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.

1. The Plastic Bag

This is pretty inventive and probably a good deal more complicated than you're used to, but it's definitely worth a try. Fill a plastic sandwich bag with petroleum jelly (aka Vaseline) and put your erect penis in the bag, squishing the jelly so that your entire penis is covered. Then, place your penis, still in the bag, between the mattress and the box spring. Pump in and out to orgasm. The best part? No mess — just throw out the bag afterwards.

2. The Hand Screw

While standing, twist your lubed-up hand (whichever you're most comfortable using) so that your thumb is against your belly button. Wrap your hand around your penis and, rather than stroke with your hand, move your pelvis to pump in and out of your hand. Like the Plastic Bag trick above, this is a cheap and simple way to approximate the feeling of a vagina — but if you're really determined to find that feeling when you masturbate, there are certain male sex toys, such as Fleshlights, that will do the trick much more efficiently.
3. The Gentle Tap

Although you have to have a sensitive penis for this to work effectively, this will at least demonstrate that you don't if it doesn't work. Keep your underwear on and make yourself erect. Once you're at your fullest erectness, tap the tip of your penis with the tips of your fingers. It should take somewhat longer than usual for you to reach climax but when you do, oh yeah…

4. The Ball Holder

The next time you're masturbating and feel as though you're about to ejaculate, put your other hand over your scrotum and lightly squeeze and pull it down (be gentle to start with, but you can go more aggressively, if you like that sort of thing and aren't hurting yourself). That way, you get to feel your semen traveling through your body, making its way to the exit, while the feeling of your hand on your balls can heighten the overall sensation for you.

5. The Palm Rubber

Once you're erect, place some lube on the inside of one hand, and rather than rub your penis with your hand, rub your hand with your penis. This role reversal might take some getting used to, but if you keep rubbing the tip of your penis against the palm of your hand, you'll slowly but surely make your way to orgasm.

6. The Ring

Cover both your hands with lube, and form a ring with your thumb and forefinger. Place it around the base of your penis. Slide the ring up to the base of the glans (where the head starts). Now form a ring with the fingers on your other hand and do the same thing. Keep stroking with one ring at a time until you climax. For a similar effect, you can also try using cock rings.

7. The Cold Climax

For this technique, masturbate as you normally would, but when you feel the sensation of ejaculation coming on, grab hold of some ice cubes or crushed ice with the other hand, then continue masturbating to completion. The feeling of cold in one hand, heat in the other, and the sensation of ejaculating will enhance the experience.

Masturbation can be really fun, especially when you have new techniques to bring into play. Another thing that can take your masturbation to a whole other level are sex toys for men. While many people associate sex toys with female pleasure first and foremost, the sex toy industry has produced many a gadget for guys that can really take your pleasure up a notch.

Of course, if you're tired of flying solo, it might be time check out the Top 10 Hookup Websites to discover your options. Or, if you already have a partner, why not try spicing things up with our guide to mutual masturbation? You might even be surprised at how willing they might be to try some of these with you, should you choose to share the experience.

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