Here’s the Rub on Syntribation, the Masturbation Technique of Squeezing Your Thighs Together

Photo: Getty Images / Elizabeth Fernandez
Like many women, my first orgasm experience didn’t happen with the help of a fancy vibrator or during penetrative sex with a partner, but rather through self-exploration. Specifically, my introduction to self-pleasure as a teen was totally unintentional—and came as the result of simply squeezing my legs together. As I would soon find out, there's actually a word for this form of masturbation: syntribation.

“The appeal to this lesser-known masturbation technique is two-fold: It can be done hands-free and discreetly in public places,” says Natasha Marie Narkiewicz, head of communications and sexual wellness expert at MysteryVibe. While most folks stumble across syntribation by accident, it’s a personal pleasure method that deserves way more hype. Ahead, sex experts explain how it’s done, plus techniques you can use on your own.

Experts In This Article

What is syntribation?

Syntribation is a hands-free masturbation technique that involves squeezing your thighs together in order to achieve an orgasm. “Combined with the thigh grinding and squeezing, this can stimulate the internal and external parts of the clitoris,” explains Kate Balestrieri, PsyD, certified sex therapist and founder of therapy group Modern Intimacy.

While syntribation seems to be more popular among folks with vulvas, “people with a penis can also achieve orgasm through syntribation, through using the pressure of their thighs pressed together to jostle, massage, tug at, or squeeze their testicles, says Dr. Balestrieri. “Some may even place their penis between their thighs and use a massaging or stroking sensation to self-stimulate.”

What are the benefits of syntribation?

The benefits of syntribation are numerous. Perhaps the most obvious (read: fun!) benefit of syntribation that it can help you achieve an orgasm by way of masturbation. “There are certainly benefits to masturbation1,” says Elize Kapaeva, certified sexologist and body-oriented therapist at the sex-positive dating app Pure. “It relieves sexual tension and increases self-confidence. Also, it regulates sexual impulses, provides a safe way to have sexual experiences, and relieves general stress.”

Single folks and those in relationships can benefit from self pleasure. Masturbation is good for relationships: Masturbation can help both partners figure out their preferences for sexual intercourse, and couples who regularly masturbate tend to report higher levels of overall sexual satisfaction.

Some of the specific benefits of syntribation:

  • It’s discrete
  • It’s quiet
  • It can be done hands-free
  • You can do it alone or with a partner

Syntribation is also incredibly versatile: Because it can be done hands-free, is quiet, and even while wearing clothes, you can essentially practice it wherever you want with ease and total discretion. You can do it while sitting on your couch, in bed, in the shower… the opportunities for sensual self-discovery are endless.

The hands-free aspect of syntribation also makes it a great method of masturbation for folks who struggle to manually masturbate, whether that’s due to arthritis, carpal tunnel syndrome, or a physical disability.

Potential drawbacks of syntribation

As far as drawbacks of syntribation to know about, one potential rub (pun intended) is skin irritation from repeated friction. But, it's possible to avoid that effect by wearing long pants or using a blanket as a cushion between your legs. “You may experience a little chafing, but otherwise this is a safe way to play with yourself,” says Dr. Balestrieri.

Furthermore, while it is possible to practice it stealthily wherever you may find yourself, do be cognizant of situations where it would be deemed inappropriate or unprofessional to masturbate. For instance, just because you can masturbate at your work desk with no one being the wiser, make sure you're comfortable with whatever fallout may come from being discovered.

If you’re an exhibitionist, you may enjoy the idea of pleasuring yourself or others in open spaces. Even so, it’s always important to consider that all sexual acts should be done with full consent of all participants. Since unassuming strangers can’t give consent, it’s important to understand that participating in syntribation in public may result in legal consequences. While discrete, syntribation is still a form of masturbation, after all.

