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Hand jobs might have a reputation as “teenager sex,” but with as much pleasure potential as any other kind of play — yes, including penetrative vaginal and anal sex! — HJs deserve a place in your adult playtime, too.

Scroll down for a, um, handy guide to making hand jobs everything.

In case you don’t know: Penises are as varied as the penis havers themselves.

Penises vary in color, shape, and size

Penises featured in porn may all have the same vibe, but IRL all penises are different!

“Some penises are circumcised, some are not. Some may curve to one side, and others may not tilt,” says trauma-informed sex educator Cassandra Corrado. “Some are girthy and some are slender. Some are shorter, while others are long.”

So does pubic hair

Pubes are like lawns. Everyone’s, er, grass is a little different in color and texture, and everyone landscapes (or not at all) a little differently.

Some folks have no grass at all, others have their initials mowed into the grass, and some have let the grass grow and grow.

There might even have a smell

Good news: You don’t have to purchase a “This Smells Like My Penis” candle (yes, that is a thing you can purchase) to know that your partner’s member won’t smell like nothing.

“Just as a foot or an armpit has an odor, so does a penis,” says Sarah Melancon, PhD, sociologist and clinical sexologist with The Sex Toy Collective.

It might smell:

  • salty
  • musky
  • earthy
  • sour

Two scents to look out for are moldy or rotten, as those can indicate an infection.

And if you take things further… know that there’s a taste, too

Question time: Whose genitals taste like apple pie? Nobody’s!

Usually, cocks taste salty, umami, or earthy flavored.

“Taste can be minorly affected by the diet someone keeps, but is more often affected by the hygiene practices that someone maintains,” notes Corrado.

So long as your boo showers regularly it should taste A-OK.

Remember: Hand sex still has risks (and so does oral)

“Hand sex is one of the lower risk sex acts; however, it isn’t risk-free for the giver or receiver,” says Searah Deysach, longtime sex educator and owner of Early to Bed, a pleasure-product company in Chicago that ships worldwide.

“Little cuts on hands and fingers could make either person susceptible to spreading or catching blood-borne STIs,” explains Deysach.

Likewise, if one partner has a sexually transmitted infection (STI) and touches their junk before they touch yours, STI transmission can occur.

“If one or both partners has an STI (or don’t know their status), wearing a latex or nitrile gloves can reduce risk,” adds Deysach.

Before we talk technique, let’s address your pressing Qs.

What do I do if there’s foreskin?

Foreskin = a thin piece of skin that covers the head of the penis. Sometimes, a baby’s parents decide to remove that flap — aka circumcise them.

If that skin is left intact, it can be retracted down the base of the penis, exposing the mushroom-like, oh-so-sensitive penis head beneath.

“Some people will enjoy having their foreskin used as part of the hand job to add a layer of texture, warmth, and wetness,” says Luna Matatas, sexuality, body, confidence, and kink educator and creator of Peg The Patriarchy.

Other people might have a tighter foreskin, and it could be painful to try to retract their foreskin intentionally during a hand job.

To find out what your partner likes, ask!

How hard is too hard of a grip?

Generally, you want to start loose and increase grip as you go (up to a point!).

But every penis owner prefers something different. So, grip your partner’s cock, then ask:

  • “Why don’t you put your hand over mine and show me how tight you like it?”
  • “Tell me when you like the tightness of my grip.”

What do I do if my hand(s) gets tired?

Sex is supposed to be enjoyable for all partners. If finger fatigue is interfering with your pleasure, transition to another activity.

You might say:

  • “Babe, I’m loving touching you, but my hand is getting tired. How would you feel about stroking yourself while I kiss your neck?”
  • “Do you want me to go down on you instead?”
  • “I think it could be really hot to watch you use a stroker on yourself.”

What if I run out of spit?

“Spit can be sexy, but it dries up pretty quickly and robs you of the slippery texture that makes stroking feel so good,” says Matatas.

The solution? Use lube and be generous with it. Silicone and oil-based lubes are longer lasting than water-based lube.

But oil degrades latex, so if you might have penetrative intercourse after, stick to a silicone-based lube like ÜberLube.

Why is my partner so quiet? Am I doing OK?

Moans aren’t the only way to communicate how it feels. Changes in breath, body language, and facial expression can, too.

The best way to find out how you’re doing is to ask!

“Ask simple questions like ‘softer or harder?’ or ‘faster or slower?’” suggests Matatas.

What if there’s pre-cum?

Pre-cum = pre-ejaculate that can dribble out of the tip of the penis anywhere from seconds to minutes before ejaculation.

If your partner releases pre-cum, that’s totally healthy and normal! Keep going (unless they ask you to stop, of course).

Keep reading to learn how to go from wanting to give an HJ to actually doing it.

How do I get things going?

