Female masturbation techniques for mind-blowing orgasms - and why getting off empowers women

Female masturbation is no longer taboo. Here's how to improve your technique and do it with your partner watching...

A collection of different fruits including orange, grapefruit, and papaya to illustrate the best female masturbation techniques
(Image credit: Getty Images)

Female masturbation is no longer taboo - well, that's what we like to think anyway. While some people might still feel a little embarrassed doing it or discussing the topic with others, and society is still very much focused on male pleasure, we've come a long way. 

Whether you're letting your hand do the work or enlisting the help of a vibrator, there are hours of fun to be had and it's a great opportunity to explore your body and get to know what turns you on. Plus, when it comes to introducing another person into the mix, you're more able to express what you like in the bedroom and what you don't. 

Not everyone knows the top tricks and tips for masturbating though, which is why we've enlisted the help of two certified sex experts to outline the best techniques for masturbation. Plus, why introducing one of the best sex toys or your best vibrator is always a good idea and the benefits of mutual masturbation with a partner for spicing up your sex life.

How do I masturbate? 

If you're new to self-pleasure and female masturbation techniques, the first thing to know is that it's easier than you think, and there are no "rules", it's all about finding what feels great for you.

A nice starting point is focusing on clitoral stimulation with either your fingers, hand, or a clitoris-focused vibrator. "There are more than 8,000 nerve endings in the tip of the clitoris alone, that’s double the number of those in a penis," explains Annabelle Knight, a sex and relationship expert with qualifications in psychosexual therapy. "A clitoris is made up of 18 distinct parts. A mixture of erectile tissue, muscle, and nerves. All those little pieces are working together to create the amazing sensations experienced during orgasms."

If you're using your fingers or a vibrator that has a pointed tip at the end for targeted stimulation, there are many different motions you can try out. "A few common finger positions including rubbing circles on your clitoral hood, rubbing to the right or left of the clitoris rather than directly on it, making large figure-eight circles on the entire area," says Kate Moyle, a psychosexual therapist and sexologist. "This can involve touching the clitoris, the inner lips, and the vaginal opening. Just see what works for you.”

If you're looking for a little more detail, take a look at this advice from Annabelle Knight: 

  • Start soft and slow: "A little teasing can also really ramp up the pleasure and save on hand cramps," she says. 
  • Gradually increase intensity: "Begin masturbating, stop for a few seconds, and then delve back in. Repeat as necessary." 
  • Use a mirror: “Placing it in front of yourself to watch as you touch your most intimate parts can be quite erotic but also therapeutic. The experience becomes even more heightened as all distractions are removed and you and your pleasure take center stage." 
  • Be open to exploring: "Remember to leave all self-judgment and shame at the door. This is your safe space," she says. 

Woman holding cup of coffee and browsing female masturbation tips lying in bed with sunlight coming through the window

(Image credit: Getty Images)

What are the best sex toys for female masturbation? 

Using your fingers is just fine when it comes to masturbating, but finding your favorite vibrator of the bunch can really level up the experience. Sex toys can offer an intensity that even the fastest fingers can't match. 

"They really are the icing on the cake when it comes to masturbation," agrees Knight. "But there are thousands of toys available so if you're a beginner, it can be fairly daunting. My advice is to start small both in size and intensity and work your way up if you want to find the one for you." 

Here at woman&home, across the health team, we've tried and tested hundreds of toys - from the best vibrators on Amazon to the best lesbian sex toys. If you're looking to invest in a good, durable sex toy but you're totally new to the idea, take a look at our guide on the best sex toys for beginners

These are a few of the highlights: 

Just because sex toys help though, doesn't mean you have to use a vibrator or sex toy of any kind. Using fingers and palms of the hand are the two most common methods of self-pleasure and along with being silent, cost-free, and literally always available, most people will have better control over them than they ever would a toy. 

For a third, in-between option, some women like to bring themselves to orgasm by rubbing their vulva against a pillow or another hard surface as it stimulates the clitoris all the way down to the vagina itself. 

How is female masturbation empowering for women?

Masturbation can be hugely empowering if you enjoy it. Not only does it feel amazing thanks to the millions of tiny nerve endings stimulated in the clitoris, but it's been proven that masturbation can help women be more confident and boost their sex drive. 

“Women have had such a rough deal when it comes to sexual pleasure," says Knight. "It means that many struggle with issues such as shame that transfers into the intimate relationship they have with themselves, but masturbation is a powerful form of intimacy and it has been proven to boost self-esteem." 

As a study by Tehran University of Medical Sciences points out, masturbation triggers the release of adrenaline from the pituitary gland, and higher levels of this hormone have been linked with an improvement in personal growth and a great sense of life purpose. Plus, she adds, "The more familiar you are with your own body, the more comfortable you’ll be sharing yourself with another person." 

