May is National Masturbation Month, and we’re celebrating with Feeling Yourself, a series exploring the finer points of self-pleasure.
Masturbation can be like your oldest, most reliable best friend: always there when you need it most, a guaranteed good time, and (if we’re being real), a little easy to take for granted.
Lifelong masturbators learn pretty early on exactly what it takes to get themselves off. And, after figuring out what gets the job done effectively and efficiently, it’s only natural to think there’s not much else to be gained from trying to fix something that ain’t broke.
But much like your partnered sex life, getting stuck in a routine while flying solo can turn the magical experience of giving yourself over to pleasure into little more than a chore. It’s just another item on the to-do checklist: send work email, make dinner, do the dishes, fold laundry, jerk off until I cum and fall asleep.
You deserve to be as attentive of a lover to yourself as you are with a partner.
But you deserve to be as attentive of a lover to yourself as you are with a partner. I mean, doesn’t it suck when the person providing you pleasure is obviously running on auto-pilot and just going through the motions?
Even the experts say that masturbating makes you better at sex, because it’s basically like training for the real thing. You’re developing the methods, conditioning your brain, and forming the habits needed to bring yourself to climax. That’s on top of all the other health benefits that make masturbating good for you.
Being an active participant in your solo-love sessions is exactly what the doctor ordered. So we compiled some tips, tricks, and hacks for breaking out of your masturbation rut and diving into deeper avenues of pleasure.
(Note: While our advice mostly focuses on people with vaginas — since that’s what this writer knows — a lot of it can also apply to people with penises. This guide is geared toward more experienced masturbators, but beginners are welcome, too! Just make sure you’re familiar with the basics before trying anything too far outside your comfort zone.)
Change positions, locations, and time of day
I get it: Who wants to get out of bed for anything, even for sex? But there’s a cap to the level of pleasure you can achieve by just lying back and whacking it every time. Even small changes can have huge impacts.
If you’re super-attached to the bedroom (or if it’s your only option), switching up the position you touch yourself in can totally transform your masturbation experience.
So experiment with doing your thing while on all fours, on your stomach, knees, or even standing up. For some inspiration, check out MysteryVibe’s Playbook, which includes tons of different ways to experiment with their toys, though many still apply to manual methods too. Hell, forget the hand altogether. Go for a classic throwback: Try dry-humping your pillow like in the good old days of your earliest masturbation experiences.
There’s a cap to the level of pleasure you can achieve by just lying back and whacking it every time.
Think about location, location, location. An easy way to step outside your usual routine is moving your session to a comfy chair in your room. Venture further — like to the bathroom, where you can explore the wonders of either a waterproof sex toy or the water pressure from a handheld shower head during your morning routine. If you’re bold and in the right situation (meaning you won’t cause any innocent neighbors or roommates distress), bang yourself in the backyard for an exhibitionist rush.
Changes in where you masturbate can also facilitate another exciting variant: time of day. Don’t let masturbation always be the last thing you do in the day before going to bed. You won’t have the energy to want to explore new things.
That’s one case where this new era of working from home can be beneficial: Consider replacing your usual afternoon yoga lunch break with, well, something you’ll want to do on your personal rather than work laptop.
Get off to different porn (or your own imagination)
This one’s a bit obvious but can drastically shake up the way you experience and think about self-love. Lots of people don’t know that there’s been a recent wave of fantastic developments in erotica!
To be clear, there’s nothing inherently wrong with enjoying mainstream porn (though you should take into account some ethical concerns while engaging with it). But it might be worth it to invest in paid porn, whether it’s live webcams, more personal platforms like OnlyFans, or trying out specific fetish porn — or even exploring the burgeoning world of ASMR porn.
We also really recommend the kind of porn that offers higher production value, better storytelling, and much more expansive visions of eroticism. There’s a growing, exciting new world of alternative, women-led visual porn out there (we’ve written about these options many times before), but a recent one we’ve been jazzed about is FrolicMe. Or use more education-oriented platforms that up your masturbation game, like OMG Yes or O.school.
