Follow Our Manual on the Art of Manual
Women are like British racing cars. Each one requires a little work to make her “go”—and what works for one won't necessarily work for the next. Some like it rough, some like only the most gentle of touches.
“I was with my first girlfriend for 9 years. Then we broke up, and I was a real dog for a couple of years, sleeping with a different girl every night. I liked to ask girls to masturbate so I knew how they liked to be touched—and was it ever an eye-opener!” says James, a British banker. “I never saw two girls come the same way. Some have to have their legs closed, some have to have them straight. Some need something inside them, some get off by rubbing up against something, some like to be on their stomachs. They use their fingers, their whole hands, the quilt on the bed! There isn't the same variety amongst blokes—we just pull!”
Helen Fisher, PhD, research professor in the anthropology department at Rutgers University in New Jersey and author of Why We Love, agrees. “Human tastes in bed are just as varied as tastes in food. A person may like Japanese food but hate pizza. Some women want their nipples chewed on; others need you to be more delicate.”
In our survey, 27 percent of men worldwide said that if they could have one sexual superpower, they'd want the ability to make any woman reach orgasm by touch. It would be a useful superpower: Only 30 percent of women can climax through intercourse alone. Most also need direct clitoral stimulation, as evidenced by the fact that it takes women an average of just 4 to 6 minutes to climax when they masturbate—versus 10 to 20 minutes during intercourse.
Your hands are one of the best tools to give her what she wants. Gather round for everything you need to know to be her favorite handyman.
The Lay of the Land
Before we get into specific techniques, here's a quick tour of the landscape through which you'll let your fingers do the walking.
Vulva: This is everything on the outside.
Labia majora: The outer lips of the vagina.
Labia minora: The inner lips of the vagina. As you've probably noticed by now, the way these look and feel can vary widely among women.
Clitoris: The bump hiding at the top of the labia. The visible tip of the clitoris has two parts. The hood is a protective fold of skin that keeps the ultra-sensitive glans hidden away. Many women find that direct stimulation of the glans creates too much sensitivity to feel good. Certainly, playing directly with it is something that should be reserved for when she's already very juicy and aroused.
And this is just the part of the clitoris that you can see—the tip of the iceberg, if you will. Australian researcher Helen E. O'Connell, MD, has reported that there's a whole lot more than meets the eye. The glans is connected to the shaft (which is the hard bit you can feel underneath her skin), and the shaft is split into two arms, like a wishbone, that extend down around the vaginal opening. This explains why some of the indirect moves we'll show you are so effective—they not only stimulate the clitoris without directly stimulating the glans but also put pressure on her hidden pleasure points.
The clitoris is an organ with no purpose other than providing sexual pleasure.
The clitoris is interesting in that it's an organ with no purpose other than providing sexual pleasure. That's a job it does very well, comprised as it is of some—wait for it—8,000 nerve endings, the greatest concentration in the human body—and considerably more than in your penis. It can be a fickle mistress, though, in that it changes with arousal. It fills with blood, becoming larger in size and more sensitive to the touch, just as your penis does. And as it becomes aroused, her sweet spots may move.
U-spot: This is a small hot spot right around the urethral opening, just above the vaginal opening and an inch below the clitoris. When it's touched very gently, it can feel very good. To stimulate it, make very small circles around it with your finger. Or when you're going down on her, focus on her clitoris but use your lower lip (brace it against your teeth) to apply strong, constant pressure to her u-spot. Don't probe the opening with your finger or tongue, though. There's a small chance that this could lead to a urinary tract infection, says sex therapist Barbara Keesling, PhD, author of Sexual Healing.
Vagina: The outer third of the vagina—the first 2 inches or so—are where the majority of nerve endings are. That's why short, shallow strokes feel so good to her. But there are two spots on the inside of the vagina—the G-spot and the A-spot—that respond very nicely to the pressure of your fingers, penis, or toys. So let's take a closer look at them—but before we do, bear in mind that every woman is different and has different internal “yes!” spots.
