You Deserve to Practice Elaborate Masturbation in Your Life; Here’s How

I love dating myself. I think it’s an important part of practicing self love; all the romantic and sweet things you could theoretically do for or with a partner you can also do for and with yourself. This includes making elaborate meals, going on elaborate adventures, gifting elaborate presents, and yes, engaging in elaborate masturbation sessions. As Lizzo sings about herself in Soulmate: And she never tell me to exercise / We always get extra fries / And you know the sex is fire! When I heard that I squealed in delight: Did Lizzo actually just refer to the sex she has with herself – masturbation – as fire on a song off an album that debuted at number six on the Billboard 200? She sure did, angels. I invite us all to take that energy with us as we dive into this article.

There’s absolutely nothing wrong with a quickie masturbation session – who amongst us has not lazily reached for our Hitachi and spent less than five minutes orgasming right before bed? That’s beautiful too! – but I feel strongly that everyone deserves to try out elaborate masturbation if only to see if you like it! I once described a particularly elaborate session I’d had to a friend, and she seemed shocked and impressed. “You like, really love yourself, huh?” I do. I really do. And you can too! For this article I interviewed a lot of people – both pals and strangers – about their elaborate masturbation practices, and I’ve compiled some of their experiences into a handy to-do list for beginners and experts alike of elaborate masturbation.

This post was originally written in 2019 and updated/republished in 2021 to celebrate May is Masturbation Month!

Set Aside Time

Anything elaborate tends to take time. This is the opposite of a quickie – this is a whole scenario you’re creating to spend time with yourself and your body, and you do not want to be rushed. If you live with a partner or roommates or your parents or anyone else, try to coordinate a time when the people you share your space with will not be home. If that’s impossible, at least make sure you have a solid closed door policy and set an implicit or explicit boundary that you are not to be disturbed when you’re taking time for yourself in your room. If you have the luxury of being flexible, think about when you’re most likely to feel excited about masturbation. If you’re a morning person, waking up on a Saturday might be perfect for you. If you’re more of a night owl, maybe you want to pick an evening where you don’t have anywhere to be the next day. One person interviewed told me they plan for days in advance, and another said they actually aim to schedule 2-3 hours of solo masturbation time into every week. I didn’t ask that person any astrological follow ups so I don’t know their sign, but as a Capricorn, that level of planning really spoke to me.

Be Intentional

The coolest thing about masturbation is that it’s entirely on your own terms. You are the only person involved (unless you’re masturbating with a partner, which is hot, but not what I’m advocating for in this particular article) and so your needs and desires are the only thing you have to take into account! If you have trouble verbalizing to a partner or a date what you like when it comes to sex, or if you’re not even sure you know what you’d like, let alone know how to ask for it, this is a great time to be intentional and think about what might make you feel good. Ask yourself: What do I hope to get out of this masturbation session? Are there new things I’m curious about that I’d like to try by myself before I attempt them with another human? Do I care if I orgasm? I absolutely do not believe that sex or masturbation has to be goal oriented (although sometimes there is a goal you might be interested in achieving, and that’s fine too, though you shouldn’t be hard on yourself if you don’t or can’t reach it) but I do believe in intention setting.

Prepare Your Mind, Your Body, and Your Materials

Elaborate masturbation is not a casual low key thing. It’s a high key thing, and that’s the point! You know all that self imposed anxiety you store because of societal pressure against being “too much”? Throw that away right now! Your elaborate masturbation date with yourself is a high key event, and you should prepare accordingly! Setting aside time and being intentional are two ways to prepare your mind, but take it a step further and start using your imagination. One person told me they spend at least an hour reading reading erotic comics to get in the mood; they recommended The Rock Cocks and Alfie as free options available online, and FilthyFigments for paid content that you can purchase that has plenty of great queer-women-and-enby-friendly options. Other folks read narrative erotica, imagine which toys and outfits they’ll wear, journal about what they’re most interested in, and watch porn. There’s no wrong thing to think about, and the coolest part about fantasies is that they belong entirely to you.

