the secrets of

Solo sex can be a mindful meditation, an empowering self-care practice, and so much more.

Written By GINA WAY

Photography ByGUY AROCH





It can be awkward at first. The act of pleasuring yourself sexually can sometimes feel a little weird, even shameful for some women. Like a desperate act for all the single ladies and something that should be hidden at all costs. We’re putting that kind of thinking to bed right now. We’re not living in the Victorian Era (which, ironically, is when vibrators were invented). It’s 2020, and the fact is: solo pleasure is the ultimate self-care move. So let’s treat sexual health with respect—and excitement!—and celebrate our bodies with zero judgement. Because what could be more empowering or mindful than paying attention to what makes you feel good—then, experimenting with what arouses you.

You have the power to show yourself a good time. Let’s get down to it...

We pamper ourselves with a multi-masking session, a glass (or two) of wine, and a Netflix binge at the drop of a hat, but when it comes to sexual pleasure, it falls way down the list—somewhere between doing the laundry and sleeping. “Sex is often the lowest priority, and it may feel like a chore, or a frivolous, selfish indulgence to take the time out to masturbate,” says Carlyle Jansen, sex coach and author of Sex Yourself: The Woman’s Guide to Mastering Masturbation and Achieving Powerful Orgasms. “But if we can prioritize exercise to stay healthy, then what about taking care of our sexual needs? There’s a stigma around paying attention to this part of our body, but we need to start treating ourselves the way that we want to be treated.” Jansen suggests thinking of masturbation as a wellness practice, like yoga or meditation. “Sometimes it’s going to be awesome, and some sessions are going to be kind of functional, and that’s okay. It doesn’t have to be a huge production, but the idea is to carve out some time, whether it’s once a week, once a month, or once a day.”

On a recent episode of Awkwafina is Nora From Queens, she spared no expense prepping properly—engaging in a DIY bikini wax, swiping on lipstick, and dimming the lights—before pulling out a vibrator from underneath the bed. But there’s also nothing wrong with a quickie. “If your goal is to orgasm so you can fall asleep, and you can do that in three minutes, then more power to you!” says Jansen. But doing things like burning a candle, wearing lingerie, putting on a sexy playlist, or reading an erotic story can help you “transition to the right head space and build up arousal,” she says.

You could go straight for the action, but (just like sex with a partner) it can be nice to build up to it gradually. “Start by taking a few deep breaths, in through your nose and out through your mouth,” says Jessica O’Reilly, PhD, sexologist and host of the podcast Sex With Dr. Jess. “Mindfully explore your body from head to toe. Pay attention to physical sensations—curves and contours, the softness of your skin, the movement of your breath. Be present and take your time, using your fingertips and maybe a massage oil like the Kiki de Montparnasse Massage Oil Candle. Often, we get hung up on one specific outcome—ie: orgasm—and we rush the experience instead of enjoying it for its full pleasure potential.” O’Reilly recommends taking at least ten minutes to touch and caress your body before you get down to business.

There’s nothing at all wrong about going old school and using your fingers, but with toys can take your experience to the next level. A vibrator helps to get the blood flowing down there, increases arousal, and can be an efficient shortcut to orgasming. “There are so many things you can do with it—not just stimulating the clitoris, but also the different nerve endings on other parts of your body, such as the nipples,” says Jansen. If you’re shopping for your first vibrator, O’Reilly suggests choosing something small (not so intimidating) and that has multiple settings. “This way you can experiment with different intensities, speeds, and rhythms.” A device that’s a little bit larger (but one that you can easily hold in your hand) can be even more versatile. “I like one that has a bit of a curve and angles to it. If it’s double-sided, you can do different things like stimulating yourself externally and then hitting the G-spot internally,” says Jansen.

Lube up: “We usually start stimulating externally where there’s no natural lubrication, so a little bit of lube gets things going and just makes everything feel better,” says Jansen.

Make sounds: “Even just opening your mouth when you exhale can feel good,” says Jansen. You don’t get extra points for screaming orgasms, but don’t hold back your voice either.

Don’t be afraid to experiment: “Don’t get hung up on a single use for your toy,” says O’Reilly. “You can stimulate the entire clitoris, not just the tip, and it may feel great internally on the G-Spot. It can be amazing on the outside too. Try rolling it around and squeezing it between your legs.

Do kegels: “If you can squeeze and relax the pelvic floor muscles while you’re pleasuring yourself, you will intensify your orgasm,” says Jansen.

Don’t get stuck in a rut: “Change positions to experiment with different sensations,” says O’Reilly. “Just as variety can make partnered sex more exciting, the same goes for the solo kind.”