G-spot: The G-spot was discovered—or named, anyway—in 1950 by the German gynecologist Ernst Grafenberg. It's a rough (some say “spongy”) patch of tissue on the front wall of the vagina (the part closest to her belly), about 2 or 3 inches above her vaginal opening. “If you divide the vagina into three parts, it's at the intersection between the second and third,” says Emmanuele A. Jannini, MD, professor of endocrinology and medical sexology at the University of L'Aquila in Italy. Like the clitoris, it will swell when she is aroused.
Every woman is different and has different internal “yes!” spots.
The G-spot is the subject of some controversy. For instance, not every woman can find hers, which raises the question of whether every woman has one. According to Dr. Jannini's research, not every woman does, apparently. If your partner doesn't, no amount of spelunking will bring her to an earth-shattering G-force orgasm. But if she does, it's worth exploring to see what positions and movements make this sweet spot sing.
G-spot stimulation can lead to the buildup of a clear fluid in the paraurethral glands (Skene's glands). This fluid—anywhere from a teaspoonful to more like a cupful—is sometimes expelled through her urethra when she comes. The first time this female ejaculation happens, many women think they've lost control of their bladders. “We both thought I had peed, and neither of us said anything,” says Camille, a Frenchwoman living in New York. “I thought for sure I would die of embarrassment. But as soon as he was asleep, I snuck out onto the balcony to call a friend, and she told me it happens to her all the time.”
WHO NEEDS IBUPROFEN?
Next time she claims a headache, you can just chuckle and say (in your worst Barry White voice), “I've got just the thing, baby.” Stimulation of the G-spot has been shown to be an erotic Advil, according to Beverly Whipple, PhD, professor at the college of nursing at Rutgers University. “The pressure and stimulation make [women] feel pain much less intensely,” says Dr. Whipple. Technically, orgasm isn't even necessary for a woman to benefit. (The sound of male cheers fills the auditorium.)
Don't worry if you can't find the exact spot; stimulation anywhere along the front wall of the vagina is generally appreciated.
Camille's friend was right; the fluid is not pee—that's been scientifically confirmed. But the question of what it is remains slightly mysterious. It appears to have some similarity to the prostate fluid released during the male orgasm.
A-spot (A.K.A. the anterior fornix erogenous zone, or AFE zone): This sensitive spot right above the cervix was first reported by a Malaysian doctor. Here's the long and short of it: Don't worry about it. If you're the right shape, and she's the right shape, stimulating this zone will happen naturally through intercourse. The two of you may find that deep-penetration positions work particularly well for stimulating this spot. If this is a treasure chest for her, you'll know about it.
How to Know What She Wants
By now we've established that every woman wants something different. So how's a man supposed to know what to do?
Unless you're psychic, there's only one way: Ask. And watch, and listen, and ask again. “It's not a man's responsibility—or not his alone, anyway—to determine what a woman wants or needs in bed,” says Achsa Vissel, a Dutch psychologist and sex therapist. “If she knows what she likes, she can show him.”
Of course, this can be easier said than done. “Even intimate partners often have difficulty opening up,” says Shirley Zussman, a sex and marital therapist in New York City. “They're afraid they'll become too vulnerable; they're afraid of what their partner might think. Often, you'll hear men and women make the excuse, ‘My ideal lover doesn't need to be told what I like.’” This can be particularly hard in a long-term relationship, although you'd think the opposite would be true.
Asking gives her permission to speak up, which many women want. “When I was first dating my husband, he told me that I could always tell him to slow down,” says Marta, a professor in Guatemala. “He said it in a sexy way—of course he was always going to be in too much of a hurry because I drove him crazy—but I could tell that he meant for me to get as much as he was getting out of it. And for the first time, I felt comfortable asking a guy to slow down. I had no idea what I'd been missing with everyone else! It really has made the difference for us.”
As with everything, talking about sex gets easier every time you do it. The first conversation might be awkward, the second less so, the third not at all. The key is to stay relaxed and to remember that you're both working toward the same goal: more fun in bed. Here are some tips from the experts to help you have an open dialogue about what she needs, when, and how.
