How to Masturbate: 21 Tips and Techniques for Women

Sarah Melancon Ph.D
Post by : Sarah Melancon Ph.D

May 7, 2020 Uncategorized     Women

What is Female Masturbation?  

Female masturbation is when you’re a female (duh!) and you touch your own body for sexual pleasure.  People usually touch their genitals, and often to the point of orgasm – though not always.  Most people masturbate to enjoy sexual pleasure and relieve sexual tension.  

Masturbation has physical, as well as mental, emotional, and even spiritual components.  It obviously involves the body, but what we think about, read, listen to, or watch while we masturbate involves the mind and our emotions too. 

What gets us off is unique to every individual’s mind-body system.  

It may sound odd to consider masturbation as spiritual, because throughout history many cultures and religions have shamed it.  However, masturbation has the potential to help us get more connected with our body, our breath, and the present moment. 

Building self-confidence

By learning and appreciating what brings us pleasure, we get more deeply in touch with our personal wants and needs.  This is helpful when we’re in the bedroom with a partner but also for life in general!

By exploring what feels good to you, and allowing yourself to enjoy all of the feelings and sensations, masturbation can be a source of personal empowerment.  When you know just how you tick, and are willing to let go and ride the waves of pleasure, you build inner confidence and self-trust. 

Masturbation can be scary at first!

However, with a stronger connection to yourself, it becomes easier to say ‘yes’ to what you really want, and ‘no’ to what you really don’t – both in sex and in life more broadly.

How to Masturbate for Women: But First, Why?

America’s first sex researcher, Alfred Kinsey, and his colleagues asserted: “Among all types of sexual activity, masturbation is, however, the one in which the female most frequently reaches orgasm” ( 

If that’s not reason enough, I don’t know what is!

But more specifically, in a study of 765 women, participants reported 5 main reasons for masturbating:

  • Pleasure 
  • To learn about their body
  • A sense of release
  • They did not have a partner available
  • General sexual dissatisfaction

The “general sexual dissatisfaction” included a range of reasons such as avoiding sex with a partner, feeling unsatisfied after sex with a partner, and anger or boredom

In addition, some women find that masturbating near the beginning of their period helps to reduce menstrual cramps.

But back to Kinsey’s assertion – what’s the point of masturbation? 

Yes, women are more likely to have orgasms this way (yay!) but that’s not the point – or the only one, anyway.  Many people take a goal-oriented approach to masturbation (and sex), attempting to “achieve” an orgasm. And hey, if you’ve got 5 minutes before you’ve got to leave for work, go for it ASAP!  

Really, the point of masturbation is to feel good. That’s it. 

If masturbation includes an orgasm (or four), great!  If there’s no orgasm at all, that’s fine too.  The aim simply is to help yourself feel good in some way.  Yes, you may feel frustrated at times if you want to orgasm but can’t, but it’s also possible to play around without orgasm and still feel satisfied. 

Focus more on pleasure than an orgasm, and ironically you’ll be more likely to orgasm anyway – but you’ll be perfectly okay even if you don’t.

Who Masturbates?

Maybe the better question is: “Who doesn’t?” 

Because we don’t talk very much about sex or masturbation publicly, you may be surprised to know the vast majority of us have self-pleasured at some point. 

Now, you might not want to think about grandma, your neighbor, or your dentist masturbating… but like you, chances are they’ve had a “party for one” at least once…if not many, many times!

A national survey of Americans found that 71% of women ages 20-24, 84% of women ages 25-29, and over 77% of those ages 30-59 have masturbated during their lifetime.  

In the past month, around 43% of women ages 20-25, almost half of women ages 25-29, and about 38% of women ages 30-49 have masturbated. 

And that’s just the women who were willing to admit it for a survey without feeling embarrassed – chances are the real figures a bit higher.

Moral of the story?  Have fun, you’re in good company!

Masturbation Tips for Women: Get to Know Your Anatomy

Sexual stereotypes suggest that men are more sexual than women. 

Well, it seems that nature disagrees because women have tremendous potential to experience pleasure and orgasm in any number of ways, including from the clitoris, the “G-spot,” the cervix, and even the nipples ( 

This should clue you in that many of the challenges women face with their sexuality are rooted in negative social norms promoting a sexual double standard:

  • Sex is okay for men (high five bro!)
  • Sex is not okay for women (gross, slut!)

