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From Broken Vibrators To Grandma Walking In: 100 Women Talk About Touching Themselves

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It’s not like we talk about masturbation a whole lot, like over tea and samosas. But you know what we almost never talk about when we talk about masturbation?


Jokes about masturbation are usually about guys. Even slightly more open sex-ed classes sometimes tell boys it’s normal to masturbate but just skip the topic when it comes to girls. When girls are told about sex it’s – “hai be careful you’ll get pregnant”. No one mentions, hey you’ll get turned on, so masturbation could be very, um, handy.

Why don’t we talk about girls masturbating? Because then we’d have to admit that women have, let’s see, what is it called – sexual desires and needs which are physical; and that women think of sex by itself, not only when they are in love. Masturbation is an important way in which we have a relationship with our selves and get to understand our sexual natures, fantasies and preferences. That’s the foundation of healthier and happier sex lives.

But when we don’t even acknowledge that women masturbate, then the fact that they have different preferences and fantasies becomes door ki baat. No wonder it’s not so easy to find porn that’s made for female desire, and not primarily men’s.

So, us Agents of Ishq decided, let’s come closer, get comfortable and discuss the topic of female masturbation. Let’s ask women about their masturbation habits and preferences. So, we did this AOI Female Masturbation Survey.

100 women responded. Here are the results of the survey.

On the few occasions female masturbation comes up, so do even more myths, discouragements and disguised hai taubas. It’s true. People are doubly uncomfortable with the thought of female masturbation. No one is sending women postcards from Masturbation Island with the words “wish you were here” scribbled on them!

Their squirms and squeamishness fell into five categories of messages – Denial, Voyeurism, Sexual Doom, Medical Disaster, Moral Outrage.

OK, so for any confusion remaining on whether women masturbate or not, and whether only love lights them up, let’s say confusion over? A third of the women said that they masturbated every day, and another third said twice a week. 16% said three to four times a week.

One person in our survey said she did not masturbate at all.

Matlab, just because you don’t talk about it, doesn’t mean women don’t do it.

How long it takes women to come depended on their bodies and natures and also their context – did they have enough privacy or not (which many don’t). But on average it’s different strokes of the clock for different folks, what’s there?

You’ve heard that old one no, “Women like erotica, men like porn.” Who knows what it means when one person’s romance novel is another’s porn and one person’s erotica is another’s yawn. A notable number of women did prefer to read but more than half preferred visual stimuli.

When it came to words, people leaned towards reading erotic novellas and passages. And is every erotic writing fan’s free and endless fantasyland of possibilities.

80% of those who preferred visuals chose porn, while others relied on their own mind movies. 20% of those who preferred images, also preferred their own imaginations.

We found it quite beautiful that those who preferred their own imaginations made up a good 14% of the total number of people.

About 10% said they did not need anything or had precise preferences like thinking of an ex-lover.

People’s masturbation aids fell into three categories.

One was the organic method. 14% people preferred using what God gave them – their fingers – to masturbate. 24% preferred water – hand showers, jet sprays. That’s what we call good, clean fun.

The second category was ‘Invented’. So, vibrators and sex toys. But this pageant had a surprise winner – the old Nokia vibrating phone made several appearances on this survey! We have no idea why that company is not the market leader after this!

The final category was ‘Domestic’. Some people like to find a solution at home, and they ranged from traditional to inventive. They made up the largest number at 54%. A notable appearance was made by the toothbrush which 13% of this number employed (good clean fun again!).

The answers showed us one thing for sure. When she’s gotta do it she’s going to do it anywhere. People got horny in buses, trains and most of all in offices. Well, if you can’t get off work you may as well get off at work!

Many people had willfully masturbated in front of others. Some had done it while their roommates, siblings or relatives were sleeping next to them. Many had also been walked in on and the result was either shock or embarrassment or good old-fashioned desi denial – if you don’t say it I’ll pretend I didn’t see it.

People shared their funny or interesting masturbation stories with candour, humour, cringes and open-heartedness.

The experiences too fell into some categories – here’s a selection of the sweetest, funniest ones.



Some people learned they love animals. Some people discovered their pets had opinions on them petting themselves.


Every now and then a mishap happened though none requiring odd explanations at the hospital.


