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Sure, partnered sex is great! But certified sex coach Gigi Engle, Womanizer sexpert, and author of “All The F*cking Mistakes: A Guide to Sex, Love, and Life,” has some news for you: “Your solo sessions are as, if not more, important as partnered sessions.”
“Lean into that,” she suggests. These tips can help.
Just as partnered sex is way more expansive than penis-in-vagina, solo sex is way more expansive than just rubbing your nub, nips, ribs, or rod, says sex educator Sarah Sloane, who’s been coaching sex toy classes at Good Vibrations and Pleasure Chest since 2001.
Any activity that connects you to your romantic, sensual, erotic, or sexual self counts.
For starters, “it’s a wonderful way to connect to your body, become more confident in your body, and experience pleasure,” says Engle.
Masturbating is also pain-relieving, stress-relieving, mood-boosting, and sleep-promoting. (And is especially beneficial for menstruating humans).
That said, Sloane makes a good point: “Pleasure is valid for pleasure’s sake — health benefits or not.”
“Seduce yourself,” suggests Engle. This will look different for everyone, but if you need ideas, she suggests trying the following:
- Turn down the lights and light candles.
- Massage cream or oil into your limbs.
- Make and play a sex playlist.
- Take deep breaths.
- Put your phone in off-mode.
Oh, sex toys! Sweet, sweet pleasure-making sex toys!
Bring in a buzzy buddy
“Vibrators just move differently than fingers can,” says Sloane. “Some folks need the speed to get off, others simply enjoy it.”
There are endless types of vibrators, from those that are just meant for your external bits (like wand vibrators, clit vibrators, finger vibrators, and vibrating cock rings), to those that are meant to go inside your body (like vibrating prostate massagers, vibrating butt plugs, and G-spot vibrators).
This guide can help you choose the vibrator for you. And so can chatting with the sex educators at your local sex-positive sex shop.
“For folks with bigger bodies, I recommend long-handled toys like wand vibrators and thrusting vibrators, which make it easier to reach your genitals,” says body-positive sex educator Carly S. with The Pleasure Chest.
Egg on a stick vibrators, G-spot vibrators, and double-ended dildos are a good option, too, she says.
Try a non-vibrating toy, too
There’s a misconception that sex toys begin and end with vibrators. They don’t.
“Stainless steel and glass wands are pleasurable ways to apply to erogenous zones like the G-spot and P-spot, as well as a great way to play around with temperature,” says Carly S., who calls out that the Njoy Pure Wand and Njoy Eleven are cult-classics.
For your rear, there’s non-vibrating butt plugs, prostate toys, and anal beads.
Use a remote control toy
“For folks with limited range of motion and mobility issues, remote or app controlled vibrators let you get the sex toy in place, and then control the intensity and vibration from the app,” says Sloane.
She recommends the We-Vibe Moxie as a great panty vibrator for folks with vulvas and the b-vibe Rimming plug for anyone who enjoys bum play.
Pull in a sex pillow
Carly S. has one rule for solo sex: “Work smarter, not harder.”
Her go-to way to do that, besides vibrators? A sex pillow (like Dame Pillo) or wedge (like the Liberator Wedge).
“They can help you get comfortable to orgasm and to make reaching your bits easier.”
This is especially important if there’s gonna be butt play.
Don’t be a one trick pony: Experiment with new stroking patterns.
If you have a clit, try:
- Moving your fingers counterclockwise and clockwise.
- Stroking diagonally left to right, then right to left.
- Layering your labia over your clitoris to buffer the sensation.
- Tapping your clit.
- Applying pressure to your mons pubis.
If you have a penis, try:
- Tornado-like twisting strokes.
- Tapping the head with one hand, moving up and down the shaft with the other.
- Double-fisting your rod.
- Getting a firm hold and twisting back and forth.
- Yanking up with fast strokes, sliding back down more slowly.
