Orgasms are not one-size-fits-all. What works for one woman won’t work for everyone and what worked for you with one partner might not work with another. According to sexologist Carole Altman, PhD, author of You Can Be Your Own Sex Therapist, “You have to own your orgasm — you can’t just rely on a man to get the job done.” The first step: trouble-shooting for possible circumstantial things that may be holding you back.
- There’s Not Enough Foreplay
- You Might Be Mentally Tuning Out
- There’s Not Enough Clitoral Stimulation
- You’re Forgetting to Pee First
- There’s Too Much Position-Changing
- You Might Have Anorgasmia
- The Real Reason You Can’t Orgasm During Sex
- Can’t Orgasm During Sex? How 5 Women Finally Climaxed With A Partner
- No Orgasms During Intercourse
- Okay, so what the eff is holding back my orgasm?
- 1. Get close with your clit.
- 2. Start solo.
- 3. Explore and fantasize.
- 4. Rethink your mental hangups.
- 5. Own what you want.
- 6. Come prepared.
- 7. Try to take the pressure off.
- When women can’t climax: let’s talk about anorgasmia
- What is female anorgasmia?
- Can most women orgasm?
- Is it easier for men to reach orgasm?
- Are there different types of female orgasm?
- How can you have an orgasm?
- Why can’t I orgasm?
- Practice makes perfect
- Further help and support
- Female Orgasm Elusive, Say Scientists
- Sexual Pleasure in Women Not Evolutionary
- Help! I Can’t Have an Orgasm
- Am I anorgasmic?
- Why do some women struggle to come?
- How can I orgasm through penetrative sex?
- How can I make myself come?
- Sex and relationship resources
- Couple lying together in bed.
- Factors that may affect orgasm
- Getting advice
- Lifestyle changes
- Not sure what to do next?
There’s Not Enough Foreplay
Here’s the scenario. Your partner is ~extremely~ eager to have sex. And you may be too but there’s a very good reason to never skimp on the foreplay:
“Most women need about 20 minutes of arousal time to reach the ‘orgasmic platform,’ when the clitoris is most sensitive and the body is primed for stimulation,” says sexologist Yvonne K. Fulbright, author of the Hot Guide to Safer Sex. “Skipping the whole sexual-response cycle makes it harder to get off.” Twenty minutes may sound like a long time but trust, any partner who can’t spend a mere matter of minutes making you feel good is not worth your time.
For many, it’s a turn-on. “It was really hard for me to orgasm so I’d tell my boyfriend, ‘It’s OK, don’t worry about it’ when it didn’t happen,” says Melissa,* 29. One night, he told me to lie back and just let him do his thing to me. I eventually orgasmed and he clearly loved every minute he spent getting me off.” A bonus of peaking preintercourse: “Having an orgasm during foreplay increases a woman’s chances of climaxing during intercourse,” says Altman.
*Names have been changed.
You Might Be Mentally Tuning Out
It’s easy to get distracted during sex. Everything from “I wonder what my boobs look like from this angle?” to “Wow, he should have that mole on his chest checked out” can make you lose focus. And once that happens, your orgasm is down for the count. “Your brain is a vital part of the sexual experience, registering sensations and releasing feel-good chemicals to the body,” says Georgia sexologist Gloria G. Brame, PhD. “Any mental distraction can spark conflicting, nonsexual impulses in the brain and lessen your pleasure.”
So what if you find yourself making a mental grocery list mid-act? First, reengage your body. “Focus on how he feels inside you and how your body is responding,” says Brame. “Also touch yourself or even switch positions to physically bring yourself back to the sex.”
Another tune-in trick: breathing slowly and deeply from the pit of your belly. “Yogic breath will not only keep you centered, it will also make the sex better,” Fulbright points out. “Circular breathing, where you try to sync up your inhalations with your partner’s, can put the focus back on the body and help you reconnect with each other.”
There’s Not Enough Clitoral Stimulation
The clitoris is the most important area of your body to touch during sex (duh). “There are more nerve endings there than there are inside the vagina,” says Fulbright. “So it’s rare for women to have an orgasm without some sort of clitoral stimulation.”
To stimulate your clit during intercourse, climb into woman-on-top position, arch your body toward him, and grind your pleasure point against his pelvis. If you’re in missionary, make sure to keep your legs pressed tightly together while moving your hips in a circular motion, suggests Altman. “As he is moving in and out at this angle, it will stimulate the clitoris,” she says. “It can also create friction between your vaginal lips and your clitoris, which can enhance sensation.” Fulbright also suggests stimulation when you’re in doggy style or girl-on-top position.
You’re Forgetting to Pee First
In the heat of the moment, it’s easy to overlook the little things like, say, your bladder. If you have to pee, a penis in your vagina — stimulating the back wall — can make you clench up. The result? You don’t let go and climax.
Fortunately, there’s a simple solution: Use the bathroom just prior to sex. “Since you know you don’t have to pee, when you’re on the verge of orgasm, you’ll be able to go with the sensations and let loose,” says Brame. Not to mention the fact that peeing first can greatly decrease your risk of a UTI.
There’s Too Much Position-Changing
Crazy, didn’t-know-my-body-could-bend-that-way positions are always a fun way to keep your sex life exciting but testing out too many in one sitting actually makes it harder to orgasm. “The key to satisfaction is steady stimulation in a position that hits your pleasure points,” Brame points out. “You need to develop a rhythm, and once you feel yourself building toward climax, the sensation must be consistent or you’ll lose momentum.”
If for some reason you get sidetracked and have to start from square one, don’t panic. Just get yourselves back into that orgasm-inducing position and go for round two.
You Might Have Anorgasmia
Which is basically just the inability to orgasm. In a study about women’s sexual dysfunction, 24 percent of the women involved reported orgasmic dysfunction. That’s not a small number! The causes really vary: anything from anxiety to certain medications can trigger it. The most important thing to remember is that you should always talk to your general practitioner or ob-gyn about what might be going on if it’s bothering you. A list on the internet can’t diagnose a clinical concern but your doctor sure can. Don’t ever be afraid to seek more information.
This post was originally published in 2005 and has been updated.
The Real Reason You Can’t Orgasm During Sex
Orgasms are a ~*magical*~ thing, and if you aren’t having them, it can feel pretty crappy. When you can’t orgasm during sex it can leave you feeling unsatisfied, frustrate both you and your partner, and, ICYMI, you can get blue balls (well, blue vulva). Yes, really.
But if you’re missing out on the big O, you’re not alone. SHAPE’s sexpert, Dr. Logan Levkoff, says it’s estimated that 70 percent of women don’t have regular orgasms during vaginal sex. And according to the National Survey of Sexual Health and Behavior, only 64 percent of women had an orgasm during their most recent sexual encounter (whether it was vaginal sex, oral sex, hand stuff, etc.). That’s probably why so many women-about 80 percent, according to this study from the U.K.-admit to faking an orgasm at least half the time.
The thing is, there’s no need to fake it or feel pressured to orgasm during sex. In fact, the more you stress about having an orgasm, the less likely you are to actually have one. You could just need more clitoral stimulation (which is typically needed to ensure an orgasm), says Levkoff. Something else might work for you besides vaginal sex (like a vibrator or oral sex), or perhaps there’s a non-sex issue getting in the way (like high stress or lack of sleep). If you’re having trouble getting off entirely, and you’be tried all the other methods, there’s a chance you’re one of 10 to 15 percent of women who have anorgasmia, the inability to reach orgasm after adequate sexual stimulation.