Sometimes people imagined they wouldn’t be seen and then were – often in unexpected ways.


Some people considered themselves pioneers. Others unique.


Problem is problem. Where there is Ishq, there is complaint!


Check out our other surveys

What Indian Men Feel About Their Penis

Trying To Tell Your Parents You Are Sexually Active

Survey designed  by – Roohi Bhatia

 Survey analysed by – Paromita Vohra, Tanya Mishra

Graphics – Debasmita Das

You must be to comment.
  1. grvchaudhary

    Lol. It’s so amazing to see a few instances here of some lovly women who are kind and gutsy enough in describing their individual experiences. Love the creativity. Us egoistic and foolish men can certainly learn a few things.
    I m a guy and I myself have been victim of slow Internet connection in past. Lol

    And applaud to the writer for presenting a side of women’s sexual it in a respectful way.
    Especially in our reserved society, who have been so reserving so as to create 1.3 billion souls. That’s also lol.

    1. AgentsofIshq

      Thanks for your supportive comments, do read more of our stuff at

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An ambassador and trained facilitator under Eco Femme (a social enterprise working towards menstrual health in south India), Sanjina is also an active member of the MHM Collective- India and Menstrual Health Alliance- India. She has conducted Menstrual Health sessions in multiple government schools adopted by Rotary District 3240 as part of their WinS project in rural Bengal. She has also delivered training of trainers on SRHR, gender, sexuality and Menstruation for Tomorrow’s Foundation, Vikramshila Education Resource Society, Nirdhan trust and Micro Finance, Tollygunj Women In Need, Paint It Red in Kolkata.

Now as an MH Fellow with YKA, she’s expanding her impressive scope of work further by launching a campaign to facilitate the process of ensuring better menstrual health and SRH services for women residing in correctional homes in West Bengal. The campaign will entail an independent study to take stalk of the present conditions of MHM in correctional homes across the state and use its findings to build public support and political will to take the necessary action.

Saurabh has been associated with YKA as a user and has consistently been writing on the issue MHM and its intersectionality with other issues in the society. Now as an MHM Fellow with YKA, he’s launched the Right to Period campaign, which aims to ensure proper execution of MHM guidelines in Delhi’s schools.

The long-term aim of the campaign is to develop an open culture where menstruation is not treated as a taboo. The campaign also seeks to hold the schools accountable for their responsibilities as an important component in the implementation of MHM policies by making adequate sanitation infrastructure and knowledge of MHM available in school premises.

Read more about his campaign.

Harshita is a psychologist and works to support people with mental health issues, particularly adolescents who are survivors of violence. Associated with the Azadi Foundation in UP, Harshita became an MHM Fellow with YKA, with the aim of promoting better menstrual health.

Her campaign #MeriMarzi aims to promote menstrual health and wellness, hygiene and facilities for female sex workers in UP. She says, “Knowledge about natural body processes is a very basic human right. And for individuals whose occupation is providing sexual services, it becomes even more important.”

Meri Marzi aims to ensure sensitised, non-discriminatory health workers for the needs of female sex workers in the Suraksha Clinics under the UPSACS (Uttar Pradesh State AIDS Control Society) program by creating more dialogues and garnering public support for the cause of sex workers’ menstrual rights. The campaign will also ensure interventions with sex workers to clear misconceptions around overall hygiene management to ensure that results flow both ways.

Read more about her campaign.

MH Fellow Sabna comes with significant experience working with a range of development issues. A co-founder of Project Sakhi Saheli, which aims to combat period poverty and break menstrual taboos, Sabna has, in the past, worked on the issue of menstruation in urban slums of Delhi with women and adolescent girls. She and her team also released MenstraBook, with menstrastories and organised Menstra Tlk in the Delhi School of Social Work to create more conversations on menstruation.

With YKA MHM Fellow Vineet, Sabna launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society. As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Read more about her campaign. 

A student from Delhi School of Social work, Vineet is a part of Project Sakhi Saheli, an initiative by the students of Delhi school of Social Work to create awareness on Menstrual Health and combat Period Poverty. Along with MHM Action Fellow Sabna, Vineet launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society.

As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Find out more about the campaign here.

