Tips & Techniques

The Ultimate Guide To Masturbation

Discover new ways to pleasure yourself or explore masturbation for the first time with this guide - suitable for all bodies
by Kate Sloan
9 Nov 2022

UPDATED: 12 Jan 2023


Image Source: Photo by Mikelya Fournier on Unsplash

Masturbation is many different things to many different people: it’s a way to feel good, a way to de-stress, and a way to learn more about your body, just to name a few of its many functions. It also has tons of health benefits, both physical and mental.

But even though almost all of us do it at one time or another, not everyone knows how to jerk off, or how to do it in the most pleasurable ways for their body. It’s not always as intuitive as you might think, so let’s discuss some solo-sex techniques!

It’s about the journey as well as the destination. If you focus on needing to have an orgasm, most of the time the psychological pressure to cum[/come] will make it far less likely to happen.

Leanne Yau

How to Masturbate: Wanking Techniques

While there are different ways to masturbate which will depend on what anatomy you have, some methods work regardless of what’s in your pants.

For one thing, if you always jump straight to touching your genitals, you’re missing out. The concept of warming up isn’t just for sex with another person – it can be an important part of solo sex, too. “Set the mood with whatever makes you feel sexy – it could be candles, music, or your favourite lingerie,” suggests Ryn Pfeuffer, a sex and relationships writer and the author of 101 Ways to Rock Online Dating. “Slow down and touch yourself, taking note of what feels pleasurable and where.”

Remember, too, that orgasm doesn’t have to be your goal – and in some cases, it’s better if it’s explicitly not your goal. “It’s about the journey as well as the destination. If you focus on needing to have an orgasm, most of the time the psychological pressure to cum[/come] will make it far less likely to happen,” says Leanne Yau, polyamory educator and founder of Poly Philia. “Plus, there are many erogenous zones on the body that may not directly lead to orgasm but certainly feel good.” Try gently stroking your nipples or inner thighs with your hands, for instance, or go searching for other, unexplored sensitive spots on your body. Stroking or gently massaging your own body can be a beautiful way to slow down and connect with yourself, especially if the self-touch is imbued with love, kindness, desire and respect. 

How to Self-Pleasure If You Have a Vulva

Firstly, let’s dispel a myth: penetration isn’t the be-all and end-all of pleasure for people with vulvas, and for many people, it’s not a component of their masturbation at all! Studies show that about 75–90% of vulva-owners masturbate solely by touching their clitoris, every time or almost every time. This makes sense, since the clit – being the anatomical equivalent of the penis – is often the most sexually sensitive part of vulvovaginal anatomy, and stimulating it is necessary for the majority of vulva-havers to reach orgasm. “A lot of people are taught about the existence of the vagina in sex ed at school but not about the clitoris!” says Yau.

Quick Rundown Of Clitorial Anatomy:

In most articles (this one included), when people refer to the clitoris, we mean the lil external nubbin that sits at the top of the vulva. That sensitive spot is just the tip of the iceberg, however, with much of the clitoral anatomy sitting inside the body. Vulvar anatomy will of course differ from person to person – take a look at some of the links in this article in the section titled “Illustrating The Point” for more information and some useful diagrams.

Stimulating The Clitoris

There are many ways to stimulate this sensitive organ. You can stroke it up and down and/or side-to-side, rub circles around it. You can also “jerk off” your clit between two fingers in a similar way to how you can masturbate a penis. Experiment to see if you prefer one finger, two, or more, and play around with different amounts of pressure on different areas of your clit. One side might be more sensitive than the other, and sensations will be different depending on levels of lubrication, so get your fave lube out and play with that too. 

Yau suggests paying particular attention to the clitoral hood – that’s the fold of skin that covers or partially covers your clit – especially when first learning to touch yourself, because it can make a big difference sensation-wise. Like the foreskin on an uncircumcised penis, the clitoral hood can function as a buffer between your fingers (or a vibrator, or anything else) and your clit. If you find that direct clitoral contact feels uncomfortable or painful due to how sensitive you are, applying gentle pressure through the hood might be a better way to go.

Masturbation Beyond The Clit

That being said, there are other areas besides the clit that feel good when touched. The outer labia, inner labia, mons pubis, and vaginal introitus (entrance to the vaginal canal) can all feel good when touched. “I would suggest looking up a diagram of the vulva and using a hand mirror to identify the different parts on yourself,” Yau says. This is especially helpful if you’re new to masturbation, but it can be good to reacquaint yourself with your anatomy no matter how well-versed you are in its composition. Taking a regular look can also be a good way to spot any changes that may be related to illness, such as sores, lumps or unusual discharge. If you are someone who suffers from dysphoria related to your body and genitals, then observing yourself with a mirror may not be healthy or helpful, so please work within your own comfort levels and always seek medical and or therapeutic help when needed.

