It’s a strange time to try to add novelty to any sexual relationship, including the one you have with yourself. Getting off (however you're doing it) might feel sort of stale and predictable at the moment: It's more difficult than usual to hook up with other people, and people might be either isolated from or spending way more time than usual with their partners. That's where you come in—all on your own. Whether or not you're having sex with other people, reconfiguring your masturbation habits can make things feel fresher and just… better, in general.
Maybe your masturbation routine is great and you wouldn’t change a thing about it. But if you’re longing for sexual variety of any kind, feeling slightly bored, or missing the variety of having sex with strangers, this is a great time to experiment. You don’t need a partner to try out a new position, discover a new fantasy, or otherwise introduce yourself to parts of sex you're curious about.
Here are some ideas for refreshing your masturbation routine—and maybe even finding hot new things to add to your roster for keeps, or to try with a partner later on.
Set a mood with your surroundings, just like you might if a new partner was coming over.
Treat your solo time like a hot date. Light some candles, turn on a sexy playlist (like this one, or this one) or a soothing sound bath, and take your time getting comfortable. Emily Nagosi, the author of Come as You Are, also offers free worksheets about how to figure out the contexts in which you feel good. (Even though "worksheets" maybe doesn't suggest "hot and sexual experiences ahead," they're actually pretty useful.)
As you get your space ready, account for what would feel good in an environmental sense. “Consider your five senses, and try new ways of stimulating them,” said Kamil Lewis, an associate marriage and family therapist who offers sex therapy services. “Maybe you add in a pleasurable smell; maybe you change the material of the sheets.” Setting up a more intentional-feeling atmosphere means treating yourself with the effort and attention that makes being with others feel special.
Experiment with sex toys you haven't used before or use the toys you have in a new way.
“Folks often think about masturbation as ‘about the destination,’ [so they] reach for whatever gets them to orgasm most quickly during solo play,” said queer sex therapist Casey Tanner. There’s nothing wrong with sticking a favorite toy you know will get the job done, but if you’re looking for a little more excitement, there are different ways to use what you have, and plenty of all-new-to-you toys to try.
External vibrators are beloved for a reason. Small, bullet-shaped options like the Zee by Dame Products, Zip from Unbound, and Crave Bullet provide targeted stimulation to the nipples, clitoris, perineum, or anywhere else that feels good. Palm-size external vibrators and vibrating wands, like the classic Magic Wand and Ollie from Unbound, can also be used anywhere on the body and outside the genitals.
Another way to ease into experimentation is to focus on the nipples, which might be more physically accessible and easier to reach than the genitals. Use a vibrator or fingertips to lightly flick, tickle, and massage them before you move on to other areas, or try a pair of nipple suction suction massagers like the Cloud 9 set Lewis recommended. A nipple and clit clamp from Unbound can offer a bit more intensity, and stays on while you touch other parts of your body or change positions. The clit attachment is optional and removable for people who don’t have a clitoris, or want to wear it on their nipples only.
Maybe you’ve always wanted to try anal play or prostate stimulation. “Consider buying a butt plug to insert while you touch other parts of your body,” said Lewis. Start with plenty of toy-safe lube and with a set of beginner-friendly-sized toys, like the Silicone Anal Starter Kit from Enby, or the vibrating Petite from b-Vibe.
For more intense penetration, the Avant D3 Summer Fling Silicone Dildo has strategically-placed curves that stimulate the prostate or G-spot, and a suction-cup base that frees up your hands to touch your nipples, clitoris, or penis while you straddle. The suction-cupped end of the Lovehoney Super Soft Silicone Rainbow Dildo also makes it easy to experiment with different positions and environments—it stays securely attached to the side of a tub or shower wall while you thrust.
“If you usually stroke your genitals, try a masturbation sleeve and some lube,” said Smith. The Tenga Flip Zero, Fun Factory Manta, and Fleshlight Quickshot are some recently popular ones that work for people with penises. Paired with a water-based lube, this genital stroker designed for transgender men can also be used to emulate squeezing and suction.
For people with clitorises, Lewis recommends trying a two-pronged vibrator or Womanizer suction toy, which uses soft bursts of air to emulate a clit-sucking sensation. Try the hands-free or dual stimulation options, or popular variations on the classic from Unbound, Lelo, and We-Vibe.
Use lube and other gels that you might not usually make a part of masturbation.
