Real Talk: Can Your Favorite Route To Self-Pleasure Make It Hard To Get There Other Ways?

Although they say variety is the spice of life, the fact remains that human beings are creatures of habit. If you look at how you live your life every day, you'll notice not only patterns, but repetitions of how you conduct yourself. The reason for this is that we like our routine and we find comfort in what we know works for us.


But as good as habits can feel, they can also throw certain aspects of our life for a loop. For example, if you always get the turkey and cheese sandwich at the corner bodega every day for lunch, the one day they're out of turkey can throw a wrench in your whole week. the same can be said when it comes to masturbation.

If your favorite vibrator finally gives out (these things do not have a lifetime guarantee), and you have to reach for a backup, you may find that "getting there" as they say, is more difficult. This is because your body hasn't just been conditioned, but the neural pathway in your brain has been strengthened by reaching orgasm the same way over and over again (via Psychology Today). So when you introduce another toy, it can throw the same wrench into your self-pleasure session that was thrown into your week because of the turkeyless bodega travesty.


If our body is capable of experiencing pleasure in more than one way and through more than one route, then we'd be doing ourselves a disservice to not explore those other options. We're also putting ourselves in a self-pleasure rut by sticking to the same old moves, even if we don't realize it.

What happens when you become dependent on one way of orgasming

Let's get back to that neural pathway. According to a 1996 study published in the National Library of Medicine, our brain is comprised of neural networks, and within those networks are neural pathways that send information from one part of the brain to another. In this intricate network, there are neurons that control muscles and those that stimulate our senses and emotions, connected by inter-neurons. Similar to working the same muscles to grow stronger and get yourself into shape, when you use the usual pathway, you're doing the same thing. The more you repeat the same exercises, the bigger your muscles — they essentially become reinforced. When you train a neural pathway with the same activity, it not only turns into a habit, but a need. You need the turkey for lunch just as much as you need your favorite vibrator to get off.


Naturally, this becomes a problem because you're limiting your ability to enjoy other options, so when you DO jump out of your usual masturbation routine, you may find yourself struggling to climax. It's not because you've damaged the nerves in your clitoris or anything even remotely close to that. You've simply, inadvertently, bulked up a neural pathway to respond to only one route of how to reach an orgasm. But don't fret! Our brain is building and creating new neural pathways all the time, and that's what will happen when you switch up your routine. 

How it can impact partnered sex

For many people with a vulva, clitoral stimulation is paramount to having orgasms. But if your favorite solo routine is only using a vibrator, it can make having an orgasm during partnered sex a bit difficult if you're not including your beloved vibrations. Granted, there are benefits of bringing toys into your sex life, but if you want to experience pleasure without them and just with your partner, that pesky neural pathway you built could become more of a roadblock.


"If you always masturbate with a vibrator while on your back, for example, your body may not have a framework for orgasming when you're on top or when someone is going down on you," CEO of Expansive Group Casey, Tanner, LCPC tells Self. "The more you can learn to relax into different positions and sensations solo, the more likely you'll be able to orgasm in different positions during partnered sex."

Of course, sex — even amazing sex — doesn't need to end an orgasm, nor should that be the goal. But if climaxing is something you want to experience with your partner's hands or mouth, then you may want to change how you masturbate so you can be stimulated by more than one type of sensation. 

What you should do if you notice a pattern

If you're worried you're stuck in your ways, you're not. All you need to do is change how you pleasure yourself — Obviously, this is easier said than done. But if you always rely on direct contact from a vibrator, experiment with a sex toy that uses suction or air to stimulate. With these toys, the clitoris isn't actually touched, but the head of the toy hovers over it, supplying a completely different sensation that some equate to the sensation of cunnilingus.


Or, if you want to ditch the toys altogether and get back to basics, go manual. Although you might find that jumping from years of vibrator use to your hand may take a lot longer to achieve an orgasm, relax and you'll get there — you just need to create a neural pathway and, as you did with vibrators, strengthen it.

We sometimes forget that the biggest sexual organ in the body is the brain and that, at the end of the day, it has the ultimate say over everything we experience. You're allowed to have a favorite route when it comes to self-pleasure, but in a world with so many options, why limit yourself? If you've started to realize your orgasms are dependent on one specific vibrator, then you need to modify your routine. The same day you do, order the ham and cheese sandwich instead of turkey. In time, you may find that ham sandwiches and manual masturbation suit you best.