Originally published on goodvibes.com May 2001, Violet Blue
Masturbation can be a pretty charged and confusing subject for women: there just isn’t that much accurate information out there about it. Some of us late bloomers only recently realized where our clits are, and others have yet to discover how to masturbate, period. Then there are women who masturbate but don’t completely understand how it works. And perhaps the largest group of women is made up of women who masturbate — but sometimes feel a little guilty or ashamed about it.
Well, whatever stage you’re at with masturbation and sexual self-discovery, stop right there: let’s even the playing field a little.
Here are the most common reasons why women avoid masturbation:
1. It’s dirty/I’m ashamed.
The clitoris is packed with thousands of highly sensitive nerve endings that respond to pleasurable stimulation and is the only organ in the human body (male or female) whose sole function is to provide pleasure. Sexual tension builds over time and if not released will go off on its own — and may catch you unaware. Bringing yourself to orgasm is as natural as breathing, and pleasure is our birthright as human beings. Look closely at what makes you feel bad about feeling good, and start to question it.
2. I’ll get addicted.
Masturbation is a natural way of releasing tension and boosting self-esteem. It also teaches sexual self-reliance. It’s a positive, life affirming practice that can help you cope with depression, doubt, anxiety, and grief. Masturbation is not a substance, it is a practice — one that many people find very healing, in and out of relationships. If you get used to any behavior — being a vegetarian, watching kung-fu movies, exercising frequently, or masturbating — it’s true that you may not want to stop. But that hardly means you’re “addicted.”
3. I won’t be able to come any other way.
Hogwash! For women, masturbation is how we consciously learn to orgasm and is the means by which we can teach ourselves other ways to get off. Masturbation is the golden key to learning to orgasm, period! You can learn to come with penetration, with a partner, or train yourself to achieve orgasms any way you desire. Without masturbation, all of those would be much more difficult.
4. I have to save it for my partner; if I don’t masturbate, maybe I can come with my partner.
Actually, it’s the reverse. The more you masturbate, the better a sex partner you become — and your orgasms actually will become easier. By “saving it” you are actually repressing it, making orgasms trickier to achieve. Masturbation lets you learn how to touch yourself, so you can accurately communicate your desires to your partner — instead of the classic un-helpful suggestion: “Uh, whatever you do feels good.” Rather than waiting and silently hoping that your partner will do something that does feel good, you can say, “A little softer and to the right,” and really enjoy your lover’s ministrations. And the more you get those muscles in shape from regular masturbation and orgasm, the easier orgasms will arrive when you’re with a partner.
5. It isn’t real sex/it’s a substitute for intercourse.
All sex is real sex, whether it’s masturbation, oral sex, a hand job, anal penetration or intercourse. This is an outdated belief, right up there with “women don’t like sex.” People have long, loving, committed relationships and masturbate — and they often have the hottest sex. Masturbation enriches any and all sex you have, and it actively enhances sex while in a relationship. It’s not just for single gals.
So, it feels great, it’s good for you, makes sex better, and can keep you grounded. If you’d like to give it a whirl, but haven’t tried it in a while (or at all), take note of these suggestions:
* Set aside some time for yourself when you have no obligations and some privacy. Treat yourself to something nice and sensual, like a relaxing bath with a new bath product, a facial mask, or even a sexy new CD.
* You can sit in a chair, lie on your belly or back, or even rub a pillow between your legs. Many women first discover masturbation in the bathtub with a stream of warm water. Lots of them swear by this method!
* Get familiar with your own touch, running your hands all over your torso, breasts, thighs and vulva. Become acquainted with your genitals by touching them. Look at them in a mirror if you can (and if you’re comfortable with this).
* Using a lubricant (saliva or store-bought — no oils, please), caress your vulva with your fingertips, lingering on the spots that feel good. Familiarize yourself with the different sensations, and take note of your favorite spots. Circle your clitoris, massage it from the side, or even pinch it gently with your fingers. But where is it, you ask? It’s within the fold of flesh near the top of your vulva, right between where your inner labia meet — as if your vagina was pointing toward your bellybutton. Inner labia are the lips that surround your vaginal opening.
* If you want to use a vibrator, set it on its lowest speed and run it over your thighs, pubic mound, and outer labia (on the outside of the vulva). Get yourself in the mood with indirect stimulation, then move the vibe where it feels best. Trust yourself.
* Remember that your goal is to feel good, and if you don’t orgasm it’s okay — you’re giving yourself pleasure, not playing pinball. If you don’t orgasm and you want to, plan on trying again the next day, repeating the things that made you feel hot the first time. You will eventually lead yourself over the edge.
* If you’d like to learn a different technique for masturbation or orgasm, get yourself aroused — really aroused — with your regular technique and slowly begin to introduce the new behavior. It may not catch on the first few times, but it will as you continue to incorporate it into your pleasure cycle. This can be useful if you’re used to coming with a vibrator, for instance, and would like to get used to coming with just your hand.
* Remember to breathe! Some women like to hold their breath as they reach orgasm, but women who use Tantric practices say that their orgasms are more intense when they use deep breathing techniques as they masturbate. As you touch yourself, inhale deeply into your belly and imagine the breath going all the way down into your pelvis, then back out.
* Tease yourself. When something feels really good — like imminent orgasm — back off and touch yourself somewhere else, like your nipples. This prolongs your pleasure and can help you learn to achieve multiple orgasms.
* Don’t be afraid to bring your techniques into your partnered encounters. It may seem a little scary at first, but most lovers want to know what you like, and think it’s really hot if you show them. Masturbating during intercourse can make for some mind-blowing encounters.
* Use fantasy freely. Sometimes, your imagination may be all it takes to get you off. Read erotica, listen to hot audiotapes, watch erotic movies, or just let your ideas in your head run wild. Don’t worry about being politically correct, faithful, or having safe sex in your fantasies: that’s why they’re called fantasies. They aren’t real, and your using them to get off doesn’t mean that you want them to come true. Your head is your erotic safe space — don’t worry about what your fantasies mean, or being a “pervert.” Don’t make yourself feel guilty about your fantasy of having sex with three strangers, but if you really want to try this, then learn as much about making your fantasy reality as you can before safely attempting anything. Often, your partner will be willing to try role-playing a hot scenario for you.
* Enjoy yourself — take the time to make love to yourself and lavish yourself with sensual treats. Loving yourself will get your centered, give you confidence, and a sense of well being that will carry over into all areas of your life.
* Kegel exercises will give you more control down there, make you more able to have orgasms, make them stronger, and are incredibly powerful to increase your genital and urinary health (they can make you feel tighter, too). Please do read what I think is the ultimate Kegel exercise resource guide by The Mayo Clinic (mayoclinic.com).