What it feels like to masturbate as a trans woman

What it feels like to masturbate as a trans woman

Writer Ana Valens gets intimate with gal pal about her ever-changing orgasms

Pleasure comes in so many beautiful forms, but for people that have, or are currently transitioning, it’s not as simple as a quick whizz with a sex toy – it’s a journey of self-discovery. One that can take time, focus and a whole new approach, according to Brooklyn-based writer Ana Valens. Here, she opens up about her experiences of masturbating as a trans woman, from how HRT has affected her sensations to the techniques that make her orgasm.

How have your orgasms changed before, during and after taking hormones?

My orgasms have changed a lot! Before hormones, they were strong but abrupt. I’d feel muscles contract in a pleasurable release in my pelvis, then they would disappear quickly as a mixture of relief and dysphoria as arousal washed through me (and out of me).

On HRT, orgasms are like a wave of pleasure, starting at my crotch and flowing through my body. When I come, I begin to quiver, and when I’m orgasming, my body thrashes around. I literally can’t control it. Afterwards, all that pleasure stays in my body, calming me down or even putting me to sleep. I like to describe it as an “afterglow” that lingers inside me.

Sometimes I can orgasm multiple times in a row, too, whereas there would be a refractory period before HRT – i.e. if I’m focused and in the right mindset, I can come again in an even deeper and more pleasurable wave. I’ve orgasmed as much as two or three times, one after another within an hour, and it’s incredibly intense.

Do different parts of your body have different sensations now?

Yes, definitely so! My body has become much more sensitive, specifically around my back and shoulders. When my play partners run their fingers across my sides or back, I start to squirm if they go too slowly. I never, ever had that experience before HRT. My breasts are also much more sensitive, to the point where just cupping them or fingering my nipples can be a huge turn on if I’m in the right mood.

How have your genitals changed?

It’s interesting as the changes are complicated. For one, just like the rest of my body, my penis (or “clit,” as I like to call it) is a lot softer now. It’s very sensitive to the touch and cannot sustain as much pressure or force. I can’t just jerk my bits up and down until I orgasm like I used to. I need to be really in tune with my body, how my genitals feel, how they want to be played with. During oral sex, for example, sucking motions are a total no-go, it becomes too painful too quickly.

I never have full erections any more, either. While I will get longer and slightly erect when I’m turned on from time to time, perhaps enough for penetrative sex, I simply cannot reach the full size/form that I used to before going on oestrogen. I’m perfectly fine with that, for the record. I think there’s something really attractive about trans women’s penises, how they’re both soft and delicate, yet prone to showing one’s arousal through growth and a slight hardening.

Lastly: Some trans women experience a slight atrophy with their penises after being on oestrogen for a prolonged period of time. That makes sense when you think about it: trans women on HRT are less likely to get random erections or become fully hard during the day while fantasizing, which means the penis will naturally shrink from relatively less use compared to, say, cis men on testosterone with a pretty active sex life. I suspect this has happened to me too – that is, I’ve shrunk slightly – but not by much. And it varies from person to person. I’ve been with trans women that have really small clits and others that are pretty big down there.

What stumbling blocks have you experienced when trying to reach orgasm?

I had to totally rethink the script about masturbating. Before HRT, I basically groped my penis and stroked it up and down until I came, even if I wasn’t in a very sexy mindset. Getting those few seconds of intense release from orgasming was the goal at all times. Now, headspace is everything. I really have to be ready, open, and connected with my body. I have to calm down, deprioritize orgasming as the end reward, and let my body lead the way and show me the signs. I didn’t realise all of that when I first started HRT, and I assumed I could just touch my clit the same way I did pre-HRT. I basically had to relearn how to masturbate from scratch.

What mental challenges have you faced when it comes to masturbation?

I’m a very anxious person by nature, in part because I have OCD and a form of traumatic stress disorder. So it can be very, very hard to calm my mind down and just be present. That’s honestly the biggest issue I have, and I’ve spent the past few years learning how to let go of my thinking and embrace my thoughts and feelings. It’s a work in progress, but mindfulness meditation helps a lot.

Otherwise, sometimes I become a little dysphoric during masturbation. But more than anything, the difference between a good masturbation session and a bad one is how willing I am to let go of my anxiety and just be present with myself, my body, and whatever sexual fantasy I’m having.

How about physical challenges?

