A Sex Therapist on the Power of Play (and 5-Star Sex Toys to Heed Her Advice)

Sophie Miura

We'll talk to our closest friends about almost anything, but one topic that always veers into TMI territory is self-love (the physical kind). "Yes, there is often shame around a woman pleasuring herself, and many women feel that their partner(s) will naturally give them sexual pleasure and orgasm—they don't realise [it] is a skillset that is a learned response," says L.A.-based sex therapist Bryce Britton. As a result, she says we're taught to feel embarrassed. "We are a sex-negative, patriarchal culture, and there is little accurate information about female sexuality, masturbation, and the amazing anatomy of the clitoris—the only organ designed solely for pleasure."

The issue isn't just that women won't talk about masterbation—the associated shame might be the reason we're also deterred from doing it. A study by the National Survey of Sexual Health and Behaviour in the US reveals a gender gap: Only 8% of men aged 20 to 24 have never masturbated, while 23% of women in the same bracket avoid touching themselves. So what gives?

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