We recommend experimenting with erotica that engages your mind more than the passive experience of a visual medium, too.
Audio erotica (read our guide here) is hot as hell, totally ethical, instructive, and lets you imagine exactly what you like. That’s ideal for folks who don’t see their orientations or preferences represented in mainstream porn, as well as those who may need more control over what they see because of triggers from past trauma. Or you can even join the extremely perverse (like yours truly) and appropriate your favorite silky-voiced podcast to help you do your business.
Audio and written erotica are both great ways to transition into getting off on your own imagination and sexual fantasies. There’s nothing like orgasming to the hottest thing your mind can imagine. But it’s a muscle you have to develop. For starters, think back to your favorite sex scene in a book, movie, TV show, fanfiction — whatever. Then replace whatever character you identify with the most with yourself and enjoy. 🙂
Take “self-love” literally
This will sound pretty corny, but try to reframe your masturbation session as going on a date with yourself. I know, I know — but humor us.
Start by setting the right romantic mood. Throw on some lingerie that makes you feel sexy, use your favorite candle or essential oil diffuser, put on some sexy yet low key tunes, pour yourself a glass of wine or engage in your preferred weed consumption method, and finally rub massage oil over every inch of your skin, working out the kinks and relaxing your muscles. Now, touch yourself down there in all your favorite ways.
Does a solo date sound too silly now?
But seriously, use masturbation as an occasion to shower your body in love. There’s research showing a positive link between positive body image and sexual satisfaction. Achieving that is a lot easier said than done. But certain masturbation exercises can really help you embody the fact that you are worthy of and deserve deeper pleasure (we’ll get into that more in the mindful masturbation section below).
For now, while rubbing massage oil on yourself, marvel at the parts of your body you love most. They don’t even have to be an erogenous zone, just something you genuinely adore — like the nape of your neck, insides of your wrists, curve of your hip, the butt dimples on the small of your back.
Give yourself the luxury of going slow
Let’s be real: quick orgasms kinda suck a lot of the time. Despite sex toy marketing and rappers glorifying this idea of “making her cum fast,” pleasure is neither a race nor a competition. Actually, if you cum too quickly, there’s usually not enough build-up and it’s an indication that you’re masturbating on auto-pilot.
Working hard to reach orgasm —and by that we mean either purposefully delaying your orgasm by “edging” or experimenting with other new, untried, potentially even unsuccessful methods — is nothing to be ashamed of.
Pleasure is neither a race nor a competition
While trying out a lot of these new tips, don’t think of climax as the ultimate goal of your masturbation session. It puts a lot of unnecessary pressure on yourself and distracts from the fun process of exploration. Success during a self-love session is simply learning more about what you like and don’t like. And, counterintuitively, you’ll actually be more likely to reach orgasm if you’re not actively thinking or trying to get there.
Anyway, the longer it takes to reach orgasm, the more powerful they usually are. That’s why edging can be a great solo experiment.
Edging is low effort with high reward. Start by getting off with your tried and true jerking off methods, but just as you feel yourself on the edge of climax, pull back and stop. It’ll take some practice and patience, but trust us, it’s worth it. Just do it over and over again, as many times as you can take before finally giving in.
Experiment with new, unexplored sensations
Edging isn’t the only easy way to turn familiar techniques into new sensations.
If you like to get your rocks off manually, test patterns and speeds that vary from your usual methods. Again, OMG Yes and O.School are fantastic resources for this. If you’ve got some sex toys in your arsenal, use them in unexpected ways (though, of course, respect any warnings from the manual about internal versus external use). For example, use your vibrator for more indirect stimulation, like to tease your nipples, or over your panties, or anywhere other than your clitoris — like the area around your vaginal opening. If your sex toy has different edges or attachments, test those out. If you’ve got the right kind of toy, you might experiment with temperature play by warming it in hot water or putting it in the fridge for a little while.