I think Christina Aguilera said it best in Can’t Hold Us Down:

“The guy gets all the glory the more he can score. While the girl can do the same yet you call her a whore.”

Connotations aside, while we usually think of sexual pleasure as coming from the clitoris and vagina, some women can experience pleasure and orgasm from nipple, neck, and ear stimulation, as well as from mental images alone.

Sex educator Barbara Carellas is famous for enjoying orgasm through breath work while focusing on her chakras.  The female capacity for pleasure is quite amazing – though rare, some women report orgasms during childbirth.

This isn’t to say you need to check each of these sites of orgasm off a checklist, but rather to highlight the range of what’s possible.  As long as you’re respecting yourself and others, how you experience pleasure and orgasm is yours to enjoy.

Parts to Play With for Female Masturbation 

The female genital anatomy is much more detailed, with many more possibilities for pleasure than just the small tip of the clitoris that we can see poking out. 

As Sheri Winston describes in detail in her book, Women’s Anatomy of Pleasure: Secret Maps to Buried Treasure, the female genitalia are like transformers: there is much more than meets the eye!

The image below depicts what she calls the “female erectile network.”  This includes not only the head or tip of the clitoris, but the clitoral shaft and legs, vestibular bulbs surrounding the vaginal opening, the urethral sponge (typically called the G-spot), and the perineal sponge between the bottom of the vagina and anus.  

With arousal, these parts become engorged and more sensitive.  The vagina may begin to look “puffy” or “engorged” as the vestibular bulbs swell.

With stimulation to the urethral sponge, some women can experience orgasm and/or ejaculation – the expulsion of fluid from Skene’s glands.  Located on the bottom side of the urethra, these glands are similar to the male prostate (sometimes called the “male G spot”).

This type of stimulation typically only feels good with a moderate-to-high level of arousal.  If it feels uncomfortable, like aliens are poking inside of your body, or like you have to pee pretty bad – chances are you’re not aroused enough yet!

What’s the deal with female ejaculation?

There’s a lot of debate, both in science and across the internet, about whether women can really ejaculate or if they’re just peeing.

Really, it’s both – some women DO ejaculate, some women pee but think they’re ejaculating, while other women are definitely experiencing incontinence – no question.  

The fluid expelled during female ejaculation can have a whitish, milky color, or be clear. 

If you’ve got a super large volume of liquid, it’s yellowish in color, has a smell, and doesn’t necessarily feel that amazing – chances are you’re peeing. 

If you feel a pleasurable sense of release (that may or may not accompany orgasm), if the fluid is clear or whitish, and is smaller in volume (though this CAN vary quite a bit) – chances are you’re ejaculating. 

At the end of the day though, as long as you feel good – do whatever!  Just lay down a towel first!  (Note: “Puppy pads” and incontinence pads work great if you’re super worried, and if that feels too “medical,” put a towel on top and you won’t even know it’s there.)

Let’s be clear though, you don’t HAVE to ejaculate to enjoy yourself.  Many women enjoy vaginal stimulation but don’t ejaculate. 

Women can also enjoy vaginal play without orgasm.  However, those who DO have orgasms from vaginal stimulation may be more mentally focused on and aware of those sensations.

And let’s not leave the cervix out of the party!

Pleasuring the cervix

The cervix is often ignored, but it can be a tremendous source of pleasure. 

The cervix is stimulated by deep vaginal penetration, and if you’re not aroused enough it can feel uncomfortable, tight, or painful. 

But when you’re aroused and craving the sensation, it can be deeply pleasurable and result in extremely powerful orgasms felt throughout your entire body!

Anal arousal

Many women find the anal region is a hot spot for pleasure. 

Touching, rubbing, and inserting fingers or toys are all possibilities.  In one study, 9% of the 205 women interviewed had experienced anal orgasms.

Different orgasms for different places

You may notice that pleasure and orgasms feel different depending on where you are touching your body.  That’s because these areas are connected to different nerves, which results in different sensations. 

For instance, the clitoris is connected to the pudendal nerve, the vagina (and anus) to the pelvic nerve, and the cervix to the pelvic, vagus, and hypogastric nerves.  (

Clitoral orgasms may be felt primarily in the clitoris and vaginal orgasms are often deeper and can be felt more throughout the body. 

