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WH wants to chat female masturbation. This is one thing that we seem to be getting better at talking about it and good news, too: getting down Hans Solo has myriad health benefits, from endorphin release — it is physical activity, after all — to increasing sexual satisfaction. But are you dosed up on what's actually happening, biologically-speaking, when you take a little me-time? WH tapped up the leading experts in the field to get the low-down on your body's functions when it's riding a self-produced orgasmic wave.

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Paige Donaghy does not work for, consult, own shares in or receive funding from any company or organisation that would benefit from this article, and has disclosed no relevant affiliations beyond their academic appointment.

In our sexual histories seriesauthors explore changing sexual mores from antiquity to today. This medical and moral panic surrounding masturbation can still shape beliefs today.

Still, an exception is the historical period known as early modern England between — Typically, women in early modern England were expected to be pious and chaste, and erotic behaviour was deemed appropriate only within the space of heterosexual marriage. Despite this, there was both a cultural and medical understanding that women experienced sexual desire and pleasure. In medical texts it was suggested that in order for conception to occur, a woman had to experience an orgasm, preferably at the same time as the man.

This would help the woman to orgasm and would better the chances of pregnancy. Medical texts also promoted the idea that unmarried women could suffer physical ailments because of a lack of sexual activity.

These medical ideas were also prominent within broader society, where virgins and widows were viewed as particularly lustful women. This is interesting because towards the end of the s, these texts were increasingly aimed toward female readers and female midwives.

This may suggest that medical authors had some knowledge that women did masturbate, and that their female readership would recognise such behaviour. If the girl was wanton afore, and by long handling, hath dilated the part or broke it, there is no blood after copulation.

Yet in this context, Culpeper does not appear to use them with the same intention. Other medical, midwifery guides, directly aimed at female readers, depicted masturbation in much more explicit language.

Scottish physician James MacMath wrote in how:. Despite this, the passage is one of many throughout his book that refers to masturbation, suggesting that such practices were commonplace. Myths and taboos about masturbation appear to still affect Australian women in particular.

Inthe Australian Study of Health and Relationships found that out of a study of 20, Australians, with nearly equal male and female participants, only one-third of women reported masturbating in the 12 months prior to the study interview, compared to two-thirds of men. Edition: Available editions United Kingdom.

Battita Dossi, Nymph of Spring 16th century. Wikimedia Commons. Paige DonaghyThe University of Queensland.

Sexuality Masturbation 19th century women in history Sexual histories series Sexual histories.

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