Pelvic Floor Massage: What Is Vulva Shiatsu?

Sex coach and author Gigi Engle dives into the world of Vulva Shiatsu. This massage technique also known as “trigger point therapy,”  is great for upping arousal.

There are a lot of interesting sexuality-related tips, tricks, and methods, but I had never heard of Vulva Shiatsu until a couple of weeks ago. I’m a seasoned sex educator, but there is always more to digest. I find I’m regularly going “What the hell is that?!” during classes.

I was watching a “Yoni Massage” video while breezing through my two-week free trial with Beducated, a site that specializes in Sex Ed videos and content to get you familiar with everything from the prostate to BDSM.

I figured the video would basically be a refresher on sex ed information, but I tend to be wrong when I believe this. I always learn something new. Hence the term (and technique) of “Vulva Shiatsu”.

To explore this term and give you the lowdown on how you can try it at home, I enlisted some experts to get the skinny.

WTF is Vulva Shiatsu?

This might sound like some hippy-dippy nonsense, but it has merit. I promise. Also known as “trigger point therapy,” this massage technique is great for upping arousal and limiting pain during sex.

A massage of the vulva can help build up enough erotic energy before touching the clit directly. This is super helpful as many vulva owners report that direct stimulation is too intense or painful. This technique is a good way to warm yourself up and get your erotic energy flowing to the vulva and clitoris. You can do this alone or with a partner.

“Ultimately, the goal with a vagina massage is to allow for enough blood to make its way into your clitoris,” explains sex therapist Angela Watson. “At that point, it becomes a lot easier to touch it directly while also being insanely pleasurable.”

Pain, sex, and massage

I would be remiss not to mention how massage can help with pain during sex. The fact of the matter is that three out of four women will experience pain during sex. While much of this centers around misunderstandings of women’s pain and pleasure, pain during penetration and touch can also be rooted in vulvar and vaginal pain disorders such as vulvodynia, dyspareunia, and vaginismus.

When and if this happens, one can enlist the help of a qualified pelvic floor therapist. One technique these medical professionals utilize is Vulva Shiatsu, under the clinical name ‘trigger point therapy’. Using massage and pressure techniques, one can loosen tightened pelvic floor muscles, increase blood flow to the genitals for greater arousal, and help bring pleasure back to the vulva.

Your body should be a source of pleasure and the ways in which we get to that place are beautiful and numerous. If you experience pain during sexual touch and play, consult your doctor before trying an at-home vulva massage. It’s important that you and your medical team are always on the same page so that you can achieve the best results.

Let’s talk a bit more about using massage techniques to increase pleasure, assuming you don’t experience pain during sex, but still want to get the most out of your pleasure and orgasms.

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How to try Vulva Shiatsu at home in 7 steps

Follow these 7 steps to get started with Vulva Shiatsu at home:

1. Prep your space.

A big point of interest should be getting your space prepared ahead of time. Vulva massage is a sacred practice, one that deserves attention. Vulva massage can take anywhere from 15 minutes to an hour. Be ready for the commitment.

When setting up a space, you want it to be super relaxing. “That means finding a nice soft spot to lay down, whether it be your bed or a yoga mat on your floor,” Watson says. “Do everything you can to make your area as zen as possible and conducive to relaxation. Candles, low light, whatever you need.”

2. Get some reliable, high-quality lube.

Lube is an essential component of vulva massage. Lube acts as a barrier between hand/toy and vulvar skin. Be sure you’re using a high-quality, paraben-free lube. You can use something water-based or oil-based for this practice.

Water-based lube tends to evaporate a bit more quickly so you’ll want one that really glides. I love Pjur lube for vulva massage. It doesn’t get tacky or sticky. If oil-based is more your style, try 100-percent unrefined coconut oil. You can find this at your local supermarket. While vulva massage doesn’t include intercourse, keep in mind that oil-based lubes are not compatible with latex and therefore cannot be used with condoms.

3. Wrap yourself in something delicate.

If you’d like to come to your practice fully in the buff, feel free to do that. But not everyone is going feel comfortable with that idea. Vulva massage can bring about a lot of feelings of vulnerability and discomfort. For many women and those raised female, we weren’t taught to prioritize our pleasure. Therefore, coming to a practice that focuses on it can be quite intimidating.

