May 25, 2024  – The research found that women who experience higher levels of psychological distress are more likely to engage in masturbation, particularly clitoral stimulation, as a form of stress relief. This challenges the longstanding stigma surrounding female masturbation and highlights its potential benefits for mental well-being.

Masturbation is a common sexual behavior among women in Western societies. Despite its prevalence, societal and religious stigmas have historically discouraged women from exploring their sexuality, often labeling masturbation as harmful.

Previous studies have shown that sexual arousal and orgasm can improve mood and regulate stress, suggesting that masturbation could serve as a beneficial coping mechanism for psychological distress. However, the specific roles of clitoral and vaginal stimulation in this context had not been thoroughly investigated, prompting the researchers to explore this further.

“We were interested in this topic because the idea of masturbation as a coping strategy has gained traction in research and public discourse,” said study author Fabienne S. V. Wehrli, a doctoral student at the University of Zurich. “This is the case particularly amongst women, who have historically faced discouragement, stigma, or even prohibition regarding masturbation. We were intrigued to learn more about the association between masturbation, psychological distress and coping in women.”