The biggest challenge is just learning to listen to my body, manage expectations, and more intimately understand how my genitals work. Like I said earlier, I had to relearn how to play with my body. Learning more about the nerves inside and around my penis – and more specifically, why both the clit and the perineum should be touched during play, as they’re both connected to the same web of nerves – really changed a lot. For more info on that, Fucking Trans Women by Mira Bellwether is great.

Do your orgasms feel different, are they ever-evolving?

Hmm. I suspect the longer I’m HRT, the more powerful and intense they’re becoming. But I’m not quite sure. At most, I can definitely tell that my orgasms change based on how I masturbate, i.e. using a sex toy is a much more rewarding experience than lubing my clit and stroking myself until I climax.

What has surprised you about solo sex during your transition?

It demands your time and attention. All of it. You really can’t just mindlessly touch yourself until you orgasm. You have to be present with your body. Learning how to meditate and engage in mindfulness exercises helped me a lot in that regard. It basically taught me how to tune in to myself and figure out what I’m feeling and why.

Do you have a go-to way to masturbate now?

Admittedly, I’m still figuring it out. But my favourite so far is using a special masturbatory sleeve designed to stimulate the nerves within the penis, combined with a cock ring that stimulates both the base of the shaft and the perineum. Both amazing to orgasm with and just really pleasurable against my genitals.

Are there any toys/lubes/materials that have helped you?

I’m a big fan of water-based lube, which is affordable, easy to clean up, and means you don’t have to worry about damaging those nice silicone toys. I don’t really use it that often, though, unless a toy calls for it. Beyond that, I love kink, so anything related to BDSM helps a lot. Bondage tape, blindfolds, collars, just to name a few. That said, I’m more likely to use all of those things during sex as opposed to solo time.

What would you say to people going through what you went through? Any tips, words of encouragement, advice?

First off, I think it’s important to look at yourself in the mirror and really ask some difficult, introspective questions about your sex life. How do you think about sex? What do you want out of masturbating? Where is your head right now, and what can you do to change that? If you’re struggling to be present or enjoy yourself when you masturbate, then you may need to approach masturbation (and sex itself) in a new way. Therapy can help with that a lot, and there’s no shame in needing the guidance either.

Also, in my case, I had to mourn my relationship with masturbation pre-HRT. It was very easy and simple for me to orgasm, even if it made me feel dysphoric. When I first started HRT, I struggled to enjoy myself while masturbating, and I really wished I could experience that same easy release when I first transitioned. Now that I’ve been on HRT for a couple of years, I’ve put that part of my past behind me and embraced where I am now.

Now, I love masturbating on oestrogen a lot more than I ever did, it’s much more fun and rewarding because it feels right (and the changes to my body and orgasms are 1000x hotter to experience).

Lastly: I cannot recommend meditation highly enough. In mindfulness meditation, we talk a lot about “beginner’s mind”. That is to say, approaching day-to-day life with a playful, open approach, instead of trying to rigidly control your thoughts and feelings. That definitely applies to masturbation too. Staying open-minded, listening to your body, and being unafraid to explore yourself in new ways will unlock a lot when it comes to your sex life. Don’t be afraid to try new things, as long as you feel ready to step out of your comfort zone. Sometimes, a little push unlocks a lot of pleasure.

Oh, and before I forget: Have fun! Sex is amazing, as is masturbation. Take pride in having a body that you get to call your own and craft as your own, it’s a rare gift that not everyone gets.

Written by Claire Blackmore, @cla_ireb


Why can't I orgasm?


Why can’t I orgasm?

From sex-ed to self-care, there are plenty reasons why

Find yourself faking orgasms because you can’t seem to reach that famous mind-blowing moment? You’re not alone. Multiple studies have found that roughly 80 per cent of women can’t orgasm through penetrative sex – at least not without a toy, finger or tongue. First things first: stimulate your clit in every which way to try and release that magical feeling.

If you’re not sure where to start, read our last blog gal pal’s guide to mind blowing masturbation for some great tips on how to achieve orgasm.. Getting to know yourself and your body is key to learning how to enjoy yourself during masturbation and sex – so it’s definitely worth a read.

However, if you already know that clit-stimulation doesn’t work, you could be one of the 10 to 15 per cent of women who can’t climax at all. And while orgasms shouldn’t always be the sole focus of sex – enjoyment comes in all kinds of forms, from human closeness to pleasurable touch – it’s super-frustrating when you’re struggling to find an end game at all.

