Female masturbation is a rather hush-hush subject. The female genitalia are smaller and less obvious than the male's genitals. Many females are not aware of the different parts of their genitals and do not always know when they are aroused. The clitoris, which contains the most nerve endings and is the most sensitive area of the female's genitals, is hidden under a little hood and covered by the inner and outer lips of the vagina. Not all females know about the clitoris or where it is.
No two women are alike, and hence, it is likely that no two women masturbate in the same way. Masturbation provides an excellent opportunity to get to know one's body better and to be creative. It has several benefits: stress-release, self-empowerment, and a better understanding of one's sexuality. Some women enjoy using fantasy and thinking about sexual thoughts while they masturbate. "Sex for one" is the place to begin when trying to overcome difficulties with arousal and orgasm; once a woman has figured out what feels best to her, by herself, she can teach these techniques to her partner.
The setting and situation are very important for a good masturbatory experience. Women benefit by choosing a situation where they have plenty of time and know that they will not be interrupted by a roommate, telephone, boss, etc. It is essential that one be able to relax and focus only on oneself. Many women feel that these opportunities to take time for themselves are few and far between-but this just makes it all the more important to find the time and get back in touch with their bodies and senses.
The images of sex which are most prevalent in the popular media tend to focus in on the vagina. If not having penile-vaginal sex with men, women are usually depicted getting themselves off with a dildo or vibrating phallus. Men tend to think that inserting something into the vagina is essential for the sexual pleasure of both parties-when in fact this represents the male phalli-centric worldview. Given the chance to explore for themselves, most women find that stimulation of their clitoris is much more important than vaginal stimulation.
After dimming the lights and setting the mood-some women like to have soft music or candles-take off your clothes and relax into a comfortable position. Begin by softly touching yourself all over, paying careful attention to the areas of the body that are most sensitive. These exercises provide the opportunity to appreciate your body. Can you arrange a mirror to let you see yourself? Focus on seeing the attractiveness which a sex partner would find in your breasts, thighs, skin, stomach, and hips. The goal is to become completely enthralled both by your own touch, and by your own body. You may try arching your back, fondling your breasts, or clenching and rubbing your thighs together. Once you feel turned on, you're ready for genital stimulation.
Masturbating With Your Fingers
Lie down in a comfortable position, and begin by stroking your inner thighs. Bring your fingers gradually closer to your vagina: Run them along the outer and inner vaginal lips (labia majora and labia minora). Try massaging your mons, the fleshy area on top of your pubic bone (where the pubic hair is). To locate the clitoris, run your index finger along the inside of the vaginal lips, up toward your navel. The clitoris is hidden under a hood of skin, but most women do not enjoy directly touching the clitoral glans because it is so sensitive. The touching method you choose will depend on how much stimulation you enjoy: You can rub or stroke the shaft of the clitoris through the clitoral hood, or massage the labia, which will stimulate the clitoris indirectly. Try using two fingers in a "V" shape: With one finger on either side of the clitoral shaft, slide your hand gently up and down. You may want to alternate between stimulating your clitoris and touching your vagina. Make circles with one finger just at the edge of the vaginal opening, stroke just inside your vagina using a fingertip, or insert an entire finger (or two, or more) into the vagina.
You can use your fingers to rub yourself at whatever speed and pressure feels best to you. Some people may like to press hard, while others prefer softer strokes. There is no right way to do it; just whatever feels good to you. As you become more aroused, your vagina will become lubricated. Vaginal lubrication is a clear fluid that can be used to make masturbation more pleasurable. As you become more aroused and vaginal lubrication increases, the sensations you experience from touching yourself will become more and more intense. Sometimes when the vagina does not produce enough natural lubrication, it may help to use an artificial lubricant such as K-Y jelly.
Experimentation with Clitoral Stimulation Techniques
Knowledge of the female genitalia is only part of the equation for enjoyable sexual stimulation—preference also plays a large role! When involving the clitoris in sexual activity, it is important to monitor how your body feels. Here are some suggestions that might help you find what you like.
Different Patterns of Stimulation
Try stimulating the clitoris in a variety of ways, including circular patterns, up and down, and back and forth. If you are at a loss for what to do, you might want to think of your ABCs. Moving your finger(s) as if you were tracing different letters in the alphabet, starting with A, can be a fun and effective way to discover which patterns of movement you like.
Different Levels of Pressure
Different people enjoy differing levels of pressure at different times. You can try a gentle pressure, consecutively stronger pressures, and even different frequencies of pulsing. Women tend to enjoy a lighter pressure at first, with a subsequent increasing of pressure with arousal, but everyone is different.
