While some of you might think, ‘What do you mean how to masturbate?’ there are plenty of people who struggle with self-pleasure and aren’t sure where to begin. People with vaginas tend to experience higher barriers of entry to sexual pleasure, due to a lack of information, persistent social stigma, and discomfort with their bodies. Many more than you might think make it to adulthood without ever having had an orgasm, by their own hand or anyone else’s.
First things first, this is nothing to be ashamed of, and if you’ve never had an orgasm, that doesn’t mean you’re ‘broken’. Many people find themselves in this situation, and nothing is a bigger mood-killer than feeling anxious or embarrassed. In order to experience sexual pleasure, many of us need to feel safe and accepted, with ourselves and with our partners. If you’re feeling frustrated, masturbating to orgasm can feel like an impossible task.
Believe us, there is no such thing as an expert when it comes to masturbation, because everyone has different parts and experiences pleasure differently. While it’s important to understand your body and what organs like the clitoris, vagina, penis and anus can do, we think it’s equally as important to cultivate your headspace and learn to feel comfortable masturbating, both with your body and in your mind.
Set the mood.
Contrary to popular belief, it’s not just your hormones that regulate your sex drive. Brain chemicals like serotonin, related to mood and feelings of reward, play a huge role, too. Get yourself into a calm, happy space with some music, a warm bath, soft clothes, candles—really, anything that helps you to relax, de-stress and feel good.
It’s all about the journey, not the destination.
Sounds cliché, but it’s true—the most generous thing you can give yourself is time. Don’t rush, and try not to treat an orgasm like the ultimate goal.
Give yourself at least half an hour to start, and accept that it might not happen the first, second or even third time. Practice makes perfect, so pay attention to your body and what feels good to you. Taking a page out of meditation’s handbook, start by lying on your back, closing your eyes and focusing on your breathing—in and out, in and out. Let your mind roam freely, and then let your hands follow suit.
Don’t be afraid to experiment! Different strokes, speeds and pressures, as well as penetration in the vagina and/or anus can all be pleasurable. The best way to find out what you like is to try a bit of everything. Many vulva owners find that rubbing in smooth, circular motions feels good, either diagonally across the clitoris or the area around it. You can also lie on your side or your stomach, raise your legs into the air, or grind up against a pillow—seriously, there is no wrong way to touch yourself.
Friction can feel good, but a little lube never hurt anybody, especially if you have a hard time getting in the mood and producing natural lubrication. Lube tends to make sexual stimulation feel better—like, a lot better. Use a small, pea-sized amount and massage it slowly into your genitals with your fingers, lingering a little longer where it feels good.
Focus on your entire body, not just your genitals.
While it’s true that the clitoris is a pleasure organ, it’s not an ‘on-off’ switch that regulates your entire sexual experience. Try pinching your nipples—gently at first, and then harder, if that feels good—and run your hands over your belly and thighs. Tighten your abs and pelvic floor muscles as you masturbate, and try holding your breath for a few seconds at a time. All this can help to get you into that tense-but-pleasurable space that precedes an orgasm.
Play with toys.
There’s absolutely no shame in bringing toys into the mix! If you feel like you’ve tried everything and still aren’t getting there, a vibrator or dildo can provide some more targeted and intense stimulation. We love and recommend the Yumi because it’s worn on the fingers, and easy to use intuitively, like it’s part of your own body. The Nova 2 is also an amazing option because it provides both vaginal and clitoral stimulation, which many vagina owners find increases their chances of reaching orgasm.
Take a class—no, really!
Believe it or not, there are courses that can help teach you how to masturbate. Our friend Luna Dietrich (a.k.a. Pussy Witch) is a sexual empowerment coach who teaches an immersive five-week course aimed at helping people to accept their bodies and seek their desires in new ways. If you're more of a private person, she also offers one-on-one coaching online.
None of this is a guarantee, but all steps in the right direction, so try not to be disappointed if it takes time. Like all the best things, self-pleasure takes time, care and attention. Look at it this way—each time you try, you’re learning a little bit about yourself and what you like. Orgasms are amazing, but we think the really worthy goal is getting to know yourself more intimately. And hey, you’ve got your whole life to perfect your technique!