In that vein, if you want to wrap yourself in a kimono, a robe, or a light sarong, that’s totally OK. “Once your partner is relaxed they’ll feel more comfortable exposing their vulva to you,” says Kristine D’Angelo, a certified intimacy coach and clinical sexologist.

4. Engage in a deep breathing exercise to begin.

Whether you’re trying this alone or with a partner, take some time to breathe together. Sit face-to-face. Gently hold each other’s hands. Breathe in for five full seconds, and then breathe out for five full seconds. Do this for a few minutes until you’re both feeling relaxed and ready to begin.

5. Massage other areas

Start with a massage that doesn’t touch the genitals to begin. You want to warm up to your partner’s (or your own) touch. Breathe deeply and connect to your body. Pay attention to the feeling of your skin, the warmth of your body, and the gentle feeling of your fingers.

“When approaching the vulvar area, start at their inner thighs and make long and semi-soft sweeping motions with your hands just barely touching the labia majora. Work your way from the outside-in, building up the energy and sensation towards their vulva,” D’Angelo explains. “Now, slowly make small circles with lubricated thumbs that bring sensation up and down the outside of her labia majora (her outer lips). Again moving from the outside-in, take your time, use different amounts of pressure and remember to touch for your pleasure which will bring an intentional touch to her body“.

6. Start with broader strokes of the vulvar area.

You want to explore the vulva with broader strokes to start, circling inward toward the clitoris. If you’re working with a partner, check in with each other to gauge arousal levels. The person in control should stay alert to both physical and vocal signs of arousal. “One good method is to start with your hand in a cup shape and then begin rubbing your [vulva],” Watson suggests. “Over time, you can then start to flatten out your hand to touch more of the sensitive structures head-on.”

Try moving with fluidity up and down the labia. Move the skin gently to allow blood to flow all the way into the area. Keep massaging and touching your partner (or yourself) until you’re fully aroused.

7. Grab some toys.

Once you are fully aroused, you can experiment with some sex toys. Play around with vibration over the labia majora and minora. Circle the clitoris and pay attention to how everything feels. I recommend giving the Wand by We-Vibe a try for this, especially if you’re solo. Its long, curved handle makes reaching your vulva super easy while you’re lying back relaxed.

Womanizer LIBERTY

Liberty by Womanizer

Get ready for take-off with the Liberty

Wand by We-Vibe

Wand by WeVibe

0 to ohhhhh in seconds with the Wand by We-Vibe.

You can also try a suction toy like the Womanizer Liberty. This toy is unique because it circles the clitoris with suction and air, rather than direct stimulation. It might be one of your most explosive orgasms yet.


Gigi Engle is a certified sex coach, sexologist, educator, and author of All The F*cking Mistakes: a guide to sex, love, and life. Follow her on Instagram and Twitter at @GigiEngle.

Can I use sex toys for vaginal massage?

Simple answer: Of course!

Toys are perfect for not only enjoying a sensual, all-over body massage. Whether it’s a preamble to the vulva shiatsu, or as part of foreplay in general, toys are a great asset. Try a massager, like Wand by We-Vibe for deep, stimulating vibrations.

Keep the good times going with an internal vibe too. Using Kegel balls like Bloom by We-Vibe or even the internal vibrator Jive by We-Vibe. Both are great options to increase internal stimulation and get things moving!

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Bloom by We-Vibe

Kegel or Ben-Wa balls are a great way to stimulate your vaginal muscles and pelvic floor.

vibro egg

Jive by We-Vibe

This vibrating egg rests against your internal wall and offers a pelvic massage.

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Gigi Engle is a sexologist, certified sex coach, and feminist author. She teaches about pleasure-based sex education, masturbation, and the magical wonders that are sex toys. Engle's work has appeared in many publications her articles have been shared over 50 million times. She also writes a popular advice column called Ask Gigi, and her first book, All The F*cking Mistakes: a guide to sex, love, and life, debuts in January 2020. She has a degree in both English and Journalism from Fordham University College at Lincoln Center. Engle is an original member of The Women of Sex Tech and a certified member the World Association of Sex Coaches.