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There’s a ‘masturbation gap’ between men and women, according to a study


70% of men will comfortably masturbate in front of a partner, while on 40% of women will (Picture: Getty Images/iStockphoto)

First it was the orgasm gap, now it’s the masturbation gap.

Sex toy and wellness brand LELO has conducted a ‘Sex Census 2020’ on 4,000 UK respondents and the results have been exclusively shared with Metro.co.uk.

They show women are still experiencing some kind of a ‘gap’ when it comes to sex compared with men.

The ‘orgasm gap’ is a term coined by Dr. Laurie Mintz. In her book, Becoming Cliterate: Why Orgasm Equality Matters – And How to Get It, she reported findings that women were having far fewer orgasms than men through sex.

For example, she found that ‘55% of men vs. 4% of women say they usually reach orgasm during first-time hookup sex’.

Now LELO’s research indicates another ‘gap’ between the sexes – this time a ‘masturbation gap’ which shows that once again, men are the gender finding it easier to masturbate with a partner.

When it comes to including a partner in masturbation, results showed that while 70% of men were comfortable with doing this, only 40% of women were.

One factor pointing to the masturbation gap is that 22.1% more women than men reported having poor body image impacts their sex life.

Lacking body confidence is likely to make someone feel more self-conscious about masturbating with someone, as the focus will be turned on them. It might even feel exposing.

Accredited Psychosexual & Relationship Therapist and Certified Psycho-Sexologist Kate Moyle also attributes this to female masturbation historically and societally being considered more taboo.

With it being far less spoken about than male masturbation, many will get their education from pornography depicts female masturbation in a particular style that is pleasing to the often straight male gaze.

Pornography is different to reality, and Kate says: ‘We don’t often see images of women self-pleasuring  portrayed, apart from in an overt way for example in pornography.’

With that as our reference point, it ‘can sometimes feel like there is an expectation or goal or orgasm and this can create a sense of it being performative, or more for our partners pleasure than our own.’

There are also various ways in which women can masturbate.

Earlier this year, artist and author Florence Given asked people how they masturbate on her Instagram story then anonymously posted the responses.

Answered ranged from using objects like tooth brushes to putting phones on vibrate and to squeezing legs (‘syntribation’).

Someone admitting to the latter said: ‘I felt it wasn’t the “normal way” as opposed to touching your clit.’

Worrying that the way you masturbate might not match your partner’s expectations could make self-pleasure with a partner feel abnormal or embarrassing – but really, there is no ‘right’ way to masturbate.

Kate suggests looking some of the videos on Climax, a series that she says ‘demonstrates styles like circling, edging, straddling and changing the positioning of your legs, and tensing the pelvic floor – techniques like this aren’t commonly seen or represented on other mediums.’

She advises: ‘When it comes to self-pleasure the most important thing is exploring and getting to know your body.

‘This can help to improve sexual self-confidence and can then help you in communicating to your partner about what and how you like to be touched.

‘Feeling confident and familiar with your own body is a big part of that – and like the rest of our lives everyone has different preferences, so it’s about what finding out what works for you.’


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