Meanwhile, cervical orgasms are very powerful – they can be felt throughout the entire body and have been described in phrases like, a “shower of stars” or “images of universal spaciousness.” 

Most women will include the clitoris, even when also stimulating the vagina and/or cervix ( 

If you stimulate two or more of these areas, you’re likely to feel more sexual satisfaction.

In sum, play around, discover, and enjoy what feels good to your body.  It may change over time with experience as well as stress, emotions, relationship quality, and life events. 

All the more reason to keep exploring!

Get to Know Your Inner Sexual World

Masturbating is about touching yourself, yes, but what’s equally (if not more) important is what’s happening in your heart and mind in the process. 

What turns you on?  What turns you off?  How do you like to feel during sex, on an emotional level?

In her amazing book Come As You Are: The Surprising New Science That Will Transform Your Sex Life, sex researcher Emily Nagosaki describes what she calls “sexual accelerators” and “sexual decelerators.” 

Like driving a car, accelerators speed up the arousal process while decelerators hit the brakes.  A good sexual experience, whether alone or with a partner, has more accelerators and fewer decelerators!

Accelerators and Decelerators may include, but are NOT limited to:

  • How you feel about your body
  • Emotions like love, feeling supported, trust, a sense of being special to someone
  • Sensual experiences like massages, light touching, or tickling
  • How your relationship with your partner is going
  • Pregnancy/STI concerns
  • The appearance of your partner’s (or fantasy partner’s) body 
  • Your and/or your partner’s hygiene
  • The condition of your immediate environment, such as the room being messy or clean
  • Specific settings, like the bathroom, a department store changing room, etc.
  • Mood
  • Stress and life circumstances

For many women, it is the ‘situation’ surrounding sex that gets them going.  We have a cultural belief that sexual arousal should be automatic when you encounter someone you find sexy – like we frequently see in movies and porn. 

But as Emily Nagosaki finds, only about 15% of women experience desire spontaneously while around 75% of men do!  

Another 30% of women (and 5% of men) experience responsive desire – they only start wanting sex after sexy stuff has begun.  They might prefer their partner to take the lead, allowing them to respond. 

That leaves about 65% of women (and 20% of men) whose desire depends on the context – that is, when the situation feels erotic and includes their preferred sexual accelerators, they desire sex.  

What’s great about masturbation is that it can help you to learn more about your accelerators, decelerators, and your style of desire. While this helps with self-pleasure, it can also improve sexual communication with partners.

How to Masturbate for Women: Fantasies, Fetishes, and Kinks… Oh My!

During masturbation, some women tend to focus on their body sensations, some emphasize their fantasies, and others pay attention to both. 

There is no right or wrong, what matters most for your pleasure is your level of presence, the degree of intensity, and your own personal sense of satisfaction.

So what about fantasies and fetishes?

Sexual fantasies are mental images or stories that turn us on. 

The term “fetish” technically describes specific objects or acts (often things we don’t typically consider to be sexual) that are required for a person to orgasm, but most people use the term to describe a non-normative sexual interest.

Basically, fantasies, fetishes, and kinks are thoughts, feelings, objects, sex acts, and scenarios that turn us on. 

They’re accelerators!  

Many women feel uncomfortable or ashamed of their fantasies.  But fantasies are very common – so if there’s something wrong with you, well, there’s something wrong with most everyone!  Fantasies are a form of adult “play,” just like we used to play “make-believe” with dolls and trucks.  

Our fantasies don’t necessarily imply that we want the same in real life.  You can be turned on by the sense of being overtaken in a “rape fantasy,” as do many women (and men), but that does NOT indicate a desire to be raped in real life. It’s more about relinquishing control – so don’t feel too weird about it.

Sex researcher Justin Lehmiller surveyed over 4,000 Americans and found that the 7 most popular types of sex fantasies were:

  • Multi-partner sex (threesomes and moresomes)
  • BDSM (bondage, discipline, sadism and masochism)
  • Novelty and variety (new and different setting or partner)
  • Taboo acts (social and cultural “no-no’s”)
  • Passion and romance
  • Non-monogamous relationships
  • Homoeroticism and gender-bending (same-sex or gender role play)

As you can see below, men and women both share many of these fantasies, though women have more same-sex fantasies than men do (or at least, that they admit!).

