by Tamar Love
Masturbation used to be an utterly taboo subject. We were told touching ourselves was dirty and wrong, that if we did it we'd go crazy or grow hair on our palms. If these lies were spread to keep us from pleasuring ourselves, it worked: in the mid-20th century, only 50% of men and far fewer women owned up to masturbating. The women's movement, better health education and increased levels of body consciousness have done wonders for masturbation's bad rap. Now, according to the Kinsey Institute, 92% of males and 62% of females report having masturbated. In fact, single females report that masturbation is their most important sexual outlet. We must be growing more enlightened as a culture!
Masturbation is fun, healthy and safe. In fact, it's the safest form of sex you can practice. You can't become pregnant or contract an STD from masturbating, nor will your hands cheat on you, lie about how good it was, or spend all your money. If you're one of the few who hasn't touched themselves, give it a try. What can it hurt? At the worst, you won't care for it much. At best, you'll discover an exciting new way to relieve stress, celebrate your body, relieve sexual tension and give yourself a whole lotta pleasure.
If you're masturbating for the first time--or even if you're a seasoned pro--take a few moments to relax, heighten your senses and explore your body. Dim the lights, turn on some soft, sensual music, light a few candles and burn some incense. You may feel a little silly making all these preparations just to have sex with yourself, but try it at least once and see if you like it. Many women are surprised at their bodies' responses to a sensual environment.
Once the room is ready, remove your clothes and recline on the bed or sofa. Make sure you're completely comfortable; try propping your elbows on a few pillows. Then begin to explore your body. Stroke your breasts, belly and thighs. Feel your skin raise into goosebumps as you become aroused by your own touch. Don't leave an inch of skin unexplored: search out and touch all the places on your body you don't consider to be "sexual," such as the backs of your knees, your underarms, the crevice between your vulva and inner thighs. You'll soon find out what turns you on.
When you're completely comfortable with your body, move your hands between your legs. If this is difficult or uncomfortable for you, start slow. Get out a hand mirror and a flashlight and look at yourself. Many women have never done this before and have no idea what they look like. In order to feel completely comfortable masturbating, you need to understand your anatomy. Pull your labia apart and examine your clitoris and vaginal opening. Try stroking your clitoris and watch what happens. As you become aroused, blood will flow to your clitoris, enlarging it and turning it a deep shade of red--much like a man's erect penis. The sensitive skin below your clitoris, surrounding your vaginal opening, may become puckered, like the goosebumps on your arms and legs. Don't worry! It's a perfectly natural response to arousal.
As you become more comfortable and aroused, set aside the mirror and flashlight and try to completely relax. Continue to stroke your clitoris, mons pubis and vaginal opening. Concentrate on the areas that feel the best. Once you are fully aroused, you'll most likely become wet with vaginal lubrication. Try inserting a finger or two and see how that feels. Some women enjoy penetration when masturbating, some don't. Neither way is better. That's one of the joys of self-love--you can engage in only the stimulation that you enjoy, nothing more and nothing less. You're in it for yourself alone. Try different types of stimulation and see what feels best. Or try a few of the following "advanced" moves:
One rule to remember--regardless of the technique you prefer--is to be nice to yourself. Masturbation is for you; you are the only person you need to worry about pleasing. Do what feels good for you. Don't worry about having an orgasm. With the multitude of nerve endings in your vulva, you will enjoy the stimulation regardless of whether or not you come. Revel in the sensations you produce in your body.
Once you become more comfortable and experienced with masturbation, you might want to try some props. Get a vibrator or dildo and some lubricant. Try a beginner anal plug while masturbating. Experiment with different sensations: feathers, silk, warming oil. Get a few erotic novels, magazines or videos. Try masturbating in the shower, either with a waterproof sex toy, or with the "massage" setting on your handheld shower head. Some women also enjoy lying on their backs in the bathtub and having water from the faucet drip or stream onto their clitorises. For more suggestions, buy a copy of "Sex for One" by Betty Dodson, or "For Yourself" by Lonnie Barbach. Both are written by women and filled with wonderful ideas for increasing your self-pleasure.
Sadly, even after decades of women's lib, men are encouraged to be more open and expressive with their sexuality than women are. The downside is that fewer women feel comfortable discussing or engaging in masturbation; the upside is that most men are really, really good at masturbating and need little encouragement to do so.
At MyPleasure, we firmly believe (and sexuality experts will concur) that there is really no such thing as "too much" masturbation. If it feels good, do it once a day, five times a day, twice a week or semiannually. Only you can decide how much self-stimulation is right for you. However, if you are worried that you masturbate too much, you may want to reflect on your motives. Are you engaging in solo sex for healthy reasons, such as pleasure, stress release, celebration or sexual release? Do you enjoying it when you masturbate, or are you doing it to avoid something? If you are able to eat, sleep, work or engage in any other activities you enjoy without constantly thinking about or engaging in masturbation, then you're perfectly fine. Masturbate all you want! Otherwise, back off for awhile, see a therapist and get to know yourself a little better.
If your partner is disturbed by your masturbation practices, including technique or frequency, gently encourage him or her to leave it alone. Masturbation is not a replacement for sex. Just because you are masturbating does not necessarily mean that your partner is failing to meet your sexual needs. People masturbate for all kinds of reasons! If there is a relationship problem, talk it out, buy a communication book, or see a couples therapist. Otherwise, it's perfectly healthy, normal and positive for both partners to masturbate. Finally, encourage your partner to masturbate with you; this can be a huge turn-on for both of you.
If you've mastered the techniques above and would like to try something different, consider purchasing an erection ring, which will delay and enhance your orgasm. You might also experiment with sex toys for men, such as penis pumps, virtual sheaths, masturbators and extenders. Try different kinds of lubrication, such as oil, water or silicone-based lubes. Start a collection of adult videos, magazines and other "inspirational" materials. Try masturbating with a pillow or other soft substance. Your possibilities are really limitless.
Once you and your partner have reached a level of intimacy that allows both of you to feel comfortable discussing solo sex, you might enjoy practicing masturbation together, either on yourselves (mutual masturbation) or on one another (also known as genital massage). Before you begin, discuss your upcoming experience. Find out if your partner would prefer to masturbate in front of you, or just massage your genitals. Always respect his or her wishes. There's plenty of time to try different things later on in your relationship. When you're both on the same wavelength about what you want, jump in and get started. Make an event of the experience: create a sensual, appealing environment in your bedroom by lighting candles, playing sensual music and showering together first. Relax on the bed and try any of the techniques described above. Don't focus on climaxing or giving your partner an orgasm. Just enjoy the experience and concentrate on finding the strokes that work best for both of you.
Whatever your preferences, remember to vary your masturbation techniques. While it's great to know how to bring yourself to orgasm in 30 seconds or less, you're going to have a much more enjoyable experience if you romance yourself a little bit first. Take the time to have fun ... don't be "goal oriented." And do try a different stroke now and then. Just because one stimulation works well for you, doesn't mean something else won't feel great too!