Before you freak out about your missing Os, try tweaking these basic sex positions to increase your pleasure or #treatyoself to a solo sesh where you can really get know what you like. If you’re truly concerned, see your doc. Otherwise, just keep this golden rule of sex in mind: *everyone is different.* Find out what works for you, and you know, do it. Happy climaxing!
- By Lauren Mazzo @lauren_mazzo
Can’t Orgasm During Sex? How 5 Women Finally Climaxed With A Partner
If you’ve never had orgasm, or don’t think you have, you’re not alone: many women report one big, frustrated sigh when it comes to reaching that lusted-after explosion. According to stats from Planned Parenthood, about one in three women have trouble reaching orgasm when having sex and 80 percent have difficulty with orgasm from vaginal intercourse alone.
Just as the saying goes — different strokes for different folks —what it takes for one woman to have an orgasm likely varies from what works for another. More often than not, combining foreplay, oral sex and at times, vibrators or other sex toys can help you feel more relaxed and turned on, making it easier for you to reach your maximum sexual peek.
But if you feel like you’ve tried everything with little success, it might be helpful to hear from real women who figured out what made them reach their sex goal. For some, it was about a patient partner, for others it was important to get really warmed up before having intercourse or about giving yourself a break and letting the pressure subside.
Here’s how five women were able to reach climax — and how you can learn from their sexual journey:
1. I Finally Dated Someone Who Took Their Time With Me
Giphy“For me, it was with my first steady fling my first year of college. He spent enough time down there with his tongue for me to learn how to close out all of the distractions and just focus on what he was doing, and that was really what it took. But it wasn’t until two years later that I was able to orgasm during intercourse, when my particularly determined first serious boyfriend insisted I could do it if I just gave it a chance. If I hadn’t had these two experiences — and been lucky enough to partner with two men patient enough to try whatever it took — I may still be coasting through life thinking that ‘almost-not-quite’ state I experienced before the age of 19 is all there is. That’s why I believe that every woman can do it, even if she is determined she can’t. In an informal (but scientific) poll among my friends, I found that some had survived three-year relationships without ever having an orgasm with their partners.” -Delaney
2. I Stopped Being Afraid Of Climaxing
Giphy“The first time I reached my full potential to climax was with a partner who made me feel so comfortable and safe exploring my sexuality. Like many women, I was afraid I’d urinate instead of climax. Not only would it be completely embarrassing, I also have an aversion to body fluids so it would be mortifying too! This partner encouraged me to just let it come (pun totally intended) and if I urinated it didn’t matter. I put trust and faith into his words, listened to him, and ever since then I have the best orgasms ever. Since our bladder is close to the muscles that help with orgasm, it is common for the orgasm to feel like an urge to urinate. More times than not, women aren’t actually going to urinate though they prevent the orgasm for fear of urinating. My advice is to just let it go!” -Courtney
3. When The Thrill Was Enough To Make It Happen
Giphy“For me? It was when a repressed Catholic girl fell in love right out of high school and found the promised land with a forbidden love (my racist father couldn’t keep us apart.) It was typical rebellion but very exciting.” -Elaine
4. When My Partner Stimulated My Clit
Giphy“One third of women need clitoral stimulation to have an orgasm and most don’t get it from penetration, including me. I found my sexual confidence by being with guys who were down to bring vibes into the bedroom. A bullet vibe during sex totally changed my sex life. A real man isn’t threatened by a sex toy, he knows how to use it.” -Gigi
5. When I Accepted My Sexual Identity
Giphy”Before I was a sex therapist, I struggled with understanding my own sexuality. I grew up with similar messages that many women receive including ‘only bad girls sleep around’ or ‘your job is to please him.’ Therefore, a lot of anxiety was created around sex. With training and therapy, I learned how to accept my sexual identity and accept myself as a sexual being who is allowed to receive pleasure and focus on myself. In my early sex days, my orgasms were pleasurable though now I know I was missing out! After I learned to become aware of myself during sex and not focus on anxious thoughts such as ‘What is he thinking?’ or ‘Do I look pretty?’ my orgasmic experience greatly improved to the point that I could have multiple orgasms in one sexual experience. Recently, my orgasms got even stronger after attending pelvic floor therapy to help strengthen those muscles, which impact our orgasms.” -Courtney
Images: Andrew Zaeh for Bustle; Giphy
No Orgasms During Intercourse
I am a 26-year-old female who masturbates regularly. I have great orgasms quite easily by simply rubbing my clitoris. When I am having intercourse, however, I almost never have an orgasm. Could this be because of the way I masturbate?
It is highly unlikely that your manner of masturbating is the reason you find it difficult to have orgasms during intercourse. Most women masturbate by stimulating their clitoris in some way, either through the use of a vibrator or their own hand.
The clitoris is the center of sexual pleasure for most women, which is why so few women can have orgasms from intercourse alone. The fact is, when having sex, a man’s penis doesn’t spend much time around the clitoris. And what little friction there is between the clit and penis is offset by the amount of lubrication typically generated by sex.
So while most women need direct and indirect stimulation of the clitoris in a rhythmic fashion in order to achieve orgasm, most sexual positions involve little stimulation of the clit. Some sexual positions provide for more direct stimulation — and control — of the clitoris’s contact with the penis, such as the woman being on top (cowgirl position). You could be more adventurous with trying out different sexual positions to find whether there may be one that works for you.
But keep in mind, according to research published in the Journal of Sexual Medicine, surveys have found that as many as 80 percent of women do not regularly orgasm during sex. Cosmopolitan’s Female Orgasm Survey of 2015 found that approximately 57 percent of women usually have orgasms when they have sex with a partner. That leaves a significant group of women who simply won’t have orgasms during sex no matter what position they try.
This is not a problem unless you or your partner believes it to be. There are many other ways to achieve orgasm, and orgasm can readily become a part of your sex play with your partner without it needing to be an actual part of intercourse itself.
You should also count yourself lucky. Because you can have orgasms easily by yourself, it may also be possible to teach your partner. Simply show him or her how you like to be stimulated, and incorporate that into your sexual activities — whether it be before, during, after or instead of intercourse!
Remember, with sex there comes no judgment. You do whatever feels good and right in the moment. While achieving an orgasm is considered important to many who enjoy sex, it doesn’t have to be that way for you. Keep open-minded and be willing to try different things, and you will likely find a fun and creative way to incorporate orgasms into your sex life that works for both you and your partner.
No Orgasms During Intercourse
July 10, 2012 — Matt Cook hasn’t had an orgasm in seven months, and he hopes never to intentionally have one again.
The 51-year-old publisher from Virginia isn’t celibate. Happily married for 25 years, Cook said his sex life is more exciting than ever and giving up the goal-oriented climax has improved every aspect of his life.
Cook, the father of adult two sons, is a newcomer to karezza, a form of intercourse that emphasizes affection while staying far from the edge of orgasm. Climax is not the goal and ideally does not occur while making love.
“It creates a deep feeling in a relationship that is very difficult to describe — much deeper than conventional sex,” he said.
Cook is one of a growing number of men who have embraced karezza and have found it has helped heal their marriages, inject more spark into their sex lives and even shed porn addiction.
A recovering porn addict, Cook suffered from performance anxiety with girlfriends. Sex got better with his wife, but he didn’t know how much until he discovered karezza.
Now, he has sex almost every day.
“It kind of never ends,” said Cook. “Why would I want to give that up for a 15-second orgasm?”
Deb Feintech, a counselor from Portland, Maine, uses karezza to help couples repair their broken relationships.
