The Best Ways to Masturbate, According to Experts
We don't know who needs to hear this, but your body is designed for pleasure. Despite the sorry state of sex education in the United States, which has pushed an antipleasure, antiqueer, abstinence-only agenda for decades, masturbation is a healthy, normal part of a lot of people's sex lives.
But for many, the lack of proper sex education leaves people with a lot of questions. How do women masturbate? What is the best way to masturbate? What are the best masturbation positions? What sex toys should I use to masturbate? This is especially true for women, nonbinary people, and trans folks, who learn even less about their body and pleasure sites than cis men.
The most important thing to remember when it comes to self-pleasure is just that: pleasure. It's not about reaching an orgasm or judging your body or its reactions. Self-pleasure is about getting in touch with your desire and letting go of expectations. It's an opportunity to check in with your body, learn what turns you on, and enjoy sexual exploration in an environment of your choosing. But before we get into how to experience this immense amount of pleasure, let's start with the basics.
What Is Masturbation?
By definition, "masturbation is the act of stimulating your genitals and other erogenous zones for pleasure and orgasm," Angie Rowntree, founder and director of feminist porn site Sssh.com, tells POPSUGAR. This, of course, will look different for everyone. Some people use their fingers; other people prefer a sex toy. Some people will do it in the shower; other people will do it while lying in bed.
However you masturbate, know that "it's an excellent tool for both sexual exploration and self-care," Rowntree confirms. "It also allows you to literally take control of your pleasure on your own terms, which many people find empowering. Whether you are flying solo or have a partner, masturbation can go a long way toward helping your overall sex life."
Ahead, you'll find more info on masturbation techniques, toys, and positions.
How to Masturbate
The first thing you should do before masturbating is check in with yourself. What do you need to get comfortable? Consider taking privacy and your surroundings into account. For some people, they can only relax when they're home alone, so choose a place and time when you feel relaxed and won't be interrupted. Then, choose your setting. You can masturbate in the shower, bath, or bed or even on the floor.
Next, curate your space with anything you need to get in the mood. One thing you might want is lube, which is a type of liquid or gel that decreases friction during sex and makes everything much more comfortable. There are a few different types of lube you can choose from, including water-based, silicone-based, and oil-based ones. Generally, it's up to you to decide what you prefer, but there are a few things to keep in mind when choosing:
- For any masturbation in the shower, bath, or water, opt for a silicon-based lube because it is thicker and washes away less easily than water-based lube.
- If you're using a silicon-based sex toy, pair it with water-based lube. Silicone lube can degrade the quality of your toy.
- Oil-based lube is best for skin-to-skin masturbation, but it is not condom safe.
If you're not sure what to get, a versatile water-based lube is the way to go. Blossom Organics Natural Moisturizing Lubricant is safe for your toys, is great for sensitive skin, and won't stain your sheets. And for those who love water play, the wet Platinum Silicone Based Sex Lube is hypoallergenic and doesn't wash away easily.
Sex toys are the next thing to consider. The main benefit of toys is that they give a variety of sensations, are adaptable to your needs, and don't tire out as easily as your hands will.
For those who love internal sex (aka penetration) and clitoris stimulation simultaneously, try a curved rabbit vibrator. Rabbits like the Sweet Vibrations The Perfect Match Flexible Rabbit Vibrator have two "arms" to stimulate your clit and vagina at the same time.
For a more subtle, ergonomically dynamic toy, try Dame's Fin, which easily slips onto your fingers. Another great option is a grinding-friendly toy like Cute Little F*cker's Coral Stars, which adapts well to all genitalia. Not sure what you want? There are plenty of gender-neutral toys and other options made with accessibility in mind, like MysteryVibe's Crescendo, which is an especially great hands-free toy that has separate designs for vulvas and penises. Wearing a cock ring like this one is another great option to add some stimulation to your masturbation sesh.
Once you have all your sexcessories ready, decide how you want to get yourself in the mood. You may enjoy watching ethical porn, reading literotica, or listening to a sexy audio session or playlist. Whatever you decide, it's best to have everything you need ready to go, so you don't have to get up or fumble around just as you're getting into the right headspace.
Finally, take the time to turn yourself on. Explore your body with your hands or a toy, but don't rush to your genitals. Explore your other erogenous zones like your head, neck, nipples, hips, and thighs, and allow the tension to build up. Then, when you can't take it anymore, touch your genitals. Experiment with pressure and different stroking motions.
