Quick note: throughout this article we use the pronoun "her" to indicate the person with a vulva for linguistic purposes only, recognizing that not all those with vulvas identify as "her".
The clitoris has around 8,000 nerve endings, making it one of the most sensitive erogenous zones on a woman's body. Whether you have a vulva and want to give yourself an orgasm or you're a partner to someone with a vulva and you want to pleasure them - start at the clitoris. Considering that 75% of women can't orgasm from penetration alone, touching, rubbing, and stroking the clitoris is the way to go.
Read more about female orgasm types and techniques here: Types of Orgasms.
While the clitoris is best known as the rosebud/bean-esque point at the "top" of the vulva, the clitoris extends far back into the body (up to 5 inches). Like vulvas, everybody's clitoris looks uniquely different and responds to stimulation uniquely as well.
The TLDR of all the information below is: experiment in your sex life and find what feels best to you and your clitoris!
How to touch your clitoris while masturbating:
Go around, not on (at least at first).
Because it's so sensitive, a slight majority of women prefer stimulation in or around the clitoris, versus directly on it. Be sure you're asking what's feeling good as you go, touching around the outer edge of your clitoral hood and up and down the inner sides of your labia to start with.
Give yourself a clitoral massage with circular motions.
For a stellar clitoral orgasm: Use one or two fingers (pointer and middle) to make circular motions inwards towards the top of your clitoris, moving in closer and closer as you go. Speed is up to you but work up from a slower pace, building up until you find what feels best. Stick with that pace for a bit and see if you're getting close to orgasm and then speed up slightly towards orgasm.
Play around with different types of finger motions and movements.
You might prefer circular motions but it's worth exploring a full range of motions. Try moving your fingers in a diagonal motion across your clitoris or straight up and down. Quick intervals of pressure on the clitoris can feel awesome to some women so try tapping lightly on the clitoris with one or multiple fingers.
Add penetration by putting a finger or two inside your vagina, moving them in a come-hither motion so you can make direct contact against the front wall (where the G-spot is located). Use your thumb or the fleshy part of your palm to continue rubbing the clitoris in a circular motion.
Go hands-free with a pillow.
The tools at our disposal for masturbation go far beyond the hands.
You don't even need to change out of your clothes for this one either - in fact, it feels even better if you have textured pants like jeans on. Straddle a pillow, titled so that your clitoris is right up against it, and grind your pelvis back and forth. You can also position a vibrator in between your clit and the pillow for an extra layer of sensation.
Invest in a clitoral vibrator.
For lots of women, using your fingers alone will feel good but won't be quite enough to get you to orgasm. This is where vibrators come into play. Whether you go for a low cost bullet vibrator, something that has an extension for G-spot stimulation, or a standard vibrator with a variety of settings, vibrations up your masturbation game.
Vibrations are so effective on the clitoris because the clitoris goes deeper into the body than what you see on the surface. Vibrations can actually penetrate deep enough to send pleasurable waves through the full clitoris, with surface-level sensations of extremely fast and small back-and-forth movement (a motion human hands can't quite achieve).
How to stimulate your partner's clitoris:
Explore beyond licking during oral sex.
Use your lips and tongue to their full potential by sucking and lightly nibbling (the former on the clitoris itself and the latter on the inner and outer labia around the clitoris).
Sucking on the clit increases blood flow ("vasocongestion" in technical terms), like a tiny vacuum pump, heightening the sensations during oral, making for an extra intense orgasm as well. Take this to the next level by using your vocal cords. Many women have experienced the joys of vibration, which you can start to emulate by humming lightly in a low register as you suck on her clitoris. (If you feel weird about trying this out of the blue, just tell her that you're going to try it beforehand and ask her how it feels)!
Give a clitoral massage by drawing circles.
75% of women in a survey by OMGYes said they love when their partners trace small circles on top of, or around their clitoris. Whether you do that with your tongue, a vibrator, or the pads of a few fingers is up to you two. Be sure you're using some form of lubrication and start by moving in slow circles, building up over time. As you go, check in and make sure things are feeling good, asking whether she wants you to go slower or faster.
Pleasure the entire clitoris.
Most of your attention will be (and should be) on the rosebud tip of the clitoris, but the clitoral wings that extend back into her body can also be lightly stimulated externally. Slide your fingers with even pressure down on both sides of her vulva near the clitoris so that the movement pulls and pushes against the clitoral hood as you go.
Pair with g-spot stimulation.
Like a great wine and cheese pairing, g-spot stimulation and orgasms go hand in hand with clitoral stimulation and orgasms. You can go about this with one or both hands - use one if you want to touch somewhere else on her body or need to keep balance.
Position your hand like a gun with your pointer and middle finger out but then turn your palm upwards so that your thumb or the fleshiest part of your palm can rub against the clitoris as you insert your fingers inside. Move your fingers in a "come hither" motion, so that they curl inwards towards her front wall (towards the belly button_.
Build up to intercourse by massaging the clit with your penis.
If you're going to have vaginal sex and are lined up and ready to enter her, take some time to really work up to the moment by using your erect penis to rub up against her clitoris. Use it like you would your fingers, either in small circles or up and down, running the shift over the top of the clitoris while you grind against her.
Get into sex toys (specifically vibrators).
There's a good reason vibrators are the most commonly owned and used type of sex toy for women. Incorporate a clitoral vibrator next time you two are fooling around, making foreplay and intercourse that much better. Start at a lower setting, keeping your grip consistently light (so as not to have your hand absorb most of the vibrational goodness). If you're using a vibrator during oral, slowly move into around in circles around her clitoris while you focus your tongue on her vagina and the outer edges of her clitoral hood.
During sex, position the vibrator in between your bodies so that you can both enjoy the vibrations while rocking against each other or get into a position with easy reach-around access to her clitoris, such as doggy style.
Experiment with vibration styles (intensity levels, patterns, motions, and placement) but remember: you truly can not go wrong with simply asking her what she prefers!