BE CAREFUL WHAT YOU WISH FOR
A small percentage of women are afflicted with a condition called PSAS, or persistent sexual arousal syndrome. (In Japan, this is known as iku iku byo—or “come come disease.”) This state of excruciating sexual sensitivity means that women with the syndrome have many—up to 300—orgasms throughout the day, whether or not they're aroused. Fun the first couple of times, debilitating by the afternoon; not only can it be painful, but it makes living an ordinary life virtually impossible. Apparently, it's most common amongst postmenopausal women who have done hormone treatment, but it's not exclusive to that group.
Model communicative behavior. “I'm very communicative with women, and I think it helps them to be more communicative with me,” says James, the British banker. “I always say something positive to make it easier, like ‘God, that feels incredible; suck me harder, sweetheart.’ And then, when it's my turn, I ask them to tell me. But I always make it part of the thing: ‘Watching you is making me so hot. Do you want me to rub you faster, you gorgeous minx?’”
Yes—or no? “When you're in a sexual situation and trying to learn what he or she likes, ask only questions with a yes or no answer,” says Patricia Pearlman, a former sex surrogate who worked with a variety of men, from the severely disabled to sex offenders, during her 9-year career. “‘Do you want me to do this harder, touch you here, nibble there?’ Never ask ‘What do you want me to do?’ Most people won't know how far you want to go or whether you'll think it's strange or gross, and they'll be reluctant to answer.”
Regardless of the reams of advice we're giving you in this book, the fact remains that ultimately, your partner is your best sex teacher. Patricia Taylor, PhD, founder of www.expandedlovemaking.com, recommends that you set up time on an ongoing basis to play doctor. Start by asking your partner to show you how she touches herself and the different strokes she uses, and pay close attention to the places she concentrates her attention. Then ask her if you can put your hand over hers while she touches herself. Finally, ask if you can put your hand underneath hers so that you can feel exactly what kind of pressure she prefers.
“The first time I ever saw my wife get herself off, I couldn't believe my eyes,” says Steve, an Australian money manager. “First of all, I practically came without touching myself. But I also realized that she touched herself very differently—much slower and more gently—than I tended to touch her, even when she was right about to come.”
Of course, while the primary objective might be learning and exploration, many of the couples that Dr. Taylor sees tell her that it's often the lead-up to some of the most mind-blowing sex of their relationships. “It's a huge turn-on when someone turns their full attention on your pleasure,” says Dr. Taylor. “It's intensely intimate and erotic when someone says ‘I really care about this; I really want to know what you like,’ and you let yourself be vulnerable enough to show them.”
Ask her to show you. Unless you're a gynecologist, it can be difficult—not to mention distinctly unsexy—to talk about specific spots or techniques outside of the bedroom. Ask her instead to tell you in a non-verbal way—by moaning or raising her hips to meet you when you've landed somewhere good. “I like to make noise and move around a lot—it gets me even more turned on,” says Perla, a Filipino nurse.
And let her know that you won't be hurt if she moves your hands or her body to make something better for her. Encourage her to be honest—and don't feel hurt when she is!
Keep the focus on her. It can be tempting to fish for compliments or reassurance during these conversations. The good thing about sex is that it's intimate. The scary thing about sex is that intimacy brings out everyone's insecurities. Avoid the impulse to ask if it was good, and how good, and was it the best?
Reverse roles. “I like to encourage people to play games in the bedroom; I find it helps with communication,” says Robin Milhausen, PhD, associate professor at Canada's University of Guelph and the host of Sex, Toys, and Chocolate, a no-holds-barred Canadian TV show about sex. One of Dr. Milhausen's favorites: For 20 minutes, your partner touches you exactly the way she'd like to be touched, and then you touch her exactly the way you'd like to be touched. This game gives you a very sexy, nonverbal way to show each other how and where you'd like to be touched.
Be Very Hands-On
Among the things your partner may tell you when you ask her what she likes is that the clitoris is not a bull's-eye, power switch, or launch button. “You can't just go for the gold,” says Rebecca Chalker, author of The Clitoral Truth. “You might short-circuit her body's elaborate arousal process.” Here some tips that will have her wrapped around your finger.
