You often hear the advice to not make orgasm the goal of sex. If you get so caught up in the last few seconds, after all, it can be hard to enjoy the rest. But what should the goal of sex be, then? It's hard to take your mind off orgasming when you don't know what else to think about.
"Orgasm need not be the pinnacle or barometer of great sex," Astroglide's resident sexologist Dr. Jess O'Reilly tells Bustle. "Sex can be profoundly satisfying both with and without orgasm — it’s up to you to decide what defines your ultimate sexual experience. Sometimes, because of stress, exhaustion, medications, and a range of personal and health issues, you may find that orgasm simply isn’t going to happen, and that doesn’t mean that you can’t enjoy sexual experiences."
This isn't to say that if you want an orgasm, you shouldn't go after it or don't have the right to ask for it. Women are often taught that sex is more about their partners' orgasms or that their own orgasms are too complicated to bother with. This isn't true at all.
But all of us, regardless of gender, could stand to stop racing toward the journey and enjoy the destination. Even if you do have an orgasm at the end, there's plenty to enjoy before that. Here are some things to aim for during sex that are not an orgasm.
Pleasure is not the same as orgasm. In fact, it doesn't even have to involve the genitals. It can involve all five of your senses, as well as your emotions. It can come from your partner's touch on your skin, the sight of them taking their clothes off, or their smell. "Whether it’s the pleasure of touch — which carries a host of potential benefits, including lowering blood pressure, stress levels, and heart rate — or the erotic pleasure of shared arousal, allowing pleasure to guide your experience can make sex more satisfying and meaningful," says Dr. Jess.
Sex isn't always just physical. Sometimes, it can deepen your emotional connection with your partner. "Many people report feeling heightened levels of attraction, fondness, closeness, and intimacy after sex regardless of whether or not they experience orgasm," says Dr. Jess. "For many, their experience of being physically close and sharing pleasure are essential benefits of sex, and you don’t need to have an orgasm to indulge in these experiences."
Sex can be a great way to wind down after a long day and get your mind off work or whatever else has been stressing you out. "While you probably don’t want to be thinking about sleep while you’re getting it on, many of us know (from both research and personal experience) that we sleep better after sex," says Dr. Jess.
Many people use sex to explore different sides of themselves that might not come out in their everyday lives. You can achieve this through role-playing, BDSM, experimenting with different noises, or just being playful.
Your own pleasure matters just as much as your partner's, but giving pleasure to someone you love is a form of pleasure in of itself. Use your touch to show your affection for them and relish in making them feel good.
7A Mood Boost
Sex has many health benefits, one of which is that it releases feel-good hormones. So, you can hop into bed looking forward to having a smile on your face when you get out.
"It’s really up to you to set the bar for what constitutes satisfying sex," says Dr. Jess. "What’s more important is that you communicate your preferences to your partner — not so that they can oblige your every need, but so that they can take you at your word and better understand your sexual expectations."