As women, we're often taught that our bodies and our orgasms are very complicated and mysterious. But often, if we're not orgasming as easily or as much as we'd like, the problem isn't really with our bodies. If you're wondering "why can't I orgasm?" all hope is not lost. You may just need to make a few adjustments to your sex life.
Several studies have shown that straight women don't tend to orgasm with their partners as much as men do, which is largely a product of our culture. For example, one study in the Canadian Journal of Human Sexuality found that more men than women had received oral sex during their last sexual encounters, which already sets women up to have less pleasure. Clearly, in order to close the orgasm gap, we need to change our beliefs as a society, not just our behavior as individuals.
At the same time, not being able to orgasm isn't a problem unless it actually bothers you. If you can enjoy the journey of sex without caring about the destination, all the more power to you. But if you do want to orgasm more often, more quickly, or more easily, here are a few possible issues you might want to address.
1. Not Enough Attention To The Clitoris
"The clitoris is really the center of the universe for female orgasm," sex therapist Vanessa Marin, who created the online course Finishing School to help women orgasm, tells Bustle. Don't hold yourself to the expectation to orgasm from vaginal penetration. Only about a quarter of women consistently orgasm just through intercourse. Instead of or in addition to penetration, try using your hands, your partner's hands or mouth, or a toy on your clitoris.
2. Not Masturbating
If you're not able to orgasm with a partner, you may have better luck with solo sex. "The best way to learn how to orgasm is to do it yourself," says Marin. "Truly, it's one of the most exciting, empowering experiences you can have." Good Vibrations staff sexologist Carol Queen agrees. "There is a misunderstanding that good sex is 'natural' when you’re with the right person," she tells Bustle. "If you are not clear about your own anatomy and responsiveness (or if your partner isn’t), this simply isn’t true. The biggest reason besides the emotional stuff that people aren’t orgasmic is that they don’t understand their body and the arousal process." And about that emotional stuff...
3. You're Not Giving Yourself Enough Time
The average women takes four minutes to orgasm through masturbation and 10 to 20 with a partner, but it can take longer when you're just figuring out what works for you. Allow yourself as much time as you want, says Marin. If you start to feel guilty about taking up your partner's attention, put yourself in their position. You'd probably be happy to do what it took for them to feel satisfied. If you can't shake your feelings of guilt, try talking through them with your partner. They'll likely reassure you that it's no problem for them.
4. You've Got Some Emotional Hangups
Even if you and your partner are paying plenty of attention to all the right parts and everything is working just fine down there, some people have trouble orgasming due to emotional issues. Feeling ashamed about enjoying sex, for example, might keep you from fully relaxing and letting go. Past trauma or abuse, body image issues, or gender identity issues can also contribute, says Queen. And one cruel irony is that worrying about whether or not you'll orgasm can stop you from orgasming. Working through anxiety or shame in therapy might be necessary if being aware of these issues and talking through them with your partner isn't enough.
5. You're Not That Turned On
The more aroused you are to start with, the quicker you'll orgasm, says Queen. So, if you aren't incredibly turned on and are just having sex because you hope you'll become turned on or you feel like you should do it, you're already starting off a bit behind. This issue could come from the aforementioned emotional issues, health problems, or lack of attraction to your partner. And, obviously, your partner's behavior can contribute, says Queen. "Partners who listen and pay attention to arousal can make a big difference."
Images: Andrew Zaeh for Bustle; Giphy(5)