Tease her. Indirect contact can be even more pleasurable than skin-on-skin. So don't take off her panties right away; instead, take advantage of this gentle barrier and the friction it allows. “The longer it takes him to touch me, the better,” says Lavina from St. Lucia.
When you feel that it's time to move on, start with her labia. These aren't as rich in nerve endings as other areas down there (the inner ones are more sensitive than the outer ones), but it can be very pleasurable to have them massaged. Part her outer lips “with both of your thumbs and caress in a circular motion,” says Ava Cadell, PhD, a Hungarian-born, British-raised expert who has traveled and taught widely throughout the world. “Next, slide your thumbs up and down her outer lips until they are spread apart, and then do the same with her inner lips. Watch for her body language and for the swelling of her vaginal lips, which is a natural progression when a woman gets sexually aroused,” she says.
WHEN IT PAYS TO HAVE BUTTERFINGERS
As you well know, a hand job is much improved by a lube job. That being the case, allow us to introduce you to Megan Roberts, the UK representative for ID Lube, the number one lube in a test done by Men's Confidential magazine and published in Men's Health. Megan (Megs to you) even writes a column on the subject for Britain's sexy Scarlet magazine. So we gave her the run of the place (trust us, this was not a hardship) and let her tell us what she thinks we need to know about the different kinds of lubricants and how they might be used.
Megs sez: All lubes are pretty much one of three types.
Oil-based: Oil-based lubes tend to stain fabrics but are very long lasting and never become sticky. They are not compatible with latex and not recommended for vaginal use. They are great for anal sex and male masturbation—specially formulated for men to enhance pleasure. Megan calls them the hand-job helper. (Seriously—you'll never go back to your girlfriend's moisturizer once you've tried this stuff.) Oil-based lube wipes clean with a paper towel or whatever you have handy.
Water-based: These are the most “natural-feeling” lubes. Try a dab between your finger and thumb; you'll be surprised at how similar it feels to the body's own natural lubrication. Water-based lubes do not stain, are safe for use with latex, and rarely cause irritation. While the lubes can dry out during extended sex, they're quickly revived with a spritz of water or a little saliva. Because of their versatility and effectiveness, water-based lubes are the form recommended most often by experienced couples. They can be used both for vaginal and for anal sex.
Silicone-based: This has a totally different feel than water-based lube. Place a drop on the back of your hand and stroke it over your skin's surface. Notice how it glides across your skin—unlike water molecules, the silicone molecules are too big to be absorbed, so they stay on the top. This means that silicone-based lubes retain their lubricating properties better and longer than water-based lubricants. They're also highly concentrated, so a little goes a long way. The best thing is that they are oil-free, so no stains.
Silicone lubes are great for massage. You can have sex after and still be “lubed up” from a sexy massage. Megan says she often uses this lube as a moisturizer! (Regretfully, we have no photos of this.) Many of the most expensive anti-aging/moisturizing products on the market use silicone as a main ingredient; it is very long lasting and leaves your skin feeling amazing. Guys and girls can both use it as a shaving oil—no prickly rash on her thighs after you've gone down on her with cheeks as smooth as a baby's bum, and perfect pins for her too.
Silicone lubes are completely waterproof, making them ideal for use in showers and hot tubs. Silicone will not harm latex and is perfectly safe for internal use. Just remember not to use silicone lube with silicone toys. Over a period of time, silicone on silicone will loosen the molecules of the sex toy, causing possible disintegration.
Silicone lubes are great for anal sex as they are very lubricating and very long lasting.
But wait, there's more!
Some lubricants have added ingredients—red clover, in the case of ID Pleasure, for instance—that send blood rushing to the genital areas. Others are “warming liquids,” designed to literally heat things up.
Still others are flavored—strawberry-kiwi, banana, raspberry, chocolate, piña colada . . . you name it. One suggestion: “Hide” a drop of flavored lube, blindfold your lady, and tell her to find it with her tongue.
Many couples like to keep a selection of lubes on hand and delight in discovering “off-label” applications for the stuff. “My girlfriend can't take the warming one on her clit—it makes her too sensitive. But she loves it on her nipples!” says Adam from Poland. “We keep a bottle of silicone lube in the shower, next to the shampoo,” says Camille, a Frenchwoman living in New York.
