We’ve all heard the stats about men and masturbation (99% of men do it; 1% are liars) but where do women stand when it comes to masturbation?

According to America’s National Health and Social Life Survey, 58 percent of women don’t indulge and of those who do, 47 percent feel guilty. It seems a bit silly, considering it can allow women to become more comfortable with their bodies, increases sexual functioning by increasing blood flow to the genital region and can even alleviates premenstrual tension for many women.

It can also increase your own knowledge of your body, according to “How to Be a Sex Goddess” author Flic Everett, who says, “The more you masturbate, the more you’ll come to understand what works for you and the sexier you’ll feel. And when you do have a partner, you’ll be in a better position to explain what you want in bed.”

Set the mood
Just like sex, women need external stimulants to get into the mood. This means creating an atmosphere of arousal – turn off the television, light a couple of candles and make sure you lock door.

When your world is calm and comfortable, it’s time to think some sexy thoughts. Imagine Brad Pitt in “Mr & Mrs Smith”, or even better give yourself a visual stimulant. If you’re daring, invest in some magazine or video pornography or if that doesn’t float your boat, try woman’s porn – erotic literature that paints vivid pictures of sexual encounters. Another alternative is to invent your own porn as Jen, 24, does: “I love thinking about my ultimate fantasy: I imagine I’m in bed with Matthew Mcconaughey and he is absolutely amazed by my technique. It gets me hot every time!”

Water wonder
If you’re feeling a little nervous, the hot tub might be the best place to start your journey to self discovery. When the bath is filling up, try to position yourself so the water is pouring right on to your vulva. If this is difficult, try using the water pressure from a removable shower head, or even better, the jets of a spa bath. Experiment with the pressure of the jets and you’ll be soon on your way to erotic enlightenment.

Sally, 28 remembers her first experience in the bath. “I was about 18 and was in our brand new spa bath my parents had just installed. I was just mucking around when suddenly I got a splash of water between my legs. I was sold from that moment!”

Explore the territory
There are a variety of ways to stimulate the clitoris – try these ideas: use one of more fingers to caress up, over and around the clitoral area in the pattern of a number eight. You’ll cover the clitoris and the inner labia – a lusty locale that has nerve endings within its walls, which some women find even more arousing than the clitoris. Another favourite is the cross: hold two fingers out straight, side by side, and run them north to south and east to west over the width and length of your entire pleasure zone.

If you’re more experienced at solo pleasure, you might like to try using your index and ring fingers to hold open your labia. This frees up your middle finger to stroke the tip of your clitoris.

Sexual dysfunction
Of course, there are much greater medical reasons to masturbate, including sexual dysfunction. Surveys have shown that over 27% of women are unable to reach orgasm and 43% experience sexual dysfunction. That’s a lot of women who are too shy to ask for help.

There is a new product on the Australian market that is set to help these women. Vielle is a range of women’s health products that have been hugely popular in the UK and have just come on the market in Oz. To help women achieve orgasm, Vielle’s creator Liz Paul launched the Vielle stimulator, which is assures is a sexual medical aid, not a sex toy. “People with a problem wouldn’t want to go to a sex shop, they’d be too embarrassed. I know people who can’t cope with it – they might buy is secretly, but they don’t want to talk about it.” Liz said.

The stimulator is a soft latex sheath that fits on the finger with a crown of nodules which optimise stimulation. It is sold in packs of three disposable stimulators and is available at leading pharmacies and Priceline stores nationally. See www.vielle.com.au

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