[Content Warning: This page discusses a number of masturbation techniques in detail. Anatomy will be referenced where necessary.]

A number of people have expressed interest in trying to masturbate, but have also expressed a desire to avoid touching their genitals directly while doing so. This page explores a number of options. Some of these are a bit more “hands on”, but none of them require direct contact between hands and genitals.

All of these techniques will take practice. You should not expect hours of earth-shattering orgasmic bliss on the first try. If you don’t have an orgasm, that’s not a failure! Try to get somewhere that feels good, and build on that next time. You may never end up having an orgasm with some of these techniques, and that’s okay. Focus on what you are getting from the experience, rather than dwelling on what you’re not. You may not even want to have an orgasm, and that’s fine, too.

In some cases, a lot of the reluctance to try masturbating for vulva owners stems from the common misconception that masturbation requires penetration. If you’re in that camp, you may be relieved to know that it does not! For many people, external clitoral stimulation alone is enough to masturbate and reach orgasm. These tips are all possible without penetration, however a handful of them can be adjusted to include non-contact penetration, if desired.

Bad news, I’m afraid. While many of these techniques are possible on a penis, they can be much more difficult than they are with a clitoris. A lot of penis owners may be able to attain some level of pleasure with most of these techniques, but don’t be disappointed if it does not lead to orgasm.

One of the more common ways to masturbate without genital contact is to simply leave your clothes on (or use some other barrier, like a towel or cloth) and rub or stroke your genitals through the clothing. Experiment with different layers, as too many layers may dull the sensation, while too few may be too close for comfort.

This technique is even used by a lot of people who don’t mind direct genital contact for the simple reason that they may find direct stimulation of the clitoris to be too strong and unpleasant. You can also use a lot of toys this way, especially vibrators, as the clothing helps to dampen the sensation somewhat.

This is one of the more difficult techniques to perform on a penis, because of the limited range of motion and limited area of stimulation. Circular rubbing with some pressure on the frenulum area (A bit just below the head of the penis on the “under” side) may provide some success. Other than that, try a few different techniques on a few different areas and see if anything responds.

Using toys is one of the easiest, most effective, and most common ways to masturbate without touching your genitals. Most toys are designed to take the work away from your hands. You can buy toys from many places online, and most will ship in a plain box with no indication of what’s inside. If you’re nervous about buying an actual sex toy, a lot of easily available massagers can be used to masturbate with. (Plus, you can use them on your sore shoulders if you decide you don’t want to use them downstairs.)

Many vibrators are phallic or cylindrical in shape and are designed for penetration, but you do not need to use them for that purpose if that’s not for you.

Vibrators, although common, are unfortunately not the easiest to use on a penis. It may be possible to get some level of pleasure, but it can be difficult to attain orgasm with one, if that’s your goal. A “stroker” sleeve may be more effective.

Some sleeves are on the small side and may not completely prevent your hand from touching your genitals. Sleeves also require some form of lubricant, which may be a non-starter for some people. The lubricant can be applied to the toy itself.

A potential problem you may encounter while using a sleeve is that it may be difficult to get your penis inside it without guidance. With an adequate erection, you can usually angle things in a way that it will work, but it may take a number of tries to get it right. If you’re not completely averse to touching down there briefly, a quick guiding hand, similar to the contact you might make when urinating, will make the entry process easier.

Grinding is a totally hands free way to masturbate. It involves pressing your genitals against something and moving around in a way that stimulates them. It can be done fully clothed, if you want. Pillows, bunched up blankets or towels, chair or couch arms, and mattresses are some common items used for grinding.

Closely related to grinding, a penis can be placed inside or between things like the blankets and pillows mentioned above, and a hip thrusting action can be used to move it around and cause stimulation. Take particular care to avoid anything that’s rough, sharp, or that you can get stuck in. Also, consider using a condom or something like a sock, or this technique can get messy.

You may also find some success by grinding using the perineal area, rather than the penis itself. The perineum is the zone behind the testicles and in front of the anus. Using something like a rolled up bunch of socks or a tennis ball to provide some pressure on that area can sometimes be pleasurable.

A common no-hands masturbation method is to use flowing water. Positioning your genitals under the flow from a bathtub faucet is one way to do this. Using the spray from a handheld shower head is another way. The shower head allows you to try different angles, different spray styles, and target different areas. With either one, be sure to test the temperature first, as water that’s too hold can be painful and too cold can shut everything down.

Pretty much just aim at the clitoris.

Sensitive areas are different for different people and may change during your session. Some commonly responsive areas are the frenulum area (just below the head on the “under” side), and the testicles/perineum zone.

Gloves are a great way to avoid direct contact with the genitals. When wearing them, your hands are fully covered, yet you are still able to stimulate things freely.

However, this method is very similar to direct hand-to-genital stimulation, so it may be too close for comfort for a lot of people.

This is basically the opposite method from using a glove. Instead of covering your hand, cover your genitals with something like a condom or dental dam.

Similar to using a glove, this method may be too close for comfort for many people.

On the negative side, it can be extremely difficult to put on a condom without touching the penis. With practice, it can be unrolled over an erection without touching directly.

On the plus side, if you’re not a fan of ejaculation, a condom is specifically designed to capture that.

Some people can masturbate by squeezing their thighs together and shaking/bouncing their legs. Wearing tight clothes, like jeans, has been reported to be helpful for this technique.

This technique can be extremely difficult and frustrating to try with a penis, because a penis is not in the right position for this, and it can be very uncomfortable to try to bend an erection between your legs.

Squeezing and tensing your muscles downstairs can work for some people. While a lot of the muscles in that area can be used, the primary one to focus on is called the “PC Muscle”. It’s the muscle you would use to control a flow of urine. Experiment with squeezing and holding this muscle, or squeezing and releasing at various speeds, until you find something that works. It may not be much at first, but the sensations can build, if you’re successful.

There are even exercises called “Kegels” which focus on the PC muscle, often with the goal of having stronger orgasms.

So you’re not a fan of touching your genitals, but how do you feel about other areas of your body? Some other areas may be pleasurable to touch and stimulate, such as the chest, nipples, neck, thighs, hair, lower torso, and feet. Nipples in particular can be a highly sensitive zone, regardless of your body type.

