The best 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...

woman holding sparkler lit up representing female masturbation and female orgasm
(Image credit: Getty Images / Crispin la valiente)

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 it with others, putting female pleasure first is definitely empowering lots of women. 

Whether you're masturbating with the best vibrator or letting your hand do the work, you shouldn't be ashamed about making yourself feel good. In fact, there's so much fun to be had with masturbation. It's a great opportunity to explore your body and get to know what turns you on. 

"Studies also show that women who masturbate tend to be more confident both in and out of the bedroom," says Annabelle Knight, sex and relationship expert at sexual wellness brand Lovehoney. "Plus, they have better overall vaginal health and suffer from colds and bugs less frequently."

What's more, once you get comfortable and enjoy doing it alone you could introduce the idea of mutual masturbation to your partner for ultimate pleasure in the bedroom.

How is female masturbation empowering for women?

The benefits of female masturbation are endless, and above all else putting your own pleasure first is incredibly empowering. But, many women haven't always felt empowered to prioritize their own orgasm.

“Women have had such a rough deal when it comes to sexual pleasure," says Annabelle. The lack of sex education at school and lack of focus on female pleasure in the media can create a potentially damaging message for women, Annabelle explains. "This means that many women struggle with issues such as shame surrounding sex and pleasure that transfers into the intimate relationship they have with themselves."

In reality, masturbation is helpful, healthy and normal, says Alix Fox, sex and relationships expert. "A lot of women are told it’s dirty, wrong or unladylike, but it’s time to finally move past those outdated taboos." 

Recent research by Lovehoney found that 67% of women over the age of 40, both those single and in relationships, regularly enjoy masturbation - so things are definitely changing. 

Masturbation improves both body and sexual confidence, says Annabelle. "The more familiar you are with your own body, the more comfortable you’ll be sharing yourself with another person."

Aside from the mental and physical health benefits of female masturbation, taking this time to explore your body in a relaxed and low-pressure setting will ultimately make your sex life better, says Kate Moyle, sex and relationships expert at Lelo.

"It makes us more confident to tell our partner what we want and need. Never underestimate the power of indulging in me-time to rev up your sex drive  – the more sex you have, including with yourself, the more sex you want.”

How do I masturbate? 

Never masturbated before and unsure what to do? It's actually easier than you might think as there are no "rules" and it's all about exploring your body and finding what feels good for you. A good starting point for female masturbation is focusing on clitoral stimulation. 

"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," Annabelle points out. "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 that anyone with a clitoris feels when they are having orgasms."

Start soft and slow, before applying more pressure or cranking up the speed as and when you feel ready. 

"A little teasing can also really ramp up the pleasure and save on hand cramps," says Annabelle, "Begin, stop for a few seconds, and then delve back in. Repeat as necessary.”

If it's your first time masturbating, you can use a mirror to see exactly what you're doing and remove any distractions.

“Placing a mirror in front of yourself to watch as you touch your most intimate parts can be quite erotic but also therapeutic," says Annabelle. "Masturbation itself is a powerful form of intimacy and it has been proven to boost self-esteem. With a mirror, the experience becomes even more heightened as all distractions are removed and you and your pleasure take center stage." 

"Take the opportunity to gaze upon yourself in all your glory. Be open to exploring what is there for you. Be open to experiencing yourself in all your raw beauty, and remember to leave all self-judgment and shame at the door. This is your safe space."

woman holding vibrator in bed

(Image credit: Getty Images)

What are the best sex toys for female masturbation? 

There are always big decisions to make in life and it’s the same with a ménage à moi. “Toys can offer an intensity that even the fastest fingers can’t match,” says Alix. “However, your hands are silent, cost nothing and they’re literally always on hand.”

Deciding whether or not to use a sex toy for masturbation is totally up to you. Kate points out that some people prefer to bring themselves to climax by rubbing their vulva against a pillow or hard surface, while others use their hand to rub their clitoris.