So how come some women live in an orgasm-less void? Here, we explore a few of the reasons why it can be pretty damn hard to climax.

Body

Ever heard of orgasmic dysfunction? It affects about one in three women to some extent. It means you are either having less frequent or less satisfying orgasms despite being ~in the mood~, or you aren’t having any orgasms at all. There are tons of things that can cause it, from hormones and illness to anxiety, which makes it tricky to treat. A study found that 24 per cent of the women suffering from orgasmic dysfunction have something called anorgasmia – difficulty achieving climax after ample sexual stimulation. So if you can’t reach the big O, it’s worth booking in some time with your GP to speak about why this might be.

Mind

Find it difficult to focus? Becoming distracted during sex and masturbation is another common reason why some women struggle to come. It could be that you’re self-conscious of your body, uninterested in your partner or just tuning out of the whole encounter because you believe it will bring you zero pleasure. The fact is, if your mind isn’t in it, your erogenous zones certainly won’t be. Your brain is a crucial part of sexual experience as it releases feel-good chemicals into the body, plus it actually catalogues your sensations. Not being tuned in to someone else’s touch lessens your pleasure, stat. Try meditation tactics to re-centre yourself such as focusing on being present in the moment and taking deep breaths from the pit of your stomach.

Foreplay

Don’t let your sex-mate skip the foreplay, not matter how keen they are to pleasure themselves. Remember: you are equal partners in this experience so don’t sacrifice your own O because you’re not sure it’s even possible. Sexoligists claim that most women need approx. 20 minutes of arousal time to reach that sweet point in which it’s even viable to climax. If there’s two of you, that’s 40 minutes of foreplay, no orgasms guaranteed. Turns out it’s all about time, care and attention, so demand it, because you deserve it. And if it doesn’t happen, at least you’ve gained some sexual balance.

Lube

You know the saying, ‘the wetter, the better’? Turns out it’s all kinds of true because roughly 40 per cent of women don’t produce enough of their own natural lube to find sex pleasurable. In fact the wrong combo of condoms, emotions and hormones can snatch your juice and leave you even dryer than when you started. It’s definitely worth giving lube a serious go – it could be the key to your first ever O! We stock Yes Lube – a silky water or oil-based lubricant that’s good for your body as well as your orgasm count (it’s vegan-friendly and organic, too). The wetter you are down below, the more sensitive you feel. It also helps toys and fingers glide over your hotspots with no uncomfortable friction.

Meds

It’s important to note that some medications – particularly those used to treat depression and anxiety (SSRIs) – can lesson arousal as they impact sex hormones. This could be why you’re suddenly having a dry spell or finding yourself unable to orgasm when it wasn’t a problem before. The best thing to do? Speak to your doctor. They can run through the side effects and, if the meds are affecting your orgasms, suggest some other avenues that might not crush your climax ability completely.

Written by Claire Blackmore, @cla_ireb



gal pal's guide to mind-blowing masturbation

gal pal’s guide to mind-blowing masturbation

Follow our solo sex tips for better play time

Keen to take your masturbation game up a notch? Whether you want to explore your body on a deeper level, improve your technique or give yourself your first ever orgasm, there are plenty of ways to satisfy yourself through solo sex.

But where to start? Despite recent research proving that many women enjoy private play just as much as men, it’s something we rarely talk about. A crazy notion considering that masturbation is not only great for sexual wellbeing, confidence and overall happiness but a crucial way to figure out what you like in the bedroom.

So if you’re lucky enough to know exactly what causes you to climax but want to discover more of those untapped sweetspots, or you’re not even sure where to start, follow gal pal’s tips to make the most of your steamy downtime.

Learn

Kickstart your next self-exploration session with an open mind. Forget how you’ve masturbated in the past, this time set off with a clean slate and focus on learning what you really like. Does your body respond to tickling, teasing, rubbing, stroking, pinching, twisting? Are you into anal play, penetration or clit stimulation (or all three)? What movements cause your stomach to swirl with pleasure? Is it side-to-side sweeps of the clit, come hither motions of the G-spot or a feeling of fullness in your butt?

The point is different people like different moves, locations and pressures – remember, sexual experiences are always unique – so take time to work out what gets you going and don’t be afraid to explore the places you’ve never been before.

