It is remarkable how few people with vaginas have ever touched themselves there in a non-sexual way — remarkable, yet not surprising, since so many have been roundly shamed for touching their own vagina – or for having one at all.
Few and fortunate are those folks we encounter who weren’t told to stop touching themselves there as children, who didn’t have an adolescent self-exploration rudely interrupted, who’ve only had empowering experiences with their care providers, and who’ve only had sex with sensitive and open-minded lovers.
Therefore, let us be clear and up front: there can be a lot of high-charge feelings associated with touching yourself. But these feelings are perfectly understandable, and you are not alone in having them — not at all.
If you’ve struggled with the complexity and intensity of these feelings, we’re here to offer a pattern-interruption, with this simple affirmation:
Your. Body. Belongs. To. YOU.
It is yours to touch, to share as you wish, to care for and to enjoy.
Whether this is challenging or whether you have more neutrality & freedom with self-touch, we are honored & excited to be accompanying you on a journey into the core of your blessed body.
This is probably going to be different than any other way you’ve touched yourself before.
- As with any kind of massage, internal massage should take place somewhere that feels private and safe — truly safe. No matter how long you intend to spend exploring, it is important that you create the container for an undisturbed experience. Do it at a time when you know you won’t be interrupted. Lock the door. And put on a soundtrack if it will help you to relax into a more sensual state.
- Breathing into your root and bringing your full attention to the interior of your pelvis are essential in cultivating presence — your capacity for awareness & responsiveness — in your pelvic bowl. If you find you’re holding your breath or breathing shallowly, return to a deeper breathing pattern. Know that thoughts and feelings may come up from doing this work. Offer yourself as much permission and approval as you possibly can, no matter what arises. If you haven’t read the prior articles in this series, start with the piece on awareness and embodiment and the intro to vulva mapping and vaginal self-massage.
- Know also that in your explorations, you may find areas that are numb or have minimal sensation, areas that feel disassociated or “cut off” from the rest of your body, and areas of pain, or “trigger points.” These are all extremely common, and they will begin to shift if you practice vaginal self-massage regularly. With experience, you will become more comfortable and familiar doing it, and you will notice changes in the elasticity, resilience, sensation, and presence you feel in your root — as well as an increase in energy throughout your body.
- The best way to explore is the way that suits your particular body mechanics. You can use one or more fingers, which is often easiest when massaging the anterior or front of your vagina, or your thumbs, which can be easier for accessing the posterior or back of your vagina. It can also feel quite different to use fingertips than to use the flat blade or edge of the fingers or thumbs. Experiment and see what works best for you.
- Depending upon the length of your fingers and how easy it is for your body to be in different postures, you will have varying degrees of access to the interior of your vagina. Ultimately, once you’re familiar with what internal massage feels like and what you need, you may find it’s easier to use tools (such as a wand, dildo, or vibrator). They’re especially helpful if you discover that you can’t comfortably access certain places in your pelvic floor that you know would benefit from pressure. You can also seek out a pelvic floor specialist, such as a women’s health PT, a certified sexological bodyworker, or a practitioner of Holistic Pelvic Care, all of whom are trained to do therapeutic work with the pelvic floor.
- The muscles of the pelvic floor can hold a remarkable amount of tension, and as such can benefit from a firm touch. Be gentle when touching the urethra at 12 o’clock and the rectum at 6 o’clock, as they can be easily irritated. Other than those two structures, feel for yourself what kind of pressure your vaginal muscles enjoy most. Vaginal massage should feel good — if it hurts, please be much more tender in your approach.
- A note on safety: Because of hormonal changes that can greatly increase the flexibility of the body during pregnancy as well as the vital role of the pelvic floor in supporting a growing baby, we do not recommend doing vaginal massage on oneself during pregnancy except under supervision by a pelvic health professional. Furthermore, we recommend waiting a minimum of 2 months postpartum to allow the body to heal before any intravaginal work.
Let’s do this...
We recommend starting any internal massage session by assessing the balance of your pelvic floor. By applying pressure and feeling into the muscular core of your vagina all the way around your “pelvic clock”, you can get a good sense of where you’re starting from, and this will allow you to track any changes in your body as you go. (For detailed instructions, check out Part 1 in this series here.)
When you feel ready, slide a generously-lubed finger (or two, if you prefer) into your vagina.
(If you’re already a fan of Awaken Arousal Oil with CBD for sex and self-pleasure, you’ll likely find it useful here as a glide that also increases blood flow to the tissues, release muscle tension & discomfort, and provide soothing, anti-inflammatory effects.)
Beginning (gently!) at 12 o’clock, feel the soft ridge of your urethra at the center, and then, beginning on your right side, allow your finger/s to begin pressing a little more deeply into the muscular tissues to the next to the urethra.
Moving slowly and methodically all the way around the interior of your vagina, using whatever combination of fingers and thumbs that feels most comfortable to you and pausing as needed, take note of anything that you feel (or don’t feel) in your root, and allow yourself to relax as fully as you can into all of the sensations without imposing an agenda or an expectation. See if you can remain in an open, curious state, as though you’re feeling these parts of your body for the very first time.