Some women enjoy masturbating by rubbing their vulva against a soft object. Try placing a pillow between your legs and rubbing your clitoral area against it. You can do this either laying on your side, or lying on top of the pillow and thrusting into it. Other women sit on the edge of a chair, or place a pillow on top of a chair, and rub their clitoral/vulva area against it.
For some, the bathtub faucet can make an excellent masturbatory companion. The bath is also a great place to touch yourself with your fingers. While filling the bathtub with warm water, climb in, lie on your back so that the water flows onto your clitoris, and relax. Make sure that the water is at a comfortable temperature, and experiment with moving your vulva/clitoris in different places under the stream of running water. You can adjust the level of stimulation by trying different body positions-legs together, legs apart, knees bent, etc.-or by filling/draining the level of water in the tub. Another variation on the "water massage" technique is to direct the stream of a handheld showerhead at the clitoris.
There are all kinds of different vibrators and dildos on the market, tailored to the specific preferences of all kinds of women. A vibrator can be held near or against the clitoris or even inserted into the vagina. Dildos can also be inserted into the vagina, and many women enjoy stimulation from a dildo and a vibrator simultaneously. While vibrators have been reported to produce more intense orgasms and more multiple orgasms than other means of masturbation1, some women may prefer the feel of fingers or water.
However you choose to masturbate, it can be an extremely rewarding experience. Experiment with different methods, to find the one(s) that bring you the most pleasure. Finally, try masturbating in front of your partner, so that he/she can learn the techniques that work best for you. If there is a technique not described here which you think could benefit other women, please share it with us!
If you want more information, please watch this video created by Buzzfeed!
1. Davis, C.M., J. Blank, H. Lin, and C. Bonillas. "Characteristics of Vibrator Use Among Women." Journal of Sex Research. 33(1996): 313-320.
Last Updated 29 January 2009.
An androgen that plays an important role in the development of the male external genitalia.
A sex-education program that teaches abstinence and does not mention safer-sex practices, homosexuality, etc.
Rape by a person known to the victim. Also known as date rape.
A disease of the immune system characterized by increased susceptibility to opportunistic infections; caused by the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV).
A fetishistic attraction to amputees or amputation stumps.
A drug used in the treatment of genital herpes.
The period of psychosexual and social maturation following the onset of puberty during which a young person develops from a child into an adult.
An adult that experiences sexual satisfaction from acting like a baby or toddler.
Another term to describe a store that sells pornography.
Another term for placenta, which is delivered in the final stage of childbirth.
Sexual behavior performed after sexual intercourse or orgasm, or at the end of a sexual encounter.
Absence of menstruation. See primary amenorrhea and secondary amenorrhea.
The sampling of amniotic fluid for purposes of prenatal diagnosis.
The posterior (back) portion of the urethral fold, which gives rise to the anus.
Penetration of the anus by the penis, or any sexual behavior involving the anus.
Any of a class of steroids—the most important being testosterone—that promote male sexual development and that have a variety of other functions in both sexes.
In men, the gradual decline of fertility with age; a hypothetical male equivalent of menopause.
Sexually attracted to men.
Sexual contact between the mouth or tongue of one person and the anus of another.
Slang term: “rimjob”
Difficulty experiencing or inability to experience orgasm. In women, also called female orgasmic disorder.
The opening from which feces are released.
A substance believed to improve sexual performance, enhance sexual pleasure, or stimulate desire or love.
A fetishistic interest in having an amputation.
The circular patch of darker skin that surrounds the nipple.
An assisted reproduction technique that involves the placement of semen in the vagina or uterus with the aid of a syringe or small tube.
Artificial insemination using sperm from a man who is not the woman’s partner.
Describes a person who never experiences sexual attraction.
In vitro fertilization and related technologies.
Someone that has contracted an infectious disease but is not experiencing symptoms.
The idea that relationship styles are influenced by the quality of the early parent–child bond.
Providing sexual stimulation to oneself, or being aroused sexually by oneself.
Self-strangulation for purposes of sexual arousal.
A form of male-to- female transexuality characterized by a man’s sexual arousal at the thought of being or becoming a woman.
A form of behavior therapy that attempts to eliminate unwanted desires or behaviors by associating them with some unpleasant experience, such as a noxious smell.
A condition in which the normal microorganisms of the vagina are replaced by other species, causing discomfort and a foul-smelling discharge.
Inflammation of the glans of the penis.