Don’t go from “hello” to hand job. Build arousal with:

Does the position matter?

Different muscles may bear more strain in different positions.

“Your hip and ab muscles will be more activated if you’re straddling,” explains Corrado.

“Your shoulder muscles may feel strained if you’re lying on your side, and each position may put different amounts of strain on your forearms,” says Corrado. “Do what’s most comfortable for you and your partner.”

Clothes or no clothes?

No need to strip your boo to their birthday suit from the get-go.

Tease them over their bottoms by tracing the seams, outlining their penis through the fabric, or cupping your hand over their clothed cock and letting them grind into it.

When you’re ready (and sense they’re ready) for more, ask: “Can I take these off?”

Below are some general tips.

But remember: “All penises can experience different pleasure from techniques, so it’s important to check in with the person receiving the hand job,” says Matatas.

Set the pace

Slow and steady “wins” the race hand job — at least to start.

Begin with light pressure and slow(ish) strokes, and ramp up the intensity at your partner’s pleas.

Pay attention to their body language

Cue Shakira because hips (and eyes) don’t lie.

Is your partner backing their hips away from your grip? Odds are you’re going too fast or tight.

Is your partner thrusting into your hand? Odds are they’re very close…

Lock eyes

Or at least, if you want to feel connected AF to your partner.

Matatas notes: Eye contact can feel even steamier when the giver and receiver are at different heights (i.e., the giver is kneeling while the receiver stands).

Add lube

Again: Lube > spit.

“Lube helps reduce unpleasurable friction and potential skin irritation,” says Corrado.

Use both hands

“Two hands can help you vary strength and speed, and it can be a way to change things up,” says Matatas.

You might try wrapping your well-lubed hands around their penis and interlocking your fingers and thumbs, creating a container to stroke the penis through, she says.

Or, “Use the fist and twist technique but with both hands stacked on top of one another,” adds Matatas. “Play with twisting them in a downward motion on the penis.”

Or you could use one hand on their shaft and your other hand to:

Stray from the shaft

The perineum (the patch of skin between the balls and anus), bum cheeks, anus, balls, inner thighs, and pubic mound are also nerve dense.

“If your partner likes their balls played with, use one hand to cup or stimulate their testicles and the other hand can continue to stroke,” suggests Matatas.

Switch things up

There are so many different ways to touch a penis. Why stick to just one?

Here are three techniques, courtesy of Matatas, you can try:

  • Fist and twist. Wrap your index finger and thumb around the base of the penis. Create a fist with your other hand, and stroke in twisting motions up and down.
  • Half swirl. Grasp the penis with one hand, and use your other hand to make swirling motions over the head.
  • Bouncing octopus. Approach the head of the penis with a flat palm and allow your fingers to drape down onto the shaft. Drag your fingers up with pressure, as if they are tentacles grazing the shaft.

Maybe add toys

You might have your partner wear a vibrating cock ring while you stroke, says Corrado. And either of you could wear a butt plug or nipple clamps.

Focus on pleasure, not orgasm

“Sometimes — especially with penis owners — we get so focused on getting to orgasm that we miss the opportunities to notice our partner, to ride their waves of pleasure, and to find our own pleasure in giving,” says Matatas.

“Slow things down, encourage communication, and show your enthusiasm for giving pleasure.”

The hand job can be the main event. Or, it can be just the first stop on an all-night ride.

How do I know if I should keep going?

If they’re writhing or moaning like an (orgasmic) animal, they probs don’t want you to stop. Keep doing what you’re doing.

A quick “How does this feel?” or “Do you want me to keep going?” will clear up any confusion.

What about me!?

There are plenty of ways to get yours while giving a hand job!

You could:

  • Try a wearable sex toy like the b-vibe Rimming Plug or the We Vibe Moxie, which are available online.
  • Hump the mattress or your partner’s thigh.
  • Ask your partner to stimulate you at the same time.
  • Use your other hand on yourself.
  • Invite your partner to touch you when the hand job is done.

They’re about to come… what do I do?

Keep going. You can either let them finish in your hand, ask them to finish themselves in their own hand, or grab a rag and use that to catch the cum.

You could also let them finish in your mouth.

OK, it’s over now what?

A little post-handy compliment goes a long way. Let your partner know how hot it was to watch them enjoy themselves.

Next, clean up. Then, if you want to be touched, let ’em know!

See! Hand jobs aren’t just teenage fodder. They’re a pleasurable activity for all sexually active penis owners and their partners.


Gabrielle Kassel is a New York-based sex and wellness writer and CrossFit Level 1 Trainer. She’s become a morning person, tested over 200 vibrators, and eaten, drunk, and brushed with charcoal — all in the name of journalism. In her free time, she can be found reading self-help books and romance novels, bench-pressing, or pole dancing. Follow her on Instagram.