“The people most interested are men,” she said. “It’s very radical for them, but they are finding the emotional intimacy far outweighs any of the thrill of the chase and the mating mind.”
And Feintech said the practice is not just helpful for middle-aged couples struggling with the ennui of a long marriage, but for young couples headed to the altar.
“I offer this to them as something to try for a month or so,” she said. “They wake up every single morning and they are not even thinking about genital stimulation. They are snuggling, holding and breathing with eye contact and flow. It’s very conscious — from the genitals to the heart.”
It puts puts the emphasis on attachment, not climax.
The word karezza was coined by Dr. Alice Bunker Stockham, a Chicago obstetrician and early feminist who promoted birth control, a ban on corsets and sexual fulfillment for both genders. In 1896, she wrote a book by that name — from the Italian word carezza, which means caress.
For strengthening marriages, she encouraged what was then called “male continence,” although in the interest of equality, she asked that women abstain from orgasm, as well.
Marnia L. Robinson has carried the contemporary torch in her 2009 book, “Cupid’s Poisoned Arrow,” and on her website, Reuniting: Healing With Sexual Relationships.
“Even for those with the highest libidos, performance can become a grind and drive a craving for novelty,” said Robinson. “Such feelings, although perfectly natural, can create projections and resentment that cause disharmony, especially after our temporary honeymoon neurochemistry wears off.”
Technique is “virtually immaterial,” she says. “It’s a practice about not doing, about getting your goal-driven mammalian mating system out of the way long enough to fall into a state of relaxed union.”
A former corporate lawyer and now a devotee, Robinson argues that karezza’s power is rooted in neuroscience.
“Orgasm really isn’t in our genitals, but actually between our ears,” she said.
In the “passion cycle of orgasm,” the hormone dopamine rises in anticipation of sex, then crashes after orgasm, creating a biochemical “hangover,” according to Robinson.
In men, that happens almost immediately after ejaculation; for women, it can be two weeks before the brain returns to homeostasis, according to Robinson.
“Karezza turned out to be an enjoyable way to tiptoe around biology’s agenda,” she said.
Overstimulation of the pleasure receptors can also desensitize the brain to pleasure or create a craving for more. When men are addicted to pornography or have frequent orgasms, “no amount of pleasure can satisfy,” she said. “We are always looking for something novel.”
But in karezza, lovemaking never finishes, so sexual energy continues to flow, helping to prevent boredom with a partner, say advocates.
Karezza also elicits the relaxation response and encourages the brain to release the “love” hormone ocytocin, which helps in bonding behavior.
Robinson, unable to sustain intimacy, had been married twice before meeting her husband Gary Wilson, a former science teacher who helped her in her research. He had experienced depression and alcohol addiction, but after the couple explored karezza together, he was able to give up Prozac and drinking.
She found she was able to sustain a lasting and harmonious marriage.
“We sit tight, next to each other 24/7 and are never apart,” said Wilson. “I don’t feel the need to have my space, which is unusual.”
Though many other men look at Wilson “like I am crazy,” he said karezza can surprisingly help “rekindle things” in a long-term relationship.
Such was the case with Darryl Keil, a 56-year-old furniture maker from Brunswick, Maine, who has been married to his wife Annabelle for 29 years. They run a business and homeschooled two sons together.
About 14 years ago he read a book on sex and Taoism after feeling “depleted” and looking for something to rejuvenate their sex lives. Eventually, that led him to karezza.
For the last eight years neither one has had an intentional orgasm. He calls the old sex: “lick, pump, squirt, snore,” an act that was driven by the man.
Now, his wife feels she is an equal partner in the bedroom. They are having sex every day — “and it’s not boring,” said Keil, who is writing a book and runs small workshops.
Most men who have never heard of karezza look at Keil as if he were a “freak of nature.”
‘It’s just hard to get men to want to skip orgasms,” he said. “One guy said to me, you want me to climb 10,000 feet up Mt. Everest and not get to the top?”
Like others, the Keils experience occasional orgasms “accidentally,” but karezza guru Marnia Robinson said it does not violate any rules.
“I have orgasms and it’s no big deal — gentle lovemaking sometimes slips over the edges and that’s nice,” she said.
For each couple, the experience is different.
“The natural ‘karezzanauts’ would be committed couples who want to sweeten the harmony of their relationships,” said Robinson.
But young people, too, can try their hand at karezza, she said. In the very least, the practice is an effective form of birth control.
“I doubt any of us forget how to have conventional sex if pregnancy is desired,” she said. “You can still ride a bike, even if you drive a car.”
Confession: After the first time I had sex, I didn’t orgasm for two whole years. And I didn’t have one of those mind-blowing Os that, as they say, “makes you see G-d” until months later. Of course, I thought something was wrong with me because what seemed to cum so easily to everyone else (see what I did there?) didn’t just magically happen. If you’re in the same climax-less boat, you probably have the same question I had: Why can’t I orgasm?
For starters, the orgasm gap is real AF. In fact, according to a 2018 study in the Archives of Sexual Behavior, only 65 percent of heterosexual women reported that they “usually or always orgasmed when sexually intimate,” compared to 95 percent of heterosexual men (sigh).
That number only increases by 1 (!) percent for bisexual women. Lesbian women not-so-surprisingly have it best, with 86 percent saying they usually or always orgasmed during sex. (My guess? A same-sex partner better understands your body’s needs.)
So, while you might not be comfortable being that honest about your sex life at Sunday brunch with the girls, just know you’re not alone…not by a long shot.
Okay, so what the eff is holding back my orgasm?
Bear with me here: It could be anything, from negative self-talk to intimacy issues to side effects of medications. And, of course, societal expectations can have a pretty hefty impact, too.
“Women are not encouraged to focus on their own sexual pleasure or even feel entitled to it,” says Janet Brito, PhD, a clinical psychologist and sex therapist in Honolulu. “Many women feel shame and guilt about experiencing their own sexual pleasure.”
“Many women feel shame and guilt about experiencing their own sexual pleasure.”
What’s more, some women “report feeling constantly pressured to be ‘on’ sexually and to please others sexually instead of focusing on exploring what feels good to them,” Brito adds. Ugh.
On the micro level, your inability to get off could be due to growing up with restrictive views on sexuality, trouble managing stress (a well-known libido killer), and relationship challenges.
If you know you’re into the action, but no matter what you or a partner does, your body just isn’t responding, it’s likely a medical issue.
“High anxiety, depression, something causing a sudden drop in testosterone levels or estrogen levels, and new onset diabetes” can all inhibit your ability to climax, according to Gail Saltz, MD, an associate professor of psychiatry at the New York-Presbyterian Hospital Weill-Cornell School of Medicine and author of The Ripple Effect: How Better Sex Can Lead to a Better Life.
That’s quite a list, but there’s another that’s a common orgasm stealer: medications.
“The most notorious medications for difficulty having orgasm and lowering libido are serotonin reputable inhibitors, serotonin and norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors, and tricyclics antidepressants,” she explains. That’s medical speak for anti-anxiety and antidepressant household drugs like Lexapro, Celexa, Zoloft, and Prozac.
If you think medication side effects are to blame, Dr. Saltz recommends asking your doctor to reduce the dose or switch meds. Or if it’s a new medication, there’s a chance this side effect will improve on its own, she notes. So give it a few months, at least.
Either way, if you can’t orgasm with a partner, “discuss with them what is happening and why, so they don’t mistake this as a relationship problem,” Dr. Saltz suggests. “If this is not due to meds or relationship problems, but there’s a sudden change, see your ob-gyn to check testosterone levels and rule out another medical cause.”
