PEOPLE HAVE BEEN pleasuring themselves for ages—in fact, archaeologists have discovered graphic cave carvings from at least 3,000 years ago depicting men jerking off. As pop culture helped to de-stigmatize masturbation, and porn became increasingly available via the Internet, more and more people began embracing these solo pleasure sessions without shame. At some point, masturbating became as mundane as brushing your teeth—a morning shower or pre-bedtime routine Now, it’s high time to ask yourself: are you on autopilot when you’re masturbating? If so, don’t fret—we tapped the experts for some new techniques off that will totally break you out of your self-pleasure rut.

“There are times when we just want to ‘clear the pipes’ and there are occasions where it’s more helpful and enjoyable to slow down and extend the self-pleasure experience,” explains Amanda Rue, an intimacy and pleasure coach. “Many men still treat masturbation as a rushed act because they are often focused on the end result of ejaculation—in other words, performance versus pleasure.”

It probably doesn’t help that many of your references for pleasure may come from porn, where sex is displayed as quick, aggressive, and orgasm-centric.

“Men then often embody these same behaviors instead of taking time to slow down, be curious about their pleasure, and connect more deeply into the experience,” Rue adds. “Being able to sit with, explore and understand our own pleasure will give insight and information that will help expand your pleasure through all aspects of your life and relationships.”

How to Masturbate

To be clear, there’s no right or wrong way to masturbate, says Megwyn White, a certified sexologist and Director of Education atSatisfyer. Still, she notes that men can miss out on more powerful orgasms when they emphasize the destination rather than the journey.

Studies have shown that masturbation can come with a slew of health benefits for men—but let’s be real: you masturbate because it feels good. So, when you want to feel really, really good, try these expert-approved tips and techniques to take your self-pleasure sessions to the next level.

1) Change the position you masturbate in.

You’ve likely masturbated in the same position now for years, so try switching it up. “If you are a stander, try laying on your back. If you like to sit, stand up,” Dr. UC. says. “Changing positioning can improve your pelvic floor muscle resting tone, which can help improve the blood flow to your penis.” So changing up your masturbation positions won’t only feel good for the novelty, but it may also increase the strength of your erections.

2) Masturbate after you work out.

Do you ever feel really horny after working out? Well, there’s a reason for that. You release hormones while working out, including adrenaline and dopamine a.k.a. the so-called “feel-good” chemical. Dr. UC adds that it’s excellent to masturbate after working out “because your endorphins are quite high, blood flow is great, and your pelvic floor muscles are completely relaxed.”

3) Stimulate the taint (perineum).

“The perineum is the area between the penis and the anus. It’s full of nerve endings and very sensitive, so providing some vibration to it can often feel really good,” says LELO Sexpert and NYU professor of Human Sexuality Dr. Zhana Vrangalova.

Try pressing a vibrating sex toy to your perineum while stroking your penis with your other hand. Vrangalova recommends either the LELO Lily 2 or the LELO Smart Wand. It’s “sure to provide a different kind of orgasm,” she says. There are also prostate massagers on the market that stimulate your perineum.

4) Use a Fleshlight (or another masturbation sleeve).

Sex toys aren’t just for people with a vulva. For penis-owners, Emily Morse, a sex expert and host of the popular podcast Sex with Emily, recommends the Fleshlight, the popular handheld column that you slip over your junk to simulate the feel of real vaginal or anal sex. (You can even buy an accessory to free up both your hands.)

When you’re done having fun, make sure you clean your Fleshlight properly!

5) Use a vibrator for your penis.

Vibrators have traditionally been marketed to people with a vulva, which makes sense, given that most need some form of external clitoral stimulation in order to climax during penetrative sex. But recent years have seen an increase in vibrating sex toys designed for dicks, because honestly, those vibrations can feel really damn good on penises, too! One 2012 study found that 44% of heterosexual men had enjoyed the experience of using a vibrator at some point in their life, so don’t be shy about trying some of these toys.

6) Incorporate anal play.

“A lot of men, especially those who identify as straight, regularly miss out on a huge source of pleasure: their butts,” Vrangalova says. “Butts (of all genders) have a huge number of nerve endings and stimulating them can feel really good. If you have a prostate that you can (indirectly) reach this way, that anal stimulation can be literally mind-blowing.”

So how do you bring a little butt play into your next masturbation session? Vrangalova recommends using your hand or a prostate massage toy.