When it comes to preparing your body, remember that masturbation is a physical activity and you should prepare accordingly! A friend once teased me that it seemed like I was running a marathon every night with the amount of elaborate masturbation I was engaging in, and you know what, she was not wrong! Hydrate! Eat a solid meal! Have snacks and water nearby! Have a little wine or smoke some weed if that’s what you’re into, or choose to be entirely sober. Take a shower if it makes you feel sexy. Hold off and don’t masturbate for several days before hand if you want to tease yourself or really feel like you’re going to explode when you finally do orgasm. Choose your outfit intentionally. Put on makeup or don’t, spritz some perfume or dab on some essential oils or don’t… the point is that there is no one size fits all situation for this date, because it’s all about you and what you personally enjoy! Figure out what that is and then treat yourself. Except for water and food – water and food are non-negotiable.

Elaborate masturbation does not have to include a lot of props – you can be extremely elaborate with your brain and your hands – but it often does include some additional objects, and it’s nice to have all your materials within arm’s reach so that you’re not racing around your apartment with a butt plug desperately looking for your medium-size dildo and an ice cube, unless of course part of your elaborate masturbation fantasy is sending yourself on a treasure hunt while wearing a butt plug, in which case mazel tov please follow your dreams!!! Some materials to consider when planning an elaborate masturbation session: dildos, butt plugs, nipple clamps, other sex toys, lube, implements for impact play, ice cubes, rope, towel or puppy pad or absorbent blanket, audio recorder, full length mirror… that is certainly not an exhaustive list, and it should go without saying that you should research safety precautions before using any of the things on this list that are unfamiliar to you, but hopefully that list is inspiring to you.

It’s Time to Masturbate!

Okay! You’re ready! You’re gonna masturbate now! You’ve made the time, you’ve set your intentions, you’ve prepared your mind and your bod and your materials and now… you’re gonna masturbate! Elaborately!

Here are some fun suggestions, all contributed anonymously, to inspire you as you embark on your own elaborate masturbation journey:


I start off with a tasty meal just for me sometimes I cook it and sometimes I just order in. Then I soak in the bath with a glass of red wine for at least 30 minutes. Then I doll up, I put on my favorite lotion, leave my face bare except for red lip stick, and dress in soft, sexy clothes. Then I indulge in whatever fantasy I’ve been dreaming up. Sometimes it’s belly play, or impact play, sometimes it’s nipple play, and sometimes is just going to town on a dildo. There isn’t a specific goal with my elaborate masturbation practices. For me it’s about appreciating myself and my body.


I like using elaborate masturbation to try out sensations that are brand-new to me, or sometimes even actively challenging/anxiety-producing for me, and see if I can learn to enjoy new things. I learned how to like & then love any kind of penetration by experimenting with solo butt play during drawn-out, no-pressure, leisurely masturbation sessions where I also used a much-loved vibrator against my clit. I learned to like & then love vaginal penetration by very slowly adding that into my sessions as well. I treat it like a date: I pour myself a big glass of water; I turn on some chill music; I turn the lights down; and I plan for it in terms of my time & energy. Experimenting with partners is also great, but my body seems to learn to enjoy totally new forms of sex & play more easily solo. All of my most-dramatic shifts in how I experience sexual pleasure have happened in this context over time.


My routine is pretty consistent and ends up being about 90% “foreplay.” It’s toy-free. I start by spending at least an hour reading erotic comics. I also spend a lot of time using my imagination to get off but it’s not always efficient. Then I do a lot of nipple play, usually involving just my fingers and sometimes lube and ice – I do this for 30-60 minutes and usually I can orgasm from it. Then I always end by inserting a finger and rubbing my clit but I don’t usually last much longer than 5 minutes. I’ve developed this routine from prioritizing my comfort and pace and favorite activities (like nipple play) over whatever I feel like I’m “supposed” to do, and I recommend it! I’m working a lot on accepting and celebrating my body lately and it’s very fun to figure out my quirks and address (and love) not just my needs but my wants as well.


[What elaborate masturbation looks like to me:] Showers and make up. Body oil. Lingerie. Dancing to sparkly lights in front of the mirror. Laying out all the toys and lining them up by interest for the day. Searching porn for hours to work myself to end up grinding into myself and my favorite playlist. Shutting the door and curtains and loving on myself without the presence of time. [It] is fun and challenging and has taught me so much about how and why I shame myself, and has allowed me lots of room to explore my feelings regarding sex in a completely safe and independent matter.


