8 Masturbation Tips All Women Should Know

photographed by Lauren Perlstein.
Imagine you're at a party and a friend asks, "Who's the best sex you've ever had?" Lisa Finn, a sex educator for Babeland, hopes that every woman can honestly answer: "Me." Because no one will ever pleasure you like you can.
"If you can find a way to hone in on your own pleasure, then you can take care of yourself for the rest of your life," she says. That's a superpower as far as we're concerned. What's more, getting to know your own body through solo sex will make sex you have with a partner so much better because you'll actually be able to tell them what feels good.
"A lot of folks don’t know what feels good for them," Finn says. "Masturbation is an opportunity to get to know your body without any pressure to please someone else, or to worry about what you look like or sound like." It's a chance to really explore what you like, without any restrictions.
Which is why we've talked to experts like Finn and Jessica O’Reilly, PhD, host of the @SexWithDrJess podcast, for all the masturbation tips women (that includes transgender women) should know. Keep in mind that even expert advice won't work for everyone, though, because you're the only expert on your own body. Instead, Dr. O'Reilly says to use this advice as inspiration to try new things.
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Very happy people masturbate, thank you.

There's a pervasive myth around female masturbation: That only lonely, single people masturbate. That's just not true, Finn says. In fact, there are a slew of reasons why someone in a committed and loving relationship would want to masturbate. Like, you know, those times when you're in the mood and your partner isn't. Just because you're in a relationship doesn't mean that your libidos will always match up perfectly. So you'll have to know how to take care of yourself.

What's more, Finn says, masturbating as a part of partnered sex can be incredibly erotic. Touching yourself in front of your partner (with consent of course) isn't just a turn-on, it's also a great way for you to show them what gets you off. And if you're using toys, it can also be an easy way to bring up adding toys to your sex life with your partner.
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You'll get more than just an orgasm out of it.

In case you haven't heard about all of the great health benefits of masturbation, let us list them for you:

Stress release (thanks to a rush of happy hormones and tension relief).

Less painful menstrual cramps (thanks again, rush of hormones).

Better sleep ('cause you're so relaxed).

Greater productivity at work (yes, really).

Glowing skin (happy hormones to the rescue again).

Ready to whip out your vibrator, yet?
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There is no finish line.

As a sex educator for Babeland, Finn is often telling people not to masturbate like they have to accomplish something. (The same could be said of partnered sex, btw.) You don't have to have an orgasm for any type of sex, even masturbation, to be successful. And, for some people, the pressure to finish can put up a mental road block that'll make an orgasm pretty much impossible anyway. So instead of worrying about whether you will or won't come, focus on how good touching yourself feels.
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Don't go straight for the clit.

There's a tendency for women who have vulvas to immediately try stimulating their clitoris when masturbating. But Finn wants you to break that habit, and start taking the time to turn yourself on first.

"Foreplay isn’t just for partner play," she says. Your body needs to warm up, and taking the time to touch yourself elsewhere will actually make it feel so much better when you do get to the clit. "Pull your own hair, scratch your thighs, pinch your nipples," Fin says. "This will get blood rushing and nerves sparking and get your clitoris ready for touch."
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Remember: "Your biggest sex organ is between your ears."

This is a direct quote from Babeland co-founder and all around sexpert Rachel Venning. While many may not think of the brain as a sex organ, it's wildly important in the first step of any pleasurable sexual encounter: getting turned on.

Finn suggests finding porn that works for you (we have some suggestions here) or looking into written erotica. And Dr. O'Reilly wants you to remember that sometimes the best erotica comes from your imagination. "Whether you fantasize about a romantic afternoon in a sunny field or a rough encounter with four strangers, allow your mind to wander into unchartered territory," she says.
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There's more to your clit than what meets the eye.

Let's talk about the clit. Many women know that it's the "hot spot" of the vulva with more than 8,000 sensitive nerve endings. But did you know that it's actually much larger than it appears? The little nub, or "button," on the top of your vulva is just the tip of the iceberg, Finn says. The whole clitoris is shaped like a wishbone, and most of it is actually internal.

What that means for your solo sex life is that you should probably get a little more adventurous. Instead of just playing with the tip of the clit (the part you can see), try stimulating the whole thing by teasing the sides of your vulva, drifting your fingers along the labia, and using broad strokes with your fingers or a vibrator over the whole vulva to build blood flow and tension.
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Take your time.

Masturbation isn't only something you do when you have a spare 5 minutes (though there's nothing wrong with a quick solo-sesh when you want one). "Masturbation is a type of sex. It’s an intimate experience, and you should take time for yourself," Finn says.

If lighting candles or taking a hot bath or putting on sexy underwear is what gets you in the mood, then do it. And make sure to rid yourself of distractions. Lock the door, put your phone on "Do not disturb" mode (Finn suggests telling your friends that you were taking a nap), and stop worrying about how many emails are in your inbox.
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Experiment — with your body and with positions.

Just like bodies, every vulva is different. So even if you take the time to study vulvar anatomy diagrams, you don't necessarily know what your own vulva looks like. You just know the basic arrangement.

That's why Finn suggests taking a tip from ladies of generations past (you know, the ones who used to throw women's empowerment parties to look at their own vulvas vis-a-vis Fried Green Tomatoes) and using a hand-held mirror to take a peak. Pro-tip: If you don't have a hand-held mirror the camera on your phone also works.

Some people with vulvas have a little flap of skin that covers the clit, Finn says. It's called a clitoral hood and if you have one and it's movable, she suggests experimenting by touching yourself over the hood, under the hood, and wherever else it feels good to touch. For all people who have vulvas, regardless of your clitoral hood situation, taking the time to learn your own anatomy will improve your sex life tenfold.

"Actually seeing where you’re touching can make it easier to find hot spots," Finn says. "It'll give you the ability to direct your partner by saying 'a little higher' or 'a little to the left' when you have sex."

Dr. O'Reilly also suggests experimenting with different positions. "Just as you make an effort to get creative and keep things fresh with a partner, so too can you change things up during solo play," she says. As you switch it up, you'll likely find that certain positions will make your same old moves with a vibrator or your fingers suddenly feel different — and in some cases, way more intense.

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