Vulvas are having ‘a moment’ in feminist media.
From vulva shaped chocolates and soaps, pussy hats and jewellery to beautifully illustrated vulvas on just about anything a sex-positive human could buy – the vulva is everywhere.
But most people with vulva’s don’t know much about what’s going on down there or how to care for this sensitive part of the body. Maybe you grew up internalising patriarchal messaging that your genitals were dirty or shameful? Or maybe your genitals have changed due to hormones, surgery or childbirth? Or maybe you’re just getting to know your vulva after gender affirming surgery.
Whatever the reason, most of us are fairly disconnected to our bodies, and vulva mapping and massage are great ways to send your body some love and give yourself permission to explore and feel pleasure.
Vulva mapping and massage is also a great way to reclaim your body and assist with healing after trauma, you literally take responsibility for your pleasure and knowledge in to your own hands.
So what is it exactly? Vulva mapping and massage (also known by it’s more gendered term 'yoni massage') involves the gentle and healing act of massaging both emotional and physical tension in the vulva in order to expand your capacity for pleasure and self connection. By exploring and discovering our genitals in this way we can help regain sensitivity in our vulva and vagina through awakening tense muscles in the pelvis, assisting with the healing of scars from trauma or surgery and developing a conversational relationship with our bodies.
Vulva massage is also really helpful for people who get their monthly bleed as it can soothe cramps and improve blood flow.
(A note on gender and genitals: not everyone who has a vulva is a woman and not all women have vulvas. For this reason I refer to vulva having people in gender neutral terms and try to avoid any references to yonis, goddess temples, etc. However, if you feel empowered by that language then that’s great and you should definitely use it for your body!)
It’s important that you feel as relaxed and grounded as possible. Pick a time when you have no distractions, turn off your phone and get yourself some castor oil and lube (my favourite is anything by Sliquid) and lay down some towels to protect your sheets from any excess oil. If having a shower, playing music or meditation help you relax then go for it – whatever helps you feel your best!
Make a commitment to yourself to explore your body with love, compassion and curiosity. You are making time to connect with your vulva, learn about your body and expand your potential for pleasure.
Place your hand on your vulva and gently breath in to the sensation of being touched. Take a minute to calm your mind and thank yourself for prioritising your own pleasure. Gently begin to massage your thighs and pelvis, working your way towards the vulva. Spend time exploring your outer labia. Try a combination of gentle and firm strokes to locate and relieve any tension. Whenever you feel any emotional or physical tension/pain – slow down and breath through it. Once you feel the tension dissolve, move on to another area.
Explore the inner labia and clitoral hood using plenty of oil and varying strokes. I always recommend using a mirror to look at your vulva. Really marvel at how unique your anatomy is in shape, size and colour. Familiarise yourself with every part of the vulva. If you have any scarring I recommend spending some time gently massaging the scars with castor oil which stimulates collagen production and can minimise scarring over time and help bring greater sensitivity to the area.
Once you are ready to explore the inside of your vulva gently insert a lubed up finger inside the vaginal opening and begin to explore using a technique that bodyworkers call clocking.
Imagine an analogue clock with points 12 till 12. Working clockwise around the vaginal opening begin to massage each point of the ‘clock’. I find using my thumbs rather than finger much easier to reach the side walls of the vagina. If you aren’t able to use your hands for any reason I like to use a solid dildo for internal massage. I like crystal but any stainless steel, glass or wooden toy will work perfectly well.
Go slow and gentle and explore the tissue – feeling for any emotional and physical tension. This can be a really emotional experience for a lot of people and release a lot of built up stress and trauma so remember to be kind to yourself. Keep checking in with your own emotions and take a break whenever you need.
Once you’re satisfied your exploration has come to an end its time to relax and absorb what you’ve learnt and felt. Sometimes vulva massage can be overwhelming – especially if you woke up some strong emotions during your massage. Take a moment to close your eyes, lie back and thank yourself for taking the first step in building a relationship with your vulva.
- Dion De Rossi
Dion De Rossi is a sexual empowerment coach and queer porn performer currently studying with the Sexological Bodywork Institute in Berlin. They are passionate about helping people of all genders connect with their bodies and desires through bodywork, sex positive workshops and film. When they aren’t busy working their hobbies include reading, writing and spending their income on manicures and bougie sex toys.
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