Although we've seen the sex toy industry become bigger than ever and it's far easier to find places where you can buy sex toys, that doesn't mean everyone is a fan of them. While some people are dependent on vibrators for masturbation or to give their sex life an extra hand, there are others who just aren't into vibrators. Or, in some cases, are sick of them all together and want to try something else.
"Whether you’re weaning yourself off a vibrator or learning to masturbate without one, set yourself up for success by giving yourself ample time and space to explore your body and discover — or remember — the nuances of what does and doesn’t feel good," Irene Fehr, a sex and intimacy coach, tells Bustle. "Learning to masturbate without the help of sheer power opens you up to a world of subtler stimulation and sensual experience, where the slightest move can send your body into orgasmic shivers."
When it comes to sexual pleasure, different things work for different people. If you've yet to find the technique that makes your toes curl, then it's definitely worth exploring and experimenting until you find what's right for you. If you think skipping a vibrator is the way to go, then here are nine alternatives to try instead.
1. Explore Your Genitals With Your Fingers
"The density of feeling receptors in a finger tip is 2,500 per square centimere, making it the densest area of receptors in our body," Fehr says. "A clitoris has 8,000 nerve endings throughout its network. Do the math, and you can see that the finger plus clitoris combination can yield a wealth of sensation and pleasure."
Fehr suggests using an index finger, externally on the outer labia, then inward and up toward the clitoris, exploring different types of touch and pressure.
"Start with slow and light strokes," Fehr says. "Then see what fast strokes feel like. Try different kinds of pressure and direction. Then try touching with different parts of your finger too — the tip, pad, side of the pad — to see how your body responds."
Fehr emphasizes instead of trying to orgasm, focus more on what does and doesn't feel good for your body and how it responds to different touches. Sometimes it's more about the journey, because you get to truly understand what works and what doesn't.
2. Use Your Non-Dominant Hand
"If you already self-pleasure with your dominant hand," sex therapist Stefani Threadgill tells Bustle, "try using your non-dominant hand for a different sensation."
In keeping with the theme of using your fingers, trying to masturbate with your non-dominant hand, although a bit difficult at first, can really spice things up. I tried it, and although it took longer than I even assumed it would, I can attest to the fact that the sensation is different and so was the orgasm.
3. Don't Focus On The Orgasm As The End Result
"Allow yourself to experiment with what comes up and not expect a quick climax — and sometimes no climax at all," Fehr says. "It might feel frustrating in the beginning, especially if you’ve gotten used to reliable and quick orgasms, but it will get easier when you can let go of expectations and find pleasure in reconnecting to your body. When you do, you'll have a much bigger full-body orgasmic experience, rather than a localized orgasm."
Fehr suggests focusing on the experience than whether or not an orgasm is in the cards. When we focus too far ahead, especially on something like an orgasm, the experience isn't really absorbed and anxiety can be caused.
"Notice the subtleties of sensation and touch, paying attention to the genitals as well as how the rest of your body is responding ... What parts of you are getting turned on?" Fehr says. "The more you can focus off the orgasm, the more the body can relax and the more pleasurable and bigger the orgasmic experience can feel in the end."
4. Really Get To Know Your Clitoris
"Did you know that the glans of the clitoris, which is the part that is externally visible, has different 'spots' that elicit different sensations?" Fehr asks. "There is the 'love spot' that brings up the warm and fuzzy feelings. There’s also the raw sex spot that makes you horny. And there’s the one o'clock spot in the upper right hand corner that is highly orgasmic."
If you've yet to notice that the clitoris is, indeed, made up of different spots, then this is a great opportunity, now that you have this knowledge in your back pocket, to experiment with different parts of the clitoris. Yes, the exposed part may be small, but that doesn't mean each spot doesn't have something else to offer.
"To be able to access these spots, slow down with your touch and follow the clitoris as it was a clock," Fehr says. "The top of the clitoris is the 12 o'clock spot; the bottom six o'clock spot. Explore touch with and without the clitoral hood, which sits over the glans and protects the sensitive spot."
When it comes to clitoral exploration, the hood shouldn't be ignored. Depending on just how sensitive their clitoris is, some people prefer stimulation over the hood.
5. Try A Hair Dryer
A hair dryer? Yes; a hair dryer.
"A hair dryer with warm/cool settings and multiple speeds can be more subtle and sensual than a vibrator," Threadgill says. "Especially for women with a sensitive clitoris."
And all this time you thought your hair dryer was just meant to dry your hair. Nope! It's always nice when a household items can be used for more than one thing.
6. Expand Beyond Your Genitals
A very important fact that everyone should know is that there isn't just one type of orgasm; there are many types of orgasms that can be brought on by pleasuring different parts of the body.
"Whereas a vibrator can produce a localized orgasm, experimenting with full-body arousal opens the door to full-body orgasms and an orgasmic experience," Fehr says. "Move your body and let it awaken. Take a hot bath. Add some chocolates or something delicious to turn on your taste buds. Massage or stroke your skin, breasts, inner thighs, butt, nipples, genitals, all of you — for the sake of awakening sensation, looking for what feels good."
Fehr says to notice how your body responds and what makes it feel like it's come alive.
"Creating full-body arousal helps to build up orgasmic energy in your body to be able to have a bigger orgasm that comes from overflow of sexual energy, rather than an induced one," Fehr says.
7. Embrace The Internal Pelvic Massage
When we think of masturbation, we tend to see just the genitals — the clitoris in particular, as many people with vulvas need clitoral stimulation to orgasm — but there's far more to it than just that.
"So much pleasure and sensation can be found inside, by learning to massage pelvic muscles as well as stimulate the G-spot," Fehr says. "An internal pelvic massage helps soothe and invigorate core muscles, which in turn relaxes the pelvis and helps blood flow to it, arousing it. Pelvic tension can often hinder orgasm, so by learning to relax pelvic muscles, you can create a larger orgasmic experience overall."
So how does one give themselves a top-notch pelvic massage?
"Insert your index or middle finger into your vagina and move your finger over to the sides of your vaginal opening," Fehr says. "Use gentle pressure and pay attention to the response of your body. Locate the G-spot at the top of your vagina and feel it’s surface; in an aroused state, it will feel like soft, puckery tissue. Be especially gentle over your urethra (at the front of your pelvic bowl) or your rectum (at the bottom of your pelvic bowl) as these areas are sensitive and require light touch."
Again, Fehr suggests paying attention to how your body responds to each touch, being overly aware of what feels good and what your body wants more of over and over.
8. Try A Pillow
"Cuddle up to your pillow à la Natalie Portman in Black Swan," says Threadgill. If you don't recall the scene, Portman's character rubs against a pillow as a means to masturbate. Whether it's humping a pillow or your bed or something else that stimulates and arouses you, go for it. It's definitely an alternative to vibrators and some people thoroughly enjoy it.
9. Try Toys That Aren't Vibrators
"For deeper internal stimulation and vaginal strength, yoni eggs are known to help women connect to more sensation vaginally," Fehr says. "Similarly, using internal wands, from crystal to silicone, can help with internal stimulation. You can also go for a butt plug while stimulating your whole body or genitals, to add anal orgasm to the mix."
It can't be stressed enough: it takes different things to get different people off. If vibrators aren't your thing or you're just over them, there are other options to masturbate. These nine should get you headed in the right direction.