7 Things To Know If You've Never Had An Orgasm, According To A Sex Therapist

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One of the many awesome things our bodies are capable of is the series of rhythmic genital contractions and blissful feelings known as orgasm. About five to 10 percent of women, however, have not yet had an orgasm. But that doesn't mean they can't learn. To make sure every woman has that opportunity, sex therapist Vanessa Marin created the online course Finishing School, which teaches women how to orgasm. Finishing School recently relaunched to include new content and live group calls, and it contains tons of valuable information on both the technical and emotional aspects of female orgasm.

During the course, Marin debunks "the belief that female orgasm is 'complicated,' 'mysterious,' or 'difficult,'" as she puts it. "Pretty much every time you see female orgasm in the media, it is accompanied by at least one of those words: complicated, mysterious, and difficult," she says. "The truth is that female orgasm is no more complicated, mysterious, or difficult than male orgasm. Female bodies need different things than male bodies do to reach orgasm. But different does not mean complicated, mysterious, or difficult. It just means different!"

If you haven't yet had an orgasm, don't get discouraged. Here are some things to know as you embark on your journey to orgasmic bliss, according to Finishing School.

1Anyone Can Learn To Orgasm

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You sometimes hear the statistic that five to 10 percent of women have never had an orgasm. (For the research nerds out there, this comes from a 32-study meta-analysis in Elisabeth Lloyd’s The Case of the Female Orgasm). However, Marin sees this statistic misused. It doesn’t mean that five to 10 percent of women are physically incapable of orgasming. In fact, there’s no evidence that any woman is physically incapable of orgasming, Marin points out in her course. There is evidence that women who have never orgasmed can learn: Research has found that 60-90 percent learn within just five or six weeks. If you haven’t had an orgasm, you're not broken — you just have yet to learn what makes you tick.

2It May Not Be Super Intense At First

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Marin hears many women comment that their first orgasms were not very intense. Sometimes, they’re not even sure if they’ve orgasmed. While female orgasms in porn and movies may look super loud and dramatic, the truth is that they’re all over the spectrum, ranging from intense to barely noticeable. Your first few are more likely to fall on the weaker end of the spectrum, according to Marin. That’s OK — maybe you can even take comfort in the fact that you likely won’t lose control or have a completely foreign experience. Don’t worry; you’ll eventually work up to stronger orgasms.

3It May Take Practice

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“The number one reason women haven't had their first orgasm is because they haven't spent enough time on masturbation,” Marin says in her course. “You have to put time and effort into learning how to masturbate.” Women often feel like they should instinctively know how to masturbate, but not everyone does. In fact, not all men do either. The reason it seems like they have an easier time orgasming is because they’ve spent so much time masturbating — but they usually take a month to a year to learn how to orgasm, according to Marin. Learning to orgasm may take a bit of work. Fortunately, this is one area where work can be fun!

4You Aren't Broken

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If you haven’t yet learned to orgasm, don’t blame your body. The fault lies not in the way you’re built but in all the messed up things you’ve learned about sex and your body over the years. “I want you to recognize that all these things you believe about your orgasm don't belong to you,” Marin tells her students. “They were put there by an anti-sex, anti-woman society.” Getting fired up about these messages can help you overcome the belief that you can’t or don’t deserve to orgasm.

5You Probably Have Some Negative Beliefs Around Sex To Work Through

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One of Marin’s modules deals with working through emotional baggage around sex. “We are all struggling in one way or another,” she says. To challenge your orgasm-killing thoughts and emotions, Marin suggests thinking of them as your “mistaken bodyguards” — in other words, they’re there to protect you, but they’re not actually doing that. Figure out how these thoughts and feelings once served you (for example, maybe you’re judging your body so your partner can’t judge it first), thank them for doing that, then give them a new job (like making sure you pick partners who won’t criticize your body). Quieting all these broken records in your mind can be a huge step toward learning how to orgasm.

6Your Best Bet Is DIY

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The number one reason some women have not yet learned how to orgasm is that they haven't spent enough time on masturbation, Marin says. Once you learn how to orgasm through masturbation, you can figure out what techniques work for you and teach your partners to use them.

As you're first learning to orgasm through masturbation, Marin recommends exercising before sessions (it helps blood flow to your genitals and increases your testosterone levels and hence your desire) and setting a relaxing and sensual scene, which could mean listening to sexy songs, watching porn, or wearing sexy lingerie. Try not to view it as a chore — you could even call your masturbation sessions a fun name like "sexy time" so that it gets you in the mood. Spend 15 minutes touching all over your body before you move to your genitals. Try circling around your clitoris and see if one quadrant feels better than the rest. See if you prefer stimulating your clitoris directly or over the hood. Experiment with different pressures and speeds to find out which feels best to you. There's so much to learn!

7There Are Lots Of Techniques To Try

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Don't give up if your first few attempts are unsuccessful. Different techniques work for different people, and the more you can learn, the more ways you'll be able to orgasm, so don't be a one-trick pony. A few techniques that Marin recommends are moving two fingers up and down, side to side, or diagonally over the top of the clitoris, pulsating your hand on top of your labia, and grinding against objects. (Many woman are ashamed of masturbating by grinding, but this technique is common and perfectly normal.) You can also combine any of these techniques with penetration.

And lastly, have fun! Learning to orgasm can feel tedious if you focus on that goal above all else or get discouraged. But the best news is that sex and masturbation are a lot of fun even when there's no orgasm involved.