A native of Bhagalpur district – Bihar, Shalini Jha believes in equal rights for all genders and wants to work for a gender-equal and just society. In the past she’s had a year-long association as a community leader with Haiyya: Organise for Action’s Health Over Stigma campaign. She’s pursuing a Master’s in Literature with Ambedkar University, Delhi and as an MHM Fellow with YKA, recently launched ‘Project अल्हड़ (Alharh)’.

She says, “Bihar is ranked the lowest in India’s SDG Index 2019 for India. Hygienic and comfortable menstruation is a basic human right and sustainable development cannot be ensured if menstruators are deprived of their basic rights.” Project अल्हड़ (Alharh) aims to create a robust sensitised community in Bhagalpur to collectively spread awareness, break the taboo, debunk myths and initiate fearless conversations around menstruation. The campaign aims to reach at least 6000 adolescent girls from government and private schools in Baghalpur district in 2020.

Read more about the campaign here.

A psychologist and co-founder of a mental health NGO called Customize Cognition, Ritika forayed into the space of menstrual health and hygiene, sexual and reproductive healthcare and rights and gender equality as an MHM Fellow with YKA. She says, “The experience of working on MHM/SRHR and gender equality has been an enriching and eye-opening experience. I have learned what’s beneath the surface of the issue, be it awareness, lack of resources or disregard for trans men, who also menstruate.”

The Transmen-ses campaign aims to tackle the issue of silence and disregard for trans men’s menstruation needs, by mobilising gender sensitive health professionals and gender neutral restrooms in Lucknow.

Read more about the campaign here.

A Computer Science engineer by education, Nitisha started her career in the corporate sector, before realising she wanted to work in the development and social justice space. Since then, she has worked with Teach For India and Care India and is from the founding batch of Indian School of Development Management (ISDM), a one of its kind organisation creating leaders for the development sector through its experiential learning post graduate program.

As a Youth Ki Awaaz Menstrual Health Fellow, Nitisha has started Let’s Talk Period, a campaign to mobilise young people to switch to sustainable period products. She says, “80 lakh women in Delhi use non-biodegradable sanitary products, generate 3000 tonnes of menstrual waste, that takes 500-800 years to decompose; which in turn contributes to the health issues of all menstruators, increased burden of waste management on the city and harmful living environment for all citizens.

Let’s Talk Period aims to change this by

Find out more about her campaign here.

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A former Assistant Secretary with the Ministry of Women and Child Development in West Bengal for three months, Lakshmi Bhavya has been championing the cause of menstrual hygiene in her district. By associating herself with the Lalana Campaign, a holistic menstrual hygiene awareness campaign which is conducted by the Anahat NGO, Lakshmi has been slowly breaking taboos when it comes to periods and menstrual hygiene.

A Gender Rights Activist working with the tribal and marginalized communities in india, Srilekha is a PhD scholar working on understanding body and sexuality among tribal girls, to fill the gaps in research around indigenous women and their stories. Srilekha has worked extensively at the grassroots level with community based organisations, through several advocacy initiatives around Gender, Mental Health, Menstrual Hygiene and Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights (SRHR) for the indigenous in Jharkhand, over the last 6 years.

Srilekha has also contributed to sustainable livelihood projects and legal aid programs for survivors of sex trafficking. She has been conducting research based programs on maternal health, mental health, gender based violence, sex and sexuality. Her interest lies in conducting workshops for young people on life skills, feminism, gender and sexuality, trauma, resilience and interpersonal relationships.

A Guwahati-based college student pursuing her Masters in Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Bidisha started the #BleedwithDignity campaign on the technology platform, demanding that the Government of Assam install
biodegradable sanitary pad vending machines in all government schools across the state. Her petition on has already gathered support from over 90000 people and continues to grow.

Bidisha was selected in’s flagship program ‘She Creates Change’ having run successful online advocacy
campaigns, which were widely recognised. Through the #BleedwithDignity campaign; she organised and celebrated World Menstrual Hygiene Day, 2019 in Guwahati, Assam by hosting a wall mural by collaborating with local organisations. The initiative was widely covered by national and local media, and the mural was later inaugurated by the event’s chief guest Commissioner of Guwahati Municipal Corporation (GMC) Debeswar Malakar, IAS.

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