Women likewise may not stimulate themselves to reach orgasm. This is because sexual desire should be safeguarded for the enhancement of love and devotion between husband and wife, not for selfish gratification. However, for two related reasons, the prohibition for women is not as severe as the prohibitions for men. Firstly, with regard to men, ejaculation impedes the mitzva of ona, because a man’s sexual potency is limited, and when he wastes seed, it diminishes his desire to be with his wife. If the couple’s set time of ona is that day, sometimes he will not be able to have sexual relations with her even if he wants to. In contrast, a woman is not limited in this way. Even if she brings herself to orgasm, she will likely be able to have another orgasm with her husband. She will certainly be able to have sexual relations with him.
Secondly, a man’s semen has the potential to impregnate, and masturbation wastes that potential. In contrast, the secretions that issue as a result of a woman’s masturbation cannot lead to conception; even after they have exuded, her ovum can be fertilized as before.
Nevertheless, a woman may not stimulate herself, because that pleasure should be reserved for strengthening a couple’s relationship.
There is another difference between men and women in this regard. A man is very easily stimulated, and any touch of his penis can be arousing. Therefore, the Sages forbade a man to touch his penis, lest it result in the wasting of seed (see section 5 above). However, with respect to women, ordinary contact with the vaginal area is not too stimulating. Therefore, the Sages state that the more frequently a woman performs bedikot (internal examinations to check for menstrual blood), more praiseworthy she is (Nidda 13a).
If a woman is finding it difficult to enjoy sexual relations and is advised by a God-fearing therapist to try to stimulate herself, she may do so. The reason for this is twofold. First, the purpose is to facilitate observance of the mitzva of ona. Second, in pressing circumstances the permissive opinions of Rabbeinu Tam and Birkei Yosef may be relied upon. (See also Ḥidushei Ḥatam Sofer on Nidda 13a, which seems to rule leniently regarding a married woman thinking of her husband.)