On a physical level, masturbation can also improve your sex drive by allowing you to explore your body in a relaxed and low-pressure setting, whether through stimulation by your own imagination or external sources, like audio erotica. "It makes us feel more able to tell our partner what we want and need," says Moyle, who is also sexual wellness brand LELO's sex and relationship expert. "And never underestimate the power of indulging in me-time to rev up your sex drive and help you learn how to have better sex. The more sex you have, including with yourself, the more sex you want."

But that doesn't mean the stigma and shame surrounding masturbation doesn't prevail in wider society around us, which can be difficult to negotiate with, depending on your own culture and experience of talking about masturbation. 

"You can see sex toy reviews in mainstream media and jokes prevail about men 'jacking off' but nevertheless, masturbation is arguably way more hush-hush of a topic than coupled sex," says Angie Rowntree, a sex expert. "We wonder if this is sometimes due to the fact that people see masturbation as solely a single person's domain or due to a 'competitive mindset' that sees self-pleasure as inferior, or even working 'in opposition' to coupled sex." 

However, she notes, research from Indiana University also shows that people in relationships still masturbate and that masturbation can complement - or even enhance - desire in couples' sex lies. 

"All this to say, no matter where you are in life or how you define your relationships, masturbation is worth making time for. And there's always more to discover about yourself," adds Rowntree, who is also the director and founder of Sssh.com

Woman's hands resting against comforter and pillows on bed

(Image credit: Getty Images)

Could I be masturbating too much? 

If you're worried you might be enjoying yourself a little too much, fear not - there's no such thing as too much "me" time, unless it starts to impact how you live your life.

“Masturbating only becomes a problem if it’s affecting your ability to work, socialize or you’re habitually doing it in risky situations,” says Moyle. “Talk to a sex therapist if you feel it’s out of control." 

Additionally, if you use very powerful sex toys a lot, it might be worth using your hands for a while. "You’ll soon become more sensitive again if you put the toys down for a few weeks."

How do I masturbate in front of my partner?

If one of your sexual fantasies is to bring masturbation into your partnered sex, chat to your partner about it first. While masturbation is totally normal and no one in a relationship should feel threatened by their partner fulfilling their own sexual desires, consent is important and like anything else, if it's not something you've done before, then it's worth talking about - either in the throws of the moment or you could suss out the situation on date night. 

From there, you can talk about how you want to incorporate it. As part of foreplay? When trying out one of the best sex positions to use with a vibrator? With exciting techniques like the belly press trick? It's up to you - decide together when and how you want to include masturbation in the bedroom. 

It's perfectly natural to be nervous masturbating in front of your partner for the first time though. Regardless of how far we've come to promote sex positivity and female sexuality without shame, there's still a stigma around it. 

"Many women also feel that masturbation is a private activity, and sex is shared with a partner," notes Knight. "Yes, giving your partner a front-row seat to such an intimate experience might feel a bit intimidating at first. But sharing your solo sex sessions can actually be a sensual and stimulating experience for all."

What's more, it can be a great way to create more intimacy between you both. "Seeing you in the throes of such a sensual act will give your partner a voyeuristic rush like they are witnessing something that no one else gets to see," continues Knight. "Granting them the privilege of letting them watch is sure to get everyone's juices flowing, helping you feel closer and more connected than ever before."

Female masturbation tips 

  • Schedule in time for you: "Stress can become an endless loop, impacting your sleep, appetite, and your libido," explains Rowntree. "My first tip is to step off the hamster wheel and schedule in some uninterrupted, peaceful time to yourself. And no, not just time to masturbate, but a whole block of hours where you can fully decompress and regroup. You can’t expect your body to respond if your mind is frazzled." 
  • Engage in some self-foreplay: Why rush to the finish line? "Take some time to appreciate your body for more than the obvious outcome. Love the reflection, love all the curves, the colors, and shapes, and see how every inch of your precious, irreplaceable self responds to your own simple touch," she says. 
  • Practice edging: "There's ample joy to be found in experiencing delayed gratification," says Rowntree. "Everyone associates sex with orgasms as the ultimate end goal - but what if you discovered the bliss of riding all the waves between the ocean and the shore? This is what a practice called 'edging' can do for a person and especially for those who don't have the same physiological refractory period following an orgasm as others do. With edging, you reach the brink, and then gently pull back, and then you hop on the wave again. By the time you do finally give in and have that release, it’s far more likely to be the knee-curling stuff of legends." 
  • Embrace your sexual fantasies: "Masturbation has a way of providing us with the safety and security to 'go there' - even if 'there' is not something you would usually do," she says. "Don’t judge yourself. In fact, as long as it’s safe and you’re game, we say who cares about what happens usually. Just focus on the now and what feels good." 
Faye M Smith

Faye M Smith is an award-winning journalist with over 15 years experience in the magazine industry. Her continued work in the area of natural health won her the coveted title of the Health Food Manufacturers’ Association (HFMA) Journalist of the Year Award 2021. Currently Health Editor across several brands including woman&home, Woman and Woman’s Own, Faye specialises in writing about mental health, the menopause, and sex and relationships.