She recommends the LOKI Wave, which “has a nice long handle you can hold with one hand while you stroke with the other, and the wave motion of the internal vibrating part hits the prostate just right.”

7) Put a cock ring on it.

A cock ring—also known as a penis ring—is a band and that goes around the base of your penis (and sometimes your testicles, too), trapping blood flow in your shaft and thereby strengthening your erection. Cock rings often come up in conversations about how to last longer during partnered sex, but there’s no reason not to reap their rock-hard benefits during solo sex. Speaking of benefits: In addition to stronger erections, some guys anecdotally say that cock rings give them stronger orgasms.

8) Switch up your grip and speed of stroking.

Ever heard of the “death grip“? If you find yourself having a hard time reaching orgasm during sex with a partner, it might be because you’re squeezing your penis too hard and stroking too fast during masturbation.

“This amount of grip pressure and stroke speed cannot typically be reached with a partner, hence their orgasmic difficulties,” Vrangalova says. “To prevent this from happening, make sure you switch up the grip and stroking speed, so you’re used to ejaculating in different ways.”

9) Try edging.

The 5-minute speed jerk is fine for most days. But if you have a little extra time, “edging”—also called the stop-and-start method—can help you achieve more intense orgasms, Morse promises.

Work yourself right up to the edge of ejaculation and then take a short break—just enough time for your erection to soften a bit. Then start the process over again. Do this three or four times before you orgasm, and you’ll experience more profound, powerful ejaculations, Morse says.

10) Switch hands.

You’ve probably tried incorporating your non-dominant hand into your solo act. You may have even attempted the mythical “Stranger”—sitting on your hand until it falls asleep, and then using it to simulate the sensation of someone else doing the dirty work. But Morse advises using your opposite hand in more creative ways.

Turn your hand so it slides down your penis forefinger-first, and twist it as you stroke. You could also try holding your penis against your stomach with one hand while rapidly sliding a few fingers up and down the underside of your shaft. Like switching positions during sex, mixing in unfamiliar hand maneuvers can break up the tedium, Morse says.

11) Bring your balls into the mix.

There are nearly as many sex-specific nerve endings in your testicles as there are in your penis. Don’t neglect them, Morse urges.

While individual preferences and sensitivities play a big role in what you’ll enjoy, a lot of men discover an untapped source of stimulation—and more intense orgasms—by pulling down on their testicles rhythmically before ejaculation.

Some guys learn to ignore their penis entirely as they approach the big O, Morse says.

12) Masturbate with a partner.

Masturbation entails sexually pleasuring yourself, but it does not mean you have to do it alone in a room with the door locked. Masturbation side-by-side with a partner can be an intimate experience—not to mention an easy, sexy option for when you’re both too tired to do anything fancy. “Sex is so much more than penetration,” Howard says. “Sex is any type of emotional, spiritual, physical, or erotic connection, and that includes mutual masturbation.”

Plus, watching how your partner touches their own body can be a great way to learn exactly what they like in bed, and vice versa.

13) Focus on the pleasure—not the orgasm.

We know it sounds counterintuitive, but the less you obsess about climaxing, the more enjoyable your sexual experience is likely to be. In our race to have an orgasm, we often end up overlooking the most important aspect of a sexual experience: pleasure. If you have time on your hands, do what feels good—not what you think will get you over the finish line fastest.

“Most people masturbate because they want that release, but allow yourself to focus on the moment of intimacy between you and yourself,” Howard says.

14) Incorporate mindfulness and deep breathing.

You may not think masturbation and meditation go hand in hand—but according to experts, this combo can be mindblowing.

Tara Suwinyattichaiporn, founder of Luvbites and professor of sexual communication at California State University Fullerton, says this approach can help you remain present from start to finish, so you enjoy the experience more. This might entail doing a body scan to notice different sensations you’re feeling, or honing in on your breathing as you approach climax. By being fully present from start to finish, you can enjoy the experience more.

“Starting your self-pleasure session with intentional breathing will bring you into the moment and into your body,” says Rue. “As you breathe, invite the breath to move deeper into your body and into your sexual centers. Begin to feel the erotic energy activate as you gently begin touching and stroking yourself.”

And if you’re struggling to remain present and mindful during your masturbation sessions, Avril Louise Clarke—in-house sexologist and intimacy coordinator at ERIKALUST—suggests scheduling them ahead of time. It might not feel as sexy as a spontaneous jerk-off, but this way you can ensure you have plenty of time to slow down and enjoy the ride.

