When I first started having sex, I was never quite sure if I'd had an orgasm—a sure sign that, in fact, I hadn't.
In my 20s, I was oddly committed to seeking out my orgasms from other people (a notoriously unreliable source). It wasn't until around age 30 that I really got into masturbation and learned how to reap its ultimate reward: the Big O.
It's been a few years, and I've gone on countless solo expeditions since then. I'm proud to say I'm now the Magellan of exploring my body. I understand having to work through shame and body issues before becoming completely comfortable with self-pleasure, but I really recommend doing whatever unblocking you need to start to pushing your own buttons ASAP. Trust me, it's worth it.
Don't worry if you're stuck on climax mountain and can't seem to get to the top—I've recruited two sexperts to help get you there. Follow their instructions and you'll soon be getting yourself off any ol' time you like. (But you have to promise to control your inner Cersei; a person can get drunk off this much power.)
And just to note, these instructions are geared toward women and some trans and non-binary folks, but we've got this other story right here that can help basically anyone get off.
1. Give yourself permission.
The first tip comes from sex researcher and neuroscientist Debra W. Soh, Ph.D. She says, "It's important to feel comfortable with your body and to know that sex and orgasms are a healthy part of life. As women, we receive all kinds of contradictory messages about sex and our sexuality, but there shouldn't be any shame around female pleasure."
It's true—trying to make sense of our cultural conditioning is like navigating a minefield. There are so many puritanical ideas that get downloaded on girls when they're young and then reinforced with slut-shaming as they get older. Combine that with our absurd beauty standards and "sex sells" mentality, and you've got a hotbed for hypersexed-yet-prudish objectification that's hard not to internalize.
Trying to make sense of these dissonant ideals will make your brain explode, so just get out of your head and listen to what feels good to you—not your culture's idea of what you're supposed to want or be.
2. Start without an end in mind.
We've all been undone by our own orgasmic expectations at one point or another (or perhaps more points than not), but it doesn't have to be that way!
According to Emily Morse, sexologist and host of the Sex With Emily podcast, "When we remove the pressure to orgasm, our minds can relax into the experience and be open to those feel-good sensations. That practice in and of itself can actually lead to orgasm because you'll be less wrapped up in your head."
This definitely rings true for me. Playing around without worrying about the outcome is how I finally learned to make it rain, and you can too.
3. Practice makes perfect.
You don't need an orgasm whisperer; you just need to commit to getting your hands dirty on a regular basis. "While I don't have the power to guarantee orgasms, I can tell you that women who master their own masturbation routine will come closer to reaching the Big O every time," Morse says. "My top tip is to take pleasure into your own hands and become the expert of your own body. When exploring your self-love routine, it's best to be patient and go slow. Start with the goal of exploring your body in search of those epic hot spots or erogenous zones instead of orgasm."
4. Experiment. Experiment. Experiment.
Location rules when it comes to real estate, but when it comes to masturbation, experimentation reigns supreme. Each one of us is a special snowflake with our own unique sensitivities. What works for me might not work for you and vice versa.
For example, I have a friend who always masturbates on her stomach, but that has never worked for me, not one single time. This is why Morse recommends experimenting with different pressures, touches, and positions to unlock your winning combination.
5. Lube it up.
Would you dive onto a Slip'N Slide without water? I didn't think so. Similarly, Morse says, "Always start with some water-based lube, like System JO's H2O line."
And yup, I could not agree more. Adding lube to my masturbation regimen was an absolute game-changer. If you only take one thing from this article, let this be it.
6. Play with toys.
If you think sex toys aren't for beginners, then it's time to take the training wheels off, baby, because they will rocket your solo sex game into the stratosphere, no doubt about it. And if you've ever listened to an episode of Sex with Emily, you know Morse is an aficionado. In terms of self-pleasure, she says, "Toys are a great accessory to add to your sexual health repertoire—especially if you've been close to orgasm but never crossed over that climatic threshold."
For indirect clitoral stimulation (especially for those who are on the more sensitive side), Morse recommends the womanizer2go. According to the company's private testing (which is admittedly pretty biased), 98 percent of women reached orgasm in less than five minutes. The product has an adorable faux lipstick design, and more importantly, uses its trademarked Pleasure-Air Technology to mimic a suction feeling similar to oral sex, pulsating to stimulate the clitoris indirectly.
In the market for more direct clitoral stimulation? Morse suggests the Magic Wand rechargeable as a great go-to because it's durable and strong. "It's called the Cadillac of all vibrators for a reason," as she puts it.
Morse says it tends to be easier for women to unlock an external orgasm before an internal one, but if you're looking to unlock both—or want to experience a blended orgasm—the We-Vibe Nova would be her vibrator of choice. She explains, "It's a rabbit-style vibe, so it gives you internal and external stimulation. Plus, you can control it with the We-Connect app, which makes it a bit easier to use and enables you to create your own patterns for a custom vibration."
Soh gives her nod to the Queen Bee by Hot Octopuss, pointing to its patented 'piston'-like PulsePlate Technology, which claims to induce stronger orgasms than a typical vibrator via higher-amplitude oscillations than typically found in sex toys. While I'm not sure if that's exactly true, it's certainly a great claim… and one worth exploring.
Click your way to O-town.
Looking for more sexy info and resources? Soh recommends OMGYes, which uses scientific research to help women embrace their sexuality and have better orgasms.
Alright, ladies, that concludes your self-pleasure primer. Now all that's left to say is, "Yes! Yes! Yes!"