Several of the techniques mentioned above can be used together, so try combining them in different ways and see if that helps. Use a toy while grinding. Touch your nipples while using a shower head. The muscle tensing one can be combined with every other technique.

[Content Warning: This page talks about orgasms, with an occasional mentions of anatomy or fluids.]

This is a list of “common knowledge” about orgasms that just plain isn’t true.

This comes from a willful misunderstanding of what asexuality is. They think that someone having a physical response to stimulation, even one done entirely on your own, will somehow invalidate your sexual orientation. That’s just ridiculous.

How is that even supposed to work, anyway? Have an orgasm, and boom! Now you’re straight! Like… Is there some secret coming of age ritual where people are excited to have their first orgasm so that they can finally discover their sexual orientation? It remains a mystery until then, so asexual people are those who never perform the ritual?

Asexual people are allowed to have orgasms. Many of us do. Doesn’t change the fact that we’re ace one bit.

Nope! Not everyone does. Some people can’t have them, some people aren’t interested, and some people haven’t figured it out yet.

It’s okay if you don’t have orgasms.

For some people, orgasms are a highly unpleasant experience for a variety of reasons. Maybe they don’t like the cleanup. Maybe they have guilt. Maybe they’re physically unpleasant or painful. Maybe they’re dysphoria triggering. Maybe they just don’t feel anything. Maybe they merely like them. And the list goes on…

It’s okay if orgasms just aren’t your thing.

Some people really like orgasms and get a significant amount of pleasure from them, and maybe for some people in that group they are the best feeling ever. But that’s not the case for everyone. As mentioned above, some people don’t like them at all. For other people they can range from “meh” to “I guess that was pretty good”, but not be classified as The Best Thing Ever™.

Orgasms can be very different for different people, and even different times for the same person. It’s perfectly fine if you’re not launching fireworks and causing massive earthquakes every time something approaches your genitals.

It is true that in most cases, an orgasm and ejaculation will occur simultaneously for people with a penis, and that they seem inextricably linked, but that is not the case. For some people, a health condition will prevent ejaculation or cause the semen to flow into the bladder instead of the urethra. It’s also possible to intentionally prevent ejaculation during orgasm, either by squeezing part of the penis manually or by tensing the muscles that would normally be involved and holding them until the orgasm subsides.

In any case, an orgasm does not guarantee ejaculation, and ejaculation does not require orgasm.

This can be broken down into a few smaller myths, all equally invalid.

First, there are no adverse health effects to never having an orgasm. Nothing will physically burst, nothing will fall off or fill with cobwebs. Even the claim that they prevent prostate cancer is dubious. If you never have an orgasm, you’ll physically be fine.

Second, for some people, their libido may kick into high gear the longer they go without, and in that sense, it may feel like they’re going to explode in a fireball of horniness if nothing happens. For those people, I guess there may be some metaphorical validity in the idea. But that’s not the case for everyone. Some people have low libidos that can be managed just fine without servicing. And other people have no libido to speak of at all.

Third, there is the possibility of experiencing vasocongestion of the genitals (more commonly known as “blue balls”, although it does not require the presence of balls to occur) after prolonged arousal without orgasm. Essentially, an orgasm will typically open the drain valves to release the blood sent to the genitals during arousal, and so if that doesn’t happen, all the extra blood down there can make things uncomfortable. Slightly uncomfortable. For a small number of people. For a relatively short period of time. And then it goes away. Most, if not all, tales of crippling pain associated with a lack of orgasm are a flat out lie designed to coerce someone into performing a sexual act and not a real condition. So you won’t explode.

Says who? Do you feel like you’ve had enough? Then you’re done. An orgasm is a rather arbitrary milestone.

Additionally, nothing says that an orgasm has to be the end, either. You can often keep going.

Says who? The idea that the orgasm is the ultimate goal of sexual activities is common, but it doesn’t have to be the case. The existence of orgasm-delaying techniques like edging and tantric sex practices prove that the journey itself is often worthwhile. Did you get something from the experience regardless, whether that’s physical pleasure, emotional closeness with a partner, or even something like migraine headache relief? Then that hardly seems like a pointless failure.

Sex an masturbation can be a success without orgasm, you just need to re-examine what you consider your personal success criteria to be.

Like hell it is. I never had an inkling of some mysterious ingrained knowledge that if I just put my hand downstairs and make a particular repetitive motion for several minutes that it will make something happen.

It’s okay to have no earthly idea how to make yourself orgasm. It’s okay to train yourself. It’s okay if it takes practice.

Really loud and vocal, wake-up-the-neighbors orgasms are a cornerstone stereotype that’s so prevalent that it seems like it’s not real if it’s not loud. Not all orgasms are loud, in fact, many of them are completely silent. Decibel level has no bearing on the intensity of an orgasm.

One of the most common myths around orgasm is that vaginal penetration is a good way to get them. Now, it certainly may be possible for some people to get an orgasm from penetration, but that’s not the case for everyone. For a lot of people, clitoral stimulation is required.

This is a particularly insidious myth, because it’s so prevalent and so misleading. A lot of people end up thinking that they’re broken downstairs simply because they’ve always been told that penetration is all there is, without ever hearing that the clitoris is where the action is.

There is nothing wrong with you if you can’t orgasm from penetration alone. Most people don’t.

A lot of sex ed articles have a positive, but misguided attitude. Everyone can have one, they say. Just keep trying! But not everyone can have an orgasm. Some for some people, such as those with anorgasmia, it’s not actually possible. It’s not a matter of figuring it out or doing things the right way, it just isn’t going to happen.

If an inability to orgasm is a problem for you or if it’s a change from the past, then you may want to mention it to a doctor. In general, though, if it’s not a problem for you, then it’s nothing to worry about.

As mentioned above, not everyone can have orgasms. But even putting that aside, the notion of “just try harder” can be counter-productive as well. “Try harder” turns on the pressure and the stress and then when nothing happens, the stress level rises and rises, until inevitably you give up and feel like you’ve failed. You haven’t failed, you just got stuck in a nearly impossible situation.

