When you’re stuck inside by yourself, unable to date or interact with other people, what is there to do? There’s one (fairly obvious) answer: Masturbate.
For a lot of people, masturbation still carries stigma. Many of us have been taught that masturbation is wrong or shameful, or that it’s just not a good use of our time.
Masturbation actually has a number of benefits, though. It can improve your physical and mental health by reducing stress, alleviating pain and enhancing sleep. It may even boost the immune system, which makes it especially appealing for those looking to avoid getting sick right now.
Self-pleasure can also help you get to know your body so you can teach your partners how to please you. Even if you’re not sexually involved with other people, experimenting with masturbation is a great way to set the stage for a great sex life once you emerge from self-isolation.
If you want to use masturbation to learn about your body and your preferences, there are a few apps dedicated to that purpose. Here are some you might want to check out while you’re quarantined—and even after.
Known as “the audio guide for intimate well-being,” this app is full of audio recordings. They span erotic stories tailored to a wide range of orientations and preferences, to advice on accepting your body, discovering what you like, staying present during sex, masturbation and communicating your needs to a partner. It also includes primers on topics such as period sex and myths about the female orgasm, all with the aim of giving people with vulvas empowering messages about their bodies and pleasure. If you’re wanting to change not just how you masturbate but how you feel about yourself, this app is for you. You can download it and listen to some recordings for free—it costs about $37 USD to access everything.
The creators of the site OMGYES conducted research on vulva-owners’ pleasure, including techniques they enjoy and how they orgasm. They found that, while results varied depending on respondents, there were a few types of touch that tended to be highly effective. Based on this data, they made a visual guide to different ways of touching a vulva—you can watch real people demonstrating these methods and even practise on a virtual vulva! The site is helpful because it gives you ideas for both masturbation and new things to try in bed with a partner. It can also give you a sense of the wide range of sexual experiences—and seeing the vast array of ways people experience pleasure may quell any concerns that you’re not “normal.” The information and tutorials are broken into two “seasons,” which each cost about $49 USD to access.
This mindfulness app is not specifically designed for masturbation, but several of its meditation series are focused on mindful sex. Drawing from tantric principles about the body’s energetic centres and the flow of sexual energy, the meditations use breathing techniques, visualizations and self-touch to help users connect with their bodies and get out of their own heads. If you can’t seem to motivate yourself to meditate, Inscape’s techniques are definitely more fun than your standard meditations. They’re not that hard to fit into your schedule either; many are only around 15 minutes long. The app is free, though access to all the sex meditations costs $9.99 USD a month.
This free site is best known for its women-made porn, which tends to focus on female pleasure and includes a number of LGBTQ2 scenes. But it also has written erotica, grouped into categories including non-binary, girl-girl and kink. And for those interested in learning about sex, there’s a section dedicated to sex ed with articles on topics like reproductive health, sex toys and relationships. The best part? All of these features are free.
This app, which costs $8.99 USD per month, or $47.99 USD per year, is mainly known for its audio erotica—recordings of people reading erotic stories—which you can find through a handy search function based on what you’re looking for at the moment, and gender-inclusive story options. But it also contains audio guides to things like dirty talk and orgasmic breathing that can enhance your sex life—whether you’re alone or with a partner. Some of the guides even tell you exactly how to touch yourself, or include recordings of people addressing you as if you were their lover.
A lot of people learn very little about their vulvas growing up, and that’s okay; it’s never too late to start—especially when you’ve got a friendly cartoon vulva to fill you in. Aiming to eliminate the stigma around masturbation for people with vulvas, Happy Playtime—a site you can use for free—teaches the user about their body using written lessons on the anatomy of vulvas and their arousal, along with a game that prompts you to touch an animated vulva with your mouse and score as many orgasms as you can.
Lioness isn’t just an app—it’s also a smart vibrator that tracks your vaginal motion, tension and temperature, displays your orgasms on a chart and lets you journal about each masturbation session. Why would you want to do that? So that you can see what factors influence your sexual satisfaction, from where you are in your cycle to the intensity setting of your vibrator. Plus, sex nerds will geek out over the ability to learn things like what “orgasm pattern” (a rhythmic pattern of pelvic floor movements that happen during orgasm) they have. The app itself is free, but to get the most out of it, you’ll also want the vibrator, which costs $229 USD.
We-Vibe has been gaining visibility for its line of Bluetooth-enabled sex toys. Their toys pair with the We-Connect app so that your partner can please you from a distance, even controlling the vibration setting and speed. The app also includes a video-chat feature for cyber sex. Masturbation isn’t only for singles, after all. We-Vibe’s sex toys range in price, but you can download the app for free.