Female masturbation optimization

Dear Alice,

Your masturbation section is overflowing with male inquiries, so I thought I'd throw my question in to add some variety. What are ways to optimize female masturbation? I often read dirty books to get things going, but I don't always reach my intended destination. I have trouble reaching orgasm while flying solo, and I'd really like to learn more about the female erogenous zones and how to optimize my masturbation experience. Basically, how can I best bring myself to pleasure through self-stimulation?

Dear Reader, 

Thank you for pointing out an area that needs more attention! Self-stimulation, also known as masturbation, is a great way to learn more about your sexual fantasies and preferences. Understanding and recognizing what turns you on can help to optimize your masturbation experience. Some ways to explore this include figuring out your favorite erogenous zones on the body, changing your method of stimulation, and finding other external stimuli that can help you achieve climax. Sometimes, even with all the proper tools and a perfect environment, you may not be able to reach orgasm (and that's okay!). If your inability to achieve an orgasm becomes a persistent issue, it may be related to what’s known as anorgasmia. More on this and ways to increase your ability to orgasm later. 

Identifying erogenous zones, or points on the body (apart from the genitals) that you can touch to stimulate pleasure, is a great first step in optimizing your masturbation routine. These points on the body are said to have heightened sensitivity and can help generate a greater, more intense sexual response when masturbating. Your erogenous zones not only elicit sexual arousal when touched but can also enhance sexual pleasure through their visual appeal alone. In a study that looked at erogenous zones for people who identified as male and female, those who identified as female were more aroused when looking at breasts and buttocks while touching their own breasts, inner thighs, lips, and buttocks. 

This isn’t to say that all people who identify as female will enjoy being stimulated in these ways. Think back to your own previous sexual experiences: Have there been areas you touched that were more arousing? Does looking at certain parts of the body turn you on? The body is full of erogenous zones (like nipples, earlobes, armpits, feet, stomach, or neck), so what floats your boat will be uniquely yours. 

When it comes to the nether regions, there are several options of spots to attend to: the ever-popular clitoris, the vagina, and even the labia. Have you considered using a vibrator or other mechanical devices to help achieve orgasm? There are multiple methods of stimulation whether it’s a manual endeavor or using an object like a vibrator, dildo, or water from a showerhead. There are a myriad of techniques that can affect sensation, such as speed, pressure, position, and depth. 

External stimuli can also be helpful in optimizing masturbation. Mindset and fantasizing could make a big difference in your level of solo pleasure and enjoyment. You mention reading dirty books to get into the mood, have you considered expanding beyond books? If you love to read erotica, perhaps you might also like listening to someone else narrate a scenario or seeing pictures or videos of those scenes being acted out. The internet is a great place to start scoping these different methods of stimulation. 

Maybe you've come to a point where you feel like you've tried all different methods and entertainment to help optimize your orgasm, but nothing seemed to work. While there isn’t a limit to creative thinking, non-sexy distractions (such as work or your to-do list) can be real buzzkills. Sexual response includes both the mind and body working together, so if these two parts aren't in congruence, this may pose a challenge when trying to reach orgasm. Have you been stressed, fatigued, or depressed recently? How has your previous sexual experience shaped the way you feel about masturbation? The mind can also be strongly influenced by the setting. Do you feel comfortable in the setting you're masturbating in? Is there a lot of external noise that prevents you from focusing on the task at hand? After taking some time to reflect on these questions, if it’s possible, consider changing your environment or different factors and explore what works best for you. 

If trying new things and changing up your routine doesn’t prove helpful in enhancing your masturbation experience, there’s the possibility that something deeper is going on. One consideration is that you are experiencing anorgasmia. Anorgasmia is when a person can’t achieve orgasm despite adequate stimulation. It also includes orgasms that aren't as strong or don't happen as frequently as an individual would hope. This type of sexual dysfunction is something that can impact anyone and may cause additional distress. Meeting with a mental health professional may help with anorgasmia symptoms as well as uncover any underlying mental health issues that might be contributing to your lack of orgasm. You may also consider meeting with a medical provider to discuss issues you're encountering while trying to orgasm so they too can provide suggestions for increasing pleasure. 

Whatever you do, there's no wrong way to masturbate. Variety is the key to discovering and creating new ways of having orgasms, feeling sexually aroused, and being stimulated! 

Last updated Sep 22, 2023
Originally published Jun 10, 2014

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