I love to record myself masturbating and then listen to it when I get off in the future. It sounds egotistical I guess but I find the sound of my orgasms really hot! I learned this move when I was recording a clip of myself masturbating to send to a long distance date, but then I played it back to make sure it sounded okay and it turned me on so much I ended up making myself come again before I even sent it. That’s how I learned I love this trick! Make yourself orgasm by listening to yourself orgasm? The definition of DIY!


I sometimes use rope when I masturbate. I find myself doing it more by myself when I don’t have kinky partners, because it’s something I really crave, and I find that self-tying will put me in that subby headspace without needing another person. What that looks like for me, out of a sense of safety, has been pretty simple. The key points have been pacing it really slow and thinking hard about what I’m doing to make sure I’m not putting myself in danger in a high risk way. I never tie my hands. Doing ties on my legs, or tying my ankles to something in a particular way to create a sensation of being restrained, or sometimes tying rope around my torso allows me to create tension that I can play with and pull and push against; for me, that feels good. When it comes to self-tying, safety is a really big deal. I did a lot of research online about safety, and would encourage others to do the same. Make sure you can always cut yourself out of a tie – which is why I don’t tie my hands.

One final note on elaborate masturbation practices: because you are alone, it is extra extra important to be very diligent about safety! As our anonymous contributor emphasizes with rope and self-tying: do your homework beforehand, keep doing your homework, and take precautions that will keep you safe (like not tying your hands and making sure you always have scissors nearby if you need to quickly cut yourself out of a tie). It’s always important to research safe practices for sex, but it’s even more important when you are solo.

Post-Masturbation Care

If you take only one major point away from this article, I hope it’s the knowledge that elaborate masturbation absolutely does not have to look the same for every human. One person’s dreamiest scenario is another’s Absolute Hard No. The biggest takeaway from each of the examples included above is that these folks use elaborate masturbation as a space to spend meaningful time with their brains and their bods, explore and experiment different ways they like to be touched, appreciate and love their bods and themselves, rid themselves of shame when it comes to leaning into their desires, and have fun and be sweet to themselves.

When you wrap up an elaborate masturbation session, take care of yourself the same way you’d offer care to another person. Get yourself some water and a snack. Rinse off in the shower if that feels good. Pass the fuck out if you’re tired. Clean your sex toys so they’re fresh for the future. Take some selfies if you feel hot and inspired. Be kind to your bod and your brain, and most importantly, get excited for your future elaborate masturbation sessions! You deserve it, babe.

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Vanessa is a writer, a teacher, and the community editor at Autostraddle. Very hot, very fun, very weird. Find her on twitter and instagram.

Vanessa has written 404 articles for us.


    • Also, clean your toys beforehand too. I’ve seen some dirty dustmite covered toys, no dice. Or just use a condom makes cleaning easy.

    • OMIGOD I have so many different chargers and cords and plugs and things though
      But srsly yeah weak toys are no fun
      Off to dilate, maybe I’ll plug something in while I do it!

      • Also if you’re dilating you absolutely have to make it special sometimes so you don’t hate the whole thing. Enjoyyyyy!

  1. OMIGOD I have so many different chargers and cords and plugs and things though
    But srsly yeah weak toys are no fun
    Off to dilate, maybe I’ll plug something in while I do it!

  2. This article is hott!!

    Who knew I’ve been intentionally masturbating for so many years! I never thought of it like this before, but I figured a lot of stuff out about myself through masturbation. I also find it is a great stress releiver, so I try to plan it a few days in advance so I can look forward to it, like I do my therapy sessions and date nights with my spouse.

    Also, I’ve advocated for intentional masturbation for years. I’ve told my spouse and other people (I have no boundaries) that they should masturbate more to figure out what to ask for in bed from their partners. Cuz if they don’t know what makes them feel good, how are they going to be able to ask for it!

  3. I draw while I do it so I’ve got a visual aid but it’s exactly what I want it to be/what I’m fantasising about :)

  4. This article is so good!! I honestly never thought about the framing of a number of these suggestions but it’s really exciting and cool, thank you for posting!!

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