When it comes to learning your body and sexual preferences, masturbation can be your ground zero. It’s a great way to learn which areas of your body make you feel good, what kind of touch, motion, and pressure you like, and the positions that work for you. But if you’re a seasoned masturbator — as many of us are — you might find yourself stuck in a routine. But it’s never too late to reinvigorate your solo sex life and learn new ways to use the time to explore new fantasies, types of touch, orgasm, or fantasies. Here are a few suggestions on how you can start to spice up your time alone.
1. Practice new breathing techniques
If you’ve been stuck in a routine for a long time, switching things up can feel a bit daunting. For that reason, it can be a good idea to start with the basics, like practicing different breathing techniques. In a paper titled Pleasure and Health, published by the Nordic Association for Clinical Sexology in 2012, sexologist Karoline Bischof writes that many people tense their muscles, remain still and hold their breath when trying to have an orgasm during solo sex. She writes that high muscle tension and restricted breathing reduces blood flow and limits your pleasure. Instead, Bischof recommends breathing from the belly, swinging the pelvis, and rhythmically using muscle tension (alternating between tensing and releasing your muscles).
Dania Schiftan and Nicole Kim, authors of Coming Soon, recommend connecting the breath with pelvic movement. Place one hand on your belly and breathe deeply. Next, swing the pelvis forward and exhale. This movement is called the pelvic swing, and it can maximize sexual pleasure, according to Schiftan and Kim.
2. Try new positions
Another basic way to start mixing things up during solo time, is to simply change positions. When it comes to positions, many of us find ourselves always masturbating in the same way. If you always masturbate lying flat on your tummy or back, for example, try to position yourself differently to test if the sensation is better or worse. Just as you would with partnered play, you can try sitting, standing, doggy style, etc. While it’s a simple change, a new position might just elevate your experience in unexpected ways.
3. Rely on imagination instead of porn
When masturbating, it can be easy to be on autopilot if you’re always clicking the same go-to porn site, category, and search. Try to instead rely on your own brain and imagine various scenarios that turn you on. This can help you feel more tuned in to what really turns you on and how those thoughts make you feel physically. It’s a good way to start practicing mindfulness during solo time and to pay attention to the sensations in your body, and to the places your brain wants to go when you’re on the edge of orgasm. If you spend a period of time only using your imagination, it can make porn feel that much better when you do go back to it.
4. Take your orgasm to the next level by edging
One way to heat up your solo time is to try edging, the act of delaying orgasm for as long as possible. Go right to the edge and then stop. Wait a second and then do it again. See how many times you can edge before you explode. For many people, the longer you delay orgasm, the bigger the bang.
Another variation on this idea for vulva owners is slow sex. According to sex educator Lucia Pavone, vulva owners should try spending several minutes to an hour just stimulating the upper left quadrant of the clitoris. Edging during solo sex is also great practice if you’re interested in trying it out with a partner.
5. Incorporate sensation play
If masturbating feels boring, it might be because you’re only focusing on the more obvious parts of the body. Go beyond the genitals and try sensation play, which involves engaging all of your senses: taste, touch, sound, and sight in the pursuit of pleasure.
Start simple, using your hands to caress your entire body: arms, legs, belly, breasts, feet, etc. And when you finally do touch your genitals, go beyond just the clitoris or penis. Stimulate your labia, or scrotum and the entrance to your vagina or anus. Try different types of pressure and motion: tapping, pressing, vibrating, stroking, etc. If you're a penis owner, stimulate your balls by stretching or stroking.
Move beyond your own fingers, and incorporate tools you have around the house. See how a spoon or fork feels dragged across your skin, for example. Use feathers, a hair or make-up brush. Titillate your other senses by burning incense, lighting candles, moving an ice cube across your stomach, watching porn, listening to sexy sounds, and eating luscious foods like peaches or chocolate-covered strawberries. Sensation play doesn’t have to require buying equipment as your own home is likely full of objects that can elicit different feelings on your body.
6. Practice mindfulness
Some people zone out during solo sex. Even watching porn can sometimes take you out of your body. Instead, spend some time focusing on the sensations that your body is creating.
Psychologist Lorri Brotto’s book, Better Sex Through Mindfulness: How Women Can Cultivate Desire has some great exercises for your alone time. When you masturbate, turn your attention to what you are doing and immerse yourself in the experience.
When you stimulate your clitoris or penis, pay attention to how your genitals feel. What sensations do you notice? Try to become aware of your arousal on a moment by moment basis. Do you notice tingling, warmth, or stretching? What body parts feel great when stimulated besides your naughty bits? According to Dr. Brotto, “mindfulness can significantly improve various aspects of sexual functioning, mood, and quality of life, and we know that modifying attention appears to be a key ingredient in that process.”
7. Experiment with different fantasies
You may have at some point forgotten that masturbation is the best time to sexually explore your own fantasies and test new boundaries before introducing them to a partner. The simplest way to test the waters of what’s out there, is to look at the various categories on a porn site, and hit a random one and start your exploring adventure. You might find different scenarios that strike your fancy. Expand on the fantasy using your imagination.
You might imagine yourself and another person playing out a role play scene, or you may find BDSM categories interesting. Perhaps you’ll come across equipment, like ropes and restraints, you haven’t tried before that seem appealing. Imagining these things during solo play is a good way to test how much the fantasy turns you on and if you’d like to actually try it out during partnered play at some point.
8. Watch yourself
One of the sexiest and most informative things you can do is to watch yourself masturbate. You can get dolled up for your own photo or video shoot or just use mirrors. Not only can this feel very hot for some people, but it can also help you learn to appreciate your own sexiness. After all, it can be freeing to realize that your O face is sexy.
Somatic sex educator Caitlin K. Roberts writes in Toronto Star: “Put on something you feel super-hot in, put on some sultry tunes, get a mirror, admire yourself, take pictures with a timer,” she says. “Acknowledge the beauty of your body and how taking the time to adorn and preen can be a way of worshipping and honoring yourself.”
9. Attempt to have a different type of orgasm
Most women and people with vulvas masturbate by stimulating the clitoris, but that’s not the only way to have an orgasm. Orgasm can occur from nipple, G-spot, and cervical stimulation. People with penises are also not limited to just the penis. The prostate gland, which can be reached through the anus, can lead to orgasm in some cases.
Shiftan and Kim believe that women and people with vulvas can train themselves to come through G-spot or cervical stimulation by incorporating the vagina into masturbation. There are sex toys made especially for G-spot play, like the Pure Wand, a stainless steel dildo that makes a solo orgasm more likely. The G-spot is usually on the upper vaginal wall but can be tricky to stimulate alone. For penis owners, the prostate gland can be stimulated with an Aneros device. Another popular option is Hugo, by Swedish sex toy company Lelo. Hugo is a remote-controlled vibrating prostate massager that can enhance solo or partner play.
The bottom line
There’s nothing wrong with having a solo sex routine that reliably gets you off. But you might want to try new things to see what your body is capable of experiencing. Masturbation allows you to focus totally on yourself without worrying about what someone else thinks or needs. And this means that you can experiment in a low-stress environment. Switching things up from time to time can make solo sex more exciting, and it can be a great way to learn about your body and practice new sex skills. So try new things, get a new toy, expand your solo sex horizons. You’ll never know what you might discover about yourself.