Any contraceptive technique in which a physical barrier, such as a condom or diaphragm, prevents sperm from reaching the ovum.
A facility, usually in the form of a private club, used for casual sex between men.
A version of post-traumatic stress disorder affecting women who are victims of intimate partner violence.
An all-inclusive term for forms of sexual expression that involve inflicting and receiving physical pain, restraint, or humiliation. Often understood as a compressed acronym for bondage and discipline, dominance and submission, and sadism and masochism.
In gay slang, a burly gay man with plenty of body hair; more generally, a member of a gay male subculture that rejects many of the prevailing standards of gay male attractiveness and behavior.
Treatment of paraphilias or other disorders based on conditioning or other theories of behavioral psychology. Also called behavior modification.
Therapy focused on improving styles of communication between partners in relationships.
Noncancerous enlargement of the prostate gland.
Obsolete term for sexual contact between a person and an animal.
Colloquial term for bisexual.
In law, the crime of marrying someone while already married to another spouse.
Prejudice against bisexuals.
The canal formed by the uterus, cervix, and vagina, through which the fetus passes during the birth process.
A facility specializing in childbirth care.
Sexual attraction to persons of both sexes.
An American slang term describing the temporary swelling of the testicles due to fluid congestion accompanied by testicular pain; occurs when a male is sexually aroused for an extended amount of time without climax
An American slang term describing the temporary swelling of the vulva due to fluid congestion accompanied by discomfort; occurs when a female is sexually aroused for an extended amount of time without climax.
The use of physical restraint for purposes of sexual arousal. Rope, cuffs, bondage tape, and other restraints are often used for this purpose.
A method of childbirth instruction that stresses the partner’s role as birth coach and that teaches a natural childbirth method.
Irregular uterine contractions that occur during the third trimester of pregnancy. Also called false labor.
The first stage of breast development at puberty.
In Cameroon, a traumatic procedure to delay breast development in girls.
In women, the two soft, protruding organs on the upper front of the torso; contains the mammary gland, which can secrete milk after pregnancy.
Slang terms: “boobs,” “tits,” “rack”
A house of prostitution.
Two small glands near the root of the penis that may secrete “pre-cum” at the urethral opening during sexual arousal before ejaculation. Also known as Cowper’s glands.
Masculine-acting, often used to describe certain lesbians.
A fertility awareness method of contraception that takes account of variability in the length of a woman’s menstrual cycles.
An escort-service prostitute, especially one who is relatively upscale in terms of clientele and price.
A fungal infection of the vagina. Also called thrush or a yeast infection.
Removal of the gonads. (In males, may include removal of the penis.) Also known as gonadectomy.
Sexual encounters that do not take place within a lasting sexual relationship.
Living under a vow not to marry or (by implication) to engage in sexual relations.
A small rubber or plastic cap that adheres by suction to the cervix, used as a contraceptive.
The lowermost, narrow portion of the uterus that connects with the vagina.
A surgical procedure in which a baby is delivered through an incision in the mother’s abdominal wall and uterus.
A primary sore on the skin or a mucous membrane in a person infected with syphilis. (Pronounced SHANK-er.)
An adult who has had sexual contact with a prepubescent child.
A sexually transmitted disease caused by infection with the bacterium Chlamydia trachomatis.
The sampling of tissue from the placenta for purposes of prenatal diagnosis.
An alternative, more-inclusive term for chronic prostatitis. See prostatitis.
Microscopic, hairlike extensions of cells, often capable of coordinated beating motions.
A community support program for released sex offenders.
The surgical removal of the foreskin.
Detention of a person having a mental disorder that creates a threat to himself or others.
A form of behavioral learning in which a novel stimulus is tied to a preexisting reflex.
The transition to infertility at the end of a woman’s reproductive life, lasting for several years and culminating in menopause.
The assessment or treatment of mental or behavioral problems, as practiced by a psychologist.
A loose fold of skin that covers the clitoris.
Removal of the entire external portion of the clitoris (glans, shaft, and hood).
The erectile organ in females, whose external portion is located at the junction of the labia minora, just in front of the vestibule; it is the most sensitive erogenous zone and often the primary anatomical source of sexual pleasure in women.
The common exit of the gastrointestinal and urogenital systems; in humans it is present only in embryonic life.
Related to the aspects of the mind that process knowledge or information.
The study of the information-processing systems of the mind.
Therapy based on changing a person’s beliefs and thought processes.
A live-in sexual relationship between two persons who are not married to each other.
The apparent negative outcomes of cohabitation before marriage, such as less satisfying marriages and divorce.
