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The best female masturbation positions that aren't like the ones you see in porn

The best female masturbation positions that aren't like the ones you see in porn An image of a woman with her fingers in a citrus fruit.

Porn isn't exactly famed for its realism. Women masturbate with legs splayed and backs arched, orgasming after a few minutes of frantic rubbing and moaning.

But in reality, those positions aren't necessarily the most conducive to pleasure for women. What might seem hot in a male fantasy — which informs much of the porn we watch — isn't always close to what actually gets women off.

I must admit, it hadn't occurred to me that the way I masturbate might have been influenced by the porn I was privy to growing up. Given that many British women received little or no information about female self-pleasuring during sex ed lessons, many of us have been left to fill in our knowledge gaps with porn. A global survey of over 10,000 people by sex toy company Tenga found just 14 percent of British women learned about sexual pleasure during sex ed at school, and 17 percent of women learned about masturbation.

During a London-held 100 Women I Know panel discussion about sex and power in March 2019, Africa Brooke — founder of The Cherry Revolution, a movement aiming to "break societal norms surrounding women, identity and sexuality" — talked about being cognisant that the arched-back masturbation pose we see in porn isn't always what works for people. Sometimes hunching over is better.

"Porn often shows women rubbing themselves so frantically they look like they’re trying to start a campfire in their coochies."

As sex educator Alix Fox — a script consultant on Netflix's Sex Education — puts it to me, "Porn often shows women rubbing themselves so frantically they look like they’re trying to start a campfire in their coochies."

"In much mainstream pornography, the act of women touching their own genitals is depicted — and choreographed — as something that’s primarily intended to serve men: both those they’re having sex with, and those who are watching," she continued. "Women are positioned in ways that purposefully splay and display as much of their pussies as possible, rather than to maximise their pleasure."

Sex educator Ruby Rare says that much of mainstream hardcore porn shows female masturbation in a very performative way and perpetuates a trope of "a woman lying down with her legs as far wide as humanly possible."

Always eager to unlearn habits formed because of the male gaze, I spoke to sex educators and women who masturbate about female self-pleasure positions that aren't shown in mainstream porn. Positions that might not necessarily make our bodies appear lithe and elegant, but will maximise the amount of pleasure during your solo sex sessions.

Do it face down

I asked women on Twitter to DM me their favourite masturbation positions — and my inbox was flooded with women telling me how much they love rubbing one out while lying face down.

"My fave is on my stomach so I can put weight and pressure on my hands."

"My fave is on my stomach so I can put weight and pressure on my hands," one woman — who preferred to remain anonymous — tells me. "I use both hands and I like to have the covers over my head to keep the light out (it’s usually morning) — the sunlight distracts me from my dirty deeds."

"Face down is my favourite I think, the easiest to come from," says Charlie, who prefers to be identified by her first name only. Face down is a popular position because the added body weight creates more friction against the clitoris, heightening sensation.

Fox tells me that Aimee's face-down masturbation scene in Sex Education's first season proved to be a real hit with viewers. "I got a lot of emails from viewers telling me how refreshing it was to see the character of Aimee orgasm whilst laying on her front, masturbating face down on her bed," says Fox.

A screenshot of Aimee masturbating on her stomach in Sex Education.
Sex Education's depiction of Aimee's masturbation spree was refreshingly accurate. Credit: Netflix

Get on all fours

Just as we switch up positions during partnered sex, why not shake things up when you masturbate?

"Lots of women automatically lay on their backs while self-pleasuring, but in the same way that different positions can change the way intercourse with a partner feels, altering your stance can change the effect of masturbation, too," says Fox.

"Experiment with getting on all fours, or kneeling as though you were straddling a partner; leaning backwards activates your core and pull your pelvic area slightly more taught, which can make sensations in the genitals feel stronger," she explains. For extra comfort and added friction, you can perch yourself on top of a few pillows.

Megwyn White — advisor for adult toy brand Satisfyer — recommends rotating the legs inwards to "help add a deeper stretch for the muscles around the clitoris and rear of the pelvic floor.