To determine if you’re in a safe place to practice syntribation, Dr. Balestrieri suggests you consider whether your privacy will be at stake when masturbating. “Generally, privacy is a top priority in feeling safe enough to masturbate,” says Dr. Balestrieri. “It is a good idea to consider whether the space is yours, and if not, proceed with caution and/or consent.”

Is syntribation something that can be practiced alone or with a partner?

Syntribation can be done both alone and with a partner, says Kapaeva. If you want to try syntribation with a partner, you can try straddling one of your partner’s legs, squeezing your leg against rather than with your other leg. Or, “add a sex toy into your foreplay,” suggests Kapaeva. “There are also several sex positions that allow you to squeeze your thighs during sex, [like] the spoon position.”

How to practice syntribation

Ready to squeeze your way into your next orgasm? Ahead are three steps to help you practice syntribation for the first time.

1. Get comfortable

Before you get to rubbing, be sure to set yourself up in a comfortable position first. You can practice syntribation while sitting in a chair, lying down in bed, on the couch—just choose a position that you feel truly relaxed and comfortable in. You can keep your clothes on or take them off, it’s up to you; some folks enjoy the added friction that comes with wearing tight-fitting pants or jeans, but the decision is wholly yours.

2. Cross your legs and squeeze your thighs together

Now that you’re comfortable, cross one leg over the other—it doesn’t matter which one is on top, so long as you’re positioned in such a way that you can grind your thighs together forcefully. It may take some adjusting in order to find your sweet spot (that is, the spot wherein your genitals become stimulated by the pressure).

Once you’ve found a position wherein you feel stimulated, continue to contract and pulse your thighs together, squeezing them repeatedly.

3. Take it up a notch

Once you’ve gotten the hang of thigh-squeezing, you can kick it up a notch by combining the technique with other kinky masturbation ideas, like mutual masturbation (masturbating next to and with your partner), doing it with a sex toy against your genitals, or edging (masturbating right up to the point of climax, but stopping before you actually orgasm).

“To make syntribation more pleasurable, you can combine touching the clitoris with squeezing the thighs,” suggests Kapaeva. “If you want to master this technique, shortly before orgasm you should stop stimulating with your hands and try to start squeezing and unclenching your thighs.”

If you have a vulva, you can also intensify the experience by contracting your pelvic floor muscles by performing a kegel. “Much depends on the type of sensations preferred, but it is worth noting that contracting the pelvic-floor muscles can lead to increased blood flow in the area,” says Dr. Balestrieri. “Increased blood flow can lead to more sensation and arousal around the clitoris and vagina.” So, engaging your pelvic-floor muscles amid a syntribation sesh may help intensify an orgasm rather than cause one to occur.

You can also try different techniques combined with syntribation to discover new ways to orgasm, like crossing your legs during penetrative sex with a partner, or by placing a vibrator between your thighs. After all, “there are no right or wrong ways to masturbate,” says Dr. Balestrieri. “If it does not violate the rights of others, you get to decide what feels good to you!”

Can syntribation affect other forms of intimacy?

If syntribation is the only way you can climax, you may face challenges when trying to orgasm using other techniques. “Syntribation can affect other forms of intimacy," says Dr. Balestrieri. "In some cases, it can organize arousal around certain kinds of play or sensations that may be difficult to re-create with a partner.” However, practicing syntribation doesn’t mean it's impossible to discover other forms of sexual pleasure—it may simply require some intentional experimentation.

“For some folks, it can take some time to have an orgasm from masturbating with new toys or a partner, or even with their legs open,” said Dr. Balestrieri. “Maintaining a masturbation practice that is more expansive and includes different kinds of stimulation can help to prevent this.”

Well+Good articles reference scientific, reliable, recent, robust studies to back up the information we share. You can trust us along your wellness journey.
  1. Kaestle, Christine E, and Katherine R Allen. “The role of masturbation in healthy sexual development: perceptions of young adults.” Archives of sexual behavior vol. 40,5 (2011): 983-94. doi:10.1007/s10508-010-9722-0

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