It goes without saying that the amount of lube you use dramatically affects the amount of friction you can achieve. Sometimes it's great to get really slippery—it will certainly slow you down. But if you're touching her, you'll probably want to start with just a little and add as you need to.
Knead her. Pressure or vibrations on the so-called mound of Venus, the pad right over her pubic bone (where her pubic hair grows), is an oft-overlooked way to stimulate her clit. Pet the hair, if there is any (even if not, petting still feels pretty good!). Place the palm of your hand over her mound—you'll find it's the proverbial perfect handful. Experiment with different types of touch, knowing that you're stimulating the clitoris below. See how she likes it when you knead her mound gently—and maybe not so gently. Try vibrating your hand, or giving the area a few light taps if she's been naughty.
Women use their fingertips, the pads of their fingers, their knuckles, the palms of their hands. They use a single finger, two, three, four, or their whole hand. Experiment to see what she likes.
Warm her up. You'll soon notice that she's breathing more heavily, and her heart is beating faster than it usually does. That's to get more blood to her extremities—a change you can actually notice if you've kept the lights on. Take a look at her nipples and labia: The additional blood there will actually make them appear darker. Her clit will also be heavily engorged, and very, very sensitive. As we've said before, more isn't always better—some women can't handle direct stimulation when they're in this ultra-sensitive stage. Your best bet here is slow, steady, rhythmic stimulation. Unlike you, she can go right back to ground zero, even at this advanced stage, if stimulation stops or changes. So stimulate the inner shaft of her clit: Push down on her lower abdomen with your outstretched fingers, massaging the skin on either side of her vagina in a scissors motion, causing the skin of her inner labia to caress the shaft.
Why You Have Two Hands
While you're stimulating her clit, you can use your other hand to:
Put your fingers inside her. Many women enjoy having the sensation of something inside their vaginas when they come. Continue to stimulate her clit. Using lots of lube (she may be providing all you need by this point), run the fingers of your other hand around the lips of her vagina, and then insert a finger inside. Stay there without moving for a moment—if she pushes against your hand, it's an invitation to continue.
You can then stroke the walls. Use your thumb to press on her G-spot, as if you were making a thumbprint on her vaginal wall, says Ian Kerner, PhD, a sex therapist and the author of She Comes First. “The G-spot responds to firmer pressure than the clitoris does,” says Dr. Kerner. An alternate g-trick: Insert your index finger in a “come-hither” curl position inside her vagina while applying pressure on her pubic bone with your other hand.
Or you can move your finger inside and out, simulating penetration. If she's game, insert another finger. Use the same motions with your fingers that your legs would make if you were doing the breaststroke, suggests Lou Paget, a certified sex educator in Los Angeles and the author of 365 Days of Sensational Sex.
Don't neglect her perineum and anus. These spots have lots of nerve endings, so simply touching the skin feels good; gentle pressure on the perineum can also be very enjoyable for her. Dr. Cadell recommends gently rubbing massage oil or lube around her vaginal lips, all the way down to her anus. Then, using the pad of your thumb, trace the outline of her anus and then slowly slide your thumb up her perineum, from her anus to her vaginal opening.
Or stand behind her and reach around, putting your thumb on her clit and your forefinger (and middle, if she's asking for more) in her vagina. Your pinky finger is now available for exploration.
“I love the way it feels when he touches my anus, but I can't relax because I really don't like anal except under very certain circumstances. So my boyfriend and I made a deal,” Anissa from Morocco tells us. “He can do anything he wants on the outside of my bum as long as he doesn't ever try to penetrate without telling me first. This way, I can relax completely when he's using his hands or his tongue, without worrying that I'm about to get rogered.”
Getting closer: Gradually tease inward with your fingers, occasionally brushing against the clitoral hood and the length of her inner lips in a light up-and-down motion. Some women like to have four fingers held together over the hood of the clitoris rather than over the glans, says Sarah Hedley, British expert and author of Sex by Numbers. Others like it when you fork your index and middle finger down either side of the labia, pinching the clitoris between your fingers while stroking from side to side. And some like you to press your palm over their mound, moving it from side to side.