Lube

There tends to be two camps when it comes to lube, people that are seriously into it and people that think it’s only to combat dryness. Newsflash: there’s no shame in whipping out the wet stuff. It can actually turn your pleasure sensors up to the max. Lube enhances sensations down below and allows a silky, frictionless glide that, frankly, feels amazing. If you’re a lube virgin, let it change your life.

We looked far and wide for the best lube to include on our website, and found ‘Yes Lube (vegan & organic)’ which uses pure plant gums to replace the usual glycerine or silicone ingredient base – avoiding all concerning chemical ingredients.

Water-based lube is a must for use with most sex toys. It won’t stain your bed sheets or warp your favourite vibrator and is condom safe too! Oil-based lube has a thicker consistency to water-based lube – making it more suitable for anal sex or for use underwater. We should point out that oil-based lubes are not suitable for use with condoms; however the Yes oil-based lube does double as a massage oil, and is good for your skin too – so no need to wash off!

Lube is definitely worth a try if you haven’t already – it could be the key to unlocking that next level of sexual pleasure!

Edge

If you haven’t already tried this tease technique, now is the time. ‘Edging’ is basically when you bring yourself to the brink of an orgasm but don’t let yourself climax. It’s tricky to exercise the self-control this tactic needs at first but trust us when we say it’s worth it. The sex trick intensifies orgasms, makes them last longer, and causes them to feel SO much sweeter when they finally explode inside you.

So lube up, get to know your ‘stop spot’ by experimenting with fingers and toys then halt right just before you tip over the edge. Repeat the process three or four times – or until you just can’t take it any longer – then let yourself go. You’ll notice stronger sensations almost instantly.

Shop

Sex toys can really turbocharge an orgasm so it’s definitely worth investing in a few – there’s nothing quite like the pressure of a rumbling vibrator in the place that makes your legs weak. Designed for both external and internal stimulation, gal pal has a thrilling selection to explore.

If awakening your clit is top of your solo sex list, try Lelo’s Ora II – a toy that rotates and pulsates, like a tongue, but better. Or Svakom’s Mini Emma – a waterproof wand massager that will bring you climax after climax thanks to its strong vibrating head. Try LovingJoy’s Versa vibrator if you want to embark on the hunt for your G-spot (it bends to your will so can reach those untapped areas) or strengthen those orgasms with a pair of Blush Novelties Double O Kegel Balls.


Lelo Ora II

Explore

Once you’ve found your sexual hotspots and the toys or techniques that arouse them, try heightening the whole experience. Set the scene with some candles, a soft blanket and a sexy playlist to get your juices flowing (there are tons ready to go on Spotify if you need some inspiration). The right mood can really help your mind switch off, which makes focusing on your body so much easier. The more your relax and zone in on how things feel, the more intense your pleasure will be.

Also, don’t forget to try different positions. Switch from your back to your front, try spreading your legs wide, go on your side, flip over to doggy – the position can change the way you touch yourself so it’s worth experimenting with that too.

Remember, there are no rules when it comes to masturbation. Just keep on exploring to find what rocks your world, because everyone deserves earth-shattering orgasms.

Written by Claire Blackmore, @cla_ireb


The power of body positivity

Model Rosalind Main on the power of body positivity

Her campaign ‘I Am More Than’ celebrates beauty in all its forms

If you follow Rosalind Main on Instagram you’ll know she’s pretty outspoken about body positivity. Unafraid to call out toxic headlines and body-shaming stories in the media, the Scottish model is campaigning to make sure all races, colours, religions and body shapes are represented within the fashion industry.

“To me, inclusivity and diversity mean a community in which people can be themselves with no fear of discrimination or anxiety,” says the campaigner, who first set up the I Am More Than project in 2017, along with fellow model Morgan Mctiernan.

Their mission is to “break down stereotypes and embrace the uniqueness that everyone holds” – a message that resonates deeply with Rosalind after she was discriminated against during a casting because of her (very healthy) size.

“It started when I was invited down to Manchester to see a modelling agency who said they’d sign me if I lost four inches around my waist – a ridiculous requirement as I’m 5ft 10 and a healthy size 10-12 – so I left the agency upset and disappointed.

