Ah, masturbation. It’s such a seemingly simple, yet complex activity. It is something many of us want to enjoy, but have feelings of apprehension or anxiety about.
But masturbation doesn't need to be this high-pressure, awkward thing. It should be as fulfilling and relaxing as meditation or yoga. It is the ultimate alone time. And good news: There are certain strategies that can help you reach your full masturbation potential.
These go-to guidelines have your back (and your front, actually). Here, some of the most effective masturbation techniques to help you get where you want to be…orgasm central.
1. KNOW YOUR ANATOMY THROUGH AND THROUGH
Can you locate your clitoris? Knowing your anatomy will help you understand and appreciate what you’ve got under the hood.
Kristie Overstreet, Ph.D., a clinical sexologist and psychotherapist, says that looking at a drawing or model of the clitoris can help. “All parts will be labelled in a drawing so you can see the glans of the clitoris. This visual can assist you as you explore where it is located.”
Don’t be scared to grab a hand mirror and take a look, either. If you don’t know what the clitoris even looks like, you won’t know where to begin: It’s the blind masturbating the blind.
2. FIGURE OUT WHAT WORKS FOR YOU
This is not a one-size-fits-all kind of a thing. To have truly rapturous masturbatory experiences, you need to not only know what your anatomy looks, but also what works for you. Believe it or not, there are more ways to touch a clitoris than high-pressure direct contact, followed by going to town like a sex-starved teenager.
3. START BY LOCATING THE CLITORIS MANUALLY
Here's how to get started: “Lie down and ensure you have privacy so you won't be interrupted," says Overstreet. "Then take your hand and explore the area." Begin at the top of the vulva, which is the area closest to you. You can feel a soft and squishy structure that some refer to as a "button" that is located at the "top" of the lips. This is the glans of the clitoris, and the only area that's visible, even though it's only a quarter of the total size. (That's right: Three-quarters of the clitoris is hidden inside your body!) The glans is important, says Overstreet, because most women require stimulation in this area to reach orgasm.
Once you know where the clitoris is, test different pressures and speeds. If direct contact is too much, try layering your labia over your clitoris or simply circling the clit with your fingers. Don’t freak yourself out. Just find what works for you. Every single body is different.
4. GET A TOY
A good vibrator is something every woman should have on hand. It’s a love present to yourself. If you haven’t used toys before, this will change your world. If you’re a toy aficionado, but the collection is letting you down, don’t worry. It happens to all of us.
If you’re nervous about getting a toy, or don’t know where to buy them—check out this trusty guide. There are a range of vibes that are objectively adorable and not at all scary.
Overstreet points out vibrators aren't the only thing you can use during masturbation: “You can try a dildo, vibrator, pillow, or any object that feels good to you. Touching or rubbing the area with the object causes direct stimulation. Allow yourself permission to explore different objects.”
5. EXPLORE THE G-SPOT
The clitoris is fabulous, but sometimes you may want something more. Luckily, there are about a trillion ways you can pleasure yourself. Take the G-spot for example, located about two-thirds inside the vagina on the anterior wall, which is the side closest to your stomach, says Overstreet.
Once you locate the G-spot, you can either use a G-spot wand or your fingers to stimulate it. It helps to get the glans clitoris involved at the same time. A helpful tool? A toy that can stimulate both at the same time like the Eden Bunny.
Keep in mind that the G-spot isn’t an erogenous zone for every woman. It may feel amazing to touch it, and it may not.
6. DON’T FOCUS ON ORGASM
If you’re having trouble orgasming during masturbation, it’s hard not to feel like something is wrong with you. This is supposed to be easy, right? Well, not really, actually. Lots of women are incapable of orgasm during masturbation.
Women can get performance anxiety, even when they are alone. Putting pressure on yourself to orgasm will only make the orgasm more elusive (which of course only makes you anxious about being anxious, and the cycle continues).
The solution? Overstreet suggests uninterrupted “me time,” with no set end.
“Start by relaxing and mentally preparing for the experience. Make sure you factor time so that you are not rushed. Focus on the moment and the pleasure you are experiencing,” she says. “If your mind begins to think about your to-do list, focus on a pleasurable idea or image that turns you on.”
And here's a shocker: You don’t HAVE to orgasm! You can masturbate and simply enjoy the experience. Don’t focus on the goal, focus on the journey. If you take orgasming off the table as the end all, be all—you’ll probably end up getting off more often.
Give yourself permission to enjoy yourself. This doesn’t need to be a high-stakes experience. Masturbation is about connecting with yourself and enjoying your body.
This article originally appeared on Women's Health US.