Another favorite is the circular stroke. “I like him to make circles with his fingers—but not right on the spot. Above and below is better,” says Agata, a 26-year-old Brazilian who works in television. Hedley recommends experimenting until you hit on the type of pressure she prefers: Some women like this to be done with the whole palm; others prefer just a single finger.
RULE OF THUMB
The more turned on she is, the more intense you can allow your touch to become. For instance, if you used a light touch around her nipples during foreplay, perhaps a gentle bite might now be appropriate. Ditto for her more sensitive bits.
You can also hold the clitoris gently between your thumb and fore-finger, and roll it gently. “Start slow, until you hit on a rhythm she enjoys, then gradually pick up the pace,” Hedley says.
Or tap: “Men tap their penises to bring blood to the erectile tissue, making them hard and more responsive. Some women like to tap their clitoris in a similar way,” Hedley advises. Pull back the labia to expose her clitoris, then tap it gently and repetitively with your index finger to build arousal.
Vary the pressure and the direction of the strokes to see what feels best. Once you find her favorites, keep both the speed and pressure of your touch consistent. Hedley reminds you that your fingers can travel back to the vaginal opening, penetrating her with each stroke—picking up lots of delicious lubrication and transferring it to her clit as a bonus. “I love it when he alternates his fingers inside me with touching my clit—it's better than anything in the world,” says Barbara, a waitress in England.
Be direct. On the brink of orgasm, a symphony of muscles and ligaments pulls the clitoral tip back under its hood. “It's a good sign,” says Debby Herbenick, PhD, the Men's Health “Bedroom Confidential” columnist. “Just before orgasm, look for contractions around her vagina and lower abdomen.” If she's comfortable with direct stimulation, replace your palm with two fingers on the tip of her clitoris. Start light and increase pressure until you find her sweet spot. And, for God's sake, once you find it, do not let up; maintain the same rhythm and intensity of stimulation until she climaxes. She'll pay you back for this later, with interest.
Blast-off! A woman's orgasm can feel like a whole-body affair, and in fact, she will experience muscular contractions in her vagina, uterus, and anus. The whole shebang usually lasts between 10 seconds and a full minute. “I like more direct, intense touch when I am coming,” says Marta from Guatemala, and many women agree. Don't stop until she tells you to.
Game over. When she's done, her vital signs will return to normal: Her heart rate will slow, her breathing will regulate. Her clitoris will probably be very sensitive, so direct touch is too much, but you can stimulate it indirectly until she's ready to go again. Some women like you to cup the whole area with your hand, maintaining contact without overstimulation. (See page 196 for advice on how you might help her to have multiple orgasms.)
Now Give Yourselves a Hand
To our minds, there's nothing more intimate than getting off together. It's educational, incredibly sexy to watch, and let's face it—it's easier. And if you have exhibitionistic or voyeuristic tendencies, it can scratch those itches as well.
“One of my favorite ways to come is lying in my boyfriend's arms,” says Nadja from Croatia. “He's so big and I feel so loved and safe. He kisses my neck and holds me tight, and I have an amazing orgasm.”
“After many years together, we discovered something we both enjoy: I tie her up and masturbate over her,” says Jorge, a doctor in Spain. “She never knows when—or where on her body—I'm going to come, and the anticipation drives her wild. We also enjoy the reverse, where she teases me by tying me up and making me watch her touch herself without being allowed to participate or touch myself. I've come without being touched at all.”
IT'S NO AIR-SEX CONTEST, BUT WE'LL TAKE IT
Try a circle jerk, grown-up style, by betting your partner a sexual favor that you can hit the finish line before she does. “I used to do this with my friends when we were kids—now I do it with my wife! We'll face each other and race to the finish,” says Gustavo, an Argentianian-Israeli graphic designer. “We're pretty evenly matched, actually.”
“My wife will sometimes be ready right away for another orgasm after we have come together, and she does it very fast herself,” says Angelo, an Italian restaurant supplier. “I used to mind—hey, that's my job—but now I think it's fine.”
We agree, Angelo—molto bene.