Whether we're on our own or with a partner, we need to be familiar with our own bodies. Self-stimulation is an important skill for any woman who wishes to develop and maintain her ability to enjoy sex.
Few women achieve orgasm through vaginal penetration alone: It takes direct stimulation of the clitoris for most. A woman's clitoris works much the same way as a man's penis, which, developmentally speaking, it's very similar to. Most women also don't achieve orgasm without learning to stimulate the clitoris on their own. Sure, you can ask your partner to do it for you, but to communicate what kind of stimulation works best for you, you need familiarity with your own body. Like any skill, the more we practice self-stimulation, the more successful we become.
Many of us have learned these lessons. And if we were lucky, orgasms during our younger years were a simple fact of life. Others rarely had orgasms, but enjoyed sex nevertheless, because, well, it just feels good.
But as we get older, as hormones and overall fitness wane, it takes more for sex to feel as good as it used to. Now we need time, patience, more stimulation, more pressure, more lubrication. More everything.
Self-stimulation becomes more important for two reasons. On your own, regular stimulation helps you remain responsive to sexual attention from your partner when it comes your way. And, when it is time for partnered sex, stimulation by you or your partner before intercourse can ready all of your genital tissues for enjoyment.
Get used to flexing those sexual organs as a means of staying in the game. Betty Dobson, who has taught generations of women to discover and enjoy their sexuality, teaches five elements of self-stimulation: clitoral stimulation, vaginal penetration, pelvic movement, pelvic muscle contractions, and breath work.
You will need uninterrupted time and privacy in a warm room where you can recline comfortably. Use pillows or bolsters to assure your back and hips are well supported. Leave the phone off the hook and silence your cell phone. Save the wine for later, because alcohol will dull your senses.
Breath: Take in and let out a few deep breaths before you start. Your sexual organs like oxygen, so give them some. It's tempting to hold your breath for long periods during stimulation, but try to remember to breathe deeply and often.
Pelvic muscle contractions and pelvic movement: Mastering Kegel exercises will make you familiar with your pelvic floor. Flexing that muscle rhythmically now while rocking your hips forward and back or in a circular motion, in a rhythm that works for you, will stimulate deep pleasure centers.
Vaginal penetration: This is nice, but not necessary for everyone. Many women like to use Kegel weights, a dilator, a vaginal vibrator, or dildo to offer their vagina a feeling of fullness during stimulation.
Clitoral stimulation: If you are unfamiliar with your clitoris, take some time before you attempt self-stimulation to learn its anatomy. You may be familiar with the glans, the little sensitive button that peeks out from under its hood when it's excited? Behind it is the shaft, which also grows longer and harder when stimulated. Branching off of the shaft and running down behind your labia are the two crura, long leggy extensions of the clitoris which are quite sensitive and fill with blood as you get excited. As they become engorged, they encourage your labia to open like a flower. Lots of women like to position a hand mirror where they can watch this happen. We encourage this practice! The more we look at our genitals, the better we can care for them.
Many women like to use their fingers to lightly stimulate the glans and shaft, and the their whole fingers in a peace-sign to stroke the length of their crura on either side of the glans. As we get older, we generally want and need more stimulation over longer periods, and so the use of a clitoral vibrator comes in handy here. Use the vibrator to directly stimulate the entire body of the clitoris and internal and external labia. You may want to investigate other sensitive areas with your vibrator. Many women like to stimulate the perineum, the inside of their thighs, their lower bellies, and their nipples, too.
It's a good idea to aim for two sessions per week of self-stimulation. Try not to have a specific goal for your sessions. Yes, orgasms are very nice. We've never met anyone who didn't love them. But the goal of stimulation is taking care of yourself by exercising your sexual organs, feeling good, and feeling alive as a sexual being. Orgasms will come in their own time and way.
First published 01/13/2010 Last updated 06/03/2011
Learn how your body's changes affect your sexuality.
Understanding what's changing can help you keep sex enjoyable.
Enhance comfort by caring for your vaginal and vulvar tissues.
Compensating for lower hormone levels means taking care of yourself.
Increase sensation in genital tissues.
Taking more time, energy, and attention can re-awaken our sensations.
Maintain tone in the pelvic floor muscles.
Exercising these muscles encourages circulation and strengthens orgasms.
Build intimate relationships.
Having emotional bonds is essential for good sex after 40.