If you try to force an orgasm to happen, that basically guarantees that it won’t happen. You’re much better off just relaxing and go wherever it takes you. If you don’t orgasm, don’t worry about it. Maybe next time, maybe not.

Conveniently, there’s an entire other page dedicated to this one!

[Content warning: Generalized discussion of the sensations of an orgasm, with a mentions of fluids at several points.]

A lot of aces aren’t sure whether or not they’ve had an orgasm, and the common descriptions are “It Feels Good” and “You’ll Know It When It Happens™”, which aren’t very helpful to a lot of people.

An orgasm is a complex convergence of a lot of different sensations, made even more complicated by the fact that some of these sensations don’t happen every time and their intensity and duration varies wildly, and by the fact that every one of these sensations can happen without orgasm. No two orgasms will be exactly the same. One of the main reasons people resort to the “You’ll Know It When It Happens™” description is that it’s very hard to describe one. It’s also rather embarrassing for most people to go into details, plus, breaking it down into its components can be a bit of a turn-off because it sounds like something you’d call 911 for.

So how can you tell if you’ve had an orgasm? Take a look at the list of sensations below and see what you’ve experienced. An orgasm will feel like a package deal of a number of them happening around the same time, but keep in mind that you likely will not experience all of these. I’ve also grouped the sensations into Before/During/After, although the lines between stages can be a bit fuzzy, especially if you’re not already pretty sure what an orgasm is like.


  • Sensations Are “Stable”: Before an orgasm, many people reach a “plateau”, an area where things kinda remain the same for a while. Level of arousal stays steady, level of pleasure (if any) stays steady, heart rate, breathing, etc. There might be some ups and downs, but in the big picture, it doesn’t change a whole lot. In some cases, there might be a sense that if you keep doing what you’re doing, you can stay in this zone for as long as you want.
  • Building To Something: There can be a sense that something is “building”. A sort of pressure or fullness or tension or something may gradually increase. For many people, this is a sign that they are climbing beyond the plateau and are getting closer to orgasm, but this sensation isn’t usually considered part of the orgasm itself.
  • Up Against A Wall: Sometimes the building sensation gets stuck, in the sense that it feels like there’s a limit that you’ve hit. It seems like there’s something else just ahead, but there’s a block in the road preventing you from moving on.
  • Sporadic Twitching: Areas downstairs might start twitching and squeezing in a sporadic, haphazard way. Not really like a twitchy eyelid, where it’s a fast fluttering, but a slower, deeper sort of tensing. It will often be the muscles used when holding/stopping a flow of urine sort of acting on their own.
  • Sporadic Moaning: During the leadup to an orgasm, people may find themselves moaning or making other semi-involuntary noises. Sometimes these noises are connection to a sense of pleasure, sometimes not.
  • Muscle Tension Outside Of The Genitals: Your legs may stiffen, your back may straighten or arch, and you may experience facial contortions. These can be semi-involuntary, where they’re sort of happening on their own, but you could probably stop them, but at the same time, it may feel like they should be happening, and they may intensify the other sensations, so you let it happen.
  • “I Gotta Pee”: Many people report a sensation like having to urinate during the lead up to an orgasm. It’s a lot of the same parts and same muscles getting involved, so that’s understandable. In most cases, an orgasm will not cause a release of urine, although that is known to happen from time to time.


  • A Sudden Spike/Surge of Pleasure: This is one of the primary signs of an orgasm. In fact, for many people, this is the defining feature of an orgasm. This surge of pleasure is often relatively sudden, relatively short lived, and tends to be considerably stronger than the pleasure experienced leading up to it. However, this is not always the case! The surge of pleasure is not a universal feature of an orgasm. Some people don’t feel this at all, or don’t feel it nearly as strongly as other people do. It is inaccurate, confusing, and misleading to define orgasm simply in terms of pleasure.
  • A Series Of Rhythmic Muscle Spasms/Twitching/Convulsions/Pulsing In Genitals: An orgasm is often accompanied by a series of rhythmic contractions in the genitals. These are a sort of hold-release-hold-release pumping pattern, with about a second or so between events. They’re usually stronger and quicker near the beginning and slower and weaker toward the end. If there is a spike in pleasure, it may come in waves that correspond to these contractions, though not always. The number of contractions can vary wildly from person to person, orgasm to orgasm, but in general it’s in the neighborhood of 5-20-ish, although it can easily be higher or lower.
  • Ejaculation: For someone with a penis, the muscle contractions of an orgasm usually coincide with ejaculation, where each contraction leads to another release of semen. For those people, this is often considered a strong indicator that an orgasm occurred. Contrary to popular belief, however, it is possible for an orgasm to happen without ejaculation and for ejaculation to happen without orgasm. Some people with vulvas may also experience ejaculation, although this is relatively uncommon, and the fluid will not be semen.
  • Increase in Genital Wetness: For some people with vulvas, they may experience an increase in genital lubrication or wetness around the time of an orgasm.
  • Point of No Return: Immediately before orgasm, there can be a sensation where it’s clear that the orgasm is about to happen no matter what. Even if all stimulation stops, the orgasm will proceed in some form anyway. This is probably only recognizable after you’ve experienced a number of orgasms (even if you don’t know that’s what they are). It’s also possible to recognize when you’re about to cross this line before it happens.
  • A Feeling Of Release: Everything that was being built up, all that tension/pressure/warmth/whatever, it all just sort of lets go. You get past the wall or over the hill or the dam breaks and it’s able to run free for a bit.
  • A Distinct Change In Feeling: This is a nebulous point, but in a lot of cases, there’s a sort of feeling that an event is taking place. There’s a sense that there’s a point where something is about to happen, then it happens, then it’s over. Like… Things are different now than they were ten seconds ago.
  • Warmth/Tingly Sensation: A lot of people describe a kind of warmth or fuzziness or tingling sensation that tends to be centered in the genitals, but that may spread to other parts of the body.
  • A Sense Of Auto-Pilot: When orgasm happens, the confluence of events can lead to a temporary feeling like your body has turned on auto-pilot and you’re simply being taken for a ride by the process.
  • Sharp Internal Focus/Less External Awareness: During orgasm, the outside world can fade away, as your focus turned to the events and sensations that are taking place.
  • Non-Genital Muscle Contractions: Many people experience sudden muscle tension in places all over the body when they have an orgasm. These may include facial contortions, toe curling, back arching, and leg stiffening.
  • Full Body Shaking/Shuddering: Sometimes the non-genital muscle convulsions will cause full body shaking or shuddering.
  • Moaning/Vocalizations: Moaning or other noises can also be a feature of an orgasm, although the louder, more theatrical expressions tend to be an exaggerated performance. You’re probably more likely to make a soft “oh” or “mmmhm” than a “YESYESYESYES OHMYGODIMCOMING YESYESOHHHHHHHHYES” type noise.
  • Change In Heart Rate: Orgasms will often increase your heart rate.
  • Change In Breathing: Orgasms will often change your breathing. Quicker, shallower breaths, sometimes even holding your breath may happen.
  • “It Felt Like A Sneeze Downstairs”: I hate this description of an orgasm, but I also think it’s useful as an illustration. An orgasm feels very different from a sneeze. Very different. But a sneeze can provide a common reference point for how the situation proceeds. Like an orgasm, a sneeze has a before, during, and after. Before a sneeze, you may be able to tell that it’s coming through a building sensation. There’s often a point where you know it’s going to happen no matter what, but you can no longer stop it. Afterward, there’s a sense of relief.
  • Over-Sensitivity In Genitals: During orgasm, your genitals may become over-sensitive to the point where attempting to continue even a fraction of the stimulation that brought you there can be extremely uncomfortable and unpleasant. It’s almost like your body is screaming out for you to stop because it’s had enough.
  • Nausea: Sometimes the convergence of sensations can all crash together and leave you feeling a bit queasy.
  • Can’t Hold On To It: Prior to an orgasm, it’s generally possible to maintain consistency, where you remain at the plateau level. Some people deliberately take advantage of this to remain in the pre-orgasm zone for a long time to maximize their pleasure. But once an orgasm hits, it has a course that it runs on its own, and while you might be able to prolong it slightly, you probably can’t keep it going indefinitely.
  • Lasts A Few Seconds To A Minute: The length of time of an orgasm can be very different. Sometimes it’s a few seconds, sometimes it’s closer to a minute. 5-30 seconds seems to be the typical range. However, for some people, perception of time can be a bit skewed, so it might seem like it lasts longer or took less time than it actually did.