Lube isn’t just for penetration with a partner—it’s essential anytime you're putting something in your butt to stimulate your prostate, or just using your fingers. Stock up on a water-based jelly formula that’s safe to use with prostate stimulators like the Aneros MGX Trident massager, or, if you have a G-spot, pair an internal vibrating wand or dual-action vibrator with this G-spot-stimulating lube from Unbound.
Grab a body-safe massage oil, like Maude’s multi-use oil no. 0, or additive-free coconut oil and warm up your usual routine by massaging your body using a toy or your hands.
Vary the speeds and techniques you usually use while touching yourself.
Whether you use a toy or your hands (or both), try switching up your speed and movement patterns. “If you usually use circular motions [while touching yourself], try mixing in some long, linear strokes,” said sex and relationship therapist Shadeen Francis. “Explore the difference between shallow and deep penetration, between fast and slow thrusting, or with no thrusting at all.” You might also try indirect stimulation by touching yourself over your clothes or underwear.
Using only your hands can be a fun precursor to how you usually use toys, or you can make it the main event.
Mix in some edging—a technique where you slowly bring yourself close, but not completely, to the point of orgasm. “When you feel like you are about to climax, back off of the sensation and try again,” said Lewis. “This leads to a more intense orgasm.”
Touch new parts of your body.
“If you always use a vibrator, switch it up: Try penetration with fingers or a toy at the same time, or use lube if you've never used it before,” said Erica Smith, a Philadelphia-based sex educator. You can also use the toys you've got on different parts of your body than you usually might.
Try focusing your attention on different areas of your body—even the parts you might not always think of as sexy. “[Some people think] that only nipples and genitalia are sexual body parts, [so we] often neglect our many other erogenous zones, such as the nape of the neck, stomach, feet, lower back, and inner thighs,” said Tanner. If you're going for hard-to-reach places, Tanner recommended a massage wand like the LELO Smart Wand 2.
“See what kinds of touch other parts of your body might find pleasurable, like your lips or your chest… or your elbow,” said Francis.
You don’t need a partner to try out a new sex position. “Most sex positions that we can do with partners are also available to us solo,” said Tanner. Even a small adjustment—like flipping over in bed—can make solo sex feel more exciting. “For folks who tend to masturbate on their back, what would it be like to try masturbating on their stomach?” Tanner said. “For folks who masturbate in bed, I'll encourage them to try it in the bath or shower.” Try moving to a chair or the couch, if you have the space and privacy—or just sit up, get on your knees, or lie on your stomach if those aren't positions you'd usually choose.
You can even just switch up your schedule to make your environment feel different: “If you typically masturbate at night right before going to sleep, consider masturbating in the morning or afternoon,” said Lewis. A mid-day masturbation session can break the monotony of your usual routine while helping to relieve stress and increase your focus, Lewis explained. This small change might also inspire you to get more creative with different positions or parts of your body you don’t usually explore.
Be your own voyeur.
If you're comfortable with the idea of making a video: Watching yourself can be hot. Try positioning yourself in front of your bedroom mirror or phone camera while you do your thing. Play it back during your next solo session, or show it to a trusted sexting partner if you’re feeling adventurous. Inviting your partner to watch or join you can also be hot, and might even become a part of your regular repertoire if it turns out you're both into it.
Expand your porn horizons.
If you’re new to watching porn, take some time before you dive right in and start browsing. Ask yourself what really turns you on, and research a few sites or specific videos you’d like to watch in the future. Queer-inclusive and independently owned sites, like QueerPorn.tv, PinkLabel TV, CrashPad, and Indie Porn Revolution, showcase a wide spectrum of body types, gender expressions, and intensity levels, and they're easy to browse if you’re not sure what you’re into yet.
If you usually watch porn videos, explore a new category, genre, or style of porn that you might not usually watch, or experiment with a different approach. “You might even try sensory deprivation, like a blindfold or closing your eyes,” Francis suggested. Audio porn, written erotica, and erotic podcasts like Dipsea might also turn you on in ways you're not used to—and that you might end up liking a lot.
When so little else is exciting right now, making the choice to feel good in new ways can be rad in ways beyond just having more fun while you're jerking off (which is, to be clear, still a great reason on its own).
“Pleasure is not a reward—it's a necessary part of our wellness," said Francis. “As more people are feeling the effects of consistent uncertainty, higher levels of stress, and relationship disruption like isolation or overexposure, it's more important than ever that we dedicate intentional time to feeling good.” Regardless of your situation, it's always a good time to find new ways to enjoy yourself.
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