I learned how to masturbate in high school, but I didn’t get good at it until college. All through adolescence, I talked with male friends about their masturbatory habits regularly, but among my female friends, the conversation rarely ever wandered into solo-sex, and it always felt taboo when it did.
Earlier this week, my boyfriend asked if I could talk with one of his friends about masturbating. I could talk to just about anybody for eons about masturbating, but I especially adore this woman, so I had to indulge.
Our conversation reminded me of where I was in life in early college — curious about sex but not about my own body. I wasn’t all that interested in learning how my parts worked. I figured I already knew the ones I was supposed to know, and the rest would fall into place. In a sense, that’s exactly what happened.
Freshman year, I was talking with my roommate and a friend of hers whom I despised. The friend, as intolerable as I found her, had the right attitude about masturbation. She was open and knew herself. She asked my roommate and me if we had each masturbated. We looked at each other, I admitted I had, and then my roommate said the same. That’s about where the conversation ended. It was both embarrassingly awkward and yet oddly comforting. (Solidarity, man.)
Sophomore year, my next roommate frequently slept at her boyfriend’s apartment, so I had the room to myself quite often. That was one of the greatest gifts she ever could have given me because it gave me ample time to explore my own body in the privacy of our secluded room.
As a young teen, I once fumbled a small back massager into my lap and was surprised by the warm, pleasant sensation emanating from between my legs. That was the first time I realized my crotch was capable of producing nice feelings.
In high school, I fashioned a makeshift vibrator out of an old electric toothbrush and some saran wrap. Later in high school, I realized I could use the vibrating flosser from my dentist as an even better vibrator with pinpoint accuracy.
In college, I finally had the time resources to devote hours to masturbating, not just the little quickies before bed I once enjoyed in my late teens on school nights.
The epitome of my journey to body love happened after two distinctive vaginal events: one was feeling myself orgasm from the inside of my vagina — Oh, the incredible convulsions! — and the other was feeling my own g-spot, which reminds me of a sea creature because of its moist ridges.
Needless to say, I am an avid fan of masturbation, and not just for women. I would encourage everyone to masturbate as often as they prefer. I see it as one of the greatest gifts we can give ourselves. It puts us at the center of controlling our own sexual autonomy, takes the sexual pressure off of our partners, helps us continue (or start) building self-love, and boasts a variety of both physical and mental health benefits.
Guys I knew in high school had already mastered the art of masturbation before age twelve. Women, on the other hand… well, I know women far older than me who still have an extremely limited knowledge base of the female body, much less their own.
For women with limited masturbatory experience who would like to learn more, like the friend I helped at the beginning of this post, here’s my advice.
1. The clitoris is extremely sensitive, which can be great at times. However, this can also lead to “burn out” when the pleasurable feelings subside and plateau because the clitoris has been overwhelmed. If massaging the tip of your clitoris leads to this, try massaging the skin right next to your clitoris instead. Use this skin (your clitoral hood) as a barrier over the tip of your clitoris. The sensation will still feel great without being too strong. Your own vaginal lubrication works perfectly for this.
2. Vibrator, vibrator, vibrator — I cannot stress this enough. Not having a vibrator is like not having a dishwasher; it’s a modern timesaver that’ll having you wondering how you ever lived without it. My current favorite is this** inexpensive critter. Some day, I also plan to invest in one of these infamous slices of heaven. And I don’t mean this for just women, either! Everyone can enjoy a vibrator. I choose to use mine almost exclusively externally (on my clitoris), but they’re built for the works, so a creative mind can only lead to more fun.
3. On that note, practice applying different amounts of pressure while you masturbate, and not just to your genitals. Try teasing your other body parts, too! Thighs, feet, earlobes, lips, breasts, nipples, butt, belly, lower back… anything responsive when you are turned on. Human bodies are remarkable, and sexual arousal raises both pain and tickle tolerances (your brain processes both sensations the same way). You might really enjoy certain sensations whist hot-and-heavy that you otherwise wouldn’t in your vanilla life. Experiment with how your body responds; it’ll thank you. Mine loves butt, thigh, breast, and just-inside-the-first-centimeter-of-my-vagina tickling.
4. Orgasming with objects inside your vagina feels different than orgasming without objects in your vagina. I feel greater convulsions when there is not anything in my vagina when I climax, but when there is an object there that’s just the right size, the sensations I feel when I climax are out of this world. Size makes a world of difference here, too. If you’re like me, your vagina is picky about what’s too small and very, very picky about what’s too big.
5. This piece of advice is more about getting to know your body than physical pleasure. Just for fun, try slipping a finger about two and a half knuckles deep in your vagina, and leave that finger in place until after you’ve orgasmed. You’ll be surprised to feel just how active your vagina is during an orgasm. For those of you familiar with how a penis convulses at orgasm, vaginas convulse extremely similarily. The way mine convulses is one of the coolest tactile experiences my finger has ever had.
6. If you’ve never played with your g-spot, try it. Mine’s about two middle-finger-knuckles deep in my vagina, on the “roof” just behind my pubic bone. It’ll be shaped like a button and have a distinctively different texture than the rest of the skin on your vaginal walls. Push up on it, and see how that feels while you massage your clitoris. Then wiggle your finger, and see how that feels when you massage your clitoris. G-spot stimulation is never vital in my sex life, but it’s a bonus sometimes because it can make what already feels good even better.
7. The most important advice I can give is to relax. Consider switching your focus from achieving an orgasm to exploring and appreciating your body. It’s all about trial and error. There is no perfect recipe because our bodies all work a little differently, and people often have vastly different preferences from one another. Find what works for you, and be adventurous. Your body will thank you when you learn how she/he/ze works.
[**UPDATE: I removed the link to my now-former vibrator from this article. It was one of the purple, “jelly” ones from Amazon. I have recently learned that “jelly” toys often contain dangerous, undisclosed chemicals, so I have thrown that toy out and will never again buy one labelled as “jelly”. For more information about toxic, non-body-safe toys to avoid, I highly recommend http://dangerouslilly.com/toxictoys/.]