Skip to main content Accessibility help

A Controlled Study to Evaluate Directed Masturbation in the Management of Primary Orgasmic Failure in Women

  • Alan J. Riley (a1) and Elizabeth J. Riley (a1)

This paper presents the results of a prospective controlled study evaluating a programme of directed masturbation against a combined sensate focus and supportive psychotherapeutic approach in the management of female primary orgasmic failure. Of the 20 patients who followed the masturbation programme 90 per cent gained orgasmic capacity compared with 53 per cent of 15 patients who were treated conventionally. Eighty-five per cent of the patients treated by the masturbation programme and 47 per cent of the control group of patients became coitally orgasmic on at least 75 per cent of coital occasions. The difference is statistically significant at the 5 per cent level. The results suggest that directed masturbation is an effective adjunct in the management of primary female orgasmic failure.

Hide All
Bardwick, J. M. (1971) Psychology of Women: A Study of Bio-cultural Conflicts. New York: Harper and Row.
Chapman, J. D. (1968) Frigidity: rapid treatment by reciprocal inhibition. Journal of the American Osteopathic Association, 67, 871–8.
Cooper, A. J. (1970) Frigidity, treatment and short term prognosis. Journal of Psychosomatic Research, 14, 133–47.
Freud, S. (1905) Three essays on the theory of sexuality. In Standard Edition of the Complete Psychological Works of Sigmund Freud. (ed. Strachey, J.). London: Hogarth Press, 1953.
Hastings, D. (1963) Impotence and Frigidity. Boston: Little.
Kaplan, H. (1974) The New Sex Therapy: Active Treatment of Sexual Dysfunctions. London: Bailliere Tindall.
Kinsey, A. C., Pomeroy, W. B., Martin, C. E. & Gebhard, P. H. (1953) Sexual Behaviour in the Human Female. Philadelphia: W. B. Saunders.
Kohlenberg, R. J. (1974) Directed masturbation and the treatment of primary orgasmic dysfunction. Archives of Sexual Behaviour, 3, 349–56.
Lazarus, A. A. (1963) The treatment of chronic frigidity by systematic desensitization. Journal of Nervous and Mental Disease, 136, 272–8.
Lobitz, W. & Lo Piccolo, J. (1972) New methods in the behavioural treatment of sexual dysfunction. Journal of Behaviour Therapy and Experimental Psychiatry, 3, 265–71.
Lo Piccolo, J. & Lobitz, W. (1972) The role of masturbation in the treatment of orgasmic dysfunction. Archives of Sexual Beahviour, 2, 163–71.
Masters, W. & Johnson, V. (1966) Human Sexual Response. Boston: Little, Brown.
Masters, W. & Johnson, V. (1970) Human Sexual Inadequacy. Boston: Little, Brown.
McGovern, K. B., Stewart, R. C. & Lo Piccolo, J. (1975) Secondary orgasmic dysfunction. I. Analysis and strategies for treatment. Archives of Sexual Behaviour, 4, 265–75.
McGuire, R. J., Carlisle, J. W. & Young, B. G. (1965) Sexual deviation as a conditioned behaviour: A hypothesis. Behaviour, Research and Therapy, 3, 185–90.
O'Connor, J. F. & Stern, L. O. (1972) Results of treatment in functional sexual disorders. New York State Journal of Medicine, 72, 1927–34.
Williams, W. & Orsmond, A. (1977) Rapid inpatient treatment of severe dysfunction. Australian and New Zealand Journal of Psychiatry, 11, 61–4.
Wincze, J. P. & Caird, W. K. (1976) The effects of systematic desensitization and video desensitization in the treatment of essential sexual dysfunction in women. Behaviour Therapy, 7, 335–42.
Zeiss, A. M., Rosen, G. M. & Zeds, R. A. (1977) Orgasm during intercourse: a treatment strategy for women. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 45, 891–5.
Recommend this journal

Email your librarian or administrator to recommend adding this journal to your organisation's collection.

The British Journal of Psychiatry
  • ISSN: 0007-1250
  • EISSN: 1472-1465
  • URL: /core/journals/the-british-journal-of-psychiatry
Please enter your name
Please enter a valid email address
Who would you like to send this to? *


Full text views

Total number of HTML views: 0
Total number of PDF views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

Abstract views

Total abstract views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between <date>. This data will be updated every 24 hours.

Usage data cannot currently be displayed

A Controlled Study to Evaluate Directed Masturbation in the Management of Primary Orgasmic Failure in Women

  • Alan J. Riley (a1) and Elizabeth J. Riley (a1)
Submit a response


No eLetters have been published for this article.


Reply to: Submit a response

Your details

Conflicting interests

Do you have any conflicting interests? *