  • “Ewww, What Did I Just Do?”: A lot of people report a sudden wave of disgust that comes over them after an orgasm.
  • Loss Of Interest In Sexual Things: For many people, an orgasm shuts off their interest in sexual things for a while. Something that was interesting or exciting just a few moments ago is now just blah. There are many people who seek out orgasms specifically for this response, in order to quiet a nagging libido.
  • “I Gotta Pee”: After all the jostling and contractions and everything else going on, some people say that orgasms make them have to pee. (It may even be useful: Scientists have reported that peeing afterwards can help prevent UTIs in some cases.)
  • Deep Relaxation: An orgasm can often be followed by a period of deep relaxation. A lot of people will masturbate before bed to get this benefit to help them fall asleep.
  • Feeling Stimulated/Wired/Awake: Not everyone gets relaxed after an orgasm. Sometimes its the opposite, where a person will get wired like they got a shot of caffeine.
  • A Sense Of Feeling “Done”: Outside of everything else, an orgasm may lead to a feeling that you’re “done”, that whatever you had been getting from the stimulation is over now, so it’s time do something else. This is different than simply getting bored of what’s going on or a loss of arousal that makes it difficult to continue. This is more like your body suddenly telling you “break time!” after everything happened.
  • Nausea, Headaches, Generally Feeling “Bleh”: For some people, the after-effects of an orgasm can be highly unpleasant. This experience can be bad enough that it will lead some people to avoid orgasms entirely.
  • Loss Of Sensitivity In Genitals: After the orgasm subsides, the over-sensitivity will usually fade, followed by a period where your genitals might not be sensitive at all. In this phase, touching the genitals may not feel much different than touching your arm. It’s like your downstairs bits have decided to take a nap for a bit. This can last for a few minutes to several hours, even days.
  • Loss Of Arousal: After an orgasm, physical arousal may fade somewhat rapidly. This is particularly noticeable in people with penises, where the penis will often revert to a fully flaccid state within a few minutes. In this stage, it may be difficult or even impossible to regain arousal. Even if you are able to, the loss of sensitivity may make it difficult to proceed. Much like the loss of sensitivity, this can last for minute, hours, or days.
  • Time To Cuddle: For people with a partner, the orgasm and many of the after effects can combine and contribute to a strong desire to cuddle.
  • You’ll Know It When It Happens™: And as much as I hate to use this description, one of the ways that many people know they’ve had an orgasm is that they know they’ve had an orgasm. The convergence of events just makes them say “Well, that happened”.

One thing I don’t see get talked about much (if ever) when it comes to masturbation is how inconsistent the process is.  It feels like this is something that may be particularly important for asexual people to hear, given the challenges many ace people have in these areas.


Masturbation is inconsistent.

Well, not just masturbation.  Any kind of genital stimulation, really.  But I’m going to focus on masturbation here.

What works today may not work tomorrow.

How aroused you get today may not be how aroused you get tomorrow.

How strong the sensations are today may not be how strong the sensations are tomorrow.

How quickly you orgasm today may not be how quickly you orgasm tomorrow.

And so on and so on.  Today is not like tomorrow.

It’s not like playing an instrument or baking cookies, where following the same steps each time will lead to the same results, and you’ll refine your technique to perfection with enough practice.

I’ve been practicing regularly for years and I still haven’t figured out how to hit the high notes every time…

That’s not to imply that it isn’t good most of the time.  I can reliably orgasm and it reliably feels pretty good.  But just “pretty good”.  Sometimes only “okay”.  I’ve had “amazing” on occasion, but I have no idea what goes into the recipe that makes it “amazing” vs “okay”, when I’ll do the same thing in the same way and end up with wildly different results.

