Can't Orgasm During Sex? What To Do If You Can Only Come From Masturbation

We’re always hearing that we could be having better sex, a better orgasm, or a better relationship. But how often do we hear the nitty-gritty of how we can actually better understand our deepest desires and most embarrassing questions? Bustle has enlisted Vanessa Marin, a sex therapist, to help us out with the details. No gender, sexual orientation, or question is off limits, and all questions remain anonymous. Now, onto today’s topic: what to do if you can't orgasm during sex and can only orgasm through masturbation.

Q: I have an issue that is embarrassing to me. I’ve only been able to masturbate by lying on my stomach and squeezing two fingers in between my thighs. Other than the movement of my hand, I have to keep my body very still and my muscles tense. I don’t know how the heck I learned this technique, but it’s the only thing that works for me. I’ve faked orgasm with my partners in the past because I’m so ashamed of this. I’m in a relationship with a guy that I really like, and I want to be able to have an orgasm during sex with him. What should I do?

A: Thanks for the question! What you’re describing isn’t actually that uncommon. A lot women masturbate in pretty specific ways, and struggle with trying to figure out how to translate their solo experiences into partnered ones. Let’s go over your options for being able to experience orgasm with a partner.

Celebrate The Fact That You Can Orgasm

You’re incredibly lucky that you can orgasm in the first place! So many women have yet to have their first orgasm, but you’ve managed to figure out what your body needs. Seriously, this is something to be celebrated.

Ditch the embarrassment you feel about the way you masturbate. I know, I know, easier said than done, but your way of reaching orgasm should not be embarrassing. Women masturbate in so many different ways — by humping pillows or blankets, by using electric toothbrushes or handheld showerheads, by grinding against furniture legs, and by getting into a whole variety of positions. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with any of these techniques. What you should be most concerned about is the amount of pleasure your body feels, not the specific techniques you use to get there.

Consider Your Options

There are two basic paths that you can go down. The first option is to get more comfortable with the way you masturbate, and find ways to work your technique into your sex life with your partner. The way you masturbate brings you a lot of pleasure and works for your body, so it makes sense to keep using it. Yes, you may feel a little embarrassed about it now, but there are ways to get over this anxiety.

Your second option is to try to train your body to have orgasms in different ways. This can take time and a good amount of effort, but many women will find that they can teach themselves to orgasm with different types of stimulation.

The second option may seem more tempting to you now simply because you’re ashamed of the way you masturbate. Again, I don’t think you should be embarrassed, but it’s fine to start with route two if you’d like. I do want to encourage you to return to option one at some point and give that a go too!

Option 1: Incorporate Your Masturbation Routine Into Your Sex Life

Like I said above, it’s smart to bring your masturbation routine into your sex life with your boyfriend since it’s clearly working well for you on your own. Here are some tips for getting rid of your embarrassment and feeling confident giving your body what it needs when you’re with your partner:

Show Your Partner How You Masturbate

If you want to start having orgasms with your partner, one of the best things you can do is show him how you masturbate. I know this probably sounds anxiety-inducing, but I promise it can be extremely hot. If you feel shy, start off with telling your partner how you masturbate. As you guys are fooling around, start talking dirty. Say something like, “tell me what you do when you’re getting yourself off.” Then describe to him what you do. If even that step sounds too intimidating, try taking a more serious approach. Tell him, “I love having sex with you. I’ve had a hard time orgasming with other partners in the past, but I can orgasm when I’m on my own and I think I could get there with you.”

From there, see if you can work up the courage to masturbate with your boyfriend. Ask him to touch himself while you touch yourself. Tell him what you’re doing, and ask him to describe what he’s doing. Keep the lights down low to make yourself feel less on display. Trust me, your partner will love watching you pleasure yourself. The more comfortable you get doing it, the easier it will be to eventually have an orgasm in front of him.

Teach Your Partner Your Technique

Next, you can teach your partner how to get you off. Have him sit next to you and put his hand between your legs just like you do. Have him keep his hand over yours as you touch yourself, so he can feel what you’re doing. Then tag team your clitoris together! Touch yourself for a minute, then let him do it. Eventually, your boyfriend should be able to get you off with his own hands.

Find Positions That Work

You can also experiment with different sex positions that will make it easier for you to get the kind of clitoral stimulation you need. An easy one that comes to mind is to start in Doggystyle. Then slowly lower yourself down onto your belly, so you’re in your usual position. He follows your lead, and lays down on top of you. You can easily reach your hand down, he can reach his down, or you can use a vibrator. You can use this position as your “closer” when you guys are together, or you can do it until you orgasm, then move on to something else.

Option 2: Train Your Body To Orgasm In Other Ways

Most women hone in on one specific masturbation technique and tend to stick to it. But our bodies are capable of having orgasms in a variety of different ways. Here’s how you can try getting yourself there without your tried-and-true technique.

Go Cold Turkey

In order for this to work, it’s best to temporarily stop masturbating in your usual way. You’re going to keep using the same method (more on this below), but you don’t want to allow yourself to reach orgasm with your usual technique. Again, there’s nothing wrong with the way you masturbate, but taking a hiatus will make it easier to learn how to orgasm in other ways. Promise yourself you won’t turn to ol’ Faithful until you’ve given other techniques an honest shot!

Make Gradual Adjustments

When you masturbate, start off using your usual technique. After you feel aroused, make one small change, like flipping onto your back, relaxing your muscles, or using your other hand. Try that method for a few minutes, then switch back to your old routine. Keep switching back and forth, but don’t allow yourself to orgasm using your standard method. This will help your body get used to different kinds of stimulation.

It may take a while, but you should be able to get yourself to orgasm using a different technique. Keep making small changes in position, stroke, speed, and pressure, until your body is orgasming in all kinds of different ways.

The Bottom Line

Throughout all of this experimentation, keep reminding yourself that there’s nothing wrong with the way you masturbate, and that you should be grateful that you’ve even learned how to have an orgasm in the first place. This experimentation should feel fun and exciting, not riddled with pressure. The more you’re able to enjoy learning about your body, the more orgasmic you’ll be!

If you're interested in learning more, check out my online course - Finishing School: Orgasm With A Partner!

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