Once you find something you like, Marin suggests sticking with that motion for a while. “You’ve probably heard all kinds of myths about how complicated female orgasm is, so you’ll probably feel tempted to mix it up and go crazy with different types of stimulation,” she says. “But the truth is that the body needs consistency; if you keep switching it up, it will feel like starting over. Once you’ve found a specific stroke that feels decent, give that a shot for a good stretch of time.”
If your hands don’t seem to be doing the trick, a vibrator can be a very handy tool. “Many people with vulvas don’t have their first orgasm until they try a vibrator,” says Mintz. Don’t worry that using a vibrator will make it hard to orgasm with a partner down the road. It could actually get you familiar with what you need to orgasm, which will help you no matter what method you’re using.
For those who haven’t used a vibrator before, Mintz recommends browsing the sections for first-time users at thisweekincas.com or thisweekincas.com. Choose a clitoral vibrator with multiple speeds and start off on the lowest. Suction-based vibrators like the Satisfyer and Womanizer are known for their ability to induce orgasms.
Seeing how other women orgasm can help you get ideas for what might work for you. Mintz recommends the site OMGYes, which shows real women demonstrating the masturbation techniques they use. You can also sign up here for Marin’s free video series, which explains how female orgasm works and the most effective ways to have your first orgasm. O.school and Wild Flower are also great resources for orgasm how-tos.
Learning to orgasm is largely about finding the right physical technique, but it’s also about overcoming any mental or emotional blockages that stop you from getting there. “There are many possible emotional blockages to orgasm including guilt about sex, feeling like one doesn’t deserve pleasure, body-image issues, and the like,” says Mintz. The most common blockage she sees with women during masturbation is getting anxious about whether they’ll orgasm. The most common blockage with a partner is being more focused on their pleasure than your own.
Some women are also afraid to orgasm because they don’t like the idea of losing control, says Marin. Talking about these issues with a therapist or sex therapist can help you figure out where they’re affecting your sex life and how to work past them.
If any of the above obstacles sound familiar to you, Mintz recommends cultivating positive self-talk to counter whatever unhelpful thoughts or feelings fill your mind when you’re trying to orgasm. You may even create a mantra like “My pleasure is important,” “I deserve pleasure,” or “Sexual pleasure is natural and important,” she says.
Another way to get out of your head during sex or masturbation is to practice mindfulness. You can do this simply by paying attention to whatever sensations you’re feeling. It’s easiest to practice mindfulness in nonsexual activities like showering or brushing your teeth and then bringing them into the bedroom, says Mintz.
You can also use a meditation app to help you out—Inscape even offers sex-specific meditations.
While the negative thoughts that block you from orgasming may not go away completely, you can pledge to yourself that you’ll keep working toward your first orgasm no matter what stands in the way. “Committing yourself to exploring your orgasm is one of the best ways to overcome all of these blockages,” says Marin. “The crazy thing is that by learning how to orgasm, not only will you experience physical pleasure, but you’ll also transform so many other areas of your life too.” If that’s not worth your time, we don’t know what is.