For those with vulvas, you can mix internal (vaginal) and external stimulation (clit). For clit masturbation, lube up your fingers, and experiment with circular motions, pressure, and short and long strokes. You can also add in G-spot stimulation, which is an erogenous area located an inch or so inside the vagina with a bumpy texture. To find the G-spot, feel around on the top wall of the vagina — nearest to your belly button — with your fingers, and look for the signature bumpy texture. When you've found it, move your fingers in a "come hither" motion or move your toy gently towards your belly button to activate the G-spot.
For those with penises, try stroking the penis with a cupped hand, using soft, up-and-down motions and varying pressure. Generally, you want to start with slower strokes up and down the penis, and as you feel yourself become more and more aroused, pick up the pace. With your other hands, feel, massage, hold, or gently tug on your balls. As an alternative to stroking the entire penis, try paying attention to the head, which is a very sensitive spot for many. Massage the head with an open palm, fingers, or a vibrator, while the other hand holds either the base of the penis or balls.
If you're just starting to experiment with masturbation, the best thing to do is get creative with what you try. If you've had partnered sex before, think about what you enjoyed in the past. Was it being on top? Doggy style? Receiving oral sex? Whatever it was, incorporate those positions into your masturbation techniques.
For example, if you like doggy, lie on your tummy, and grind on your hands or a toy. If you like being on top, straddle a toy, or bounce on a mounted dildo. And if you enjoy cunnilingus or blow jobs, there's a ton of toys that mimic oral sex, like Filare by Lora DiCarlo.
For those who already feel comfortable masturbating, consider incorporating more temperature play. You can heat up your hands with warm water before touching your body or invest in a self-warming toy like the Angel Flexible Intelligent Warming Vibrator. A showerhead with lukewarm (not hot!) water is a great way to blend intense stimulation with a layered sensation, too.
"For those folks who are a little more experienced with masturbating, I highly suggest experimenting with different combination methods," sexologist Marla Renee Stewart says. "Masturbation in different places with different objects can be fun, too! Change up the scenery, the objects, [or] the time of day to find a good combo for an unexpected orgasm!"
If you want to combine toys and feel something a little more intense, add anal play into the mix. There's a misconception that anal sex hurts, but when done slowly and with a lot of lube, it can lead to a more intense orgasm and a whole new area of your body to explore. For a subtle introduction to anal play, try small toys with a flared base, like a butt plug (but remember you should never use a vibrator, dildo, or toy for butt play without a flared base).
If you need a little more guidance on techniques, you can also try a guided masturbation session that will instruct you on where to touch your body and how.
There's an endless number of possibilities when it comes to masturbation positions, and as long as you're comfortable, there's no "wrong" way to do it. That said, the following positions should get you started.
Pillow masturbation is a great option for people with vulvas, and it's really simple. Get up on your knees, and place a pillow firmly between your legs. Next, sink your hips down into the pillow, and start grinding against the pillow. This is entirely clit stimulation, so if you feel aroused but the pressure isn't intense enough, you can place a vibrator between you and the pillow (or even in your underwear or spandex shorts, so the toy stays firmly in place) and move your body against the pillow with varying pressure until you orgasm.
Another masturbating position involves you on your back. You can prop up your legs on pillows, extend them against a wall, or just let your knees fall apart and rest near your hips. With your legs relaxed, give attention to your inner thighs. Try teasing yourself with strokes and pinches to your thighs. Wait until you're fully aroused, and then start playing with your genitals. This is probably the most comfortable position to masturbate, and it won't put a lot of strain on your body — meaning you can focus more on pleasure.
Finally, try kneeling on all fours. Find a surface that won't hurt your knees or hands (like a bed or a yoga mat on the floor), and begin touching yourself. This position is an alternative to lying on your back or side, and it's a great option to engage your entire body while masturbating. Stay on all fours (or three if you're using your hand) while stimulating your genitals, and experiment with your leg positioning. For some, it's best to keep the legs a comfortable distance apart, while others like to squeeze their legs together and tense up. If you want to focus on squeezing your legs together and grinding, use a hands-free toy like Dame's Eva that fits snugly over your clit.
Remember, no matter what you're into, it's always worth taking the time to invest in self-pleasure.