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How Young Can a Girl Be to Orgasm?

My girlfriend recently caught her twelve year old daughter masturbating. That led to a discussion about how young a girl can be to experience a full orgasm. My girlfriend said she was about fifteen when she came for the first time.

I seem to recll I started jaculating when I was about twelve, although I had been "playing with myself" and enjoying the sensation since I was quite young.

We really want to have a full discussion with her daughter about the pleasures and dangers of sex so any advice will be appreciated.

Dear KS,
To start with your original question: I don't know how far she is into puberty, but I'd say 12 would be possible to have an orgasm. Even kids in kindergarten masturbate. Simply for pleasure. Orgasms may not be as powerful, since the genitals aren't developed into an adult-state. It is in fact a very normal development. In the beginning there may be nothing sexual about it, especially with young children it's only that it's pleasurable.

I'm going to ask some questions just to get a view of the situation here. And mix it with some basic advice. Just to let you know: I'm no expert in this, but I've studied communication with an emphasis on how children develop and learn. I hope my insights will be of some help and give you something to think about :)

Relationship
In this post I will refer to "you" as in: the couple taking care of this child. But I can imagine there may be questions that you as a person can not answer, since you are referring to "her daughter". How long have you been in this family? And is your role the one of a father? For both of you: how is your relationship with her at the moment? Are there difficulties?

Knowledge
In order to know what you want to tell her, we need to know what you've already told; whatever you know she knows.
-What have and haven't you taught her? Does she f.e. know about the biology of sex and conception?
-Has there been sexual education at her school? On what subjects?
Keep in mind: what she knows by now doesn't need to be the same as what you've taught her... but it does provide us information on what you're comfortable talking about with her. And to determine startpoint of the conversation.

Communication
How did such conversations take place up till now?
-Was it you telling a story? Or her asking questions?
-Was it a comfortable conversation?

Her daughter being 12 now, I'm guessing she has already asked questions? What questions she asked and which did you answer? Were there questions you've decided not to answer (yet)?

The best way to teach children about sexuality is to anticipate on their questions. The logic in this being: if you ask a question you're interested in the answer and the answer will stick. It also naturally guides children throughout their sexual development, instead of creating shame, awkwardness between parent and child, social acceptable answers instead of the truth, etc. Also: they will not be looking for answers elsewhere (and: getting wrongly informed in the first place and/or kids trying to find the magic answers themselves)

Purpose of your conversation
Which also brings us to the next step: how much are you willing to tell her?

My advice would be to tell as much as the child truly wants to know. "Truly" meaning; without any sense of shame or the need to give socially acceptable answers. In any conversation you're about to do: she needs to be able to trust you completely that you won't judge her. She needs to be taken seriously. Only then she will listen to you and take responsibility for herself. Try to be as open as possible, while remaining at her level of understanding.

(First) reaction
About her getting "caught": how did you respond to her masturbating in the first place? How did you react towards her afterwards?

Conversations are not the only part in which your attitude becomes relevant. It is also about how you respond to her in other situations. It is important that you let her know that you do not judge her for masturbating. Don't get angry with her. Consider it normal. That way you are encouraging her into a healthy sexual development. And it opens up the opportunity to have the conversations you want to have about the the pleasures and dangers of sex.

That's all for now... hope you could give us a more clear view on the situation, so that better advice can be given :)

Documented in both boys and girls as young as four or five, although the boys do not ejaculate. Masturbatory behaviour is evident in infants "playing with themselves." Pre-adolescent orgasms are common and orgasm becomes more common, or more commonly identified, around menarche. We women become intensely aware of our female selves then. Some researchers even posit that we are always capable of orgasm; discovery of that for ourselves is often simply an accident.

This is an excellent thread. Your questions and concerns are important and I wish more people had asked over the years. The replies, above, are also excellent.

There is an old story in which a young child asks his/her parents the question: "Mom/Dad, where did I come from?" The flustered parent(s) then began a long detailed account about the "birds and the bees". After quite a lengthy response, the child looked up and said: "I just wanted to know if I came from Sacramento or Stockton {substitute the names of two cities near you).

The point being, ask your child questions and then give age appropriate answers only to those questions or the one(s) s/he asks. Save the rest for another time. The sex education information dialog should be ongoing. As the child becomes older, more mature, and picks up information from others, accurate or not, continue to provide answers and filling in the gaps.

Parents should never make sex, and/or masturbation, seem dirty or wrong. It is important to inform the child that masturbation or simply touching that part of ones body is something a boy or girl does in private.

What is important is that you instill moral and social values in your child(ren) along with what is and is not appropriate behavior for a particular age.

When you do talk to your child about sex, make sure they understand what you are telling them. While certain words and terms may be known to you, they may be new and unfamiliar to a young person.

Thanks for your advice.

To give you some more background.

I have been seeing my girlfriend for just under a year, and do not live with her yet, although we have discused the possibilty. I have a good relationship with her daughter but I don't pretend to be a father to her.

When her mother walked in on her she was quite embarrassed. My girlfriend talked to her and told her it was very normal but later she and I were talking and the question arose about whether she would have came if she had been left on her own.

My girlfriend has a very good relationship with her daughter and they discuss a variety of topics in an open and frank way. I know sex has been discussed, but not when I have been around. I think my presence may inhibit the young lady expressing her views. Also, I'm a bit worried about what other people may think if I started discussing sex with a girl of that age. You have to be very careful these days.

We both want to be ready to offer advice when and if the girl wants to talk about sex with either or both of us. We aren't naive enough to think that her daughter won't start experimenting in the next two or three years and want to give her the guidance she may need.