And I do mean the same thing.  As you may know, masturbating with a penis generally involves enveloping the shaft of the penis and stroking up and down along its length repeatedly.  Well, that action is a fairly easy one to replicate with a reciprocal motor.  So, they’ve made sex toys that do this motion.  And those toys will repeat the same motion exactly, consistently every time.  Speed, pressure, stroke length, etc.  It’s just back and forth the same way until the battery dies.  This, of course, makes it ideal for controlled experimentation.  It removes all the variables of manual stimulation.  By providing controlled, consistent stimulation, you should get controlled, consistent results.


One day, I’ll use that thing and within a few minutes, I’ll have a transcendently powerful orgasm that sweeps my whole body away in ecstasy where it takes thirty seconds before I remember how to breathe.  Next day, it’ll be twenty minutes in and I’ll be practically begging for something to happen so I can be done with it all, because I’m not getting anywhere but I can’t stop since I’ve spent all this time so I’d better get something out of it or it’s all been a waste but it’s starting to get numb so please finish soon.

Same steps, wildly different results.

I can’t even reliably tell how strong an orgasm will be beforehand.  I’ve had so many times where a highly pleasurable and lengthy buildup has led to a lackluster finish, and so many times where a weak buildup will quickly escalate into a very strong ending.

I think the only reason I’m able to reliably hit “pretty good” levels of enjoyment is that I’ve built up a bunch of little micro-techniques that I can play on shuffle.  That way, if one doesn’t work, I can try a few other things.  Eventually I’ll stumble upon the combination for today’s lock.

Most of these micro-techniques are little things that can temporarily boost the pleasure a little bit, and masturbating becomes a game where the goal is to boost the pleasure enough to hit the goal line, but the pleasure level is constantly declining and the micro-techniques only work for a short while before they go inactive, so it’s a race against the clock.  (And don’t even get me started about the bonus chances after you’ve reached the goal which could double your winnings or cause you to lose it all…)

So anyway, where I’m going with all this is that masturbation is a complicated, inconsistent business.  Especially if you’re just starting out.  And double especially if you’re asexual and some of the tips and techniques that other people may utilize will flat out not work for you. No one can give you a foolproof set of instructions that will be guaranteed to work for your body.   But you might eventually stumble on something that works and be able to build from there.

[Content Warning:  This post discusses personal experiences with masturbation (with a penis) in detail.]  

Masturbation.  It all seems different for me.

I don’t know how much of it is asexuality getting involved, how much of it is personal preference, and how much of it just a inaccurate public presentation of it that skews my perception of how it really is for other people.  My guess is that it’s a combination of the three in varying degrees.

I do it more gently.  Masturbation always seems to be depicted as a fast, frantic activity.  In censored TV shows and movies, they’ll indicate that someone is masturbating by showing fast hand movements.  In porn, the people seem to always stroke a hundred miles an hour.  Even euphemisms for it imply a violent action:  Jerk off, whack off, beat your meat…  But to me, all of that seems like sticking your penis in a paint shaker.  Just…  No.  How can you do that?

Is that really how people do it, or is that just the hyper-masculine, alpha-male bullshit front people put up?  Have to be aggressive and dominant in all things, so be aggressive and dominant with your penis to show it who’s boss?

I’ve tried to go fast and hard at times, and it just seems to send things into an overload state.  This overload doesn’t translate into heightened pleasure, it translates into a message that says stop right now.  It’s uncomfortable.  It’s unpleasant.  Everything kinds of shuts down.  If I can find the speed just below what triggers this overload state, then it may lead to a stronger ejaculation, but at the expense of everything else.  (More on that later…)

I go slower.  I go more gently.  I’ll even let it go a little soft at times.  I don’t need to wrestle and strangle my way to orgasm.  Caresses and coaxing and being kind seem to work better overall.

I enjoy the journey.  Masturbation is always depicted as being focused towards the orgasm.  That’s all there is.  How much did you ejaculate and how far did it go and that’s all that matters.  I get that that’s visually interesting for porn, but everything else also seems to treat it as a race to the finish, with nothing else along the way.  Go hard, go fast, get off.

Is that really how people do it, or is that just the hyper-masculine, alpha-male bullshit front people put up?  You’re not allowed to have feelings, especially sexual feelings that you provide yourself.  Ejaculation is a tangible result, so focus on that and only that?

For me, getting to orgasm is a huge part of the fun.  It feels good and I take extra steps to make it feel better for longer.  Sure, the orgasm is usually the best part, but let’s take a trip to calculus class for a moment.  Remember area under the curve?


These are pleasure charts for different types of masturbation.  The graph is an instantaneous reading of the level of pleasure at that moment in time, so the area under the curve is the total amount of pleasure for the session.  Figure 1 is a race to the finish.  Figure 2 is a longer, slower path.  Figure 3 compares the relative areas between the two.  As you can see, while the maximum value of pleasure is lower in the second graph, the overall amount of pleasure experienced is far higher.

On a more physical level, I enjoy the scenery on the journey.  There’s a lot to see, if you slow down and take a look.  A press on the frenulum.  The indistinct sensation of soft bumps of the toy passing over the corona.  The skin being pulled, then sliding loose.  A general enveloping pressure on the shaft. The wave that comes from tensing the right muscles at the right time.  It’s all nice in different ways, and it’s all an important part of the process for me.  It’s worth sacrificing a bit of ejaculatory distance for it.

(And don’t get me wrong, super strong orgasms are definitely nice, too…)

I sometimes involve calculus in a discussion of masturbation.  Okay, that one is all me.  Not much else to say there.

It’s not a substitute, it’s not practice, it’s not incomplete.  I think I’ve talked about this one before.  The prevailing message on masturbation is that it’s to be used as a substitute, only when Real Sex™ is unavailable.  It’s never looked at as something that can exist on its own, and be done for its own sake, just because it feels good, independent of other concerns.  It’s seen as a pathetic, lesser, half-measure, only done because your testicles will fill up and explode if you don’t do something about it.  Or that it’s merely an exercise, like daily jogging, done to keep in shape and prepare for the marathon of Real Sex™.

Is that really how people see it, or is that just the hyper-masculine, alpha-male bullshit front people put up?  That you’re not allowed to do it by itself, that it has to be in the service of conquest and domination, a demonstration of your sexual prowess, otherwise it doesn’t matter?

