Pleasure is something we want everyone to experience. But bodies are complex and figuring out how to get swept away in good sensations can be tricky! Adding to this are cultural stigmas against discussing masturbation with friends. Well if you’re curious about how to masturbate, different ways to masturbate, or how to make it more pleasurable, we’re glad you’re here!
Benefits of masturbation
There are a variety of benefits to masturbating (besides the fact it can feel amazing)! Immediate benefits include reduced stress, sleep and mood improvement, and even relief from cramps. Masturbating can also aid in your self-discovery. You will learn what touches feels good to you and which sensations and ideas turn you on. Learning your body and your turn-ons can help you communicate clearly with partners about your needs and desires. Studies show masturbation can have a positive effect on your libido, arousal, and sexual function as well. Overall, masturbation is a healthy and fun way to explore your body!
Although you may be able to dive right in, it’s often best to go slow and warm up your body and your mind for pleasure.
How do you feel?
First consider how you feel. An often overlooked barrier to experiencing pleasure is how you feel about pleasure.
Many women grow up in cultures which shame sexual exploration and freedom. Guilt and shame can negatively affect your arousal and your experience of orgasm. Even if you believe enjoying your body is healthy, you may still experience negative emotions about pleasure. The cultures we grew up in plant deep-rooted thoughts. It can take a long time to work through those negative emotions to experience freedom in our bodies. It’s okay to go slowly.
If you want help navigating these complex issues look for a sex-positive certified sexual therapist.
Block out a time to masturbate when you are not distracted. Turn off your phone and lock the door. Make your space comfortable for you. Studies show wearing socks can help you orgasm more easily. Is it because socks are a major turn-on? Most of the time, no! It’s because wearing socks can keep you from being distracted by cold feet! So turn up the heat or put on some socks!
Don’t set a goal to experience orgasm. Simply prepare to enjoy the sensations of your body. That may include orgasm, but if it doesn’t that’s okay too!
Get Your Mind Involved
Unless you’re fully worked up from a particularly sexy movie, you’ll likely need to start getting the wheels spinning in your mind. Explore different mental stimulation and find out what works for you.
You can remember a past encounter and fantasize about that. Or try any of these perfectly normal fantasies that real women have! You may enjoy reading erotica and find the context of a story gets you especially worked up. Visual stimulation may turn you on, and you can put on a porn to watch. Contrary to popular belief, women often enjoy porn as much as men. In fact, this survey found that 31% of women surveyed watched porn every week.
Wear what makes you feel sexy! Many women find that wearing lingerie or a sexy skirt helps set the mood.
Finally, TEASE YOURSELF! Let your hands wander all over your body until you’re aching to touch between your legs. Explore other erogenous zones such as your thighs, sides, neck, stomach, and breasts. You may find you enjoy moving a mirror to watch as you trace along your body. Let your body move with your hands as you get more into it. When you feel ready, start to feel between your legs.
Now that your mind is involved and your body is beginning to be aroused, it’s time to start touching your genitals. You can masturbate by touching your clitoris (clit), penetrating your vagina, stimulating your anus, or any combination of these!
Exploring your clitoris
The clitoris is the pleasure center of your body. Its only function is to make you feel incredible!
The clitoris consists of the external glans and the internal clitoral body, crura, and vestibular bulbs. The glans is the visible external part of your clitoris. If you follow your labia up to where they meet at the top, you’ll find your glans clitoris. Your clitoral hood protects your clit since most women’s clits are extremely sensitive to touch. This can be especially painful if you’re not aroused. When we say clit, we usually mean the external glans even though most of the clitoris is internal.
Many women (82% in fact) are not able to orgasm from penetration alone. It’s normal to need to stimulate your clit to get off, and many women orgasm most reliably by playing with their clit. But exactly how women touch their clit varies widely. Here are some female masturbation techniques to try!
- Up and down strokes: Run the face of one or two fingers up and down your vulva on either side of your clit. Don’t directly touch your clit right away. You may find that one side or the other feels better. Explore the spots that feel good. Keep in mind, the spots that feel good may change as you keep touching yourself. If the motion stops feeling good, try shifting your finger slightly or moving to the other side again. As you become more aroused you can begin moving your finger up and down more directly over your clit.
- Side to side strokes: Experiment by pressing the pads of your fingers against your labia. Press the full length of your fingers in contact with your vulva. Keep your clit straddled between your fingers and move your hand side to side to move the entire area. This will stimulate your clit in the process. If this feels good, keep going. If not, try another stroke!
- Tapping: With one or two fingers gently tap along different areas of your vulva. Tap along the length of your outer and inner lips. As you tap, your clit will move slightly, even though you are not directly tapping your clit. Anything that moves your clit may feel good. As you find areas that feel especially good, hone in and keep tapping. As you become more aroused you can tap closer to your clit, or if what you’re doing feels good keep doing exactly that!
- Circles around your clit: With one finger gently trace circles around your clit without directly touching it. Let your finger graze your labia as it moves down and back around your clit again. Graze over the hood of your clit and back down again.
- Circles pressing your clit: With the pads of your fingers press firmly on the clit over the hood. You are not directly touching your clit here. With the hood protecting your clit, apply firm pressure in a circular motion to move your clit.
- Squeeze the labia: Try making a V-shape with your first two fingers. Press them on the outside of each of your outer labia. Squeeze your labia so that your clit is pressed, yet protected, between them. Move your fingers in any of the above patterns to move your clit while keeping it protected.
- Squeeze the shaft: The shaft of your clitoris runs from the glans back underneath your clitoral hood. Try pinching the shaft over your hood with your thumb and pointer finger. Gently glide your thumb and finger to stroke the shaft over your hood. You will likely find that you can increase the pressure and stroke it quite a bit without it feeling painful. Play around with different motions while pinching the shaft.
