1. Look beyond your lady parts.
Many women have never gotten themselves off, and some have never even had an orgasm with a partner, says Goddess Cecilia, a traveling sex educator who hosts home sex-toy parties for a company called Athena's.
When she meets one of these women, she doesn't hand over a magical masturbation machine.
Instead, she tells them, "I'm not going to sell you a sex toy right away, I want you to feel comfortable with your body first because I don't want to sell you something that's going to sit in a drawer!" She advises women to first concentrate on sensual experiences, like rubbing lotion on themselves, getting massages, and losing their discomfort with their own bodies.
"There's a lot of stigma about how we look, smell, and taste and that can get in the way of accessing pleasure," she says.
"And to be able to help someone become comfortable enough to touch themselves—that makes me happy." Of course, once you are that comfortable, she'll happily sell you the vibrator of your dreams.
(This best-selling 4 in 1 pressure sensitive massager from Rodale's allows you to control the intensity through the pressure sensitive technology.)
2. Switch it up.
Sam Bard, co-owner of the woman-owned Brooklyn sex shop, Shag, says that before you plunk down your credit card to buy a vibrator from her shop, you should know what kind of stimulation you prefer.
"External, internal—some people like both at the same time," she says.
And if you've grown accustomed to one kind of action, maybe it's time to try something new.
If you're used to pure clitoral stimulation, go deep and see what your G-spot can do with the NJoy Pure Wand or the Lelo Gigi2.
More experienced toy users might want to try the Lelo Ina Wave, which combines clitoral and g-spot stimulation in one pricey little package.
(This is your body on an orgasm.) "Dirty Lola," a sex educator and the host of a monthly variety show called "Sex Ed A-Go-Go," agrees with modifying your technique.
"Once your brain learns the quickest way to get from point A to B, it's natural to keep doing that, which is why so many people feel like vibrators desensitize you," she says.
(They don't, according to Lola).
So instead of doing the same thing, she advises, "mix it up!
Use your hand or even a vibrator with a different kind of feel.
If you're used to a buzzy vibe, use one that rumbles.
Different vibrators give you different orgasms."
3. Double the pleasure.
Though masturbation is all about pleasing yourself, there's no rule that you can't involve a partner in your fun.
Mutual masturbation "helps you learn how your partner likes to be touched," says Lola.
Got a long-distance love?
Check out the "We-Vibe," which connects you with your partner via Bluetooth and mobile apps.
"You can be Skyping with your partner in China and still be masturbating together," says Bard.
(For a less pricey version, check out this one from Rodale's.)
4. Engage in self-foreplay.
Many of us look at masturbation as something to take the edge off, but Goddess Cecilia thinks working yourself up into a lather before you get yourself off can help you enjoy sex even more.
"Say you have a boring work meeting coming up or a class that you suspect might put you to sleep," she says.
"There are stimulating creams that can make your nipples tingle or stimulate your clitoris—and they can help make that meeting far more interesting." (You can take stimulating baby steps with this organic arousal balm.)
5. Love the lube.
Many of the same women who wouldn't think twice about busting out the lube tube for P-to-V sex look at lube during masturbation as a sign of failure.
That's a mistake, says Lola.
"Friction is not your friend when it comes to masturbation," she points out.
"Wetness is inside your body—there's usually not enough to coat your outer labia, and your outer labia and vulva have a lot of nerve endings.
It may not be the direct route to an orgasm, but it helps in the build up." (We like this Almost Naked Personal Lubricant from Rodale's.)
6. Embrace technology.
While high-tech gadgets are totally optional, some new options might be just what you need to take pleasure to the next level.
The Womanizer, for instance, was invented by a retired German engineer and his wife;
it uses something they call "pleasure air technology" to stimulate the clitoris.
You can also explore vibrators with dual motors and even dildos with built-in cameras (whyyyy?).
If you want to handle the latest toys, female-friendly sex toy shops like Shag, Babeland, and Good Vibrations all have excellent in-store customer service designed to make you feel comfortable, in addition to well-stocked online stores.
But sex toys are so ubiquitous these days, even retailers from Amazon to The Vermont Country Store are stocked with things that make you go mmmmmmm.