“On the train back I plucked up the courage to message Morgan, a model and body positivity activist I met at a casting in 2016. I suggested we direct a photoshoot to celebrate different body types. She was keen to join me and from then on the idea grew and grew until we launched a project that embraced everyone for ‘what they’re more than’.”

As the empowering campaign continues to challenge both the fashion industry and society’s unattainable beauty standards, gal pal speaks to founder Rosalind about body positivity, breaking down barriers and her dreams for the future.


What’s at the heart of the ‘I Am More Than’ message?

“Our ethos is all about being ‘more than’ your first impression – more than your age, size, ethnicity. It’s about being what you can do, rather than what you look like.”

How do you hope the campaign impacts people?

“I want it to make people believe they can do anything if they set their mind to it. We host events and direct photoshoots, and each time we do there’s always such a positive and wonderful atmosphere. It’s so rewarding. We speak on BBC Radio Scotland when the topic of body positivity arises, which we always take very seriously. We also get DMs from people in Scotland and beyond. It’s such a good feeling knowing that our message travels all over the world.”

How has the body positivity movement challenged the modelling industry so far?

“There’s been a large increase in inclusivity in both brand messaging and on the runway. Where there’s crucial news in politics, there’s an artistic response and with that we’ve seen campaigns with powerful statements and imagery. The body positivity movement has resulted in models being celebrated for representing a wider range of people, which is something that will always bring a lot of praise from audiences all over the world.”

What are the issues still facing it?

“How fast certain looks come and go. It’s dangerous when looks are seen as ‘fads’, for example the ‘waif look’ that swept the nation, or the ‘thigh gap’. These so-called ‘trends’ can lead to toxic thoughts and unhealthy impressions of people’s bodies. I believe the fashion industry has come a long way over the past few years, which is great to see, but it needs consistency – messages that don’t just come and go. Seeing clothes on people from all backgrounds, and refreshing people’s perspectives in fashion is crucial!”

What about the brands who champion inclusivity?

“I admire brands that include activists in their campaigns. It’s great because with apps like Instagram those models are at the touch of a button. Young people see their lives and soak up their positive ethos. To see them as the face of a great brand while fighting a good cause is fantastic.”

Brands aren’t airbrushing as much anymore, how has that helped with body positivity?

“I think it’s great that brands are using less Photoshop, leaving natural parts of the human body like moles, stretch marks and dimples out for the world to see, because we’re all human! When I was 13/14 and I saw my body change. I’d compare myself to the airbrushed models online, which was harmful and potentially damaging to my own self image. Now, brands leave models natural. It’s saying to the teen girls ‘yes, models have the things that you have too. You are natural, normal and beautiful’.

Who is getting inclusivity and body positivity right?

“I absolutely love bodywear brand Chromat. It uses diverse models and has an amazing message. In fact, it almost had me in tears when I first came across the brand on Instagram – it celebrates everybody. If you need to follow anyone today, follow Chromat!”

Diversity is super-important, but do you think some brands are guilty of tokenism?

“Diversity is so important in the fashion industry and it’s definitely something I don’t think people will ever tire of seeing. I do think some brands can be guilty of tokenism though, which is sad to see. Diversity isn’t something that should be used as a way to make a profit. It’s easy to spot the brands which are genuine as they’ve been including a wide range of people for a long time and are continuing to do so with everyone’s best interest at heart.”

Who inspires you and why?

“Two of my biggest inspirations are Charli Howard and Ashley Graham – both curve models but also both fantastic people at breaking down boundaries by becoming the faces of brands they admire. They prove that with hard work and persistence, anything is possible!”

What is your proudest ‘I Am More Than’ moment?

“It has to be our fashion event last year in Glasgow. We hosted an art and fashion show at Fitness Frontier and the atmosphere was amazing! Everyone who attended had positive things to say and both Morgan and I were so proud of how the night went.”

What’s the ultimate dream for ‘I Am More Than’?

“To spread our message on a larger scale through shoots and shows all over the country. Also to represent a brand with a message like ours. Our message is something we’re both very passionate about. Another dream would be to speak in schools, educating people about how vital body positivity is in a world like the fashion industry. We’re always working on new ideas to inspire our current followers – and our new ones. We want to thank everyone who inspires us. Dreams are for everyone!”

Links to some of Rosalind’s work can be found below:
BBC – Celebrating Beauty in All Its Forms
BBC iPlayer – Addicted To

Written by Claire Blackmore, @cla_ireb