To learn more about women’s fantasies, and possibly discover a few new ones of your own, check out Nancy Friday’s famous book My Secret Garden: Women’s Sexual Fantasies.

Shame Kills Desire, Pleasure, and Connection in Female Masturbation

Now let’s turn our attention for a moment, to shame. 

Shame plays an important emotional function for us humans – it can let us know when we’ve crossed the line and can be a powerful signal that we’ve done something wrong, and our behavior needs to change.  

Unfortunately, cultural conditioning and certain religious beliefs have many people feeling shame over generally normal and healthy behaviors.  These feelings can interfere with sexual function and relationships, including your relationship with yourself. 

None of us want that.

Difficulty reaching orgasm, for instance, can be caused or exacerbated by feeling shame at your body’s “natural” sexual response to erotic thoughts, feelings, or viewing porn.  It is hard to feel confident in yourself when you believe that a normal, healthy part of you is “wrong.”  

Shame is also a common response to trauma, sexual or otherwise.  As a result, some women (and others) psychologically “cut off” their sexuality, the sexual part of themselves, believing there is something wrong with this aspect of their being.

What shame and fantasies can reveal about your personal life

Fantasies, in fact, may cause a shame reaction when they reflect an aspect of your personality, or an emotional need, that is largely unmet in your life. 

You feel shame because on some level, you believe you shouldn’t be this way or have this need – yet here you are!

Have you ever heard of sploshing, AKA the “wet and messy” (WAM) fetish

This kink involves dumping messy food on yourself and perhaps a partner, reveling in the disaster.  This fetish is popular in Great Britain, where the culture is quite “prim and proper.” 

As a result, kids are punished for making messes that in other places are accepted as normal childhood behavior. 

Some grow up to find they are sexually aroused by the same behavior (albeit, on steroids!) that was shamed in childhood.  Some part of their psyche still craves to literally get down and dirty!

This can feel shameful for some people.

Fantasies also carry different meanings for different people. For the super uptight woman, a rape fantasy may be about losing control – which she definitely could benefit from. 

For the woman who feels unattractive, it may be about being SO desired by men that they can’t keep their hands off. 

The emotional and psychological connections in your own fantasies may not be so simple and obvious, but exploring their deeper meaning can be an interesting way to get to know yourself on a deeper level and give insight on how to better care for yourself.

Maybe you DO need to let go, feel attractive, get messy – just make sure you’re doing it in a way that feels safe and comfortable.

While we can’t change our fantasies or desires at will, we CAN improve our relationship with ourselves in general and in our sex life specifically.  We can learn to enjoy our sexual wants and needs, AND to identify if and when our inclinations are speaking to deeper emotional needs too. 

This is a more nuanced view than replacing “sex is bad” attitudes with an overly simplistic “sex is good” attitude.  

Though, to clarify, most sex is pretty good.

Both on our own and with the help of a well-trained therapist (key word: well-trained!), we can explore whether we’re shaming perfectly healthy behavior that we’ve been trained to see as deviant.

We can also examine whether we have open wounds underlying some of our desires, and learn how to heal and care for ourselves in a deeper and more profound fashion.  There’s a reason this article started out describing masturbation as potentially spiritual – it can help with your growth as a person.

Female Masturbation: Feel What You’re Feeling, Sense What You’re Sensing

Sex is sensual, whether you’re doing it alone or playing with others.  Meaning, pleasure in sex involves the five senses – sight, sound, smell, touch, and taste.  The more you’re in touch with what you’re already sensing, the more you’ll enjoy whatever is happening.  

Your body has its own unique sensitivity to sensory input, which can differ by sense – meaning, your hearing may be excellent but you may also be hypersensitive to light or have low sensitivity to touch. 

However, because of trauma (both sexual and non-sexual), stress, and burnout, it is easy to get disconnected.  

The challenge is that Western society largely operates as if we’re walking heads – mind over matter.  We’re not raised to pay much attention to our senses, despite the fact that sensory input is how our nervous system detects safety and danger – it’s built into our physiology (yes, you like scented candles for a reason!). 

For most of us, sexual pleasure is about re-discovering what’s already there.

Culture can work a bit against that too, because we’re often given the message that BIGGER, BETTER, MORE is best.  And sure, when we’re talking whipped cream on a sundae, I definitely agree that more = better. 

But other times, even just backing off a little can change the vibe and open up a new experience.  How you approach touching yourself makes as big of a difference to your pleasure as certain techniques.