Far from the oft-pictured cylinder, your vagina is more of a cavern of miracles that optimizes itself by changing shape and size throughout your cycle and according to your state of arousal. Changes can include the position of your cervix (the lowest point of your uterus where it protrudes into your vagina), the length and shape of your vagina, the texture of the tissues, and the amount of sensation you feel in various parts of your interior.
Internal massage is an incredible way to observe these very normal shifts.
It is easier for some people to feel their cervix than others, but if you can, it’s highly illuminating and helpful to get familiar with the feel of it. It generally has a firmer, smoother texture than the rest of your vagina, is rounded, and some people have compared it to the tip of a nose or the head of a penis. Being able to feel your cervix and keep track of its position is one of the components of the Fertility Awareness Method, which (unlike the rhythm or calendar method) is an excellent, evidence-based way for many women to track exactly when they can and can’t become pregnant during their cycle. Additionally, finding your cervix is a necessary step for using a cervical cap (a contraceptive barrier that forms a vacuum seal around the cervix).
Go ahead and see if you can find your cervix with your fingertips!
The rest of the iceberg
We like the redefinition of the clitoris offered by A New View of a Woman’s Body: a complex organ that includes all of the structures contributing to (and transformed during) female arousal and orgasm. Rather than focusing on just the shaft, glans and hood, this more extensive definition re-centers female pleasure in the discussion of female sexual anatomy – back to where it should have been all along.
The erectile parts of the clitoris — the tissues that swell with blood during arousal just like a penis does — can be found both externally and internally. In our recent piece on vulva mapping, we described the parts that can be easily felt from the outside. Now that we’re beginning to learn about our inner territory as well, we’d like to direct your fingers and your attention to some of the marvelous features of your inner clitoris.
If you make gentle contact with the inner surface of your pubic bone where your urethra is, you will notice that the tissue there is of a different texture — and then, if you penetrate yourself a little more deeply and are able to access the point behind the inner pubic bone, you will be able to feel the place that was popularized as the “G-spot.”
It’s more of a ridge or region than one single spot, so some call it the “G-crest.” More recently, it was re-named “CUV complex” — short for Clitoral Urethral Vaginal complex — by the fabulous Australian urologist and anatomist Dr. Helen O’Connell. The CUV/G-crest is one part of the urethral sponge, a network of sensitive erectile tissue that surrounds the urethra all the way up to the neck of the bladder. (The urethral sponge also contains the glands known as the “female prostate,” where female ejaculation originates. More on that soon!)
Even deeper than the G-crest — deeper than most people can feel by themselves, but accessible in other creative ways, is another part of the urethral sponge known as the anterior fornix, sometimes called the A-spot, to be found on the belly-side of the vagina where it meets the cervix. The anterior fornix is another powerful erogenous zone for many people. If you continue your explorations with tools or with another person, keep your feelers out for it.
Trusting your instincts
Once you have completed the circle of your initial exploration, feel free to allow your fingers and/or thumbs to gravitate toward any area of your vagina that feels as though it wants — and is benefiting from — the massage.
Press into the muscles as firmly or as gently as feels appropriate. There is no one “right” way to do internal massage, or any massage, for that matter — only the way that feels right to your body. Trust your instincts and sensations.
If you come to an uncomfortable or painful place in your explorations, experiment with applying pressure as you inhale deeply and then releasing pressure with your exhalation, or vice versa, as you prefer.
Make sure that you spend roughly the same amount of time with your right and your left sides, encouraging balance in your pelvic bowl.
Remember to keep breathing!
When you are done, take a moment to cup your vulva in the palm of one or both hands, and breathe deeply into your root — integrating and grounding the shifts you may have made in the structure of your pelvic floor. Even if it may not feel like much has happened, the most subtle changes in the pelvic floor can deeply affect the whole body.
If it appeals to you, take a moment to appreciate your root and all the pleasure and power it holds for you. (You can even thank it aloud — we guarantee it’s always listening!)
Notice any shifts in your posture and your energy as you begin to move. We recommend being tender with yourself for a little while after giving yourself an internal massage — allowing for some slow time when you can be attentive to your body before going into an activity. Drinking plenty of water is also important after any massage work.
To quote the seminal feminist punk band Bikini Kill: “We believe in the radical possibilities of pleasure.” We believe in what becomes accessible to a human being who claims her ground and her authority, taking up the space that rightly belongs to her. We believe in you. There is only one of you. No one else can do it like you do. We celebrate your love, intimacy, and knowledge of yourself as an embodied being and a wellspring of pleasure and beauty. Thank you for taking the time to love yourself, and to bring more of yourself forth into the world. We are all better for it.
P.S. For further information on internal massage, holistic women’s health and cultivating the energy of the pelvic bowl, we recommend checking out the work and writing of Tami Lynn Kent: www.wildfeminine.com
Written by: Pamela Samuelson
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