It’s also important to note that if you’re dealing with any kind of sexual trauma or consistent physical pain during sex, you should talk to a doctor or therapist.
From there, here’s what else can help you hit the big O—at last.
1. Get close with your clit.
Time to break out the hand mirror, ladies. Seriously, that’s what Brito recommends women do to be able to identify what they have down there, in order to better understand how their body works.
“Then, I encourage them to touch gently and with curiosity,” she explains. “Label the parts that feel most sensitive, arousing, ticklish, and uncomfortable.”
Once you’ve completed your own personal anatomy lesson, you can add in self-pleasure (more on that in a sec). The more you know how to please yourself, the more confidence you’ll have to coach a partner on how and where you want to be touched.
That will likely include some direct clitoral stimulation, since many women need that to orgasm. ICYDK, most of the go-to P-in-the-V positions don’t provide enough friction on their own, says Dr. Saltz. (Explains a lot, amirite?)
To make up for that, ask your partner to spend more time on foreplay, since you’ll need more stimulation to feel aroused, she advises.
Not sure where to start? I gotchu. Here are six things to know about your vagina:
2. Start solo.
“You can learn a lot about yourself during masturbation,” says Ian Kerner, PhD, a certified sex and relationship therapist and author of She Comes First. This is especially true if you’ve mainly (or only) experienced sex with a partner.
“Creating a safe space to figure out what level of pressure or stroking feels good to you will greatly help to reduce pressure and ‘sexpectations,'” Brito adds. “When there is less pressure to perform, less judgment, and more focus on identifying what feels pleasurable, women are more likely to experience an orgasm.” (Copy that.)
“When there is less pressure to perform, women are more likely to experience an orgasm.”
But don’t make having an orgasm the end goal just yet. Instead, “take the time to touch yourself and notice what’s coming up physically, emotionally, and mentally,” Kerner says.
Through this QT, you’ll learn which moves arouse you and which don’t. For example, if using a vibrator doesn’t make you feel anything other than slightly awkward, ditch it and try some gentle clitoral stimulation instead.
3. Explore and fantasize.
Don’t just go straight for your clitoris. Try exploring different parts of your body—say, your breasts or hips—with your hands, sex toys, or other sensual products, like feathers or blindfolds, suggests Kat Van Kirk, a certified sex therapist and author of The Married Sex Solution: A Realistic Guide to Saving Your Sex Life. Same goes for when you’re with a partner.
While you’re at it, let your mind wander to different sexy fantasies (you know you’ve got ’em) to see which ones get you going. “Be open to fantasizing, reading erotica, watching ethical porn,” says Kerner. “Create the right conditions to create your physical and mental arousal.”
4. Rethink your mental hangups.
Anxiety usually plays a role in your inability to orgasm. Even if it’s a physical problem, there are often worries or negative thoughts that are making your problem worse.
“Understand the anxiety around sex and what beliefs are triggering it,” says Van Kirk.”Are you worried you aren’t good in bed? That you’ll come off as selfish? That pleasuring you will take too long? Reframe that anxiety. Your excitement needs to be louder than any anxiety” to finish.
And if it’s really challenging to reframe those thoughts on your own, it can be helpful to talk to a therapist and get to the root of the issue.
“Having an orgasm is a personal experience—one that the person needs to feel comfortable having.”
In the end, “having an orgasm is a personal experience—and one that the person needs to feel comfortable having,” Brito explains. “It is not something you can make someone do, or something you can ‘give’ someone.” So take care of what’s going on in that head of yours, since no one else can fix that ish.
5. Own what you want.
When you do find something that feels incredible during a sexy solo session, communicate that to your partner. “Whether it’s a conversation when you aren’t having sex, short verbal confirmations , or physical cues like groaning, arching your back, or physically showing them by moving their hands, you’ll need to be able to communicate those desires,” says Van Kirk.
Feeling shy, awkward, or some combo of the two? To ease into the conversation, Brito suggests asking your partner about their erogenous zones—”specifically how and where they want to be touched and what feels the most pleasurable to them,” she says.
Then use that moment as an opportunity to tell them what turns you on. “While some women prefer soft clitoral stimulation, other women prefer penetration, and/or a combo of the two,” Brito adds.
It’s also helpful to take note of the kind of sex that works for you, in other ways. For example, if you’re someone who values sex with a partner you love and who loves you, it might be harder for you to get off with a casual fling. And that’s okay.
6. Come prepared.
And by that, I mostly mean: lube, lube, and more lube. “Lube can be the difference between having an orgasm or not,” says Van Kirk. “Never forget a good lube even if you think you have enough moisture on your own.”
Of course, toys are your best friend, too. Try a vibrator when you masturbate, or consider wearing a small one (like a cock ring) during intercourse, advises Saltz. Some great options:
In the end, anything that enhances pleasure gets you that much closer to the grand finale.
7. Try to take the pressure off.
This sorta goes hand-in-hand with rethinking your mental hangups, but focusing too much on trying to O is a biggie climax thief on its own.
“The more you focus on making something happen, the less likely it is to happen,” says Kerner.
So more than anything, try to relax and remove “have an orgasm” from your to-do list. You just might find it when you stop looking for it. At least I did.
When women can’t climax: let’s talk about anorgasmia
What is female anorgasmia?
Female Anorgasmia (also called Female Orgasmic Disorder) is a sexual problem where a woman can’t reach orgasm. It can be life-long or have started after a period of time of being able to experience orgasm.
Some women can experience orgasm during masturbation, but not during partnered sex; some women can get highly aroused, but never go beyond that. This can leave women feeling deprived of something special, isolated and abnormal and can cause tension in relationships.
What exactly is a female orgasm?
Firstly – it’s not a myth. During orgasm, breathing, heart rate and blood pressure increase, muscles tense, contractions occur in the uterus, pelvic floor muscles, vulva, vagina and rectal sphincter. Accompanying this physiological activity are intense pleasurable physical sensations for a number of seconds, mostly felt in the genital region.
If we get really pernickety about female orgasm descriptions, you could classify them into different genital zones: clitoral orgasm (around 80% of women require clitoral stimulation to have an orgasm), vaginal orgasm (approximately 20% of women experience orgasm through vaginal stimulation alone) and the so-called, ‘G-Spot’ orgasm.
The G-Spot has centred around much debate; does it exist or not? Do all women have one? The G Spot has been described as a little bump a few centimetres inside the vagina on the front wall. When stimulated during arousal, it may trigger an orgasm and some suggest can produce a kind of female ejaculate or ‘squirting’ from the urethra. However, the differences in type of orgasm may be subtle and are probably not that important to most people.
Why can’t some women orgasm?
Taking that leap into orgasm means losing control of oneself. For some people, being in such a vulnerable state, especially in the presence of someone else, can be an uncomfortable prospect. To defend oneself from this, the brain, nervous system and body team up to prevent and inhibit the orgasm. There may be underlying fears of being seen with a contorted orgasm face, of making noises and feeling unsafe to do so.
Anxiety impairs blood flow to the genitals, which is needed to increase sexual excitement; worries about pregnancy or STIs can have a negative effect. Ensure you use contraception and condoms to protect against transmission of STIs and get tested regularly.
It is suggested that only 30% of women orgasm every time they have intercourse. Generally, it takes women longer than men to get aroused and to have an orgasm, so more time and stimulation may be needed, focused on her.
The area inside the vagina is considerably less sensitive compared to the external clitoral area. Perhaps you or your partner have focused stimulation in an area of the genitals that is less likely to increase your arousal.