Squeeze if you please

Next time you're touching yourself, try clenching your muscles.

"Because so many parts of your body are interconnected with fibres and nerves, squeezing different muscles as you masturbate can enhance sensations, add pressure or pull against the genital region in ways that can be quite surprising," says Fox.

"The pubococcyygeus muscles — AKA the 'PC muscles' or 'pelvic floor muscles' — can have a strong effect upon sexual pleasure. They’re the same ones you squeeze when you’re weeing in order to stop the flow of urine. Try clenching in the same way while you touch yourself; you should feel a tightening, lifting sensation inside your vagina," she adds.

She recommends tightening then releasing the muscles that curl your toes. You could also try clenching your fists or butt, or stretching your legs so they're taught. "It might feel good to hold the squeeze, or to clench then release in a rhythm," says Fox.

Get under the covers

"Often people enjoy masturbating while lying on their back in bed, however what might be different from porn is that you'll have the covers covering you. Some people really like to feel warm or hot and having your head under the sheets can be nice," says Rare.

One thing Rare enjoys is finding a sunlight spot in her bedroom and lying in that patch while she masturbates.

Experiment with different types of touch

A lot of us are guilty of falling into a masturbatory rut when it comes to what we do with our hands and fingers. Sometimes it feels like you're in a frantic rubbing race to get to an orgasm-shaped finish line. Fox recommends trying a bunch of different things with your fingers — the possibilities really are endless here.

"You could try tapping motions; tickling; flicking; lightly slapping; going v-e-r-y-s-l-o-w-l-y; pulling on the labia or cupping the whole area with your hand; pressing down; varying between light and firm touches; hovering your hand above your genitals without touching them to build your sense of anticipation, before landing the lightest fairy-fingertip-kiss on your hot spots; making tiny circles with a fingertip," she says.

Keep your labia majora and mon pubis (the outside bit of your vulva) in mind too, advises Fox. "Try keeping your legs closed for a while and just stroking your flesh and pubic hair, and focusing on the sweet sensations there before you fully open the cookie jar," she says.

Missionary for masturbation

One woman, who prefers to remain anonymous, told me her favourite position is lying on the sofa, which she describes as "missionary for masturbation. "As a disabled woman, it’s the easiest too," she says.

In a somewhat similar position, White suggests lying in a bathtub with either one or both feet propped against a wall. If you happen to have a detachable shower head, you could incorporate water clitoral stimulation too. Just make sure the water's not too hot.

Pull up a pew

Sex blogger The Other Livvy is a fan of using furniture to get her solo-sex kicks. "If I'm in a chair then leaning far back in the chair with my arse on the edge of the seat to get as close to that same position as I can," she explains.

Propping one leg against a wall or piece of furniture can help you to move back and forth and create a rhythm.

Explore your 'U-Spot'

Sure, you've heard of the G-Spot, but what about your U-Spot? "The 'U' here stands for 'urethral opening; AKA. the pee hole, a zone universally ignored in porn unless it’s a specialist golden shower video," says Fox. "The area is surrounded by spongy erectile tissue that can become 'plumped up' or stiffer when a woman is aroused, and very sensitive to touch."

Fox says that the U-Spot feels best when a featherlight touch or stroke is used and when the area is "copiously slippery and wet."

As Rare points out, there's really no such things as a "best position" — it's all down to personal preference and what you feel comfortable doing. "I would recommend people change up their habits with solo sex every once in a while just because it's nice to experience something new," says Rare.

One thing we could all do with unlearning from porn, however, is the notion that we need to look good while masturbating.

Embrace the "double chins and your body being in weird and wonderful angles" — as Rare puts it — and just focus on getting off. Enjoy.

For more on masturbation on Mashable, we ran a whole week of content just for you.

UPDATE: May. 15, 2023, 12:57 p.m. AEST This article was originally published in July 2019, and has been updated in May 2023.