Betty Dodson's Masturbation How-to

After years of observing my own orgasms, as well as hearing about those of women I've known personally and professionally, I've observed four basic categories: Pressure, Tension, Relaxation and the Combination that I call a ‘Rock and Roll Orgasm.’ Pressure or Tension orgasms are most often reached through holding the breath and gasping occasionally. Total relaxation orgasms, or what I've also termed ‘Sleeping Beauty’, are the most rare. To remain totally relaxed while breathing deeply, someone else must do genital stimulation in a manner that is nearly perfect. Ha! If you find that person, capture them quick! The Combination orgasm combines elements of the first three, and is my personal favourite. Whether you want to experience your first orgasm, or simply get back to masturbation basics, follow these steps to pleasure…



You will need to gather a few basic items. If at all possible set aside at least an hour in a warm room that's completely private. Turn off the telephone and put your cell phone in another room. Although it's not necessary, it's also nice to have candlelight and music of your choice.

Make sure you have:

  1. A makeup mirror that stands alone with at least an eight-inch mirror surface.
  2. A light source that can be aimed between your legs.
  3. A bottle of organic massage oil such as almond, coconut, apricot, avocado, etc.
  4. A soft washcloth and a towel to sit on.
  5. A vibrator, or if you prefer, you can also use your hands. Ideally girls would use their hands until they enter their late 20s or early 30s.
  6. Something to use for penetration – Betty's Barbell works or you can improvise with a peeled carrot or zucchini. 


To learn about the form and function of your vulva, it's essential to begin with a genital exam. Get a soft towel and put it on the floor with some kind of back support. Place the mirror so that you have a view of your entire genital area. Aim a bright light between your legs. Oil your hands. Now spend a few minutes doing an overall genital massage while observing your vulva in the mirror. Enjoy the pleasurable feelings as you press, knead and move your hands over the entire area.

Next spread your outer lips apart to explore your vulva's intricate internal design with its delicate folds. Locate your clitoris at the top of your vulva just below where your pubic hair begins. Find the shaft and hood of the clitoris. Pull the hood back so you can see your clitoral glans. With a well-oiled finger, touch the glans softly to understand why those 8,000 nerve endings are protected with the hood. Now massage your clitoris using different kinds of pressure from light to firm on either side, on top, and underneath your clitoral glans. Observe the different sensations. Spread the inner lips apart with both hands. Locate your vaginal opening that will appear as small folds that will part when you enter with your finger. The vaginal vestibule is the recessed space inside your inner lips. See if you can locate your urethra, a tiny opening nestled somewhere in the vestibule below the clitoris and above the vaginal opening.

Arrange your genital flower in a manner you find most appealing. Take a few moments to appreciate the beauty of your magnificent sex organ.




Consciously relax your vaginal muscles while taking several deep breaths. Then very slowly press your middle finger inside your vagina. Once inside, circle your finger feeling the contours of the vaginal barrel. Take another deep breath and relax all the surrounding muscles and focus primarily on the muscle that stops the flow of urine. Now squeeze and release this muscle on your finger. You will feel your vagina gripping your finger softly or firmly depending on the strength of your PC (pubococcygeus) muscle. Take your finger away, and watch your entire genital area move from your clitoris to your anus when you contract the muscle by lifting up and squeezing. Do not bear down or push out. Lift and release. Lift and release. 



Take a series of deep breaths, exhaling with an audible sigh. Send loving thoughts to your body. During your masturbation session it's a good idea to be able to hear yourself breathing out loud. Getting oxygen into the bloodstream is essential for clitoral engorgement. Inhale through your nose and exhale through your mouth. If your nose is stopped up, do both the in and out breath with your mouth. Most women tend to hold their breath during sexual arousal so make sure you are breathing fully.



Avoid tensing up and holding your body rigid. Move your pelvis like Elvis. Roll your hips. Do a little dance lying down. Remember: sex is about having fun and feeling good.


Now that you are in touch with your PC muscle, you are ready to do slow penetration. If you are new to vaginal penetration, begin with your finger. Then use a peeled carrot or zucchini, gradually making them bigger. Just be aware that squeezing your vaginal muscle will tend to push the veggie dildo out so hold it with one hand. If you have Betty's Barbell, penetration virgins or postmenopausal women unaccustomed to vaginal penetration will place the smaller end of the Barbell just at the vaginal opening (inside the vestibule). As you begin to squeeze and release the PC muscle, observe the sensation. Penetrate your vagina very slowly going an inch at a time while pausing to grip and release the dildo or Barbell with your muscle. 




With the Barbell in place, add clitoral stimulation - first with your oiled finger. Release all expectations of what you ‘should’ be feeling. Just observe what is happening without passing any judgments. Stay with manual as long as it feels good. When you desire more clitoral sensation, add a battery vibrator. Stay with this for as long as it feels good.



It's important to let go of all romantic notions of what you think an orgasm will be like. Instead keep an open mind and pay attention to the good feelings that are happening in your body. Be patient. A consistent problem for beginners is putting pressure on yourself to come. This is the exact opposite of experiencing pleasure. Sexual excitement does not go in a straight line to orgasm. You can get a sensation that feels great and then it will drift or go away completely. Nothing is wrong. Keep breathing while you tense and release your PC muscle. Find another rhythm with your clitoral stimulation and change your pelvic movements until you catch the next wave of pleasure.

Just in front of a climax your pelvic movements might become more urgent and breathing more rapid as your heart rate increases. Or you might slow down and get quiet. At that point, trust your body until it has the orgasm. Once orgasm occurs, don't stop. Simply lighten up with clitoral stimulation by moving the vibrator above or off to one side. Keep breathing, moving your pelvis and pumping the pelvic floor muscles. After a few moments, the hypersensitivity will subside and, for some people, their clitoris will be ready to go again. At that point you have the choice of building up to another orgasm or simply riding the aftershocks of pleasure from the orgasm you just had. Some people feel satisfied with one nice full orgasm. We are unique so one size does not fit all.

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Betty Dodson – artist, author and PhD sexologist – is a sex-positive feminist and masturbation guru. She published her first book, Liberating Masturbation: A Meditation on Selflove in 1974, which quickly became a cult classic. Since then, she has continued to be a pioneering voice in feminist discourse, writing several more books including the bestselling Sex for One (1987), Orgasms for Two (2002), and most recently, My Romantic Love Wars: A Sexual Memoir (2010). She has run her Bodysex workshops, where women explore and discover their sexuality, for over 25 years. Currently she runs and edits masturbation site with fellow sex educator Carlin Ross.

Upgrade your technique, or read more about masturbation from Betty Dodson,

* All texts have been edited for Ladybeard with the permission of the author