Does your partner come too quickly? Sex doesn’t have to stop just because your partner has had an orgasm. You can be stimulated orally, with hands, with sex toys and still engage in sexual activity after your partner has climaxed. If you’re looking for treatments for premature ejaculation, visit our clinic.
Other causes of anorgasmia are:
- Medication, such as antidepressants, antipsychotics and sleeping medication
- Cancer treatment
- Spinal cord injury
- Damage to the central nervous system
- Multiple Sclerosis
- Fear of urinating or becoming too wet
- Relationship difficulties
- Past sexual abuse
The psychological impact of Anorgasmia
Not only can Anorgasmia leave you feeling frustrated, especially when you come tantalisingly close to orgasm, but you may feel deprived of sexual release and intimacy with your partner, which can lead to dissatisfaction in relationships.
Equally, Anorgasmia may impact your partner’s self-esteem – they may feel inadequate, thinking that it is their fault, that they are unable to have an effect on you sexually and bring you to orgasm.
Partners may lose desire for sex as a result, because seeing the effect they have over their partner may boost their sense of potency and pride; if they think they are not having an effect, they may avoid sex and male partners may experience Erectile Dysfunction (ED).
Will I ever be able to have an orgasm?
It may be that your orgasm is just out of reach, so take heart and don’t give up. Here are some top tips to help you get there:
Go back to basics and start getting to know your body and how it responds. You will need privacy, comfort and time.
Love your body. If you need to lose weight and exercise, do so, but don’t think that you can’t enjoy sex until you have the ‘perfect body’. Put on clothes you like – or take them off – look in the mirror and appreciate your features.
Get to know your genitals, using a hand mirror. Learn and practice different techniques to stimulate yourself, then share them with your partner.
To fake or not to fake? If you have been faking orgasms to get sex over with, or to please your partner, how will your partner ever know how to stimulate you in the most enjoyable way for you, if they already think they are hitting the spot?
Communication is key. Rather than saying “don’t do that”, which can feel critical, say, “ I like it when you touch me this way”. Tell or show your partner how to touch you. Everybody is different and nobody comes with a manual of how to turn them on. Talk about other sexual activities you might like to try with each other. Trust is important so you feel safe and able to let go in the presence of another person.
Don’t expect sex to be like it is in pornography. Remember, what porn stars do and have done to them in front of the camera might not work for you. They’re actors, and often the women in porn are simulating or exaggerating pleasure or orgasm.
Experiment with sex toys and lubricants, reading erotic literature, looking at female friendly porn and thinking up sexual fantasies.
Practise pelvic floor exercises, known as Kegels, which increase blood flow to the pelvis and help you learn to feel and recognise sensations in the pelvic region, giving you more connection and control over it. Your pelvic floor muscles, also known as PC muscles, are the same muscles used to stop urinating midstream or to hold in wind. Practise by tightening them, then relaxing them in both fast and slow twitches throughout the day (not whilst urinating).
Don’t focus on orgasm as the ultimate goal. Relaxed minds and bodies allow for more playfulness, leading to better blood flow to the genitals, more pleasure perhaps eventually orgasm.
Go to the loo before sex if you’re worried about urinating during orgasm.
Take turns. If Anorgasmia is situational, (it only happens when with a partner but not during solo sex) stimulate yourself alongside your partner then gradually try letting your partner take over the stimulation either with their hand or penis.
Talk to your GP about your medication or hormonal contraception, and consider changing medication.
Think about your attitude towards sex. On a deeper psychological level, you may have absorbed negative cultural or family attitudes towards female sexual pleasure. Perhaps give this some thought and challenge yourself about those attitudes. Unlocking these conflicts in your mind may enable you to surrender to orgasm.
The first of many
Once you have had an orgasm, your inhibition threshold will be lowered. Plus remembering the sensation can lead to subsequent orgasms.
Many women who have experienced anorgasmia are able to experience orgasm. But if it doesn’t happen, don’t focus all you attention on that as an end goal. Common expressions like, ‘achieving orgasm’ certainly don’t help matters! You can still enjoy sex, paying attention to sensations all over your body when touched with different textures, pressures and temperatures.
There are some excellent self-help books available to help women to become orgasmic, which is a good place to start. For more help and information visit your GP or to find a qualified psychosexual therapist, visit The College of Sexual and Relationship Therapists (COSRT).
Charlotte Simpson is an Accredited Psychosexual Therapist and Relationship Counsellor in Private Practice in North West London.
For more information, visit www.thecouplestherapist.co.uk
Aug 3, 2018Charlotte Simpson
How come some girls don’t come at all? And guys always do. I don’t really understand. My sis said is becuz guys “are at their peak” .She says it takes a while for girls and they will start “coming” when they get a little older like 20 or 25. Please help i’m really confused!
Girls — and even adult women — may feel like they experience orgasm less easily or less often than guys or men.
Many women — about one out of three — have trouble reaching orgasm when having sex with a partner. Most women experience orgasm through clitoral stimulation rather than through vaginal penetration. So if a woman is having difficulty reaching orgasm, she may want to try clitoral stimulation during, before, or after vaginal intercourse or oral sex. Her clitoris can be stimulated orally, manually, or with a sex toy such as a vibrator. Most women who reach orgasm with a partner have also experienced an orgasm from masturbation. Women who have never had an orgasm may want to try to masturbate to learn how they like to be touched.
Keep in mind, every woman’s body responds differently to various kinds of sex, and every woman has different preferences for how she likes to be stimulated. That’s why communication with a partner is very important. Our partners can’t read our minds, so it’s important to be clear about what feels good and what doesn’t, and what we do and don’t want to do.
A woman may find as she gets older that she has an easier time having orgasms because she has more knowledge of what she likes sexually, and because she’s more comfortable communicating with her partners about what she likes and doesn’t like.
Guys don’t always achieve orgasm — it’s not uncommon for them to have trouble reaching orgasm, or getting or maintaining an erection. Sexual pleasure for women and men has a lot to do with emotion and relaxation. It’s difficult to enjoy sex and reach orgasm if we’re uncomfortable, self-conscious, or don’t feel quite right about what’s going on or about our partners.
Some doctors will also prescribe off-label “Scream Cream” made by a compounding pharmacy. This cream includes a variety of topical medications. When a woman applies it to the clitoris, it increases blood flow and helps promote an orgasm.
Women can use this cream alone or they can use it along with a stimulating device, such as the Intensity™ device, which is an FDA-approved pelvic electrical stimulating device. It stimulates the pelvic muscles that contract with climax and also provides direct clitoral stimulation. There is another device that is FDA-approved to treat orgasmic dysfunction, called the Eros device, which is only available through a doctor’s prescription.
It’s important to note that there are other problems, besides orgasmic dysfunction, that can affect women sexually and cause female sexual dysfunction. They include low libido, painful sex, difficulty being aroused and even sexual aversion.
All of these issues are real. They can cause women a lot of distress and affect their relationships. But the good news is that treatments are available, which many women don’t realize.
By: Holly L. Thacker, MD
Coming, climaxing, getting off; whatever you choose to call it, an orgasm is up there with beach sunsets and cold pizza as one of life’s greatest simple pleasures. If that’s not enough to convince you, orgasms release stress, feel amazing and bring you closer to your partner to boot.
But what if you can’t quite get there? If you’re struggling to achieve the big ‘O’ or your love train is taking its time to reach a destination, it can be frustrating. But before you join a convent and write yourself off as a sexual failure, remember that you are not alone. In a 2016 study only 46 per cent of women reported nearly or always reaching orgasm when they had sex, so over half the women who took part in the study were in the same boat as you.
