Aside from how amazing it can feel, one of the most wonderful things about masturbation is that there’s no wrong way to do it. As long as what you’re doing feels good for you, it’s totally fair game — but even if you’re comfortable in your masturbation routine, that doesn’t mean there isn’t room to experiment by looking for ways to improve how you masturbate.
"If you treat masturbation like a car tune-up — something you do as a matter of course as opposed to something you enjoy — you may find yourself in a masturbation rut," Dr. Jess O'Reilly, Astroglide’s resident sexologist, tells Bustle. "Sometimes we find ourselves in a rut because an activity becomes routine (we miss out on the excitement associated with anticipation) and other times it’s because we don’t put the effort in because we don’t see masturbation as a true form of sex. But masturbation is sex — with someone you love!"
There’s nothing wrong with knowing exactly what you need to do to get yourself off, but it’s important to remember that masturbation can be more than just a chance to orgasm. If you’re willing to slow down and do a little experimentation, masturbation can be a chance to get even more in tune with your body and your sexuality. Here are 12 ways to change up your masturbation routine if you feel stuck in a self-pleasure rut.
1Take Your Time
One of the great things about getting yourself off? You probably know exactly what to do to reach orgasm — meaning it can be a quick process if need be. But if every masturbation sesh is rushed and all business, try slowing things down every once in a while.
"If you rush through the experience (as though you’re going to get caught!), it may also be a sign that you’re not giving self-love the power and pleasure it deserves," Dr. Jess says.
2Change The Way You Breathe
When you masturbate, you’re probably too busy with your hands to focus much on your breathing — but actually, how you breathe is just as important as how you touch yourself.
"Your breath is elemental to sexual response and orgasm," Dr. Jess says. "Oftentimes, we hold our breath to muffle our sounds, but this hinder circulation and blood flow is essential to arousal and orgasm. Experiment with different breath patterns (long, slow, deep breaths; short and shallow breaths; breathing with each stroke) to see how your body responds."
3Make Some Noise
Another fun way to get more out of masturbation? If you usually tend to keep quiet during your solo time, try making a little noise next time if you feel like it.
"Just as you let your sounds out while having sex with a partner, so too should you allow your breath, moans, groans and yelps to emanate without inhibition during solo sex," Dr. Jess says. "During sex, we often make sounds to express pleasure for our partner’s benefit as opposed to our own... The next time you’re having sex, try to let your natural sounds emanate freely instead of adjusting them to suit your partner’s needs. You’ll likely find that your arousal increases as your breathing patterns become more natural. Better yet — practice while masturbating to retrain yourself without having to deal with performance pressure."
4Explore *All* Of Your Body
When you know exactly what buttons to press to turn yourself on, it can be easy to neglect other erogenous zones. But foreplay isn’t just for partnered sex: taking some time to explore more of your body before getting down to business is a great way to change up the way you masturbate.
"Most of us experience orgasmic sensations in the genital region (and sometimes our breasts) and this is in part owing to the fact that these are the areas we stimulate during sex play," Dr. Jess says. "We ignore the rest and we’re missing out, as full body stimulation awakens nerve endings and promotes blood flow across the body. This increases your chances of full body orgasms, so play with your hands or favorite toy between your thighs, along your hips, over your nipples, across your collarbone and in the small of your back."
5Use Your Hips
You might typically let your hands (or a sex toy) do all of the work, but if you want to make the most of masturbation, allow your hips to guide you as you approach orgasm.
"Once you’re relaxed and already aroused (perhaps you’re 70 percent of the way to orgasm), let your hips take over the movement (your hand can simply hold still or hold a toy in place) so that you find the perfect rhythm to unleash your orgasmic contractions," Dr. Jess says. "You likely won’t have to think about your hip movements and rhythm, as it’s a primal subconscious motion and you may find that you have more intense orgasms when it’s all in the hips."
You might assume “switching positions” is only something you can do during sex with a partner, but solo sex can also be varied up with a simple change of position.
"Many of us masturbate in the same position for our entire lives and this inhibits our pleasure potential," Dr. Jess says. "Just as experimenting with sex positions with a partner can result in more intense orgasms and surprising sensations, so too can changing the angle of your body while masturbating."
7Try A Sex Toy
There’s nothing wrong with a little, ahem, manual labor, but that doesn’t mean tech doesn’t have its place in the bedroom — including during your solo time.
"If you’ve not tried a sex toy yet, they’re definitely worth a shot," Adam Lewis, co-founder of sex toy company Hot Octopuss, tells Bustle. "Toys give you the power to take control of your orgasm. With a number of amazing sex toy companies spreading all of the sex positivity, you have plenty of incredible brands to choose from that provide very different sensations and technologies."
8Focus On The Journey, Not The Destination
When you focus too hard on the end result of masturbation, you might have a difficult time relaxing and enjoying the moment. Luckily, a little time spent setting the mood can go a long way.
"Ironically, the more you aim for the end-point rather than enjoying the experience as it happens, the less likely you are to a) orgasm and b) have a great time," Lewis says. "Rather than having an ‘admin wank’, try really relaxing, indulging yourself and setting the mood. Maybe it’s candles, scented oils and soft music that works for you; maybe it’s heavy metal and a bit of self-bondage (yeah, it’s a thing). You do you — but whatever you do, set aside time to get those vibes right and it will definitely pay off."
9Try Using Lube
Everything’s better when it’s wetter, and using a little lube can seriously change the way you masturbate — even if you don’t have any problem getting wet on your own.
"If you don’t use lube, now’s the time," Caleb Backe, health & wellness expert at Maple Holistics, tells Bustle. "Hot, cold, spicy, sensual — lube does it all. Experimenting with different sensations is part of a healthy sex life, and there is no reason why that should not apply to you."
10Practice "Edging" Yourself
A handy technique to try if you have time to spare? "Edging" yourself — aka bringing yourself not quite to the brink of orgasm, then backing off and building back up again, over and over.
"Use your fingers to bring yourself to the brink of orgasm, and then back off, and go concentrate on another part of your body," Bethany Ricciardi, sex educator and relationship expert with Too Timid tells Bustle. "See how close you can get to climax, how long you can tease yourself before you need to stop! Continue to get to the point of orgasm but don’t go over into the actual orgasm. It is quite a sweet torture! When you finally want to make yourself orgasm, do it with the combination of internal and external stimulation."
11Experiment With Anal Play
If you’re bored with your usual routine and are open to a little anal action, incorporating some light anal play while you masturbate can really intensify your experience.
"Whether it’s an anal training kit, some anal beads or a nice glass plug, these fantastic little products help to engorge your clitoris with blood," Ricciardi says. "In no time, it increases the stimulation of the nerve endings making it quick and easy to reach your climax! ... Bring the lube and go enjoy better orgasms!"
12Switch Up Where You Masturbate
Feeling adventurous? Try making your next masturbation sesh a public affair (well, a secret one anyways) — because the privacy of your bedroom isn't the only place you can get busy with yourself.
"Wear a butt plug the next time you have a long ride, or maybe try vibrating panties and experience a full blown orgasm the next time you're out and about," Ricciardi says. "I'm not saying start masturbating in public, but enjoy switching up where you receive sexual pleasure! Keep it discreet and private but don't restrict playing with your sex toys just at home. Be sure to pack your travel vibrator and have orgasms at the reach of a hand!"
If your masturbation sessions have been feeling meh lately, the good news is that all it takes is a little experimenting to take your solo sex life back to OMG levels. And if you have to spend hours "practicing" your self-pleasure skills then that's just an added bonus!