15) Reach for the lube.

Newsflash: lube isn’t just for partnered sexual encounters. Heather England, PhD, a certified sex therapist and founder of Love Filled Life, points out that not only can using lube reduce chafing and desensitization from friction, but it can also heighten the intensity of your orgasm.

Avril Louise Clarke, in-house Sexologist and Intimacy Coordinator at ERIKALUST, advises trying silicone-based lube since it won’t dry out as quickly. However, if you plan on using a silicone-based toy, make sure to use a water-based formula instead—this kind won’t break down the product’s material. And when you’re lubing up, don’t be shy with slathering on a liberal amount—it’s almost impossible to have too much of a good thing in this case.

16) Experiment with temperature play.

“Partnered sex is not the only kind of sex that can benefit from experimentation and exploration,” says Kate Delgado, the resident sex educator at Lioness.

Delgado and White strongly recommend experimenting with temperature to explore different heightened sensations.

“Your skin is the largest sex organ you have, and focusing solely on your penis, prostate, and balls is limiting,” Delgado explains. “When you’re masturbating, incorporate sensation and temperature play by running ice all over your body, or using a tingling lube on your nipples.”

Delgado suggests using a toy that incorporates temperature play to heat things up (pun intended)—like the Satisfyer Men Heat Vibration, which features a sensual warming function.

“Plus, temperature play can be an exciting way to explore edging and slow down your masturbation practice,” Delgado adds.

Why Masturbation Is Healthy

Jerking off isn’t just normal—it’s actually really good for you.

“During the process of masturbation, the body experiences a series of notable physiological changes,” says Dr. Yudara Kularthne, consultant physician and CEO of the men’s STD scanner HeHealth. “These include an increase in heart rate as arousal intensifies and enhanced blood flow to the genitals, resulting in an erection. Furthermore, the act of masturbation triggers the brain to release endorphins and oxytocin, engendering a sense of pleasure, relaxation, and overall well-being.”

Masturbation is an excellent natural stress reliever, Kularthne says. It also allows you an opportunity to explore your sexual desires and preferences in a safe, no-pressure environment.

“By spending time exploring your own body and understanding what sexually arouses you, you can become more confident and better enjoy partnered sexual activities as well,” adds Dr. Rachel Needle, a licensed psychologist and co-director of Modern Sex Therapy Institutes.

So, in case you needed a little justification to exercise that right hand (or left hand) here are some benefits to know about.

Boosted Immunity

Whether you know it or not, those self pleasure sessions could be helping you to avoid the sniffles. Research has shown that men have a higher white blood cell count after reaching an orgasm from masturbation (compared to before they masturbated). White blood cells play a key role in the immune system and helping the body to fight off infection.

Better Sleep

Having trouble catching enough Zs? A 2019 study found that having an orgasm can not only help men (and women) fall asleep faster, but also improve their sleep quality.

This is because orgasms trigger your body to release oxytocin, which reduces cortisol—also known as the stress hormone.

Suzannah Weiss, a certified sex educator and resident sexologist for Frolicme.com, notes that after orgasm your body also releases the hormone prolactin, which can help induce rapid eye movement (REM) sleep.

Improved Erections and Prostate Health

Ever heard the old expression “use it or lose it?” Experts say that kind of applies to your penis, too.

“With age men naturally lose muscle tone—even in the penis,” says Dr. Paul Gittens, a board-certified urologist and founder of The Rockwell Center for Sexual Health. “Masturbation exercises the pelvic floor muscles and can help prevent erectile dysfunction and incontinence.”

One 2016 study in nearly 32,000 men found that men who ejaculated 21 or more times a month were significantly less likely to develop prostate cancer than those who only ejaculated four to seven times a month. Obviously, jerking off isn’t the only way to ejaculate—but it’s certainly the most convenient way since you don’t need a consenting partner.

As for the reason behind this link, experts say that ejaculating may help to release certain cancer-causing agents so they don’t build up in your prostate gland.

Pain Relief

Did you know that your brain makes its own chemicals that act exactly like opioids? Well, during masturbation, you experience a flood of feel-good hormones like dopamine, oxytocin, serotonin, prolactin, and norepinephrine that may help provide natural pain relief.

“Those endorphins released during masturbation can also help with mood and relaxation,” Weiss adds.