To help you uncover the mysteries of your own orgasmic bliss, sex and relationships educator and author Tracey Cox wades into the great orgasm debate and offers her climax tips:
Can most women orgasm?
The female orgasm continues to be under intense scrutiny and the subject of extensive scientific interest. Experts endlessly puzzle over the myriad of ways women can orgasm, and the potential obstacles that could be preventing them for hitting the big O. But while the mainstream media will have you believe it’s difficult to achieve, this is a misconception.
If you’re using a vibrator, most women can orgasm in around two to three minutes.
Having trouble hitting the high notes? ‘It depends on how you’re trying to have an orgasm,’ says Tracey. ‘If you’re using a vibrator, most women can orgasm in around two to three minutes – almost every time they use it.’
So, most women are capable of coming, but it’s a question of when and with whom. ‘The statistics for orgasms during solo sex are high,’ explains Tracey. ‘Sadly, not so once we’re with our partners. During intercourse – with no clitoral stimulation going on at all – around half of all heterosexual women orgasm sometimes and only 30 per cent orgasm regularly. Oral sex is way more effective because it’s clitoris focused.’
Is it easier for men to reach orgasm?
Don’t believe the hype. ‘It’s not easier for men to reach orgasm than women if you include vibrators: in fact, most women can orgasm before a man using that method,’ says Tracey.
‘But sex with a partner is different,’ she adds. ‘Men’s orgasms are (way) more regular with a partner because the act of thrusting during intercourse easily triggers an orgasm by stimulating the highly sensitive head of the penis and the frenulum.
It’s not easier for men to reach orgasm than women if you include vibrators.
‘Our most sensitive sexual part – the clitoris – is outside the vagina so penetrative sex provides woefully ineffective stimulation. Despite this, intercourse remains the main event for most couple’s sex sessions – explaining why people naturally assume it’s easier for men to reach orgasm than women.’
Are there different types of female orgasm?
From clitoral to vaginal, G-spot or exercise-induced, the myriad of ways women can achieve orgasm is still hotly debated.
‘There are many sex researchers who say women only orgasm via direct or indirect stimulation of the clitoris (remember the bit you see is only the tip),’ says Tracey.
‘But we do know that women can experience orgasm from different types of stimulation – commonly clitoral, the front anterior wall of the vagina (G-spot), the back wall of the vagina and the cervix.’
‘Whether that means the orgasm has originated from those areas or the activity somehow indirectly stimulated the erectile tissue of the internal clitoris isn’t clear,’ she adds.
How can you have an orgasm?
If you struggle to come or have yet to experience an orgasm, now is not the time to stress out. ‘One study showed nearly a quarter of all American women struggled to have an orgasm for at least three months during the previous year,’ says Tracey.
‘The first piece of advice is – it happens! Don’t panic. Sometimes, you’ll go through a period where orgasms are elusive: it’s only when you relax about it that they return.’
So where should you start? ‘The first step is always to visit your doctor or gynaecologist to rule out any physical reasons, like medication, post-birth trauma etc,’ advises Tracey. ‘The next step is to try to orgasm using a vibrator.’
❤️ Try daily Kegal exercises to get your orgasmic muscles in tip-top shape.
Why can’t I orgasm?
In the aforementioned 2016 study, researchers found that the key to more frequent orgasms lay in mental and relationship factors. These included:
- Orgasm importance
- Sexual desire
- Sexual self-esteem
- Openness of sexual communication with partners
So if your inability to orgasm is getting you down, it might be worth working on your self-esteem and building trust in your relationship before you hit the sack. But if you can orgasm perfectly well on your own but not with a partner, then this is something you can work through together.
‘If you’re successful with a vibrator, you’re probably struggling to orgasm with a partner because of poor technique or a technique that just doesn’t work for you,’ says Tracey. ‘If you’re not, it might be worth seeing a sex therapist to talk through messages you got about sex from your childhood/parents or any sexual trauma you’ve experienced.’
Practice makes perfect
The key to successful orgasms, just like working out in the gym, is all about practice. If you’re not sure where to start, try masturbating on your own and work out what feels best, before sharing your findings with your significant other.
‘Teach yourself to orgasm through a partner-friendly method (using your fingers, perhaps) or guide them on what feels good during oral sex,’ says Tracey. ‘Alternatively, invite your vibrator into bed with you. Some men are threatened by vibrators but most young men aren’t.’
Further help and support
For additional help and support with any sexual concern, try one of the following resources:
- NHS.UK to check for any medical issues or be referred to a therapist
- Brook for under 25
- Relate or Relationships Scotland
- College of Sexual and Relationship Therapists (COSRT)
- Institute of Psychosexual Medicine
- Sexual Advice Association
Last updated: 15-11-19
Dr Roger Henderson Dr Roger Henderson is a Senior GP, national medical columnist and UK medical director for LIVA Healthcare He appears regularly on television and radio and has written multiple books.
Sept. 4, 2009 — First came the G-spot, then multiple climax and spiritual tantric sex. The modern woman is not only expected to be a good mother and a professional success, but some believe she needs to behave like a porn star in the bedroom.
So if a simple device could reveal whether a woman is capable of a vaginal orgasm, would it take the pressure off heterosexual women to perform?
New research suggests that a simple measurement — a “rule of thumb” — might be the key to the pleasures of sexual intercourse.
About 75 percent of all women never reach orgasm from intercourse alone — that is without the extra help of sex toys, hands or tongue. And 10 to 15 percent never climax under any circumstances.
The Internet is rife with non-orgasmic women who say they are missing out, and statistics suggest that they are a significant group.
“Maybe my boyfriend and I aren’t doing it right or something,” one woman wrote on WebMD.com. “I don’t understand. I feel like less of a woman because I can’t have an orgasm and I want to so bad. I feel incomplete sometimes after sex.”
“I enjoy sex, my partners enjoy the sex,” said another on EmpowHER.com. “The guy I’m with right now is frustrated because he’s never had a problem making a women happy until now, and it’s frustrating for me because I just don’t understand.”
“What’s wrong with me?” asks another on Steadyhealth.com. “I never told anyone this before, but I feel like this is my only option as I am too shy to go to the doctor’s.”
But it might not be all in their heads, according to Kim Wallen, professor of behavioral neuroendocrinology at Emory University.
He wants to determine if a woman’s ability to have an orgasm with penile stimulation alone depends on how far her clitoris lies from her vagina — the so-called “C-V distance.”
Wallen said understanding more about a woman’s anatomy might enhance her sex life.
“I suspect that for a large proportion of women, orgasm from intercourse alone is just never going to happen and knowing that might give women some solace.”
Female Orgasm Elusive, Say Scientists
Wallen is testing data that was gathered nearly a century ago by the great-grand niece of Napoleon Bonaparte, who suffered from what was then called “frigidity.”
Princess Marie Bonaparte, a French psychoanalyst, discovered that the optimal C-V distance is 2.5 centimeters, about an inch, or the space between the fingertip and the thumb.
After collecting data and publishing a report in 1927, her story did not end well. She underwent two experimental surgeries to remedy her own situation, attempting to bring her clitoris closer to her vagina.
She ended up scarred and abandoned finding a physical cure for non-climactic women.
“It was kind of sad,” said Wallen. “It’s a very interesting metaphoric story. She ended up being a Freudian and totally denied the physical explanation of orgasm. The psychological explanation being if you didn’t achieve orgasm it was because you had not grown up.”
