Sex is great, but it doesn’t need to be the only way you experience your sexuality. Sometimes, you just want immediate sexual fulfillment without having to account for anyone else — pure, unfiltered “me time.” Of course, no one’s suggesting that a masturbation marathon can replace sex with another person — but it’s normal to have certain needs, and each of these outlets for your desire is useful in different ways.

Sex helps you grow as a lover, teaching you how to respond to someone else’s body and desires, and it can help you grow much, much closer to your partner. Masturbation, while it’s seen as a more “selfish” act by some, is in fact a great way to grow as a sexual being — it’s often while masturbating, not having sex, that you begin to discover what it is that arouses you the most, whether it’s while letting your mind wander through sexual fantasies and scenarios that pique your interest, or letting your phone or computer wander through some explicit material online.

And don’t forget, masturbation has health benefits for both men and women, so it’s not something to feel guilty about — though you may want to be aware of the potential negative side effects. While self-stimulation can be part of a balanced sex life, too much of a good thing can definitely become problematic, so it’s good to read up on what’s healthy and normal.

While most people have a preferred style or means of masturbating that they developed over time, when the urge strikes, it certainly doesn’t hurt to be equipped with a few tools and techniques to turn your solo game into something a little more exciting.

For starters, get yourself a good lube so that you don’t cause yourself unnecessary and potentially painful irritation (seriously, there’s a lot of friction going on), and try adding a little variation to your regular routine, with or without a partner. To send you off to a good start, here are seven masturbation techniques that you should try.

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