By Maddy Siriouthay, Co-founder
Masturbation is an act that is so unrightfully shamed for being “deviant,” or “gross,” or “weird” when really, it’s one of the most natural, unharmful and healthy acts of self-care. This stigma is especially amplified when you’re raised as a woman, because sexism. Female sexuality is repressed, controlled and shamed from a young age, and that can impact our relationship with sex for the rest of our lives.
...Which might be an explanation at the gender disparity of masturbation rates between men and women. According to a study conducted by Tenga, a sex toy company, 92 percent of men have tried masturbation as opposed to 76 percent of women. According to the National Survey of Sexual Health and Behavior, 36.5 percent of women ages 18-24 haven’t masturbated in the last year, as opposed to 18.5 percent of men of the same age.
However, that data is a little over ten years old, and attitudes and habits toward masturbating with a vagina have changed for the better. We’ve seen this with unapologetic, trailblazing sex tech companies focused on female/vaginal pleasure, like Unbound, Dame and Maude (and other barrier-breaking sexual and reproductive health companies like Ovee 🤗).
But still — it’s hard to unlearn all that internalized shame and stigma, and plus with a less-than-perfect sexual education foundation, many of vagina-havers are exploring themselves later in life. Since quarantine started, the most frequently asked questions Ovee receives are about masturbation: What if I don’t have a toy? What can I use at home? How do I do it?
First things first:
This a judgment-free zone — this is mostly for you to keep in mind. Don’t feel embarrassed for knowing or not knowing anything. Cut yourself some slack, and remember, this is about you and your pleasure.
Get comfortable (physically, but emotionally and mentally, too).
Yes, ambiance matters when you’re having sex with yourself, too — I would actually argue this matters more. It’s easy to have outside factors distract you and disrupt your much needed “you-time.” Figure out a time when you’re guaranteed privacy and start planning for it: what soothes you? What makes you comfortable? In addition to your physical comfort, consider your emotional and mental comfort, too.
Some ideas to get you started:
Burn incense / diffuse oils
Relaxing music (doesn’t have to be, like, ~freak~ music)
Change/wash your sheets
Surround yourself with extra blankets and pillows
You need to know what exactly you’re working with if you plan on getting yourself worked up, right? Contrary to popular belief, the vagina isn’t some mysterious, mystical maze that needs to be unlocked. Understanding your own body is key to understanding your own pleasure. Brief but very important anatomy lesson incoming:
Graphic by Ovee
We often say “vagina” to reference all components of the genitalia, but technically, the vagina is only the canal. There’s also the labia (the “lips”) and the clit, which exist outside of the vaginal canal. You can reach orgasm by stimulating some of all of these parts.
The clitoris has 8,000 nerve endings, making it extremely sensitive — many people aren’t able to achieve orgasm without some sort of clitoral stimulation. A lot of people consider the little “button” at the top of the vulva as the clit, but it’s quite literally just the tip of the iceberg. The clitoris is actually 4-5 inches long and extends down the sides of the vaginal wall.
Graphic by Ovee
Yes, there’s G-spot orgasms, vaginal orgasms and even cervical orgasms, but those are hard to achieve on your own unless you have some pretty fancy toys — so I would get familiar with your clit. But remember those 8,000 nerve endings, and start slow and gentle. There is such a thing as over-stimulation.
Get to work
Now that you’ve made yourself comfortable (in all aspects) and had a crash course in anatomy, it’s time to actually do the deed. Every body is different, and there’s no one right way to masturbate, and what gets someone else off might not get you off. That’s why it’s important to try and explore new different techniques, especially if you’re new to this.
I know there are a lot of gadgets and gizmos for masturbation, but we’re going to keep it simple by using our finger(s) — index and/or middle finger are common — however, the methods I’m about to introduce can be applied to a toy!
Earlier, I suggested to start out slow, but once you begin to figure out what you like, play with speeds: fast, slow, fast-then-slow, etc.
As you may know, the vagina produces its own lubricant (what we refer to being “wet”), but I’m always a huuuuuge advocate for lube. It can help you get there, sooner. If you don’t have access to lubricant, you can use water or even your own spit. Some people have luck with coconut oil, but that can cause vaginal infections or potential allergic reactions, so be cautious.
Do not use body lotions, scented or not, for sensitive skin or whatever formula. Vaginas are much more sensitive than penises, and it will more than likely burn.
There’s a lot more you can do than the typical rubbing, up-and-down motion: try going in circles, tapping, flicking, pinching — really anything you find pleasurable. You may find different motions take you to different places, and I encourage you to explore them all!
Experiment with how much pressure you apply and where. On the clit, labia, in the vagina, hard, soft, somewhere in between.
We focused a lot on the clitoral head, but remember how I mentioned that there’s so much more to the clit than meets the eye? The clitoris extends down the vaginal walls, which you can also stimulate with your fingers via penetration. Depth isn’t really what matters here, but pressure and motion. Advanced technique: try stroking your head of your clit with your thumb and penetrating yourself with your index and/or middle finger.
Once you’ve familiarized yourself with, uhhhh yourself, you can kick things up a notch with toys, special lubes and more. All that rubbing can feel like manual labor, and sometimes you just want to cut to the chase — a vibrator can help with that. There are also toys that help you achieve deeper penetration and even blended orgasms, aka G-spot and clitoral orgasms. I give a rundown on toys that make masturbating a little more exciting.
There are some things you can do at home too that are lower cost and lower commitment. You can use an ice cube to introduce a tingly sensation, or, if you have a detachable showerhead, you can use that to jet warm water on your bits.
One last thing
I know we often associate sex and masturbation with the ultimate goal of orgasming, but try to get rid of that mindset. Fixating on achieving orgasm can actually be distracting and take you out of what’s supposed to be a pleasurable experience. Some people have a harder time achieving orgasm, even if its with themselves. At the end of the day, this about your pleasure.
Want to learn more about toys?
Maddy includes her picks in this post about how to keep sex stimulating in quarantine