By Suzannah Weiss DiskretAdultLife, Oct. 18th, 2018
Masturbation is an equal-opportunity activity, but women tend to report masturbating less often than men. Unfortunately, many women have been taught that masturbation is shameful, that their genitalia are too unclean to touch, that sex toys will desensitize them, and other harmful myths about masturbation. Many have been taught nothing about masturbation.
If you’re fortunate to have received healthier messages about self-pleasure, you may know that masturbation not only is normal but also has lots of benefits, like improving your mood, relieving pain, and teaching you about your body. There’s even some research showing that regular sexual activity, whether alone or with a partner, is good for your health.
But even if you know that, you may not have been taught how to masturbate. “A lot of women feel like they’re supposed to instinctively know how to masturbate, but that’s just not the case,” says sex therapist Vanessa Marin, creator of Finishing School, an online course that teaches women how to orgasm. “It takes time to explore your body and figure out what feels good for you.”
If you haven’t masturbated before or are new to masturbation, here’s a guide that should help you pick up the habit and become a master in no time. Even if you’ve been masturbating forever, these tips should also help you step up your masturbation game, because there’s always more to learn.
Ask yourself why you haven’t masturbated
When sex therapist Marissa Nelson, LMFT sees clients who haven’t masturbated, she first wants to explore what negative ideas they may have gotten about masturbation, their bodies, or their sexuality.
Some women have been taught that masturbation goes against their family’s values or religion, which they may come to question as they get older. Some have the idea that “only dirty girls do that,” says Nelson, when really, most girls have done it by the time they hit 17.
Others are concerned that their partners would object to them expressing their sexuality without them. But in reality, getting to know your body through masturbation only makes you a better sexual partner. “If I can’t even allow myself pleasure when I’m alone, how am I going to ask for what I need and know what I even like?” Nelson points out. “It’s very important for women to understand what has stopped them from doing that — not just from self-pleasure. A lot of women are blocking their own pleasure, period.” It may be helpful to talk to a therapist if you feel like you have emotional blockages to masturbation or sexual pleasure.
Get to know your genitals while masturbating
If you haven’t masturbated, you may not be familiar with your genitals. You may even have some anxiety around their appearance. Unrealistic porn images teach us that only certain types of genitalia are attractive, but all vulvas are unique, and they’re all beautiful in their own way.
To get more comfortable with your body, Nelson suggests putting a hand mirror between your legs and looking at your vulva. See how it feels to touch your clitoral hood (the bunch of skin at the top), your clitoris (the nub that you’ll find if you pull back the clitoral hood), your inner labia (the lips around the vaginal opening), your outer labia (the bigger lips surrounding your inner labia), and your vaginal opening (the hole toward the bottom).
Try out different kinds of touch
Once you know where everything is and how it feels to touch different parts of your genitals, experiment with different types of touch. Nelson suggests playing with softer and harder pressures or horizontal and vertical strokes on the clitoris. Many women like to be touched in a circular motion around the clitoris, she says. You can also try putting a finger inside your vagina and seeing how that feels. Some women like one finger pressed against the upper wall of the vagina. Some also enjoy the feeling of a finger inside the anus. If you enjoy several of these techniques, you can try combining them — for example, putting two fingers on your clitoris and one in your vagina or anus.
You can also play around with your position. Some women, for example, like to be on their stomachs, humping a pillow or their hand. Others like to position their genitals underneath a showerhead or running water in the bathtub. You can even try it with the lights on vs. off or under vs. on top of the covers, says Nelson. There are endless variations.
Touch your whole body while masturbating
Masturbation doesn’t have to only involve your genitals, and incorporating other parts of your body can help get you in the mood. “Give yourself a slow start,” says Laurie Mintz, University of Florida psychology professor and author of Becoming Cliterate: Why Orgasm Equality Matters and How to Get It. “That is, caress your breasts, nipples, and inner thighs before touching your vulva. Or start off by rubbing your entire vulva slowly and luxuriously, using lubricant. Then very, very slowly move to your clit and inner lips and perhaps your vaginal opening as well.” Leave yourself plenty of time to explore your whole body.
