Masturbation is a deeply personal activity-what feels good for one person can be a total fail for another. Yet when a woman is depicted on screen pleasuring herself, she's typically shown on her back in a satin robe on a luxurious king-size bed, or reclining in a steamy bubble bath illuminated by candles.
Gauzy scenes like these are not what masturbation looks like to most women, including the ladies we spoke to. These solo sex fans (almost 80 percent of women do it, according to one survey) agreed to open up about how they get themselves off in order to demystify female masturbation and show how much it varies from woman to woman-from the hand moves they use to if they stand, kneel, or lie down to whether porn or sex toys are part of the repertoire.
We believe it's important to show how women masturbate-to normalize it and spread the word that there's no right or wrong way to do it; it's all about finding your own groove that feels good. Use these 15 masturbation techniques from people with vaginas for inspiration and motivation.
"I like to masturbate sitting up on my knees, with my feet back and my knees pointed out to the sides, sort of like cowgirl position. I'll put a pillow or towel between my legs and grind against it to stimulate my clitoris. I can use my imagination, but I like to watch porn, so I'll look up whatever scene I want to see and try to find a good video for it. The whole thing probably takes 15 minutes, between finding the right porn, having a few orgasms, and then relaxing for a bit afterward. I masturbate whenever I'm turned on but don't have access to a partner. It helps me let go of tension, anger, or nervous energy."
"I do it while lying on my back in bed, preferably when it's quiet. I use my imagination and my hands, and I'll spend 25 minutes making myself orgasm. Afterward, I feel relieved and tired."
"I'm very turned on by a man going down on a woman, so I'll find video clips that show oral sex. I've used a vibrator before, but I honestly don't like it very much. I prefer using my fingers. Vibrators almost make me orgasm too quickly, and I like to draw it out. Typically I spend 15 to 20 minutes doing it, but if I'm having a lazy Sunday I might watch porn and take my time and not even begin to touch myself right away. But I also like to do it as soon as I wake up-I swear it gives me a jolt of energy to start my day-or right before bed. I feel energized after, and consider it me-time."
"Masturbation makes me feel relaxed and happy. I like to be on my back in bed when I do it, and the quieter it is, the better. Sometimes I use my imagination, but usually I watch porn on PornHub. I love a vibrator but I don't always use it. Sometimes I come too fast with it and it feels better when I don't use it every time. For me, 5 to 20 minutes of masturbation is good."
"I start on my back in bed, sort of in the reclining goddess yoga position. I like it to be quiet, but sometimes I'll turn on a white noise machine. Occasionally I use a vibrator, but typically just my hand and my mind. I spend 10-25 minutes doing it, and some extra time relaxing afterward. Sometimes, masturbating makes me feel great emotionally, and other times it makes me feel not-great emotionally. But usually I'm relaxed and tired after. Often the orgasms are more intense than with a partner."
"When I masturbate, I'm laying in bed on my back, with my legs splayed under the covers. I prefer to have music on, and I like to watch porn. I like Redtube, Dane Jones, or amateur porn. I have a Hitachi Magic Wand, so that's what I use, and I might spend hours masturbating. It makes me feel euphoric sometimes, and sometimes sad."
"Masturbation makes me feel relaxed and satisfied. I always lay face down in my bed when I masturbate, and I like to use my imagination or read fiction stories for material. I just use my hands, usually for 15 to 25 minutes."
"The position I prefer is laying down on my back or stomach in bed, but sometimes I'll do it standing up if it's at work-in the bathroom, obviously! I try to avoid fluorescent lighting. I don't usually use porn, but if I do, it's Erica Lust's stuff. I masturbate with my hands, usually for 5 to 10 minutes. I do it when my horniness has gotten to the point of distraction at work, or if I feel like it could lead me to embarrass myself by coming on to someone."
"I like to use toys when I masturbate. My favorites are the Njoy Toys Pure Wand ($140; amazon.com) for G-spot stimulation and the Jimmy Jane Form 2 Clit Vibrator ($160; jimmyjane.com) for clit action. The Jimmy Jane one is also great with partners."
10. Try the bed, or the couch
"I like to masturbate when I'm at home alone, on the bed or couch. The atmosphere doesn't really matter to me-basically if I'm home alone with some time to kill, that's good enough for me, and I'll spend 15 to 20 minutes doing it. I like to use my imagination. I don't use any toys either, but I'm always playing with the idea of investing in one. Masturbating makes me feel relaxed and happy. I like spending time with myself in any context, so the O is just and added bonus."
"I masturbate in my bed, laying on my back, and I like to have background music on or videos as stimuli and for privacy. I'll use my imagination and porn, and I usually go to Pornhub. I use my hands-I haven't experimented with toys on my own but I am interested. After 30 minutes to an hour, I feel de-stressed, more focused, or sometimes more in touch with hidden or suppressed emotions."
"Sometimes masturbating makes me sad afterwards because I don't have a partner. But physically, it feels good and it's like self-care. I like to lie on my back in bed and have white noise on; that drowns out the vibrator sounds so the neighbors can't hear. I use my imagination, not porn. I use a vibrator, quick and clean. I try to masturbate every day, usually for one to 10 minutes because I think it's healthy physically and mentally and I don't have a partner in my life right now."
"I masturbate on my stomach in bed, and I like the room to smell good and be quiet. I use just my imagination, and I like toys. I don't do it for any set amount of time, it just depends how much time I have. It makes me feel amazing, the best."
"Masturbating doesn't always leave me 100% satisfied and sometimes I'm more horny than when I began, but it does make me feel relieved from stress. I lie on my stomach in bed and watch porn sometimes; I prefer YouPorn. Sometimes I use a vibrator, but very rarely. I like it to be quiet and I usually spend 3 to 10 minutes."
"I like to masturbate laying down in bed-it's usually quick, right before bed, when it's dark and quiet. I use my imagination and use the Trojan Vibrating Tri-phoria ($130; amazon.com). It's super mini and comes with a good range of settings. I don't spend more than 10 minutes tops doing it. It makes me feel tired, so I usually do it and fall asleep immediately after, so it's sort of calming and soothing in that way."