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Take your masturbation skill level up a notch tonight

Stefanie Iris Weiss is the author of Eco-Sex: Go Green Between the Sheets and Make Your Love Life Sustainable and 8 other books. She keeps her carbon footprint small in New York City, where she writes about sexuality, sustainability, su...

Solo sex techniques that will make you feel oh-so-good

COME AGAIN: YOUR WEEKLY DOSE OF SEX & WELLNESS 

Get ready, ladies — masturbation is finally coming out from under the duvet cover. Men have openly discussed their wanking proclivities for centuries. That's probably why so many euphemisms exist for male masturbation — from jerking off to spanking the monkey to choking the chicken. In order to catch up with them, we're going to have to get creative — and fast.

But before we expand our linguistic horizons, we need to talk about how often we actually "diddle the fiddle" — and if we’re not regularly self-pleasuring, what’s at the root of it?

So, how often do you masturbate? Does this change when you're in a relationship? If yes, ask yourself why. Do you do it just to scratch the proverbial itch? Because you’re bored? Because you’re ovulating and horny as all get out? Because you’re depressed? On the flip side, do you not do it because you’re depressed?

Even if you do have a generally healthy relationship with masturbation, it's quite easy to get into a rut — creating the same sensation every time. That's because, just like men, we sometimes masturbate just to get it over with — to get to the orgasm as soon as possible. (Not that there’s anything wrong with that.) Some of us masturbate furtively because that's all we know; we started this act under the covers in our teens or tweens, and the veneer of shame often hangs over us.

That "must keep quiet" sensation can linger well into adulthood, especially if you have roommates or a partner next to you in bed. Even if you’re single and have officially graduated to living in your very own place, these old habits often die hard. The next time you get ready for a self-session, ask yourself — am I hiding, hurrying or feeling guilty right now?

I believe masturbating regularly is as important as flossing; that orgasms are a wellness necessity. Like spirulina smoothies or Vinyasa flow classes, they enhance your immune system. There’s a ton of science behind the myriad of health benefits of the Big O.

But masturbating has other important benefits — even for your relationships. You should be doing this for no one but you, but it’s important to note that your current and future partnerships will profit from your solo adventures.

Amy Jo Goddard, M.A., author of Woman on Fire: 9 Elements to Wake Up Your Erotic Energy, Personal Power, and Sexual Intelligence (Penguin/Random House, 2015) says, “Women still have so much shame about their sexuality, their pleasure and touching their own bodies. Many are under the false assumption that their partner should be able to figure out what they like. Yet your body is unique and the things you like are yours — how will your partner know what those things are if you don't tell them? We have to get past our guilt and shame about our own pleasure and develop a sexual relationship with ourselves if we want to have powerful sexual relationships with other people.”

Here’s how to change up your masturbation game

So whether you’re not making enough time for self-pleasure, you have trouble getting to orgasm, or you’re just stuck in a rut, it’s time to change up your masturbation game. Even if you can't instantly rewire your brain to stop feeling leftover shame from your early days, you can physically change the way you touch yourself, creating new sensations in your mind and body.

Think of this retraining like a form of cognitive behavioral therapy, but one that offers an instant and far more pleasurable reward than quitting sugar or curbing your nail-biting habit.

It’s important to note: some self-sessions will always be the “scratch the itch” variety. There are times when it’s just necessary to get the job done right away. This isn’t to suggest you should stop doing that when you need to — it’s just to get you to see that there are other pathways to pleasure.

More: The pressure to act like a porn star in bed is ruining sex

Set the mood

More and more women are using porn to masturbate, and that is 100 percent fine. But because porn-inspired masturbation tends to be more of the “getting it over with” variety, I’m suggesting a few other techniques that will help you to slow down, feel grounded and develop a deeper relationship with your body.

Before you ready your fingers, or take your favorite toy out of the night table drawer, consider the ambiance in the room. Would you have the best (partnered) sex ever if all the lights were on and Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt was streaming at full volume in the background? Probably not. So set the mood — light a candle and do whatever makes you feel sexiest. D’Angelo isn’t just for when you’re hooking up — your hottest Spotify playlist can also enhance your self-love.

More tips: 

  • Start slow. As discussed, masturbation is most often something we do as quickly as possible. Take a few deep breaths before you begin, as you would at the start of a yoga class. This will bring heightened sensation later on.
  • If you have one go-to move, consider starting elsewhere on your body. You can touch your nipples, your belly or any other area of your body that’s particularly sensitive.
  • Use lube. The lube stigma prevails during partnered sex, but women have also told me that they don’t even think of using it for self-stimulation. Please get over your lube fears and use it. It can increase your pleasure markedly.
  • Experiment with heat/cold. Ceramic and glass dildos are great for what experts call “sensation play” — they can be kept in the freezer or warmed in hot water, depending on the effect you’re going for.
  • Aim for a more meditative state. Sometimes when we’re incredibly stressed, we can’t even pull up our most oft-used fantasy file. If your overactive brain keeps deleting sexy images in favor of your to-do list, go back to taking a few deep breaths and start again.
  • Try putting a pillow under your hips to raise your pelvis (as you might do in partnered sex). Or just try an alternate position to lying on your back.
  • The bed isn’t the only place to self-pleasure. Millions of women discover this quite by accident, but your friendly detachable showerhead is an excellent tool. There are also submersible vibrators, like the classic, sustainable Form 6 by JimmyJane.
  • Speaking of toys, why not shop for a new one? Just as shopping for lingerie before a big date can be arousing, so can the act of visiting your favorite sex shop and chatting with the experts about what the latest vibrators are capable of doing (you’ll be amazed).
  • Take the pressure off. You don’t have to have an orgasm tonight. Maybe you’re just experimenting for now. Chill out — your clitoris will still be there tomorrow.

If you typically have clitoral orgasms (most women do), don’t pressure yourself to aim for a blended or g-spot orgasm — you can build up to that if you want. But if you do have a signature move while self-stimulating, try a different kind of pressure, or even use your non-dominant hand. If you tend to go for up and down movements, try little circles, or vice versa.

Orgasmic Meditation (discussed in this space a few weeks ago) employs a tried-and-true technique — gently stroking the upper left quadrant of the clitoris. Great news: You can employ this method for your own solo devices.

More: How Tantra techniques can up your intimacy game (not just Sting's)

If it’s all a bit new to you — if you’re one of the many women who has been reluctant to touch herself, whether because of body-shame, thin walls, nosy roommates or other issues, consider a subscription to OMGYes, software that exists solely to teach women and their partners about all the different varieties of orgasms and specific techniques to make them happen.

Once you've hit your stride, you can help come up with some great names for lady-wanking. We've got to catch up to the boys.

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