Masturbation is different than Real Sex™ with a partner, certainly.  But that doesn’t make it inferior or unworthy.  If the way you masturbate seems like it’s so much worse than Real Sex™ so as to make it essentially worthless, then you’re probably doing it wrong and should look at ways to improve your technique.

I used a jogging metaphor a little earlier, and I want to revisit that.  I implied that jogging is only done to prepare for a marathon.  And that’s a clearly ridiculous idea.  Many people jog simply to jog.  Even if they do run marathons, the jogging is its own separate thing.  Just because they both involve running, that doesn’t make jogging inferior.  Another example would be chocolate bars.  A lot of people like chocolate bars.  People like different types of chocolate bars.  Some people enjoy chocolate bars twice a day, every day.  But the existence of chocolate cake doesn’t invalidate chocolate bars.  Chocolate bars are not substitute cake, they’re not some inferior product that can only be vaguely tolerated when chocolate cake is unavailable and never enjoyed on their own.

I do it as its own thing.  I don’t feel like I’m missing out or that it’s a half-measure.  It is full.  It is varied.

There’s more than just the penis.  Masturbation is almost always shown as exclusively involving the penis.  It’s one hand, furiously stroking away until complete.  The other hand just kinda hangs out, unused.  Maybe, once in a blue moon, someone will grab their testicles, but that’s about it.

Is that really how people do it, or is that just the hyper-masculine, alpha-male bullshit front people put up?  The penis is the only thing that can be involved, everything else is reserved for someone else’s use during Real Sex™?

My penis is absolutely the star of the show when I masturbate, but there’s usually an ensemble supporting cast.  My “spare” hand will wander around my chest and stomach and thighs and side and neck and hair, it’ll rub my nipples, run through my pubic hair, pull my testicles, push on the perineum, and squeeze around the base of the shaft.  Sometimes, even my prostate will get involved.

I do it alone.  Now, clearly, most people who masturbate will typically do it alone in a physical sense.  But the act usually involves someone else mentally.  A partner, a stranger, the person in the porn.  There’s a fantasy built up and acted upon.  Masturbation isn’t masturbation, it’s Real Sex™ with someone who isn’t there.  Sex toy descriptions will often go into great detail about how it’s really someone’s willing whatever-body-part disembodied to please you, it’s not a textured rubber tube.  It can never be done alone.

Is that really how people do it, or is that just the hyper-masculine, alpha-male bullshit front people put up?  That it always has to be done in the service of a conquest, even if that conquest is imaginary, otherwise it’s a waste of the Power of the Cock™?

I typically do it alone in a mental sense.  I don’t fantasize.  I don’t do it to someone or for someone or whatever.  My toys are just toys, they’re not replicas or simulations of people.  Even when looking at porn, there’s no sense of personal insertion into the scene.  Whenever I try to fantasize or imagine myself in the porn scene, it becomes distracting to the point of making things more difficult.  Even in VR porn, which is supposed to make you part of the scene, there’s a disconnect.

So, I don’t know.  Is this all just toxic masculinity bullshit that I don’t subscribe to that forces everyone else to put on a mask and not admit what they actually do and actually like?  Is this asexuality skewing how I experience things?  Is it a combination?  Does it really matter?  Probably not.

[Content Warning:  This post talks about masturbation and anatomy beyond the read more.]

At the start, I had a few puzzle pieces, but I didn’t have the box to know what the picture was supposed to look like.  This piece says “requires erection”.  This piece is marked “simulates intercourse”.  “This piece looks like it reads “feels good”.  It seemed like it would be worth seeing the finished picture, but how?  There was a lot of trial and error while trying to understand out how the pieces fit together.

I didn’t have access to any informational resources on the topic.  I didn’t have access to the Internet at that time.  (We didn’t even have a computer with a modem then, and people these days barely even know what a modem is.)  My parents didn’t leave books on sex in the bookshelf for my curiosity to explore.  I didn’t have anyone in my social circle who showed me what they discovered.  The pervy neighbor kid didn’t blab about his secret porno mag stash.  I never walked in on anyone.  Maybe some of that was related to being asexual.  I never thought “Wow, she’s hot” and had a conversation about that, which might have led to the question “Do you jack off thinking about her?”  I was on my own to get it figured out.

Adding to that, the problem was physical in one way.  When I was born, my parents, like many parents of penis-bearing children, decided to spring for the unnecessary and pointless genital mutilation option package, and had my foreskin removed without asking me.  The foreskin is a sleeve of skin that wraps around the head of the penis, and I’ve heard that many people discover masturbation when they pull it back and learn that the movement feels good.  I’ve also heard that it helps with the act by providing a way to stroke the penis without lube and that the head is more sensitive with one, not to mention how sensitive a flap of skin in that area would be.  (It’s important to note that circumcision gained widespread non-religious acceptance in this country specifically as a way to prevent masturbation.  All that “It’s cleaner!” nonsense came later.)  So, because I was circumcised, masturbation was harder to discover, harder to do, and probably doesn’t feel as good as it could have. 

So anyway, I had those puzzle pieces and those challenges, but I was determined to figure it out.  “Requires erection.”  That one was easy for me at the time.  Thinking about getting an erection usually gave me an erection, and sometimes they’d happen on their own.  So if I needed one, it wasn’t far away.  “Simulates intercourse.”  This is one thing the pervy neighbor kid did blab about, somewhat.  Intercourse is where a guy puts his penis into a woman’s vagina.  Okay.  Makes sense.  But what’s a “vagina”?  Well, the penis is sort of like a hot dog, so is a vagina sort of like a hot dog bun?  I tried folding things into the shape of a hot dog bun and putting my penis into them, but didn’t have much success.  Eventually (probably in sex-ed the next year) I learned that the vagina is more of a tube, and the penis actually goes inside it.  Okay, so let’s try tube things.  Toilet paper tube…  Nope.  Wrap a towel around it?  Nope.  I’d heard vaginas described as “tight” as being a good thing, so okay, wrap a towel around it tightly?  That ain’t working, either.  At some point, I learned that there was motion involved in intercourse, that it wasn’t just insert tab A and wait five minutes for it to feel good.

