Female masturbation is often seen as a taboo subject. You’ve probably tucked yourself into a corner to read this article, peering over your shoulder for fear of odd looks from passers-by.
To be honest, I even found myself hiding my notes for this piece when colleagues casually approached my desk to ask if I’d like a cup of tea.
Women discussing wanking is not the done thing, but that shouldn’t be the case. Despite research showing that women masturbate as frequently as men, it's still not a topic that all females openly discuss.
The Swedes have even created a new term for female masturbation in an attempt to stop women from being put off talking about the topic by the usual male-associated words.
To help us shake off the persistent social stigma, we’ve created a guide to female self-pleasuring. We spoke to women about their own experiences of masturbation and got some expert tips on how to make things work for you, including from Strawberry Siren, former Miss Burlesque Australia and the creator of the Pussy Play Masterclass, a workshop on the art of playing with yourself.
The only thing to do now is read on, and plan an early night.
Get to know your nether regions
Understanding the different bits of your body is the first step towards successful stimulation. Don’t be put off by the fact that you may not know the names of your parts, as the first and most important step is getting to know how to ‘use’ them, say the experts.
Lisa Lister, author and creator of wellness website The Sassy She says that getting to know your body, and not getting hung up on terminology, is the best approach.
“It would be great if we were taught the technicalities in school, but unfortunately we’re not. Though it’s good to know the terminology, it’s not essential. My advice would be to explore, get to know what things feel like, and if it feels good, keep going!”
To help us on our quest to become more familiar with our anatomy, Lisa has provided us with simple, straightforward definitions for some of our bodily bits from her book Love Your Lady Landscape.
Vulva: "This is the outer part of your lady landscape. It includes the clitoris, labia lips, urethra and entrance to the vagina, and its opening is almond shaped."
Clitoris: "When people people talk about the clitoris, they’re usually just talking about the glans – the very sensitive outside part, but the bean-like bump you can see on the vulva is just the tip of the iceberg. It's the only organ of the body with the sole function of providing pleasure."
Vagina: "This is a pulsing muscle that opens and closes between the cervix (at the base of the uterus) and the external opening."
Lisa also thinks getting to know your menstrual cycle is an important way of ensuring you get the most from the experience.
"Some people find that they’ll want to be playful and explore more around ovulation. You may not feel the urge to masturbate during your pre-menstrual cycle, but the orgasms will actually be way better, even if they do take a bit longer."
Put it into practice: Use the Pussy Play Masterclass ‘Rise and Sine’ approach to get to know a variety of these areas at once.
"Using the tips of your fingers, lightly tap the public bone above the clitoris to wake the vulva up. You may also want to press down and rub in a circular motion."
Use your hands
Confused by the variety of animal-themed vibrators and neon dildos available online? Well, our girls think it's best to go organic.
Lisa thinks that, though sex toys can be a good way to introduce newcomers to the self-pleasure game, it's best to avoid becoming dependent on them.
“The real fun and pleasure comes through when you use your fingers,” says Lisa.
“Personally, I think that using a toy can desensitise the whole experience. You want to be able to touch yourself, so that you can be playful and get to know the speed and feel you want.”
Put it into practice: Put your fingers to the test with the ‘Scissors Sisters’ technique.
"Making a peace sign with your hands, place each finger on either side of the outer labia. Then, while pressing down lightly, wiggle the fingers towards each other, squeezing and lifting the labia together between the two fingers."
Get to know your clit
"You're clitoris is awesome," says Lisa. As mentioned above, the clitoris is more than just the outer, bean-shaped part. "It's the most nerve-rich part of the vulva, containing over 8,000 nerve endings, which is twice as many as the penis. This makes it the powerhouse of pleasure."
Lisa explains that there’s more to the clitoris than initially meets the eye. “This tiny erogenous zone spreads the feel-good-love to 15,000 other nerves in the pelvis, which explains why it feels like your whole body is being taken over when you orgasm."
Put it into practice: Make your wildest fantasies come true and try out the 'Princess and the Pea' technique.
"Making sure the tip of your finger is nice and moist, slowly pull the hood over the clitoris back and gently stroke the head of the clitoris. You may also want to use a small circular motion, depending on your preferences."
Don’t just think about orgasm
There’s more to masturbation than the big O.
It's important to enjoy the whole experience, rather than racing to the finish line. Lube can be particularly good for assisting in the arousal process.
Lisa believes that engaging in foreplay can be beneficial for your relationships too.
“Be as indulgent as possible. Give yourself the full experience by making time to be exploratory and playful. By doing so, you’ll build a better relationship with your own body and as a result, be able to have more confidence in a relationship to say exactly what you want and when.”
Put it into practice: Warm yourself up by trying out the ‘Escargot’ technique
“Starting at the base of the vagina, lightly drag your fingertip at a snail’s pace towards the clitoris. Make sure you don’t put your finger in too deep at this point, as you want to avoid touching the urethra."