and women use masturbation as a "relaxation aid", e.g. B. to fall asleep at night. 67 percent of women and 61 percent of men prefer to masturbate “in the evening”, followed by “in the middle of the day” and “at night”. Women and men prefer to masturbate in "bed" and "lying down".


Are there any indicators as to why the gender differences decrease with increasing age?

Unfortunately, there are no concrete indicators as to why age could have an influence on the gender differences. In comparison to the study by Silja Matthiesen, one can only say that the women in my sample have a much more positive attitude towards masturbation. They also almost consistently experience more positive emotions when masturbating than the adolescent women. Here one can only assume that a more relaxed attitude towards masturbation occurs with age, which has a positive influence on the life and emotions of women.


Even if the differences between women and men are smaller than assumed, you might still find some in your study. What exactly are they?

It can also be seen between the ages of 18 and 26 that men masturbate more often: on average, more than once a week. The women surveyed, on the other hand, masturbate on average once a week. However, it should also be mentioned that several women indicate that they masturbate several times a day, while none of the men surveyed chose this option.

A significant difference can be seen in the time that men and women take to masturbate: men masturbate on average about 24 minutes, women on average about 15 minutes. There is also a difference in the age at which masturbation begins: the men surveyed start around the age of 12.86, which is much earlier than the women at 14.1 years.

I also asked about the material used when masturbating. Men clearly prefer pornographic content: 64 percent of those surveyed indicated that they used it. However, it's also important to see that 25 percent think about their partners on a regular basis when they are masturbating. 45 percent of women recall a sexual experience while masturbating. From my point of view, it was particularly exciting that 21 percent of women mainly use pornography to masturbate. Likewise, many women masturbate to their partner's fantasies.


One focus of your work is female masturbation. Why did you choose to do this?

In some studies that I have read for my work, it becomes clear that women do not feel socially considered or even rather taboo when it comes to masturbation (Erb & Klinger, 2004). That piqued my interest. Books like “Viva la Vagina! Everything about the female gender ”by Brochmann & Stokken Dahl show us that we are generally poorly informed about the female genital organs. The results of a study by the gynecological cancer association “The eve appeal” on the anatomy of the female sex even show that 44 percent of women have difficulty locating the vagina. 60 percent are unsure where the vulva is exactly (Hinde, 2016). Historically, female sexuality has always been linked to male sexuality and its satisfaction (Shulman & Horne, 2003). Female masturbation played no role there. I was therefore interested in whether this would continue to influence the way in which masturbation was performed.


What are your conclusions from focusing on female masturbation?

My study actually aroused interest from women: 100 out of 136 test subjects are women. The women surveyed have a positive attitude towards masturbation: They not only masturbate regularly, but also know their bodies very well, since on average they "always" achieve orgasm. They masturbate to fantasies of their own partner as well as to pornography. They associate pleasant emotions with masturbating and use them to discover sexual preferences. So you can say that my work shows that masturbation has a positive connotation in women. In the area of ​​female masturbation, the sexuality of women can thus show itself to be clearly independent of male sexuality.


As part of a bachelor thesis, there is of course only limited space to illuminate the topic. Which follow-up questions therefore arise from your point of view?

I would be interested in a study that follows adolescents and thus the development of their masturbation in a longitudinal design, i.e. over several years, and pays special attention to female adolescents in order to find out why girls do not masturbate. A survey of the masturbation behavior of older cohorts would also be useful in order to investigate whether the differences are becoming more similar or whether even greater differences arise again.

A study that deals with cultural differences would also be very exciting from my point of view: How do people from other cultures experience masturbation? A qualitative study that deals more intensively with the motivation for masturbation would also be enlightening.


Brochmann, N. & Stokken Dahl, E. (2018). Viva la vagina! Everything about the female gender. Frankfurt am Main: S. Fischer Verlag.

Erb, C. & Klingler, D. (2004). The mystery of masturbation: when women love themselves. Frankfurt am Main: Peter Lang GmbH.

Hinde, N. (2016). Nearly Half Of Women Can’t Identify The Vagina, So How Can They Spot Cancer? Available at: 2019)

Matthiesen S. (2013). Youth Sexuality in the Internet Age - A Qualitative Study of Social and Sexual Relationships among Young People. Cologne: BzgA.

Shulman, J. L., & Horne, S. G. (2003). The use of self-pleasure: Masturbation and body image among African American and European American women. Psychology of Women Quarterly, 27, 262-269.