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Masturbation: A beginners guide

Updated: Jan 11, 2022

Not only is masturbation an incredible tool for unlocking orgasmic potential and releasing stress, but it’s also a great way to explore and release physical, emotional or mental blocks surrounding sensuality and self-pleasure. Some people can feel a lot of shame around sex and pleasure as most of us never received adequate sex education that taught us its normal and healthy to desire.

Masturbation is a foundational tool to experiencing sexual pleasure on your own and with a partner or partners, because after all, how can we expect someone to know what we want, if we don’t know ourselves? Knowledge is power, and when it comes to our bodies, we all have the opportunity to gain that empowerment if we want to.

Here are some practical exercises for the foundations of masturbation:


What do your genitals look like? Many people don’t know and are a little nervous to find out. Looking at your genitals can be a great learning tool and can allow you to access more pleasure in your body. It can also be an incredibly healing process that allows you to develop self-love and a dynamic relationship with your body.

First, it must be acknowledged that many people feel insecure about their genitals due to the lack of diversity shown in porn, the airbrushing of genitals in commercials, magazines & pop culture, and even censorship guidelines that demand realistic depictions of sexuality refrain from being “high impact”. Before you do your own mirror work, have a look at The Labia Library to get an idea of just how different vulvas are. .

The next step is to do your own mirror work.

Set up:

  • A safe space

  • A hand-held mirror you can sit in front of—you may also like props to support your positioning

  • Give yourself at least 10 minutes

Get Started:

  • Breathe. Do what you need to become present

  • You may choose to simply look down at your genitals, then move your gaze to the mirror so that you can see more

  • Gaze at your genitals for however long you like


The next activity is to explore with touch. Body and genital mapping is essentially the process of locating sensation in your body. This is a useful practice for anyone who’s feeling numb, disconnected, or wanting to expand pleasure potential (everyone really).

Go back to your mirror work setup and try some of these:

  • Locate the different organs and parts of your genitals

  • Explore these organs with a variety in touch, pressure or sensation

  • Follow pleasure—See if you can find all of the pleasurable ways of stimulating each part of your genitals

  • This is an exploration to build awareness – it doesn’t have to feel orgasmic. You might like to stroke, caress, gently pinch, vibrate, soothe, touch or rub your genitals

  • Do this for however long you like

Integrate & Journal

Once we start learning about our bodies—what we like, what we feel like, how we react—it can be useful to note some things down. ‘The Pleasure Journal’ is a great guide for this practice. It includes education, exercises, anatomy lessons, up-to-date research, how-to's and spaces for personal reflection, writing and drawing.

Add Movement

Once you’ve covered the basics using the exercises above, you’re in a great position to start exploring the many ways you can amplify your orgasmic potential. One thing to try is adding movement to your self-pleasure practice. You can try these standing, sitting, kneeling, lying down or maybe a combo of positions:

  • Pelvic tilts / thrust: On your inhale, tilt your hips forward. On your exhale, flow your hips back. This is like a gentle, slow hip thrust. Play with speed to build arousal.

  • Hip circles: On an inhale, circle your hips forward. On the exhale, release and circle them back. Start small and work your way up to bigger circles.

  • Touch your body: Move with your hands as you touch your entire body, across your face or through your hair to activate every inch with light touch and movement.

  • Variety: Explore arousal through movement by playing with different speed (slow down, then speed up), rhythm, intensity, notice how your body feels as it moves from upregulated to down regulated states.

  • Embodied movement: This essentially means moving however the fu*k you want. It doesn’t have to take a specific shape, or form, you simply allow your body to move with pleasure - it can sometimes feel surprising when you move into different shapes—get curious.

Remember: follow the pleasure! It is experienced differently by everyone, so take the time to work out what your body responds to. Masturbation is one of the best ways to get to know your body and to develop the sense of comfort you feel in your own skin.

For more tips and practical exercises, check out the online video course ‘The Modern Guide to Sex’ I developed with NORMAL, it’s the sex-ed you wish you had in school.

This guide was curated by Holly Lipman and includes reference to Georgia's activities & Book

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