Mindfulness and Eastern Practices for Female Masturbation

Improving your own mind-body connection is likely to increase your sexual pleasure.  Mindfulness is a form of meditation and spiritual practice intended to increase conscious awareness and practice non-judgmental acceptance of thoughts, feelings, and physical sensations.  

Scientific studies have demonstrated that mindfulness practices are linked with greater sexual desire and arousal, as well as small-to-moderate improvements in vaginal lubrication, orgasm and pain during sex.

Mindfulness has been found to improve women’s relationship satisfaction, body image, interoceptive awareness (awareness of what is happening inside your body), and mood/anxiety in relation to sexual function.  There is some evidence for acupuncture and yoga improving sex for women as well.

So, where can you learn more about mindfulness? 

Canadian psychologist Dr. Lori Brotto conducted much of the research on mindfulness and women’s sexuality, publishing the book Better Sex Through Mindfulness: How Women Can Cultivate Desire.

Sensate Focus 

Famous 1960s sex researchers William Masters and Virginia Johnson developed a touch-based practice recommended by many sex therapists to improve sexual function.  It was originally designed for couples to do together, but you can try on your own too. 

The intention is to focus on sensual, rather than sexual, touch to remove pressure and a sense that you “should’ respond in some specific way.  The point is to notice what you are feeling – basically, practice mindfulness with different forms of touch.

Spend about 10 minutes on each step, and progress through as many steps as you feel like in any one session:

Step 1 – Non-genital touching

Step 2 – Include breasts and/or genitals

Step 3 – Add lotion or oil

Step 4 – Mutual touching, if practicing with a partner!

Step 5 – Sensual intercourse or masturbation 

Read more here:

Somatic Exercises

The word ‘somatic’ means ‘relating to the body.’ 

Somatic exercises are designed using your body’s natural processes to soothe your nervous system.  Practicing these outside of sex or masturbation can help you be more calm and centered when it is time to play. 

You can also use these exercises during your fun time if you notice yourself feeling distracted – it will help to bring you back to your body and all the good feelings inside.


Orienting sounds super simple but it’s very powerful.  Basically, you’re just looking around the room – exciting, right?  But by turning the head and neck, you are using the muscles and nerves in this area to signal “everything’s okay,” and your body will begin to calm.  

It sounds simple, but believe me.

Sit in a comfortable seat.  Turn your head one direction and notice an object.  Really LOOK at this object and name it to yourself, “TV.”  Pause a moment, then turn your head in another direction to find another object, “book.”  Really LOOK at that book, then turn again and find, “ceiling fan.” 

Practice this for 5-10 minutes and you may feel significantly more centered.

You can also orient internally, which may help you become more aware of the sensations you feel during sex.  Instead of looking around the room, you’ll be noticing sensations inside your body.  

Start by noticing how your butt and your back feel against the seat.  Without changing anything, notice how you are breathing.  What else can you sense – how about your clothes against your body, your shoes on your feet? 

Continue noticing how your body feels for 5-10 minutes

If you have trouble staying present during masturbation, tuning into basic sensations like your back against the bedsheets can help bring you into the present.

Focus on Your Breath

There are lots of meditation teachers that teach specific breathing patterns, and those can be helpful sometimes.  But too often, we get busy trying to change reality before we fully see what reality IS.  And the irony is that when we can truly allow something to “be,” when we accept it as-is – only THEN can change occur. 

It’s the same principle whether you’re talking about your breath or your relationship problems.

Take a seat or lie down (just don’t fall asleep!).  Close your eyes and notice your breath without changing it or slowing it down – if you feel an impulse to try and change it, just notice that too.  Is it deep, shallow, long, short, satisfying, unsatisfying? 

There is no right answer, you’re just observing to yourself what “is.”  

Stay with your breath for 5-10 minutes.  If you notice any changes, great – it may well deepen and relax as you observe.  If it stays the same, great, that can happen too. 

This is another one you may want to try during sex or masturbation to stay in the present.  It can be fun to notice how your breath changes as your arousal builds!

Desire Practice, Practicing Desire

What do you want? 

For many of us, that’s a loaded question.  What “should” or “shouldn’t” we want?  Or if you’re into Buddhism, you may have asked yourself, should we even want at all?  