Immerse yourself in any type of sensory play, really. Use an ice cube or low-temperature, body-safe massage oil and wax candles. Bring different textures into the mix, luxuriating in how silk feels on your skin, running a downy feather all over, or venturing into some light pain territory with a pinwheel. If those are too out there, experiment with lubes focused on different sensory experiences, especially cannabis-infused lube. (Be sure to look up some guides on which type to use and how to use them properly.)
You won’t always end up liking a lot of what you try. But these exercises will help spark your curiosity and ground you in your body (so remember these tips for our section on mindful masturbation below).
Last, go for a variety of different types of orgasms. Clitoral orgasms are great, don’t get me wrong — there’s a reason they’re the most popular and effective method for people with vaginas. But use your masturbation sessions to explore your potential for other types, like multiple, vaginal, g-spot, or even the holy grail blended orgasm. Do not put pressure on yourself to cum, though, because not everyone’s body responds to these types of stimulations.
Practice mindful masturbation before and during your self-love sesh
This one’s kind of a trick, because most of everything we’ve gone over so far can fit under the umbrella of mindful sex, an increasingly popular approach to helping you stay present in your body during experiences of pleasure.
Mindful sex includes many different practices, methods, and exercises (some of which we’ve already covered). To oversimplify a bit, it basically applies sexuality to the core principles and exercises of mindfulness (like meditation). And it’s also an especially powerful solo practice.
Let’s start with something pretty familiar, like sexy tantric yoga before masturbating.
Yoga can help you get in touch with your body, disperse breath throughout it, and release tension from your muscles (especially the usually tense ones around your pelvis). By opening your body up and relaxing, there’s a high chance you’ll have better orgasms.
Tantric breathing or orgasmic mediation is another great way to do this that doesn’t require getting off your ass. We enjoy the guides to tantric breathing and meditation on Dipsea or Youtube instructors like this one as a jumping-off point.
By opening your body up and relaxing, there’s a high chance you’ll have better orgasms.
For mindful sex geared toward positive body image, incorporate a meditative mindset into the solo date-night massage oil ritual we went over earlier.
While touching and looking at your naked body, approach every part of it with a detached, non-judgmental curiosity, like you’re seeing it for the first time. In your head, describe the parts of your body using neutral language. Focus on the exact shade of your skin, the angle of your elbows, the size of your toes. This will be tough at first, since your mind is likely conditioned to zero in on insecurities with charged, harsh language (like ugly, saggy, flabby, etc). That’s OK, too. Accept those thoughts, letting them go before continuing to observe the color of the veins on your wrist, roundness of your knees, number of freckles on your arm.
Next, do all that in front of a mirror for as short or as long a time as you feel comfortable. The more regularly you do it, the better you’ll get at both accepting any negative thoughts and going back to nonjudgmental curiosity.
If you really want to ramp up this exercise, bring a handheld mirror into the bed and look at your genitals while you touch them. Knowing your own anatomy is key to knowing your pleasure. So just play around with identifying the different parts of your vagina (use charts like these to help guide you), noticing which areas feel good, bad, or just meh when you touch them.
Again, it’s only natural for these exercises to feel difficult or jarring at first. We suggest doing these more advanced practices after you’ve already done other, more basic mindful sex stuff, like deep breathing or yoga or whatever else helps you get into that present-moment mindset.
Keep a journal of all the new things you’re trying
While you’re in the process of immersing yourself in these new sensations, exercises, and experiments, keep a little masturbation captain’s log to debrief and analyze your experiences. It doesn’t need to be much. Just the act of giving yourself the space and time to really analyze your pleasure can do wonders to up your masturbation game in the long run.
If you’re unsure what to write down, start by tracking and rating every self-love session or orgasm (if you have one). Why was it better or worse, do you think? What really turned you on? What didn’t work? Are you excited to try something else, based on what you learned? Did anything make it more difficult to enjoy yourself?
It can be fun to think of yourself almost like a scientist, framing each masturbation experiment as a question, then testing that hypothesis, then writing about the results after.
Soon enough, you’ll have a full-on doctorate in self-love.