“Once you find something that feels good, stick with it,” says Engle. “Consistency can take you right into an orgasm.”
No, not to Florida. To your butt.
The anus has half the nerves in the pelvic floor, according to Sloane. “Filling the canal can create a pleasurable sensation of fullness,” she says.
And if you have a penis, anal stimulation can stimulate your prostate (the male G-spot).
Here’s how: Grab lube, then use a butt plug, anal beads, or your finger to tease the nerve-dense ring of your bum. Once you’re thoroughly turned on and lubed up, press them into your anal canal and enjoy the sensation.
Up for getting up and outta bed? Here are some other places you might play.
Go to the kitchen
Between the coconut oil, Crisco, and ice cubes, the kitchen is a treasure trove of sex enhancers. Next time your roomie is gone, prop one leg up on the counter and have at it.
Take it to the shower
Get wild while you get wet, and dirty while you get clean by taking advantage of your daily naked time.
“The heat of the shower water can help your muscles — including your pelvic floor — relax, which can actually make it easier for your body to release into orgasm,” says Sloane. Steamy!
Throw in a water-proof vibrator to make it even hotter. Oh, and if you’re lucky enough to have a detachable showerhead, angle the stream against your “right there!” spots.
Play in public
Understand this: In most places having public sex is illegal, so rubbing one out in public can put you at risk for charges of public indecency, indecent exposure, lewdness, and obscene displays.
But if you’re on a private beach alone, on the tallest private roof in the city, or some other locale where the risk of exposure is low…
Another way to play in “public” while mitigating risk is to go to a play party or sex party. Hit up your local sex shop or the internet to find one in your area.
Park and pump
Throw it back to your high school days by pulling over to a secluded spot and pulling your pants down. Stay in the front seat so you can get outta dodge quick if needed. Or, crawl into the back and spread out.
Sure, quickies have their time and place. But when you’ve got some down time to get down with yourself, switch up positions.
Grab your wand (vibrator) and get into missionary style, suggests Engle. “You can lie back and let the toy do the work for you,” she says.
If you have a vulva, apply some water-based lube to your bits and dance the toy over your mons pubis and labia before touching your clit.
If you have a penis, use the wand to stimulate your perineum and sack before touching the top of your head with the sensation.
“On your stomach is great because you can essentially ride your sex toy to an orgasm,” says Engle. “Gravity and your body weight help to give you extra pressure on your clit or cock, which can lead to more intense sensation.”
If you have a penis, you might try the Tenga Onacup with lube. And if you have a vulva, you might try grinding against a palm-sized vibrator like the Le Wand Point.
Ride for one
A take on cow-rider, this position entails straddling the mattress.
If you enjoy penetration, lower onto your fave dildo, vibrator, or butt plug. Then, thrust, gyrate, and shimmy at a feel-good rhythm.
Another option: Use a fleshlight, palm-vibrator, finger vibrator, or stroker for external stimulation.
Stand and stimulate
Lean your back against a wall or door frame for support.
Your hands are free to stroke, tap, circle, squeeze, and tickle your other erogenous zones to your heart’s content.
This is probably the best position if you’re looking to play with your back-hole.
To start, lube up and lie on your side. Reach back and stroke your crack. And when you’re good and warmed up, slide ’er in.
With your free hand, explore your non-anal erogenous zones.
Watching others have sex (voyeurism) and having sex in front of others (exhibitionism) are two of the most common sexual fantasies.
If they’re one of yours, here’s how to creatively introduce them into your solo sex life.
Hold a mirror
Mirror, mirror in my hand, who’s the sexiest masturbator of them all…
Try mutual masturbation
Getting down with your bad self? Why not invite your partner to look on. Or have them engage in a little solo sex of their own right beside you. Sharing is caring!
FaceTime your boo
“The act of putting on a sexy show for someone else while you touch yourself can be super hot,” says Carly S.