Pleasure derives from desire fulfilled.  Surely you have mindlessly eaten a bag of potato chips (or insert your favorite snack) while barely even noticing. It doesn’t feel the same as that special meal you’ve been craving for weeks which you FINALLY get to experience. 

When we sense our desire more deeply, the pleasure of receiving grows and you feel more satisfied.  It’s just as true for sex as it is for food!

So, how can we practice desire? 

As you play with yourself, try to sense into your body’s desires.  What parts of you are aching to be touched, and in what way?  Before making the move to fulfill that desire, see if you can just stay with it for a moment longer than usual. 

Notice what it feels like to really want.  How does it feel to then allow yourself to receive? 

If you’re new to this, you might not notice anything at all!  Practicing with food may help with noticing these feelings more generally before you can sense it during masturbation or sex.  

A Note if You Have a History of Trauma

Chances are, if you are reading this, you do.  The vast majority of us have had experiences that registered to our body as traumatic. 

Trauma is when something happens too much, too fast, or too soon for our minds and bodies to integrate the experience.  Fear, overwhelm, lack of control, and dissociation may accompany a traumatic event.

Trauma is in the body rather than the event itself – two people can walk away from the same car accident and have dramatically different responses. 

Common sources of trauma include physical, emotional, verbal and sexual abuse, as well as neglect, war, accidents, natural disasters, bullying, childbirth (for mother and/or baby), and medical procedures.  

Trauma can manifest in many ways.

Sexual trauma, of course, is horrible and can undoubtedly impact your sexuality.  But its also important to know that trauma does NOT have to be sexual in nature to affect your sex life, nor do you need a PTSD diagnosis to be suffering.

So, why does this matter for female masturbation? 

Trauma and female masturbation

Trauma can impair your ability to be present, to feel sensations in your body, and to connect with yourself (and another partner) intimately. 

People with unresolved trauma enter the fight, flight, freeze, or shutdown state more easily.  The nervous system and associated hormones shut down desire and pleasure, as the body’s focus is on surviving rather than thriving. 

If you’re being chased by a bear, sex is the last thing on your mind – you just want to survive. 

Traumatic reactions can live in the body long after the bear is gone, so even if the event was 1, 5, or 20 years ago – your body is still reacting as if the bear is lurking around the corner. 

Not exactly a turn-on.

Therapists can help you to work through trauma. Somatic Experiencing or other somatic body-based therapies are highly recommended, and EMDR is popular these days too. 

However, there are some great books on overcoming trauma that you might want to try:

Some great resources include:

Masturbation Tips for Women: Playing with Sex Toys

The internet is a treasure trove of sex toys – as are some awesome local sex shops.  Sure, you’ve got hands and they’re great, but toys can give you different sensations and help you reach areas you wouldn’t be able to otherwise!  

Also, you know… your hands can’t vibrate.

Sex toys are an unregulated industry, which means you really have no clue what’s in them. Just make sure your toys are safe, or you’ll get more than you bargained for.

Sadly, some manufacturers care more about profits than customers and add all kinds of harmful materials into their dildos and vibrators. 

 We’ve got a huuuuuge article on this topic – check out our guide to sex toy safety!

Types of Toys for Female Masturbation

Vibrators, well, vibrate.  Typically women enjoy vibrators for clitoral stimulation, though they can be enjoyed vaginally (internally), anally, on the nipples or other parts of the body.

Common types of vibrators include:

Dildos come in all kinds of shapes and sizes.  Many are “realistic” and intended to look like a penis, but there are many other options of different lengths and girths.  These can be enjoyed on their own, paired with a vibrator, or used with your hands for clitoral stimulation. 

Dildos can go inside any orifice – vagina, butt, mouth – just be careful about cleaning in between to avoid infections!

Also, please note that dildos used anally MUST have a flared base that stops the toy from accidentally slipping inside your anus fully. The anus doesn’t have muscles that can “push” a toy back out like the vagina – you will most likely end up in the hospital if that happens.

Masturbation Tips for Women: Invite Your Partner to Cum Along

Masturbating with a partner can be both fun and educational. 

First, it’s a great alternative for a night you’re open to playing together but don’t have the energy for full-on sex. 

Second, you get to show your partner what you really like, which helps them please you more

Third, because most of us have been socially shamed about sex in one way or another, some women feel it is powerful to be ‘seen’ or ‘witnessed’ during their own personal pleasure.  