Touching your vulva – especially your clitoris – is the most common method of masturbation. “There are many different types of finger motions that women use, so experiment,” says Kate. “A few common finger positions include rubbing circles on your clitoral hood. Some women like to rub to the right or left of their clitoris, rather than directly on it. Many have a favorite side when they do. Others like to make large figure-eight circles on their entire genitals. This can involve touching the clitoris, the inner lips and the vaginal opening. Again, see what works for you.”

For some women, climax will only come when a sex toy is in the mix, and luckily the market is full of fantastic options to choose from. 

"Sex toys really are the icing on the cake when it comes to masturbation," says Annabelle. "There are thousands of toys available so if you’re a beginner it can be fairly daunting. My advice is to start small and work your way up if you want to."

If you're debating rabbit vibrators vs clitoral stimulators for your first time using a sex toy, start small and choose a toy that stimulates the clitoris until you find out what sensations you like.

Then you can build up your collection and introduce sex toys that stimulate both the G-spot and clitoris or take things up a notch and invest in one of the best body wand massagers. The possibilities are endless, and finding out what toys work for you is all part of the fun. 

What are the best techniques for female masturbation?

Female masturbation is not one-size-fits-all, but there are a few moves to keep in mind for stimulating the clitoris.

“There are countless ways to masturbate effectively and I urge everyone to try as many as they can," says Annabelle. "You will probably settle on five or six methods you know deliver for you. But masturbation can become boring if you use the same techniques every time. Variety really is the spice of life when it comes to sex. So mix it up. Maybe play with a sex toy one day, the next try reading some sex stories and then mix it up further on another occasion by remembering some of your most memorable sexual encounters while rubbing your clitoris with your hand.”

And don't worry if something doesn't work for you. "Masturbation is like all sex: it's a question of trial and error," says Annabelle. "Experiment with various techniques and toys and establish what works better for you. No two women are the same.”

Alix suggests incorporating condoms and lube into your alone time. “Try slipping a textured condom over your go-to dildo. They’re ribbed for added sensation and make clean-up easier if you’re playing on your period as well," Alix says. 

She adds that lube can also make a big difference to pleasure, especially if you suffer from vaginal dryness or experience irritation down below. 

woman thumbs up on orange background

(Image credit: Getty Images)

Could I be masturbating too much? 

Spending more time with your hands in your pants and thinking you might be enjoying your own pleasure a little too much? Don't worry, there's no such thing as too much me-time unless it starts to affect how you live your life.

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

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 big boys down for a few weeks,” says Alix.

How do I masturbate in front of my partner?

If one of your sexual fantasies involves masturbating in front of your partner, but you've always been too shy to suggest it, it's time for that to change. 

“Even though we've come a long way in our journey to sexual empowerment, many women still have a stigma attached to masturbation," says Annabelle. "It's a private activity that is certainly not talked about, let alone performed in front of another person, so I understand why some women might feel a don't a bit self-love-shy."

"Yes, giving your partner a front-row seat to such an intimate experience might feel a bit intimidating at first," says Annabelle. "But keep in mind that this is not just a treat for them; sharing your solo sex sessions with a partner can actually be a sensual and stimulating experience for you too."

Just like mindful tantric sex, masturbation can be a great tool for creating more intimacy between you and your sex partner. 

"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. 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."

What's more, letting your partner have a peek into your self-love routine can be a great learning experience, says Annabelle. "If the goal of sex is to have the hottest and most satisfying experience you can have, then who better to teach them how to please you, than you?”

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 theHealth Food Manufacturers’ Association (HFMA) Journalist of the Year Award 2021. 


Currently Acting 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. In fact, having previously been the go-to sex columnist for Now magazine, there isn't much she won't discuss when it comes to women's health. This makes her the best person to review must-buy sex toys, describe how to have a mind-blowing orgasm or explain how to navigate sex in the shower without it ending in a medical emergency. 


While not anti-gym, Faye’s fitness routine is more focussed on finding inner balance rather than burning excess calories. An advocate of mindfulness, she loves power breathing, yoga and plenty of walking in nearby woodlands rather than a sweaty HIIT class. Follow her @fayetuned