Notice what comes up
A big part of experiencing sexual arousal and orgasm is mindfulness, says Nelson. “How am I going to feel good, aroused, and even orgasm if I’m not completely present?” she asks. See what emotions as well as what physical sensations come up for you as you touch different parts of your body in different ways. Take note of what you enjoy so that you can repeat it, as well as what you don’t like. These are all valuable pieces of information to give partners.
Set the stage before masturbating
Some people, especially first timers, find it hard to relax and get into the moment when they’re first masturbating. To make it easier, Mintz suggests doing something that relaxes you beforehand. This could mean having a glass of wine, taking a bath, or listening to calming music. It can also help to do something that stimulates you, like exercising, reading an adventure book, or watching an adventure movie. “Research shows that activities that activate the system help increase orgasm,” says Mintz.
Building up anticipation will make pleasure and orgasm more intense once you get there. “Move toward a sensitive spot over and over, yet only occasionally touch it,” Mintz suggests. “Tease your clit, or tease the touch-sensitive nerves near the opening of your vagina— grazing but not going in. Build up intensity by getting close to your sensitive spots and then backing off, over and over, until you finally go in for more intensive touching.”
Practice “edging” during masturbation
Edging is when you get close to orgasm and then back off to make the eventual climax more intense. The site OMGYes, which asks women about their favorite sexual techniques, has found that there are three main ways women like to edge: take your hand off as you feel you’re about to orgasm, put it back down, then repeat as many times as you’d like; move your touch to a less sensitive part of your genitals as you’re about to orgasm, move it back, and repeat as many times as you’d like; or continue the touch in the same place but with less pressure, increase the pressure, and repeat as many times as you’d like.
“When edging in any of these ways, most women like to lighten their touch,” says Mintz. “No matter how you edge, the goal is to do so until you can’t take it anymore, finally giving in to the touch that will result in an orgasm.”
Explore different fantasies while masturbating
What’s going on between your ears has a huge influence on what goes on between your legs. Nelson recommends reading erotica or watching porn if you’re not sure what turns you on yet. If you find mainstream porn degrading to women, Mintz suggests using the search term “feminist porn.” You can not only watch or read things that turn you on while you’re masturbating but also re-imagine them when you’re not in front of your computer.
Don’t judge what turns you on. Plenty of people have strange fantasies that they don’t wish to enact in real life. Some even fantasize about things that seem to go against their morals. That’s OK — anything goes in the realm of fantasy. “I also encourage my clients to have the freedom to feel pleasure, whatever it is that they’re thinking about, to feel like they have a safe space to explore sexually,” says Nelson.
An alternative to fantasizing is to practice mindfulness — that is, focus in on each sensation you feel in every moment, says Mintz. Some people find that making noise can help them get into the moment.
Incorporate sex toys and lube while masturbating
Many women find that they orgasm more easily or intensely with vibrators or other sex toys like G-spot massagers. Some of the most powerful vibrators available include the Wands and the Sonja. Lube can also enhance the experience, even if you’re already lubricating naturally, says Nelson.
Make pleasure the only goal
You don’t have to orgasm the first few times you masturbate. Instead, just focus on doing what feels good, and forget about any goal. “Some people who haven’t masturbated may think there’s a certain way they should be doing it or they’re doing it wrong,” says Nelson. “I would encourage them to let go and explore and allow themselves to feel good. Don’t worry about ‘I have to orgasm and if I dont I’m doing it wrong.’ No, you’re allowed to see what feels good. You’re just there to have fun and also see what works for you, so there’s no pressure whatsoever.”
Keep experimenting with masturbation
Learning how to masturbate is a lifelong process. Even once you’ve figured out what works, there are endless ways to switch up your technique. “Don’t get into a rut,” Marin advises. “Once you’ve learned how to make yourself orgasm, it’s easy to get into a routine of using the same technique over and over again. A lot of women approach masturbation like scratching an itch. It’s perfectly OK to want to have a fast or easy orgasm, but it’s also great to have some masturbation sessions where you take your time and explore other ways of bringing your body pleasure.”
Masturbate with a partner
Masturbating in front of your partner is a great way to show them what you like, get warmed up for sex, or just enjoy each other’s bodies. They could even masturbate at the same time as you. “Masturbating with your partner can be incredibly hot,” says Marin. “Plus, it’s the best way to teach your partner how to bring you pleasure.”