“We have reason to believe that man first walked upright to free his (or her or their) hands for masturbation.” ― Lily Tomlin
I think Lily has a point.
Earlier this year, I had the pleasure of appearing on Kelsey Darragh’s podcast, Confidently Insecure. Afterward, I received several messages from thoughtful fans of the show who relate to my experience as a “late bloomer” in the masturbation department. One listener asked what tips I’d recommend for someone who’s yet to delve into solo play.
Biases embraced, I love this topic. I sent that listener an excerpt from my Girl Boner book and decided to explore the topic further on Girl Boner Radio with returning guest, Dr. Shannon Chavez. As a licensed clinical psychologist and sex therapist with a private practice in Beverly Hills who specializes in bringing sex education to religious and conservative communities, I knew she’d have a lot to say on the subject.
We took a deep dive into masturbation tips for women, people with vulvas and beginners of any gender, debunked myths about solo play, lube and sex toys and explored designer relationships. Dr. Megan Fleming also weighed in, sharing some of her favorite self-pleasure advice.
Masturbation Tips for Beginners
1 Set aside time, create some ambiance and ease in.
When we’re newish to self-pleasure, it can easily fall to the wayside. If you’re a big time calendar or to-do list person, add it as you would any important task.
When the time arrives, situate yourself somewhere you feel comfortable, then start exploring any area of your body that seems erogenous to you. If that feels awkward, consider sensually applying lotion over skin to start.
For sultry ambiance, light a candle or play music you find relaxing or sexy. For extra-sensory fun or to turn your thoughts inward, close your eyes. Meanwhile, remember to breathe! Slow, deep, relaxed breathing can center you and make way for orgasm.
2 Explore your anatomy.
Dr. Chavez considers anatomy exploration an ideal first step for masturbation newbies. “That may start with getting naked looking at your nude body and being open to exploring,” she said. “And by exploring, I mean really touch things. Move things around, see how things work, how how they look. Become embodied and connected to your anatomy, so then masturbation doesn’t seem like an obscure thing, but then you can say, ‘All right. Now I want to explore where to touch and how to touch.'”
While you’re exploring your genital area, consider adding a bit of water or silicone based lubricant to your fingers. Lube not only feels good, but can enhance arousal.
3 Use just your fingers or add a gentle toy.
As Dr. Chavez pointed out, you don’t need a fancy vibrator to masturbate. If a sex toy sounds fun to you, however, go for it! Just avoid super high-powered, intense vibrators when you’re first starting out. Ideally, you’ll get to know your sexy parts a bit first, either with your hands or with a non-vibrating or only mildly vibrating toy.
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If you end up needing a toy to experience orgasm during any type of sex, solo or partnered, that’s 100% a-okay.
4 Find ways to turn yourself on.
Our thoughts are where all-things-sexy begin, so aim to invite a spicy, sensual mindset. “Arousal is both mental and physical,” said Dr. Megan Fleming. “It certainly starts with ‘how do we get ourselves turned on?’ and recognizing all the ways that we can proactively and erotically turn ourselves on.”
If you aren’t turned on when you’d like to be, consider reading or watching erotica, fantasizing, or applying some lube and really focusing on your body’s sensations.
5 Check yourself out!
If you’re comfortable doing so during your solo play session, look at yourself naked, focusing on beauty or sexiness you see. Consider observing your body in a mirror as you touch yourself or before getting busy.
“I always encourage women especially to look at their bodies and feel good about it,” said Chavez. “We tend to judge our bodies a lot or criticize our bodies, but sensual connection with your body can be a great way to really honor your body.”
6 Pretend you’re with a partner.
If you have trouble moving toward orgasm without a partner (another question we answered), try replicating what you do with a partner that tends to get you off. Masturbate belly-down on a pillow, for example, inserting a modest-size toy or your hands as you ride the pillow.
Belly-down is an awesome solo play position for many people with vulvas, as it makes way for external clitoral stim.
7 Let orgasm happen, or not.
Orgasms are awesome and a legit priority you deserve to enjoy. If you fixate on climaxing, though, stressing over its absence or why it’s “taking so long,” it can make orgasm less likely.
“Masturbation is just about self-pleasure and time to connect with you,” said Chavez. “And if orgasm happens, great, but it shouldn’t be the focus.”
For much more on solo play, lube, sex toys and evolving relationships, stream the full Girl Boner Radio episode up above or on your favorite podcast app!