Masturbation and Penetration

If you’re interested in self-penetrating when you masturbate, make sure to have a good lube on hand to make it easier and more enjoyable. You can use your fingers for this, or a sex toy. The upper vaginal wall (the one closest to your belly button) is typically the most sexually sensitive – that’s where the G-spot and A-spot are located – but, as ever, your best bet is to try things out and discover what feels good for your body. Bear in mind what feels good may also change over time, depending on a range of factors such as age, stress, hormone levels etc. 

Additionally, some people struggle with vaginismus, a painful condition that can make penetration uncomfortable or impossible. For those folks, skipping penetration altogether is always an option. You may find that long, slow masturbation sessions with well-lubricated fingers – and perhaps some medical dilators or a very slim dildo – can help you ease into penetration over time, if that is something you want to experience.

How to Self-Pleasure If You Have a Penis

Many people with penises already have a good grasp (so to speak) of which techniques work best for them when they masturbate, but they may be prone to over-relying on one particular method and racing toward orgasm. Daniel Saynt, founder of NSFW, suggested edging as a potential remedy for this problem in a recent talk at Sex Expo. Edging is the practice of getting yourself close to orgasm, then backing off, and repeating as desired. 

Of course, people with any kind of anatomy can edge, but it may be particularly helpful if you find yourself returning to the same goal-oriented masturbatory patterns again and again. It can also have benefits that extend beyond solo sex: “Edging is a great way to prepare yourself for sex and to achieve more control over when you orgasm,” Saynt said.

Clinical sexologist and therapist Ness Cooper recommends that penis-owners “explore textures, speed, and grip. You’ll find that certain combinations of these can make you experience different things when masturbating.”

Penis Masturbation With Lube

Many people with penises skip lube when they jerk off, especially since it’s often marketed as being for vaginal use, but it can really change the game. “Please masturbate with lube,” Saynt said. “There is very, very sensitive skin [on your genitals], and over time, you’ll cause desensitisation to your penis if you’re masturbating without lube.” A silicone-based option like Uberlube is his preferred choice, as it doesn’t absorb into the skin like water-based lubes. You might already have your own favourite, or take this as an invitation to explore! A couple of great lube brands are Roam, Maude, Aloe Cadabra, Lola and Foria.

New Ways to Masturbate: Wank Positions

Whether you’re a masturbation newbie or a long-time self-lover, you can always mix things up while masturbating to see how it affects your pleasure. One of the simplest ways to do this is to change your position. “Some positions can put pressure on the genitals and erogenous zones more than others,” Cooper explains, “and some positions we just enjoy more, due to how we find them hot or enjoyable for personal reasons.”

For example, masturbating in a “prone” position (i.e. lying face-down on a bed) can be more intense because of the pressure against your genitals, especially if you slide a vibrator in between your body and the bed.

Some people report having stronger orgasms if they’re in an almost upside-down position, such as hanging their head off the edge of the bed. The inverted blood flow can give you a pleasant, light-headed feeling that may contribute to orgasm intensity.

However, don’t push yourself to try arduously athletic positions just for the sake of it. It’s far better to fap for fun and mix things up when and if you feel called to. There is no “best way to masturbate,” there’s only what feels best for you. So try out different ways to wank and see what lights your fire.

Secrets of Masturbation

Already mastered the above techniques and wondering how to have the best wank ever? Here are some next-level solo-sex tips ‘n’ tricks:

Try a Vibrator: Vibration can feel really, really good on all kinds of different anatomy. Try using a vibe on your clit or labia, or, if you have a penis, on your frenulum (the sensitive spot on the underside where the head meets the shaft) or on your balls or taint. “A vibrator is a great way to quickly identify where feels good,” Yau says. You could also invest in a vibrating cock ring to leave your hands free. 

Perform for a Partner: Sure, masturbation can teach you a lot about how you like to be touched, but it can also teach your partner/s a lot! If they’ve been struggling to please you – and even if they haven’t – they might pick up some useful pointers from watching you pleasure yourself. Maybe you’ll even decide to try mutual masturbation together!

Watch Porn, or Don’t: Porn can work wonders when you want to get into the mood, but some experts note that over-relying on it can deprive you of being able to focus fully on your experience. Like we said above, there’s no “best way to wank,” so you do you – but Saynt suggests fantasising instead, especially during lengthy edging sessions.

Now that you know how to have the best jerk-off session ever, go explore your body and enjoy!