Just so you know, even if you introduce motion to a toilet paper tube or a tightly wrapped towel, it’s still not going to work all that well…  I don’t think I wanted to use my bare hand, out of fear of the low, but apparently non-zero risk of unwanted hair growth that everyone warned about.  But even if I had, the lack of a foreskin would have made that difficult.

I don’t remember how or why, but eventually I got the idea that the whole thing needed to be a bit more slippery.  Maybe it was the next year’s sex ed class that provided the necessary hint, I don’t remember.  Anyway, I needed something slippery, and soap lather while in the shower was slippery.  Plus, soap washed away germs and things, so whatever microbes or spores or whatever that were supposed to lead to hair growth would probably be washed away when using soap, so I decided to risk using my hand for it.

And even that didn’t work right away.  All the pieces of the puzzle I knew about were there and in place, but there were still holes in the picture.  Pieces I didn’t know the puzzle even had.  Everything had implied that it would be a simple rub and done, but nope.  Grip strength, stroke speed and depth, different parts with different sensations.  All that had to be figured out, too.  And when I eventually did have my first orgasm, it was a weird, nauseous, muscular pumping sensation, rather than something pleasurable.  It took more tries and experimentation before it started to feel good.

In all, it was probably two years between when I first heard of the word “masturbation” and decided I wanted to try that out and the time I was successful.

Two years.

And that was just for a basic, reliable, quickie orgasm.  No frills race to the finish.  Over the years that followed, there were small improvements or enhancements.  It was probably another ten years on before I discovered a few things that fundamentally changed how good it felt, and there were still things I learned after that.

So basically, I guess what I’m trying to say is that it’s not instant, you shouldn’t expect to naturally just know what to do.  Don’t get discouraged, keep trying, and you might eventually figure out how it works.  Plus, you have the benefit of learning from others, something I didn’t have.  (Now, if you’ll excuse me, there’s a missing puzzle piece over on the left side that I still need to figure out…)

And I do wonder how much asexuality played a role in that.  If I weren’t ace, would I have figured it out sooner?  Would I have gotten better at it earlier?  Or would I still have been clueless and fumbling, just thinking about a girl while I was clueless and fumbling?

[Content warning:  Discussion of sex toys, as well as photos of related items.]

This page contains a general description of what a vibrator is and how it is used.  The post contains images of vibrators, but not in a sexual setting.  One of the toys is somewhat phallic shaped, but abstract and not entirely “anatomically accurate”.

As the name implies, vibrators vibrate.  Vibrations are frequently found to be significantly more stimulating than hands alone.  Some people who are unable to reach an orgasm through manual stimulation find that they can reach orgasm through the use of a vibrator.  Some people find direct contact with a vibrator to be too strong and uncomfortable.  Using a vibrator through clothes or through layers of towels can tone down the strength and make the sensation more bearable.

Vibrators are frequently battery powered, but some models plug into the wall.  They come in a variety of shapes and strengths, from tiny watch battery powered buzzers, to eggs that require a pair of AA batteries, past tennis balls on a stick that plug into the wall, all the way up to industrial strength saddles that need their own power transformer.  Some are waterproof.  Most have adjustable speeds or strengths.

Vibrators are often used on the clitoris, but can also be used in the vagina, on the penis, or in the anus.  Different shapes are better suited for different parts of the anatomy.  Wand vibes or bullet vibes tend to be used on the clitoris, cylindrical or phallic vibrators tend to be used vaginally or anally (but make sure that something has a flared base before using it anally, unless you want to explain to the ER staff what you were doing and why backside is buzzing), and cock rings with vibrators attached are designed for use on the penis.  Some vibrators can also be used for (and are marketed for) neck or back massages.

Here are a few images of just a sample of the wide variety of vibrators that are out there:

This image is of a wand-style vibrator. The toy does not have an anatomical design and no nudity is shown.

This is the Hitachi Magic Wand.  It is quite powerful (and noisy).  It’s mainly used on the clitoris or vulva, but it can also be used on the penis.  A number of attachments are sold to adapt the wand for use as an insertable toy for vaginal or anal use or as a penetrable toy for use with a penis.  This toy plugs into the wall.

This image is of a rabbit vibrator. The toy has a slightly abstract design that resembled a penis, including the glans. No actual nudity is shown.

This is a rabbit.  The phallic portion is meant to be inserted into the vagina, while the “rabbit” bit is meant to be pressed against the clitoris. This type of toy often has two vibrator motors: One in the shaft and one in the body of the rabbit.  Some battery operated toys like this one are waterproof and can be used in the bath or shower.

This image is of a bullet vibrator. The toy does not have an anatomical design and no nudity is shown.

This is a basic bullet vibrator.  These tend to be extremely flexible in their use.  They can be held directly against the clitoris or the penis (or the scrotum or the nipples, etc.).  Some toys have a place to insert these types of vibes.  In some cases (although not necessarily with the one pictured here), they can be inserted into the vagina or the anus.  (When used anally, be sure that the device has a strong cord attached, it might not be coming back out.)  Many of these toys have adjustable intensity.

This image is of a basic plastic vibrator. The toy does not have an anatomical design and no nudity is shown.

This is a basic vibrator.  This kind is meant for vaginal or clitoral use, but it can also be used on a penis.  This one should not be used anally, because it does not have a wider base, so there is nothing to stop it from being pulled all the way in, where it might get stuck.

On a more technical note, since this toy is semi-transparent, you can see how most vibrators work.  There is a small electric motor with a small offset weight.  When the motor is turned on, the weight causes the entire device to wobble back and forth.  When the motor spins fast enough, this wobble turns into a buzzing vibration.

Sex toys are objects used for the purpose of stimulating parts of the body, frequently (though not exclusively) with the intent of producing or enhancing an orgasm.  Most sex toys are used on the genitals, but some are used elsewhere.  Sex toys can be items that are specifically designed for the purpose, like vibrators, dildos, and sleeves, or they can be regular household objects that have been repurposed, like handheld shower attachments or pillows.

Most people think of sex toys as some sort of plastic mutated exaggerated form of disembodied vibrating genitalia, and it’s true that there are many toys that fit that description.  But there are also many plain or abstract designs that look more like sculptures than anatomy, and focus more on function than looks.  If you’re not a fan of simulated body parts, it’s possible to find almost any type of sex toy in a non-anatomical form.

