First of all: yes it’s completely normal for girls and women to masturbate.
What is masturbation?
Masturbation is when a person touches their own genitals for sexual arousal and pleasure, and often leads to orgasm. It can include touching other parts of your body that feel good, such as the nipples. Many people use their fingers and hands, but some might use objects such as sex toys.
Masturbation is something people do to themselves, although “mutual masturbation” refers to people touching each others’ genitals for the same reason.
Traditionally, masturbation has been something that is acceptable for boys. It’s only recently we’ve started talking about female masturbation more openly.
It’s useful to know for most females the clitoris is the most sexually sensitive part of the body. The study mentioned above also showed when a man and a woman have sex, women were much more likely to have an orgasm when her genitals were touched directly using hands or through oral sex. This is because of where the clitoris is.
It’s a wishbone-shaped bundle of nerves and blood vessels that will swell up and feel tingly and pleasurable when stimulated. The tip of it pokes out above the hole where wee comes out (the urethra) but it extends up to 10 centimetres behind the sides of the vagina. This is why it can also feel good to have an object (including fingers or a penis) inside the vagina pushing against the arms of the clitoris.
Read more: Why the clitoris doesn’t get the attention it deserves – and why this matters
For most of history, the clitoris was not fully understood or appreciated. It was an Australian surgeon – and a woman – who discovered how extensive it was.
Health benefits of masturbation
There are plenty of health benefits from masturbation. Masturbating and having an orgasm can relieve period pain and stress.
It’s also a great way to explore your body and know what feels good, which will make it easier to communicate to a partner when the time comes. It is also a sexual practice that cannot cause pregnancy or lead to an STI.
You mentioned discovering masturbation when you were quite young. Parents and caretakers report observing even very young children touching their genitals because it feels good. Although the body needs to go through puberty before a person can experience mature sexual arousal, it’s clear children also experience pleasurable sensations.
You also mention masturbating “on and off”. There is no right or wrong frequency for masturbating – it’s only a problem if a person feels it’s interfering with daily life.
Because sexuality in humans is linked to emotions, thoughts and beliefs, the ability to experience pleasure and orgasm does vary enormously. Negative feelings such as guilt or shame can be associated with masturbation especially if a person has grown up with specific negative beliefs about it.
There has been a long standing double standard about females being able to enjoy sex which, as you have noticed, means it’s not always easy to talk about. So thank you on behalf of lots of young women out there for being willing to talk about this very natural activity!