Physical and emotional self-awareness and self-expression are crucial elements in satisfy­ing sexual experiences (Morehouse, 2001; Schwartz, 2003). A good way to increase self­awareness and comfort with our sexuality is to become well acquainted with our sexual anatomy, as described in Chapters 3 and 4. Experimenting with masturbation is also an effective way for both men and women to learn about and expand sexual response, as we explained in Chapter 8. Self-stimulation and exploration are frequently an important part of women’s learning how to experience orgasm and men’s learning to delay ejaculation.

People may have a style of masturbation that interferes with their ability to be aroused by a partner. For example, 65% of men who sought help for ejaculatory inhibi­tion had patterns of intensity, pressure, and speed of self-stimulation that were impos­sible to reproduce during intercourse. Some of the men rubbed against specific surfaces or used very heavy manual pressure or exceptionally fast strokes (Helien et al., 2005). Women can also have patterns of masturbation, such as crossing their legs and rocking, which a partner is unable to replicate. Modifying masturbation techniques to resem­ble partner stimulation and intercourse more closely is one step toward experiencing orgasm from partner stimulation.