A variation of the man-above position for coitus that increases clitoral stimulation.
Penetration of the vagina by the penis.
The milk produced during the first few days after birth; it is relatively low in fat but rich in immunoglobulins.
The examination of the cervix with the aid of an operating microscope.
Reveal a previously concealed identity, such as being gay.
The cognitive component of love: the decision to maintain a relationship.
A form of marriage in which the husband and wife are expected to be emotionally intimate and to engage in social activities together.
Sexual behavior perceived subjectively as involuntary and diagnosed as a symptom of a compulsive disorder. Also called obsessive–compulsive sexual disorder.
The modification of behavior by learning through association and/or reinforcement.
A congenital defect of hormonal metabolism in the adrenal gland, causing the gland to secrete excessive levels of androgens.
An oral contraceptive regimen in which all pills (except any dummy pills) contain the same drug dosage.
A device inserted in the body that slowly releases a hormonal contraceptive.
In childbirth, a periodic tightening of the uterine muscles, felt as a cramp.
A group of subjects included in a study for comparison purposes.
The revival of sexual arousal caused by the presence of a novel partner.
The rim of the glans of the penis.
Either of two elongated erectile structures within the clitoris or penis that also extend backward into the pelvic floor.
A secretory structure in the ovary derived from an ovarian follicle after ovulation.
A single midline erectile structure. In both sexes it fills the glans; in males it extends backward along the underside of the penis, surrounding the urethra.
A paraphilia or certain set of paraphilias seen as a disorder of normal courtship behavior.
Pregnancy-like symptoms in the male partner of a pregnant women. Also called sympathetic pregnancy.
A form of marriage that requires a stronger vow of commitment than a regular marriage and that makes divorce harder to obtain.
A sheetlike muscle that wraps around the spermatic cord and the testicle.
Wearing the clothing of the other sex, for any of a variety of reasons. One who cross-dresses is sometimes referred to as being “in drag.”
The appearance of the fetal scalp at the vaginal opening.
Internal extensions of the corpora cavernosa of the clitoris or penis.
A colloquial term for infatuation.
Failure of one or both testicles to descend into the scrotum by 3 months of postnatal age.
The study of cultural variations across the human race.
The study of the interactions between culture and mental processes or behaviors.
Sexual contact between the tongue or mouth of one person and the vulva of another.
Slang terms: “eating-out,” “third base,” “oral,” “head”
Stalking via the Internet.
The cycle in which some abused children grow up to repeat similar forms of abuse on others. Also called victim–perpetrator cycle.
Rape between dating or socially acquainted couples; it is particularly common of college campuses. Also called acquaintance rape.
A nonmarital sexual relationship between two persons who do not live together but who see each other on a more-or-less regular basis.
Removal of laws that criminalize activities such as prostitution.
Kissing, with entry of the tongue into the partner’s mouth.
Slang term: “French kissing,” “making out”
Difficulty achieving or inability to achieve orgasm and/or ejaculation. Also called male orgasmic disorder.
Labor that occurs more than 3 weeks after a woman’s due date.
Puberty that begins later than normal.
Persistent false belief that one’s partner is involved with another person.
Stalking motivated by the delusional belief that the victim is in love with, or could be persuaded to fall in love with, the stalker.
An injectable form of medroxyprogesterone acetate, used as a contraceptive in women or to decrease the sex drive in male sex offenders.
A form of Depo-Provera designed for subcutaneous (under the skin) injection.
Synthetic steroids designed to be undetectable in drug testing.
An Indian temple prostitute.
An Indian temple prostitute.
A barrier placed over the cervix as a contraceptive.
In childbirth, the expansion of the cervical canal.
Also called dilatation.
A procedure involving the opening of the cervix and the scraping out of the contents of the uterus with a curette (spoonlike instrument). D&E may be done as an abortion procedure or for other purposes.
A sex toy, often shaped like a penis, used to penetrate the vagina or anus.
Using graphic word imagery and/or explicit language to increase pleasure during sexual activity. It is a common part of foreplay, and can include vivid erotic descriptions or sexual commands.
The situation in which one partner in a relationship has much more interest in sex than the other.
Medical conditions producing abnormal sexual differentiation or intersexuality.
The distancing of oneself from the emotions evoked by some traumatic experience or memory.
The use of humiliation or subservience for purposes of sexual arousal.
A woman who acts the role of the dominating partner in a BDSM setting.
To rinse the vagina out with a fluid.
A collection of birth defects caused by the presence of an extra copy of chromosome 21.
The wearing of exaggeratedly feminine clothing by a man, often for entertainment purposes.
