Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name


Organizational Unit

Morgridge College of Education, Counseling Psychology

First Advisor

Jesse Owen

Second Advisor

Patton Garriott

Third Advisor

Andi Pusavat

Fourth Advisor

Kathy Green


Masturbation, Relational satisfaction, Sexual satisfaction


The topic of female masturbation has long been considered taboo and this has impacted the sparse research on female masturbation. In addition to the limited literature that exists on women’s reasons for masturbating in general, there are even fewer studies regarding the motivation for women to masturbate while in a relationship or how masturbating in a relationship impacts relational and sexual satisfaction. To date, there has been no study that specifically looks at early adult women (25-35 years old) in relationships that assesses the attitudes and behaviors of masturbation on relational and sexual satisfaction. Additionally, this paper was structured from a complimentary framework. Much of the previous research has framed the investigations from a compensatory model as opposed to a complementary model. The compensatory model holds that masturbation and paired sexual activity are inversely related. In comparison, the complementary model describes masturbation as working in relationship to paired sexual activity rather than replacing it.

This paper answered the question: what factors are related to better relationship functioning when women masturbate in relationships? These factors included women’s reasons for masturbating in relationships, attitudes about masturbating in relationships, and behaviors of masturbating. The participants were gathered through social networking websites, email listservs, and online forums. The results for the 296 participants were analyzed through regression models. The four main implications for this study regarding sexual satisfaction are the following: 1) women report more complimentary reasons for masturbating compared to compensatory, 2) women who feel positively about their masturbating also report higher sexual satisfaction, 3) women who discuss their masturbating habits with their partner also report higher sexual satisfaction. And finally, 4) sex toy use and sexually explicit material use does not impact sexual satisfaction. The findings of my study have implications for clinical practitioners as well as policy makers and activists. For clinical practitioners, the present study suggests that masturbation should continue to be discussed with clients as a normative practice that occurs within relationships. By confronting pervasive sex-negative societal messages, clinicians will be better equipped to treat clients more holistically and to incorporate sexual health into the therapeutic process.

Publication Statement

Copyright is held by the author. User is responsible for all copyright compliance.

Rights Holder

Gabrielle Kaminsky-Bayer


Received from ProQuest

File Format




File Size

96 p.


Psychology, Sexuality