Mutual masturbation is actually pretty common.  One study found that over 63% of women ages 25-39 have masturbated with a partner.

It can be really fun and insightful!

Love Your Lube – The Importance of Lubrication

Imagine going to a water park and climbing to the top of a water slide.  You place your tube at the opening, then slip and slide all the way down. 

That’s basically what lube does – it helps your toys (or fingers, or a penis) glide along nicely to help you feel good.

But why do we need it?

Sure, the vagina produces natural lubrication.  For some women, that’s all they need.  Others need help from time to time, or all the time – after all, everybody and every body is different.

We all need a little extra help sometimes.

Please know, however, that just because your vagina is ‘wet’ does not necessarily mean that you’re sexually aroused.  And vice versa – you can be super turned on yet dry as a desert. 

Researchers call this “arousal non-concordance,” where a person’s physical aspects of arousal don’t match up with their inner want for sex.  While it’s common in porn to take a woman’s “wetness” to mean “she’s ready!” – that’s only true for some women, sometimes.  

One of the benefits of female masturbation is that you can learn how your body tends to lubricate itself naturally, which you can then share with a partner to make sure they’re reading and responding to your body’s needs correctly. If you need lube to help, that’s totally normal.

Not all lubes are created equal, however. 

Some of the most common sex lubes – Astroglide and KY Jelly – are among the most dangerous due to their ingredients which can irritate the vagina or anus. 

You also must be aware of what your toys are made from, and ensure your lube is compatible. 

For instance, silicone lubes don’t mix well with silicone toys, and oil-based lubes literally destroy latex (keep that in mind if you ever put a condom on your toy). 

If in doubt, go for a high-quality water-based lube. While they’re not the most longlasting lubes, they’re basically compatible with all sex toys and sex acts.

We’ve got a HUGE article about lube, including specific recommendations, which you can read here.

Female Masturbation Techniques

In general, there are no rules for female masturbation so long as you’re enjoying yourself and respecting your own boundaries.  You may notice differences depending on your mood, energy level, stress level, and menstrual cycle.

Below we’ll cover some basic techniques some women enjoy. 

Remember, everybody is unique and has their own preferences.  This info comes from a really amazing study that surveyed over 1,000 women on specific preferences for how they enjoy touching themselves and being touched.


Where do women like to have their genitals touched?  Survey says:

  • Directly on clitoris 66.6%
  • On the skin around clitoris (e.g., on either side of your clitoris, or above or below it) 45.3%
  • Occasionally brushing over clitoris, but not applying pressure to it 25.2%
  • On vaginal lips (labia minora/inner lips or labia majora/outer lips) 20.4%
  • On the mons (the pubic mound; the triangular part where pubic hair grows) 7.8%
  • Avoid touching clitoris directly 5.2%
  • Other 2.1%


What sort of motions or techniques do women enjoy?

  • Up and down 63.7%
  • Circular 51.6%
  • Side to side 30.6%
  • Pulsating (rapid pushing in one spot) 21.2%
  • Pushing/pressing in one spot 18.9%
  • Flicking 16%
  • Tall ovals 14%
  • Tapping 11.6%
  • Wide ovals 10.2%
  • Diagonal 9.8%
  • Squeezing/pinching 8.4%
  • Pulling 5.4%
  • Other 2.4%

A majority of women in this study enjoyed up and down or circular.  Most also used 1 style of touch (41%), around 15% used 2 styles, 16% used 3, about 8% used 4 (1.9% used all 12 styles!)


How much pressure do women enjoy?

  • Very light 30.9%
  • Light 25.3%
  • Medium 33.7%
  • Firm 10.7%
  • All feel equally good 15.9%

Most prefer light-to-medium, only a minority enjoy firm touch or all equally.

Patterns of Touch

What patterns of touch do women enjoy on their genitalia?

