Although considered less of a taboo, self-pleasure is still a touchy subject (pun intended).
According to the results of a survey conducted by AsapScience in 2015, 72 percent of women have masturbated in their lifetime. Wendy Strgar, founder and CEO of Good Clean Love and author of Sex That Works, tells mbg that masturbation is widely considered the "cornerstone of sexuality," and as research shows, the reputation clearly stands. Solo sex is an opportunity to explore the body we've been given, to identify what makes us tick, and because knowledge is power, it can also amplify our experience with a partner.
But masturbating isn't just a sexual practice; there are also many health benefits to self-pleasuring on a regular basis. Masturbation can be a stress reliever, promote better sleep, and can even be used as a form of meditation. When we have an orgasm, we get a rush of oxytocin and endorphins that puts us in a good mood and can even relieve some physical pain.
"I often say that you can't be fully well without being sexually well," Strgar writes. "[For example] we often don't realize how closely correlated sexual satisfaction is with pain relief, but the cascade of hormones released in orgasm can diminish discomfort caused by everything from sore joints to menstrual cramps to headaches."
Despite all these positive benefits, there's still something of a hush-hush when it comes to masturbation. But the more we talk about it, the more we can bust that archaic taboo. The truth is, there's nothing at all embarrassing or shameful about treating yourself well and giving your body pleasure. It can, in fact, be a true act of self-care and a real ritual—involved, intentional, and luxurious.
To celebrate the magic of masturbation, we asked nine real women to describe their most indulgent self-pleasure rituals for when they really want to make a night of it. Here's what they told us.
Weekends are the perfect time to unwind with a good O.
"I like to sleep in and have my DIY time in the morning after a nice hot bath. This way, I'm well-rested, stress-free, and completely in the moment so that orgasms come a dime a dozen. I've found that this is the best way to punctuate a week well done and start the following week on a note of rest and relaxation." —Samantha, 29
Lighting sets the mood.
"I've realized that light for me is a big factor (if the light is really bright in the room, I can't connect to my sexuality as much). I'm also very visual. I can't start feeling anything with just my imagination; I have to see something to start stimulating erotic emotion, so [I use] porn or even read erotica. Typically, I will light a candle daily regardless of whether or not that's the plan for the night, so that's also going on in the background." —Jessica, 26
Self-pleasure is a special event to pull out all the stops for.
"Finishing work, I brush off the energy of the day dancing in the kitchen blaring the dubstep version of 'Feeling Good' doing my S-Factor hip circles, pretending that it's the Divine Masculine Himself pouring me a glass of wine. I run a bath, use succulent oils and salts, have candles going, a waterproof vibrator, [and] bring the glass of wine. [And I] still have the X-mas red icicle lights up because cellulite is undetectable in red light!
"Sometimes I read my Goal Achievement Script of my life a year from now, really feeling how gloriously delicious things are in my future. Sometimes I read sacred erotic material—love David Deida's Blue Truth. Sometimes I just sit in silence, visualizing how my yet-to-meet lover will talk, touch, and be there for me.
"I get off imagining my lover is watching me rub glorious oil all over my body, honoring my skin, my hair, my curves. A piece of dark chocolate slowly savored on the way to bed and perhaps one more slow, sensual dance by candlelight as I get into bed." —Allana, 49
Porn and sexting are useful visual aids to get you going.
"I'm definitely [someone] who really enjoys pornography. So I try to find a video that reminds me of my boyfriend (ha-ha). Also, I love to masturbate and sext or sexy snap my boyfriend too. Especially being kind of long-distance, it keeps the romance alive. Also I almost always light my Himalayan salt lamp so my room glows pink." —Sarah, 26
Masturbation can be a form of meditation in that it relaxes you and clears your mind.
"I don't have a ritual for masturbation, per se, but it's definitely something I try to do regularly as a way to relieve stress when I'm really wound up. I never really thought about this way until recently, but I think masturbation, for me, is similar to meditation, in that it's something that helps me clear my head. I don't really think about anything when I do it, not even sexual fantasies most of the time. I just kind of lose myself in the feeling and the release I feel afterward." —Alexandra, 25
Pleasuring your senses can enhance your physical pleasure.
"For me, I need to completely relax and cleanse myself from all the negative energy around. There's where I light my Glendora candle (perfectly balanced with wood sage, sea salt, and peonies), or Palo Santo stick, set a bath with my aromatic and 'magical' bath salts, take a sip off my CBD turmeric drink, and soak into the tub.
"I find that the total setting of switching off all outside energies and focusing on 'me' helps. And if you want a quick fix, I have this fantastic and fun vibrator that is shaped like mascara and great to carry with you or pull out when you need a little screaming 'O.'" —Courtney, 40
Incense and essential oils can help you tap into your sexuality.
"I love burning sensual oud incense as a way to clear my space of any negative energy preventing me from being present for myself. I practice luxurious self-massage with nourishing oils and sensual essential oils like ylang-ylang and Palo Santo to promote a radiant connection within. I cherish Palo Santo because it is such a high-frequency essential oil, meaning it raises one's vibration toward love and divine peace. [...] For me, ylang-ylang frees my mind from its inhibitions and promotes sensations of pleasure and joy." —Amanda, 35
Self-pleasure can feel even better with an audience.
"I've never been a fan of roses or candles. I am not a romantic. When it comes to my philosophy on pleasure, nothing is as important as the end result—an orgasm.
"It's no secret that I have sex every day with my husband. (I literally wrote a book about it.) But when I say sex, people usually don't instantly think masturbation. Self-pleasuring is popular on the menu at my house. My husband and I have actually started calling it 'the usual' because this is an easy method for a quick connection. Whether I let him watch or we service ourselves side-by-side, masturbation is an effective way to get exactly what I want—quick results." —Caitlin, 33
The aftermath is also essential to your self-pleasure.
"I usually prefer to self-pleasure in the morning or midday since I have more energy at those times. For me, the initial act of pleasure is usually spontaneous, but the aftercare I try to keep consistent. After I have orgasmed, I first pee of course (to prevent UTIs) and then put on a skin care face mask for 10 minutes. Then I take a long, hot shower. The feelings after orgasm when by yourself can sometimes be confusing, so I find it's important to have a self-care ritual for after masturbation as well." —Annie, 31
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