Many aces report that sex toys are a way to engage in masturbation without having to directly touch their genitals or any fluids involved.  Many vibrators or dildos have a long handle, so they can be held at a distance, while many sleeves will fully enclose the penis and contain any fluids that may be involved.  Some toys can even be set up to be used completely hands free.

A lot of aces (and even many non-aces) find that sex toys are the easiest way, and perhaps the only way, to achieve an orgasm.  If you’ve tried masturbating by hand and have never had an orgasm, perhaps using a sex toy might help.  It’s definitely not a guarantee, though.  And although sex toys are generally intended to be used to help achieve an orgasm, that does not have to be the result.  You can use one to go as far as you like, but still stop short of an orgasm, if you prefer.

Sex toys can be made out of a number of materials.  Most are plastic, rubber, or silicone, but there are toys made from glass, metal, wood, even cloth.  You should pay attention to toy safety guidelines for toys made from various materials.  Some toys are considered “body safe”, which means they are non-porous (so bacteria and other icky things can’t find little nooks and crannies to grow in) and made from safe, non-toxic materials.  Glass, metal, silicone, and hard plastic tend to be the least porous, while “jelly rubber” tends to be the most porous.  (Jelly rubber is also potentially carcinogenic, so two strikes there.)  For some porous toys, condom use is recommended (whether that’s a condom on you or on the toy depends on the type of toy).  Additionally, some materials have a strong chemical smell or have a slimy, oily feel to them.  A few good rules of thumb are that if it smells bad it probably is bad, and if the material has a “brand name” sounding name, it’s probably junk.  There are many resources out there around sex toy safety, and I encourage you to read up on them.

And regardless of the material, be sure to clean your toys regularly, especially if it goes inside you or you go inside it.

Artificial lube can be helpful when using some toys, particularly sleeves or anal toys.  However, certain toys and certain lubes don’t mix.  For simplicity, stick to a water based lube.  They’re usually the cheapest and easiest to find, easiest to clean up, and are pretty much compatible with anything.  Silicone lubes or oil-based lubes might destroy your toys.

It’s okay to be asexual and be curious about sex toys.  It’s okay to be asexual and use sex toys.  It’s okay to be asexual and enjoy sex toys.  It’s even okay to be asexual and enjoy using vibrating curiously exaggerated disembodied genitalia sex toys.

(Content Warning:  Genitals and explicit discussion of masturbation beyond this point, but no images or illustrations.)

One thing I’ve seen many asexual people say about masturbation is that they don’t know where to begin.  It might not be something they discover, they may have avoided any discussion about it, and websites that talk about it are typically not very ace-friendly.  If you’re curious, but don’t know where to start, here’s a short ace-safe introduction to a common technique.

And remember, if you don’t want to, you don’t have to.  Not everyone wants to masturbate, not everyone likes to, so if it’s not your thing, it doesn’t have to be your thing.

Okay, let’s begin:

First, find a safe and comfortable space.  Lockable doors, free of interruptions, etc.  Comfy chair or a bed might work, but many people will use the bathroom or shower.  (The shower has the added benefit of making it easy to wash your hands or clean up when you’re done.)

Second, remove clothing to provide access to your genitals.  This step is actually optional.  It can make it easier to proceed if you’re not wearing anything down there, but it’s not required.  Some people will masturbate through their clothes for various reasons.  It’s not uncommon.

Third, start touching your genitals or the area around them.  Often, people will focus primarily on the clitoris or penis.  (A clitoris is a sort of pencil eraser thingy (of varying size) hiding near the front of the folds of skin down there, while a penis is a usually floppy sort of tube thingy (of varying size) that’s hanging out down there.)  However, other places like the thighs, scrotum, lower stomach, or labia might also respond to touch.  Even the nipples might work.

If it hasn’t already happened, you may start to notice physical arousal in the genitals.  It’s perhaps most noticeable in a penis, which goes from a floppy sort of tube thingy to a larger, somewhat more rigid sort of tube thingy.  The clitoris also may grow larger (and peek out of the folds of skin it’s hiding in) when aroused, and there may be a noticeable sensation like warmth or fullness or even wetness in the vagina.

If you’re not sensing some form of arousal, try different types of stimulation.  Use more pressure or less, go faster or slower, push, pull, pinch, try a different area, etc.  Basically, change it up somewhat.

It is very important to note that there isn’t an instant-on pleasure switch downstairs.  At first, it may not feel much different down there than touching your arm.  Sensations can gradually and subtly change, and may range from numbness to awareness, to over-sensitivity, to exquisite pleasure, to discomfort, to heightened sensitivity, and anything in between or on the sides.  There’s no One True Right Way™, and it’ll feel different and proceed differently for everyone.  Masturbation isn’t something that’s instinctive, it’s something that has to be learned and experimented with, and this can be particularly difficult for aces, because we may not experience the same sorts of things that might be useful to non-aces for figuring things out.  You may not come across a formula that works the first couple (dozen) times you try.  And that’s perfectly okay and quite common.  Even many non-ace people have to figure out what to do.

Anyway, assuming you’re sufficiently aroused (and what that means is up to you), you’ll likely want to start focusing more directly around the genitals.  Some of the most common masturbation techniques are fairly repetitive hand motions.   If you have a penis, try wrapping your hand around it (like you’re holding a handle) and sliding your hand up and down.  (Some sort of lubricant might be helpful here, particularly if you’ve been circumcised.  Something like hand lotion will usually work well.)  If you have a clitoris, try placing a few fingers on it and rubbing in small circles.  Vary the speed, pressure, the amount of movement, etc., until you find something that works.  Those aren’t the only ways to do it, so if they don’t work, experiment with something else.

Once you’ve begun those repetitive motions, continue until done.  “Done” can mean a number of things.  Many people proceed until they have an orgasm, but some people stop when they get bored or tired or sore, some people keep going until they have multiple orgasms, and some people stop when they just don’t feel like doing it anymore.  Masturbation is yours and yours alone, so it’s up to you to decide when you’re done.