  • Touching your genitals in a repeated rhythmic motion 81.7%
  • A motion that circles around your clitoris 78.1%
  • Switching between a few different motions (for example, switching from circles to an up-and-down motion) 76%
  • Switching between that intense motion and other less-intense motions 75.8%
  • Making the pleasure last longer by touching slower or less frequently than what would bring you quickly to orgasm 73.6%
  • Touching the area just outside the vaginal opening without actually going in 73.5%
  • Teasing by approaching sensitive areas but then passing by them 71.2%
  • Moving wetness from the vaginal opening to other areas 67.8%
  • Consistent—a motion that repeats in exactly the same way 66.8%
  • Stimulating your clitoris indirectly by moving the surrounding skin rather than directly touching the clitoris itself 66.5%
  • Constantly changing either speed, pressure, direction, or motion to keep the stimulation “surprising” 65.8%
  • Delaying orgasm to achieve more pleasure or a stronger orgasm 65.5%
  • Touching everywhere on your genitals other than the vagina or clitoris to build anticipation 64.6%
  • Having multiple orgasms without taking a break to rest in between them 64.6%
  • Putting extra emphasis on one part of a motion—for instance, more pressure every time you touch the left side 36.5%

What About the Vagina?

Any forms of clitoral play can be used alone or in combination with other sensations like vaginal penetration.  Using your finger(s) and/or a toy offer just as many possibilities for fun inside. 

Some ideas other women enjoy:

  • Insert dildo and hold still in one place
  • Thrust in and out
  • Angle toward urethral sponge (a.k.a the G-spot)
  • Internal movement – up and down, side-to-side, circular motion
  • Cervical stimulation
  • Suction cup dildos – stick against wall or shower to free your hands and/or mimic sexual intercourse

Other Forms of Female Masturbation

  • Pillow humping – Straddling a pillow and rocking back-and-forth or squeezing it between your legs
  • Showerhead – If you have a detachable showerhead, try holding it up to your clitoris. Many women enjoy the gentle-yet-firm sensation of water pressure
  • Lying flat on stomach – AKA the “prone position”, many women first discover masturbation in this position

While we tend to imagine masturbation must happen laying on your back with legs spread open, other positions can be pleasurable too!

Anal Play: But(t) Wait, There’s More!

Butts can feel really good play with, either on their own or combined with clitoral, vaginal or other types of touch. 

Some women even have orgasms from anal stimulation.

A word of warning – what goes up MUST come down!  Once again, make sure any anal toys have a flared base for easy retrieval. Avoid yourself an embarrassing hospital visit (not that I’d know from experience or anything…).

Many of the sensations for clitoral play also apply for the anus.  Here are some suggestions to try for external anal play:

  • Circling around outside of anus
  • Tapping
  • Massaging
  • Pulsating
  • Pushing/pressing
  • Vibrating

Some women enjoy anal stimulation just externally, while others like it internally.  There are no right or wrong answers, as long as you like it! 

Some sensations to consider for internal anal play:

  • Stretching and opening – graduated butt plugs are a great idea
  • In-and-out thrusting
  • Circular motion
  • Static pressure, like from a butt plug held in place
  • Indirect urethral sponge (“G-spot”) stimulation

In addition, many of the patterns of touch described above for vaginal stimulation may be enjoyed anally.  Some suggestions:

  • Switching between more and less intense motions
  • Teasing sensitive areas
  • Constantly changing pressure, speed, direction or motion
  • Consistent stimulation without changing

With Female Masturbation, Your Body is a Wonderland 

Last, but certainly not least – your whole body is your playground.  Of course genitals can feel amazing when we touch them, but you never know – you may discover other parts of your body are pleasurably sensitive too.  

It may sound hard to believe, but researchers have documented reports of orgasm from the nose, neck, earlobes, underarm, side of the hip, knee, inside the thighs, toes and fingers. Some women have had orgasms by giving blow jobs, via sensation in the mouth.

You can even have nipple orgasms.

Really, the sky’s the limit when it comes to female masturbation. 

Remember how we began – what’s the point?  Well primarily, it’s to feel good.  And however that works for you – enjoy it!

Masturbation is something to be enjoyed, no matter what your gender or background.

Stay safe and have fun!

Sarah Melancon Ph.D
About the author :
Sarah Melancon Ph.D

Sarah Melancon, Ph.D is a Sociologist and Clinical Sexologist in Southern California. She spent her 20s in graduate school reading everything she could about sexuality by day, and by night worked as a model, director and producer in the adult entertainment industry, using adult film to promote sex education. At present, Sarah’s research spans the fields of sociology, psychology, sexology, trauma and neurobiology.

  • Avatar Domino says:

    Thanks! for sharing all the information with such a deep elaboration. Keep it up!

  • Avatar Elizabeth says:


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