The pain that sometimes accompanies menstruation.
See primary dysmenorrhea and secondary dysmenorrhea.
Pain during coitus.
A complication of pregnancy in which an embryo implants somewhere other than the uterus, such as one of the fallopian tubes.
Also known as tubal pregnancy.
Thinning of the cervix in preparation for childbirth.
Release of semen from the penis, usually as a result of orgasm.
Slang terms: “cumming,” “busting,” “finishing”
Either of the two bilateral ducts formed by the junction of the vas deferens and the duct of the seminal vesicle. The ejaculatory ducts empty into the urethra within the prostate.
An abortion performed in circumstances when the woman’s health is not at risk.
A form of emergency contraception that is effective for 5 days after sex.
Use of high-dose contraceptives to prevent pregnancy after unprotected sex.
The loading of the components of semen into the posterior (back) urethra immediately before ejaculation.
Fear that one’s partner is becoming emotionally committed to another person.
The ability to share or understand other people’s feelings.
Cancer of the endometrium of the uterus.
The growth of endometrial tissue at abnormal locations such as the oviducts.
The internal lining of the uterus.
The sinking of a fetus’s head into a lower position in the pelvis in preparation for birth.
Also called lightening.
A structure, attached to each testicle, where sperm mature and are stored before entering the vas deferens.
Inflammation of the epididymis.
Anesthesia administered just outside the membrane that surrounds the spinal cord.
A cut extending the opening of the vagina backward into the perineum, performed by an obstetrician to facilitate childbirth or reduce the risk of a perineal tear.
A persistent inability to achieve or maintain an erection sufficient to accomplish a desired sexual behavior such as coitus to orgasm.
Physiological phenomenon in which the penis becomes firmer, larger, and filled with blood, typically in response to sexual excitement.
Slang terms: “boner,” “pitching a tent,” getting hard”
Sexually themed works, such as books or sculpture, deemed to have literary or artistic merit.
The delusional belief that a sexually desired but unattainable person is actually in love with oneself.
Euphemism for a prostitute who advertises by print, word of mouth, or the Internet.
A service that provides prostitutes, generally contacted by telephone.
A method of tubal sterilization that uses metal coils to block the oviducts.
The principal estrogen, secreted by ovarian follicles.
Any of a class of steroids—the most important being estradiol—that promote the development of female secondary sexual characteristics at puberty and that have many other functions in both sexes.
The study of a cultural group, often by means of extended individual fieldwork.
A man who has been castrated.
The study of the influence of evolution on mental processes or behavior.
The beginning phase of the sexual response cycle.
A paraphilia involving exposure of the genitalia to strangers, sometimes with masturbation.
Also called “flashing.”
A form of psychotherapy for victims of rape or abuse in which they are encouraged to recall the traumatic event in a safe environment.
A regimen of contraceptive pills that allows for fewer or no menstrual periods.
The sexual structures on the outside of the body. The penis, urethra, and scrotum comprise the male external genitalia. Female external genitalia consist of the labia minora, labia majora, and clitoris.
A sexual relationship in which at least one of the partners is already married or partnered with someone else.
A person who has had sexual contact with children outside his immediate family.
An imagined experience, sexual or otherwise.
Sexual contact between the mouth of one person and the penis of another.
Slang terms: “head,” “sucked-off,” “oral”
Any of several forms of ritual cutting or removal of parts of the female genitalia.
A plastic pouch inserted into the vagina as a contraceptive and/or to prevent disease transmission.
Insufficient physiological arousal in women, resulting in unpleasurable or painful sex.
A type of cervical cap that has a raised brim.
The movement to secure equality for women; the study of social and psychological issues from women’s perspectives.
Prejudice against femininity in males.
Feminine-acting, often used to describe certain lesbians or bisexual women.
Contraceptive techniques that rely on avoiding coitus during the woman’s fertile window. Also called rhythm methods or periodic abstinence methods.
A collection of physical and behavioral symptoms in a child who was exposed to high levels of alcohol as a fetus.
Sexual arousal by inanimate objects, materials, or parts of the body.
A noncancerous tumor arising from muscle cells of the uterus.
The fringe at the end of the oviduct, composed of finger-like extensions.
State in which the penis is limp or soft.
A fluid-filled sac that contains an egg (ovum), with its supporting cells, within the ovary.
One of the two major gonadotropins secreted by the pituitary gland; it promotes maturation of ova (or sperm in males).
An alternative term for preovulatory phase.
Any kind of sexual touching of the partner’s body.