Despite her travails, he said the data is “highly suggestive, but not demonstrative” that Bonaparte was right.
“Just as there are physical attributes that would prevent some people from ever becoming a concert violinist, or run the 100 meters in 10 seconds, there are attributes that make it unlikely that some women will ever experience orgasm from intercourse alone,” he said.
Though what he coined the “rule of thumb” oversimplifies the biological question, it could be a “boon to women.”
Four years ago, Wallen set out to do a well-controlled modern study with the collaboration of Elisabeth Lloyd, a professor of history, philosophical science and biology at the Indiana University.
Lloyd’s study of 80 years of previous sex research in her 2005 book, “The Case of the Female Orgasm,” debunked theories that there is an evolutionary reason for the female orgasm.
She determined the female orgasm is merely a byproduct of the male orgasm, as both sexes share the same genital nerve tissue in the fetal stage.
“It is perfectly normal not to have orgasms and there were lots of women in evolutionary time who had no orgasms and it had no impact on their fertility,” said Lloyd.
Current studies bear this out, according to the researchers: 98 percent of men say they “always” reach orgasm during sex, while women are “evenly distributed” between “always and never.”
Sexual Pleasure in Women Not Evolutionary
To look at the question in reverse, women have a strong evolutionary selection for nipples — without them their babies would die, according to Wallen. However, nipples serve no biological purpose in men.
In analysis of the Bonaparte data, the researchers first had to reframe the question. Instead of asking, “Do you have orgasm during intercourse?” they created a “more explicit survey” asking if manual or oral stimulation had been involved.
After analyzing data from 100 female volunteers, ranging from 18 to 60, they found about 11 percent said they always have orgasm during intercourse and the same number said they never climaxed.
Because these surveys were anonymous, Wallen and Lloyd will now re-administer the questions to a new group of women. Ultimately, they hope to design a device that women can use in the privacy of their homes to measure their C-V distance.
Wallen said that if men and women knew the reality of their biology, their sex might improve.
“What is startling and surprising to me is that both men and women buy into the same sort of cultural model,” he said. “If he is a good lover, he can bring me to orgasm with his penis alone. And a man buys into that and doesn’t offer any kind of stimulation. And because he’s not any good, she won’t say anything because it’s emasculating.”
But Susie Bright, a feminist and sex columnist for Jezebel.com, said such studies on the “anomalies” of the female genitalia are “foolish.”
“We need to know how to talk about sex and communicate about what feels good and not be so scared,” she told ABCNews.com. “It would be helpful if women knew as much about their ‘clits’ as men do about their penises.”
She said that, particularly in young people, misinformation and religious shame prevent many women from enjoying sex. Bright is also critical of abstinence programs and cuts in science classes.
“We should speak to the greater issues, even if there is some validity to this observation,” she said. “It’s such a miniscule part of womanhood and it’s missing the boat.”
“I know there’s a lot of interest in the female genitals, but that does not get at women’s orgasmic possibilities,” said Bright. “Knowing that they are different, they will say, ‘Oh my God, what is wrong with my vulva?”
Study scientist Lloyd agrees that too much emphasis is placed on models of female sexuality that are created by Hollywood and the pornography industry.
But efforts to change attitudes and tell women “just to relax,” alone may not help them to achieve orgasm.
“Those things are worthwhile,” she said. “But to sort of act as if that’s all that needs to be done for women is just silly. This is a total denial of the facts.”
Help! I Can’t Have an Orgasm
Anorgasmia is a type of sexual dysfunction in which a person cannot achieve orgasm alone or with a partner. It can often cause sexual frustration and anxiety in relationships.
In men, the condition can be referred to as delayed ejaculation. Anorgasmia is far more common in women than men, and it tends to be rare in younger men.
Anorgasmia is often caused by anxiety and an inability to relax during sexual relations. It can also be caused by medical problems such as diabetes, Parkinson’s, multiple sclerosis, chemotherapy, pelvic trauma, hormonal imbalances hysterectomy, spinal cord injury, childbirth trauma, vulvodynia, and cardiovascular disease.
A common cause of situational anorgasmia, in both men and women, is the use of anti-depressant medications such as Prozac, Paxil, and Lexapro, to name a few. Though reporting of anorgasmia as a side effect of SSRIs is not exact, it is estimated that 15-50% of users are affected. Another cause of anorgasmia is the use of drugs or alcohol during sexual activity.
About 15% of women report difficulties achieving orgasm, and as many as 10% of women in the United States have never had an orgasm. Even for women who reach orgasm frequently, the frequency is still only about 50-70% of the time, meaning that even women who can achieve orgasm can often have failures.
Treatment for anorgasmia can help to solve the problem. Treatment begins with an orientation of your genitals using a mirror and touching exercises to begin familiarizing yourself with their feel, look, and responsiveness.
Once you are comfortable touching yourself without trying to achieve an orgasm, you can move to the stage of trying to touch yourself to achieve an orgasm. I often instruct women in my sex therapy practice to facilitate this step in the bath or shower as water can help to sensualize the elements for this step.
Begin to touch yourself slowly and then increase the pressure of your touch so it is firm. Usually to achieve your first orgasm, you are touching the outside of your genitals and stimulating your clitoris, not going inside your vagina yet. It may take up to 45 minutes to achieve enough relaxation to have an orgasm. Remember to try and fantasize about something relaxing or sexual. The two elements needed to achieve orgasm are arousal and relaxation.
If you are still struggling to achieve orgasm, consider buying a starter vibrator to help. Vibrators are great because they can provide more stimulation that you may be able to give yourself. Also, some women report discomfort touching their own genitals during masturbation so a vibrator can act as an aid between your hand and your genitals for comfort.
A good starter vibrator to purchase is often flat on the top to provide a square area to use on the outside of your genitals.
Trying to achieve orgasm alone often works better than trying to with a partner. Being alone eliminates any anxiety about being watched or how much time it may be taking. Once you have figured out how to climax alone, then showing your partner what you have learned about yourself is the step to bring your orgasm into your sexual relationship. If you find that using a vibrator works, discuss incorporating it into your sexual script with your partner during foreplay or intercourse.
Taking charge of your sexuality to find your orgasm may make you feel nervous—but mastering this important sexual skill will help you look forward to sexual pleasure throughout your life both alone and when you are with a partner.
Struggling to reach orgasm on your own, or failing to hit the high notes when you’re having sex with your partner? Not achieving the big ‘O’ is actually pretty common, and as many as one in three women apparently have trouble climaxing.
According to a 2016 study from the Archives of Sexual Behavior that researched over 52,500 adults’ sexual activity, an impressive 95 per cent of men reported they usually or always reach orgasm during sex, compared to just 65 per cent of women. So what is causing this orgasmic disparity and, more importantly, how can women up their come-quota?
‘Difficulty in having an orgasm is actually really common and something I see lots of clients for in psychosexual therapy,’ says Krystal Woodbridge, a psychosexual and relationship therapist at the College of Sexual Relationship Therapists (COSRT). ‘For many women, it isn’t a problem at all and for some women it is.’
Coming is typically seen as the end-goal of sex for both parties. While orgasms are certainly part of the fun, great sex is about the journey – not the destination. Trying to achieve an orgasm could get in the way of actually enjoying sex. So how can you address this and get the best out of your sex life? We asked the experts.
Am I anorgasmic?
Anorgasmia, often referred to as orgasmic dysfunction, is a type of sexual dysfunction where a woman can’t orgasm – even with the help of adequate stimulation. There are several types of anorgasmia, as outlined by Woodbridge:
• Primary anorgasmia
Primary anorgasmia is where you’ve never had an orgasm.