- Palm it: Press the base of your palm firmly against your pelvic bone at the top of your clit. Apply firm circles with the base of your hand!
- Rotate strokes: You may find that a particular stroke feels good for a while and then stops. Experiment with rotating through different stroke patterns as your body’s wants change in the moment.
- Pressures: Experiment with different pressures. You may find you enjoy light strokes barely grazing your body and that the slightest touch directly to your clit feels painful. Or you may find you want firm and consistent pressure on your clit. Vary the pressure and explore what you like.
- Consistency or change: Many women need the same exact motion repeatedly to orgasm. If something feels good keep repeating that motion. Don’t change the pressure or pace – see if the pleasure builds. On the other hand many women want increased pressure, more direct stimulation to their clit, or increased speed as their body nears orgasm. Try it all out and see how your body responds!
- Underwear: Remember that sexy lingerie you may have put on while you were preparing? Try keeping your underwear on and touching yourself over it! Many women find this helps the stimulation to not feel abrasive. This is especially good if you have a sensitive clit.
- Shower fun: Try shower masturbation! Let the water from your shower or bathtub run over your clit. You may find this provides another interesting type of sensation for your body!
- Grinding: Grab a pillow from your bed. Fold it in half to make it more firm and broad, and then climb on top! Press your weight onto the pillow and grind your clit against it. Adjust the pillow as needed so it presses where you want it.
- Vibrators: Experiment with vibrators! There are a variety of types, materials, and functions of vibrators. Each provides subtly different stimulations to your body. You may find that your body’s response or orgasms feel different depending on how you get off. All orgasms are fun so play around!
- Lube is your friend: If you experience painful sensations while touching yourself (and even if you don’t) try adding a little bit of high quality lube. Your body naturally produces lubrication. However, it’s perfectly normal for the amount of lubrication your body produces to vary. It’s also normal for you to want more lubrication than what your body is naturally providing. In fact, being wet and being aroused do not always happen together. It’s perfectly normal to experience low levels of lubrication even when you’re desiring sex. So don’t stress it, just add some lube and enjoy!
If you find that you’re able to consistently orgasm from clitoral stimulation you may want to try edging. Edging is bringing yourself very close to orgasm and then backing off the stimulation. Then you build yourself up again and repeat the process until you finally release. Many women find edging makes their orgasms more intense and last longer. They may experience sensations through more of their body as well.
Add in Penetration
Some women are able to orgasm from penetration alone, but the vast majority are not. Many women still enjoy the added sensations from internal stimulation combined with clitoral play. If you’d like to experiment with penetration you can use your fingers, a dildo, or a vibrator!
Whichever you choose make sure that whatever goes in your body is clean and made of a body-safe material. If you are using your fingers make sure your nails are trimmed. Don’t trim them immediately before sliding them in your body. Freshly trimmed nails have a harsher texture.
After you’re already very aroused and have played with your clit for a while, start to touch around the opening of your vagina. Feel if your body is starting to open up. Again, lube is your friend here. If you are using your fingers, take your pointer or middle finger. With the palm of your hand facing your pubic bone gently curl your finger up into the opening of your vagina.
Now there is some debate on whether the G spot really exists or if it is simply a part of the clitoral network. Regardless, many women find that stimulating an area along the front wall of their vagina about one to two knuckles in feels good. This is a good place to start! With your fingers (or a toy) curled up just inside your vagina, start to apply pressure to the front wall (toward your pubic bone). Many women find that curling a finger or two in a “come hither” motion to apply the pressure works well. Like clitoral stimulation, you’ll have to play around to determine what feels good for you. Trying a vibrator made to target the G spot may be helpful for you. And DON’T FORGET YOUR CLIT. As you experiment internally, remember to occasionally give your clit attention. You may find that you simply enjoy the feeling of fullness from having fingers or a dildo inside you while you stimulate your clit.
Massaging the area along the front wall of your vagina may feel exceptionally good. It may feel like nothing or it may feel uncomfortable. If it doesn’t feel good, you can try penetration another time if you’d like. But feel free to stick with clitoral masturbation!
You may also feel like you need to pee. If you’ve recently peed, chances are you don’t have to pee. Rather, your brain is interpreting the penetrative sensation as a “need to pee” until it learns to associate it as a separate pleasurable sensation. If you want, you can try to relax through that feeling and see if it becomes an enjoyable sensation. See here for a fascinating read on this phenomenon by renouned sex educator Emily Nagoski. As always, it’s your body, and if you don’t enjoy the sensation you can move right along!
Applying pressure to the outside of your anus, or sliding a finger or toy inside can also provide pleasurable sensations. Now more than ever: Lube is your friend. Apply the lube generously to your finger or toy. Gently tease around your anus and apply pressure to it. VERY SLOWLY press into your anus and see how it feels. Go as slowly as needed and if you feel pain back up.
You can try stimulating your clit while your fingers are playing with your anus. Or try inserting a plug to feel full while you masturbate other parts of your body.
Though stigma around masturbation still exists, it is beginning to be recognized as an important and healthy activity. Lately more people are researching how women experience pleasure and are teaching others to enjoy their bodies. If you’re a visual learner, check out OMGYes. It’s an online resource where women demonstrate on camera exactly how they masturbate and show what works for them. The videos are explicit, though they are non-pornographic. It is a paid service, though you may find it worth the money for detailed demonstrations.
Masturbation is normal and healthy. It can take some time to figure out what works for you, but it’s a fun journey along the way! Enjoy the ride.