6 Steps To Better Solo Sex, According to Sex Therapists

It's absolutely worth taking your time with masturbation, whether you're using a vibrator or exploring erogenous zones that need a little extra love.

Let’s face it: masturbation can get a little rote. We close the blinds, visit our go-to Pornhub categories, find something agreeable on page however-long-it-takes-to-find-something, and get the job done. Wham-bam, thank you, ma’am.

But what’s the rush? While it’s true we’re often crunched for time, there’s something to be said for savouring the moment instead. Sex therapists and educators agree.

“A lot of folks regard masturbation as a quick one-and-done release as opposed to a celebratory pleasure practice,” said Amy Baldwin, a sex and relationship coach and co-host of the Shameless Sex Podcast. “If you put more into it, you can experience heightened pleasure and more powerful and abundant orgasms.”

It makes complete sense that most of us opt for quick masturbation, when you think of how little we’re taught about it growing up. Maybe you once got in trouble for touching yourself as a kid or maybe you never heard a word about what masturbation was or entailed from your parents. It certainly gets the short shrift during sex education.

On top of that, Baldwin said, “a lot of folks learned to move quickly in fear of mum or dad walking in the room when they were young.”

Luckily, we can work to embrace a more mindful, satisfying version of masturbation.

“Because the brain is the largest sex organ, people can learn to retrain their brain and body to feel pleasure in new ways,” Baldwin said. “When folks start to learn about intentional masturbation, they often experience more feeling and sensation including heightened pleasure and more powerful and abundant orgasms.”

“This is because intentional masturbation often leads to more connection to the body, and a lot can happen when we are fully present for all of the sensations,” she explained.

Certainly sounds more enjoyable than that “wham-bam, thank you, ma’am” scenario we described earlier, huh? Below, sex-perts like Baldwin offer their best advice for taking solo sex to the next level.

Masturbation deserves to be celebrated just as much as partnered sex, sex therapists said.
Carol Yepes via Getty Images
Masturbation deserves to be celebrated just as much as partnered sex, sex therapists said.

Set the mood. Make it sexy for you.

Set the vibe before getting serious, Baldwin said. If she has the time and a desire to connect with her body and her sensuality, she has a long, vibe-setting process to make masturbating extra special.

“I dim the lights ― I’m a huge fan of red lighting ― put on some sexy music, dance naked in front of the mirror for a bit and then let my hands love all over my body until they make their way to my genitals where I will take my time by feeling every sensation,” she said. “This whole process can last anywhere from 20 minutes to an hour.”

Pay attention to your body and explore new erogenous zones.

If you’re quick to masturbate, you probably have learned the easiest way to get yourself off ― your personal code to the “Big O.” And there’s nothing wrong with a quickie; it relaxes you and gives you a lovely endorphin high.

But it pays off dividends to slow down a whole lot and really try to feel one with your body, said Sari Cooper, a sex therapist and director of the Center for Love and Sex in New York City.

“That means giving yourself time with your embodied self by taking deep breaths from the lower stomach and becoming aware of each part and how it’s feeling,” she said. “That means touching your body all over erogenous zones to wake each area up.”

Play with parts of your body that you usually leave untouched while fantasising, watching porn, reading erotica, or listening to the Dipsea or any other erotica apps. Stimulate to build the arousal, Cooper said.

“Notice the new sensations or thoughts that percolate and ebb and flow ― this is to be expected, not every sexual experience is a total trajectory upward toward orgasm,” she said. “And give yourself time to slow the arousal buildup.”

Mix it up with your vibrator.

Maybe you’re doing things digitally or with your pillow, but if you have a vibrator, don’t let it linger on one setting. Play around with all the settings ― that’s what they’re there for!

“I also recommend using the vibrator on different parts of your body in addition to your genitals,” said Heather McPherson, a couple’s therapist and a sex therapist with a group practice in Austin and Denver called Respark Therapy. “It will most likely take a little more time to reach orgasm and that’s OK. Take your time, relax and settle in. The goal is to explore all the different ways you can experience pleasure.”

Playing around with a vibrator might not be top of mind for male-identified individuals, McPherson said, but there are great sex toys on the market for people with penises, too. Consider trying a non-vibrating sex toy.

“This could be a glass dildo, a cock ring or a butt plug. Be patient with yourself when trying out a new toy,” she said. “The goal is exploring different ways to pleasure yourself.”

Don’t think you have to orgasm. Just enjoy yourself, fully and without judgment or guilt.

As with sex, orgasm shouldn’t be the be-all and end-all goal. When you make sex or solo play so goal-oriented, it kills the joy. Mindful masturbation means approaching the experience with curiosity, openness and non-judgment, said Janet Brito, a psychologist and sex therapist in Honolulu.

“Allow yourself to experience self-pleasure instead of getting caught up in the cycle of sexual performance which tends to lead to feelings of anxiety, pressure and unworthiness,” she said. “Getting it done just for the sake of getting it done is performance, a task.”

Instead, Brito said, “engage in a more mindful masturbation that allows one to be with oneself, to learn about how to please oneself, soothe oneself, and nurture one’s soul and body.”

In these highly stressful times, you might want to think of masturbation as a necessity to your self-care routine.

Savour that climax.

If you do end up climaxing, give yourself time to savour the feelings that come afterward, Cooper said. Sit back and ride it out.

“Sometimes there are after-quakes that can be really pleasurable if one gives relaxed attention to it,” she said.

Keep in mind: If you’re good at masturbating, it’ll up your partnered sex game, too.

At the end of the day, you’ll have a lot more fun with masturbation if you stop thinking of it as the lesser cousin to partnered-up sex. In “The Ethical Slut: A Practical Guide to Polyamory, Open Relationships, and Other Freedoms in Sex and Love,” psychotherapist Dossie Easton tells readers to flip the script on how they view masturbation.

“Write this on your mirror: Sexually successful people masturbate,” she says. “You are not jerking or buzzing off because you are a loser, because you can’t find anyone to play with, or because you are desperate to get your rocks off. You’re making love to yourself because you deserve pleasure, and playing with yourself makes you feel good.”

That’s a great way to put it, even if you find the phrase “making love” icky. Diction aside, Easton nails her point: Solo sex is all about prioritising you and your pleasure and about loving your body.

It’s an opportunity to put yourself first and to be completely selfish for once, Cooper said.

“The focus of taking the time to give yourself a wonderful sexual experience is an act of love,” she said. “A quickie can be loving depending on intention. If it’s just to help you fall asleep or done to release tension, that’s also fine.”

And if you still have partnered sex on the brain, take heart in knowing that solo play is good for that, too. If you know how to pleasure yourself and what types of touch and stimulation you enjoy, you’ll have vastly better sexual experiences with partners because you can communicate what you want, McPherson said.

“Intentional and pleasure-focused masturbation can absolutely lead to more confidence with your lover or future partner,“ she said. “Mindful masturbation can help you slow down and savor it instead of rushing toward orgasm.”

Solo, YOLO is a series on solo sex from HuffPost US. From masturbation to porn habits, sex toys to safe virtual sex, we’ve curated expert tips on getting it on ... with yourself.