• Secondary anorgasmia
Secondary anorgasmia is when you used to orgasm, but stopped having the ability.
• Situational anorgasmia
Situational anorgasmia is where you can orgasm in some situations, but not others.
‘Quite often, I see people who can orgasm if they are masturbating on their own but the minute their partner is involved, they can’t,’ says Woodbridge. Which begs the question: if you can come on your own, how can you learn to come together?
Why do some women struggle to come?
The inability to climax can be caused by a variety of factors, including anxiety, exhaustion, stress, changes in hormone levels, boredom in the bedroom, physical illness and medications, such as antidepressants.
Some women struggle to orgasm because they fear losing control and being vulnerable.
Some women struggle to orgasm because they fear losing control and being vulnerable with somebody else. ‘A really common cause is shyness and embarrassment. Being able to relax in front of somebody and lose control can be difficult for a lot of people,’ says Woodbridge.
‘People can become self-conscious and get into this negative thought pattern – where they think too much about it and aren’t really being present in their body.’
How can I orgasm through penetrative sex?
The majority of women aren’t actually able to orgasm from sexual intercourse alone. In a study, published in the Journal of Sex & Marital Therapy, four out of five women failed to reach climax through penetration without clitoral stimulation.
‘Most women don’t orgasm through penetrative sex,’ says social psychologist Petra Boynton. ‘And if they do, it’s because they’re grinding their clitoris on his pelvic bone – it’s not actually to do with the penetration.’
And it’s not uncommon for women to fake it to make their partner happy. ‘It’s extremely common to fake orgasms,’ says Woodbridge. ‘Once they’ve been doing it for a number of years, it becomes hard to be honest and admit that they’ve have never had an orgasm.’
How can I make myself come?
No woman (or man for that matter) should ever feel pressured to come, and it’s important to know that sex doesn’t have to end with an orgasm. But if climaxing is important to you and something you want to achieve, try the following:
1. Masturbation is the key
It’s unusual to find women who masturbate, but don’t orgasm. ‘I often hear women say they can’t orgasm, but when asked, describe experiencing orgasm through masturbation on their own,’ says Boynton.
✔️ Try this: If you’ve never orgasmed with a partner, try it on your own. Masturbation is something you can learn to do. ‘As women, we’re lucky to have an organ that it’s only purpose in life is to make us feel good,’ says Boynton. ‘Explore touching your clitoris and see whether it feels good to touch it directly, around the sides or over clothing. Some women need a lot of stimulation, some don’t.’
2. Invest in sex toys
Most women need direct clitoral stimulation for satisfying climaxes and sex toys can make this easier. ‘They take all the hard work and do it for you,’ says sex and relationship expert Annabelle Knight.
✔️ Try this: For those new to sex toys, Knight recommends slimmer vibrators and ones with rabbit ears, which provide dual stimulation of both the clitoris and the G-spot, such as the Lovehoney Jessica Rabbit Slimline. ‘For a slightly more experienced user, I would recommend the Lovehoney Magic Wand. They give powerful vibrations and many women report more intense orgasms using them,’ she adds.
3. Take the pressure off
Obsessing about orgasms can make it a lot more difficult to achieve one, say sex and relationship educators Justin Hancock and Meg-John Barker. ‘Trying to make them happen can make it quite frustrating. If we can start with how turned on we might be feeling at the start and following that feeling to see where it takes us, rather than trying to have sex to get to a point of orgasm, then we might start to be able to enjoy sex more.’
✔️ Try this: ‘Instead of trying to have an orgasm, try to tune into what is hot; either what feels nice in your body, or hot thoughts, or both.’
4. Work out what pleasures you
Too often do we think of sex as being all about intercourse, but there are plenty of other avenues of pleasure you can explore.
✔️ Try this: ‘Sex doesn’t always have to involve penetration. Work out what you like, whether it’s having your neck kissed, talking dirty, dressing up, using a sex toy or having someone go down on you,’ says Boynton.
Sex and relationship resources
If you’re worried about not being able to orgasm, speak to your GP. ‘They can give you a full health check to see if there’s an underlying medical cause or refer you to a gynaecologist, says Woodbridge. ‘Psychosexual therapy can also help you deal with how it feels for you and discover other ways of enjoying sex.’
For additional help and support, try one of the following resources:
❤️ College of Sexual and Relationship Therapists: find therapists that are able to work with any relationship or sexual issues on this directory.
💛 Association for the Treatment of Sexual Addiction and Compulsivity: if you feel you are affected by sexual compulsivity, try the ATSAC.
💚 The Asexual Visibility and Education Network: the world’s largest online asexual community.
💙 sh-womenstore.com: the Sh! Erotic Emporium has a wide array of sex aids and advice on how to use them.
💜 nhs.uk: to check for any medical issues or be referred to a therapist, visit you local GP or local sexual health centre.
Last updated: 17-10-19
Dr Juliet McGrattan (MBChB) Dr Juliet McGrattan Dr Juliet McGrattan spent 16 years as a GP, two years as a Clinical Champion for Physical Activity for Public Health England and is the Women’s Health Lead for the 261 Fearless global running network. Her award winning book, Sorted: The Active Woman’s Guide to Health was published by Bloomsbury in 2017.
Couple lying together in bed.
It’s quite natural for a woman to have experienced orgasms many times before, only to go through periods of time where orgasms are less frequent or absent.
If you are concerned about not reaching an orgasm, you may want to try some self-stimulation. You should learn how your genitals feel and what feels good. When you know how to please yourself, you can start to share your knowledge with your partner.
Masturbation is completely normal and healthy. Society’s views on masturbation have changed a lot over the years and it is understood as being part of a healthy lifestyle — there is much less taboo and sense of shame about masturbation.
Some women like to use objects, such as sex toys, to masturbate with. Everyone is different and will find that different things stimulate the genitals in different ways. Discovering what is pleasurable for you may take time and practice, but it is an important part of getting to know your body and finding out what pleases you.
Factors that may affect orgasm
Difficulty reaching an orgasm when you’ve managed to before can be a result of several things. Common causes may include:
- hormone changes, for example after childbirth or during menopause
- gynaecological issues including painful intercourse
- not being stimulated enough
- medicines (such as antidepressants)
- worries or fears about having sex
- lack of self confidence
- use of recreational drugs, alcohol or smoking
- vaginal dryness
- relationship worries
- stress or emotional distress
You should visit your doctor if you have any concerns about your sexual performance, especially if it has changed for no apparent reason.
Your doctor may ask you questions about your sex life, relationships and medical history. They may also perform some tests if they think your medicine or a health condition may be the underlying cause of your concerns.
Your doctor may also refer you to a therapist who deals with sexual issues, as well as advising you on the best steps to take to resolve the issue.
Your doctor will treat any underlying medical conditions and may recommend hormone therapy if you have been through menopause. You could try couples counselling or sex therapy.
Leading a healthy life may improve your chances of having a healthy sex life. You could try:
- losing weight (if you are overweight)
- reducing the amount of alcohol you drink
- not using illegal drugs
- taking regular exercise
- if you smoke, try to cut down or quit
- don’t stop any prescribed medication until you have spoken to your doctor
Not sure what to do next?
Difficulty reaching female orgasm? Why not use healthdirect’s online Symptom Checker to get advice on when to seek medical attention.
The Symptom Checker guides you to the next appropriate healthcare steps, whether it’s self care, talking to a health professional, going to a hospital or calling triple zero (000).