And, depending where you hold the camera, “they’ll be able to pick up some tricks and tips about how you like to be touched.”
Great solo sex now, great partnered sex later.
Take instruction over text
Are you and your partner Team Sexting? Ask them to instruct you through your solo session. Then, do everything they say, exactly as they ask.
Better yet: Have them send over some, ahem, visual aids.
It’s not for everyone. But if you really lovelovelove being watched, you might consider doing a virtual peepshow for someone you know or someone you don’t.
“Most people are either partially or majorly aroused by visual or audio,” says Carly S. “Deliberately bringing those things into our solo sex can help turn us on — and find new things that turn us on.” Some ideas below.
Turn on porn!
Hey, everyone loves a sexy video. But ideally you’ll skip the tube sites and opt for porn you pay for, like CrashPadSeries, Indie Porn Revolution, or Lust Cinema.
These feminist, sex-positive sites feature a wider range of body shapes.
“I’d also recommend checking out the folks making their own porn and supporting sex workers,” adds Carly S.
Get a one-handed read
Typically a slower build than video porn, page porn is a great option for those who need to understand and feel connected to the characters before being aroused by them.
If you’ve already read “Fifty Shades,” don’t worry — there’s way more (way better!) smut out there available on sites like:
Listen to the lusty stuff
Need both hands during solo play? Fire up some picture-less audio porn. Quinn or Dipsea are a good place to start.
Come with comics
Once you check out Tina Horn’s SFSX Sade Sex comic or any of Katie Skelly’s work, you’ll see just how arousing drawings can be.
On your marks, get set, go or go slow.
Have a quickie
“Maintenance masturbation is a thing!” says Sloane. So go after it.
If you don’t want to worry about cleaning up lube, squirt, ejaculate, jizz, or sweat afterwards, throw down the Liberator Throw, a lush, moisture-resistant blanket.
Explore edging and orgasm control
The antithesis of rubbing one out, edging is all about bringing yourself right up to the point of pleasure… and then backing down. Over and over again, until you’re ready to orgasm.
“The idea is to help you better understand your orgasm triggers, and to gift you a deeper, richer orgasm when you finally do come,” says Sloane. Win-win.
Try tantric masturbation
Essentially the love-child of meditation, mindful masturbation, and breathwork, tantric masturbation involves slowing wayyy down to ramp the pleasure wayyy up.
Use CBD lube
Blood flow is an essential component of arousal. “CBD is a vasodilator, so CBD lube can bring blood flow to your bits,” says Carly S.
Some CBD lube brands to check out:
Important: Most CBD lubes are made with an oil-base, which can degrade the integrity of latex barriers and make them less effective.
Keep this in mind if you’re covering your sex toy with a condom. Or, if you end up deciding to bring CBD lube into your partnered play, too.
Heighten your pleasure
Or more accurately: highten your pleasure. “Where it’s legal, if you enjoy smoking weed, explore bringing the ritual of getting high into your solo sex life,” says Carly S.
You might also try THC arousal oil or THC suppositories — but again, only where weed is legal!
When all is said and covered in come, marvel in your post-O glow or go for round two!
Then, when you’re done done, wash any sex toys used — and dry them properly before storing away.
You don’t need to worry too much about cleaning your genitals. If you feel “goopy,” use a warm washcloth (no soap!) to wipe around your external bits.
Only that there is no wrong way to engage in solo play, so long as it makes you feel good. Happy stroking!
Gabrielle Kassel (she/her) is a queer sex educator and wellness journalist who is committed to helping people feel the best they can in their bodies. In addition to Healthline, her work has appeared in publications such as Shape, Cosmopolitan, Well+Good, Health, Self, Women’s Health, Greatist, and more! In her free time, Gabrielle can be found coaching CrossFit, reviewing pleasure products, hiking with her border collie, or recording episodes of the podcast she co-hosts called Bad In Bed. Follow her on Instagram @Gabriellekassel.