What to do when you get stuck in a masturbation rut

May is National Masturbation Month, and we’re celebrating with Feeling Yourself, a series exploring the finer points of self-pleasure.


When it comes to getting off, we all know the quickest way to get the job done.

Being intimately acquainted with the fastest route to giving yourself an orgasm can be a wonderful thing. And if it ain’t broke don’t fix it — there’s certainly nothing bad about masturbating the same way over and over again. As Dr Britney Blair, licensed clinical psychologist and co-founder of Lover: the Sexual Wellness App, says: “there’s nothing wrong with having a go-to location, position, technique, and fantasy.”

But if you feel like you’re stuck in a bit of a rut when it comes to your onanistic routine, and you want to shake things up a bit, we’ve some, uhh, handy advice for you.

Know the facts

If you’ve heard the term “death grip syndrome” and are concerned that gripping your penis in a very tight clench while self-pleasuring might be causing you difficulties in orgasming during partnered sex, it’s important to know there is some disagreement over the legitimacy and prevalence of this issue. Death grip is not a recognised medical condition and there is little research into the largely anecdotally reported phenomenon. But there are plenty of articles online with advice for people exhibiting symptoms of desensitisation due to masturbating with large amounts of pressure and grip.

While we’re on this topic, if you’re worried that masturbating with a vibrator is giving you “dead vagina syndrome” or a loss in sensitivity, gynaecologists say there is “no medical evidence that dead vagina syndrome is a real condition.” So, use your clit suckers and vibrators with abandon.

Change how you think about solo sex

A change in mindset can also go a long way. Duchess Iphie, who is a sex, intimacy and relationship strategist, says the best way to get unstuck from a routine is to change how we think about masturbation. “Thinking of it as self-pleasure as opposed to self-touch enables you to be open to the idea of introducing toys, changing the intensity, speed and pressure of touching yourself,” says Iphie.

Variety is the spice of life. So, if you find yourself getting a bit bored of masturbating in the same old way you usually do, think about the ways you can introduce some new sensations. Duchess Iphie suggests touching parts of your body beyond your genitals. “Explore other areas of your body that feel sensual and sensitive, such as your breasts, thighs, mouth and any other sites that may be undiscovered,” says Iphie. “Don’t focus on just the penis or vagina. Remember to stimulate all your senses during self-pleasure to get maximum enjoyment, pleasure and orgasm without feeling pressured to share that with anyone else.”

Introducing toys if you typically masturbate with your hands is another way to switch things up. Dr Blair says: “If you have a vulva, using different toys or sometimes just touching yourself so you don’t get acclimated to one sensation.” And if you’re not sure where to begin, here’s a guide to some of the best sex toys on the market.

Switch positions or locations

While Ariana Grande’s song “Positions” doesn’t appear to be a masturbation anthem (though she should really consider writing one), “switchin’ them positions” is a great shout when it comes to jazzing things up. Cara Thien, founder of sexual wellness CBD brand Dani Pepper, recommends trying out some new masturbation positions.

“Standing, on your knees, even bent over on the kitchen counter. And be adventurous. Masturbation doesn’t need to be confined to the bedroom, change your location,” says Thien. “Light some candles and get comfy in the living room. Just get out of your ‘normal’ masturbation space.”

Try edging

Edging — which is also known as “surfing,” “orgasm training,” and “peaking” — is a technique that involves bringing yourself (or a partner) to the brink of orgasmic inevitability and then stopping. You then take a few breaths and start again until you feel like you’re about to come. As Duchess Iphie explains, “this is where you stop stroking when you feel yourself reaching an orgasm, take a few breaths and then start again till you feel ready to orgasm.”

Slow things right down

If you’ve got accustomed to masturbating very quickly because you don’t have much alone time or privacy, it might be time for a change of pace. Know that you can play around with pace and rhythm during your solo sex session too. “Take your time, enjoy the moment. Start slow, find a rhythm, increase your intensity, then slow down and begin again. Repeat until you just can’t stop,” says Thien.

There’s nothing wrong with sticking to a routine when it comes to masturbation. But if you feel in the mood for a change, there are plenty of options available to you. Most importantly of all, enjoy yourself!