How Long Should It Take a Woman To Come? How To Stop Worrying During Sex

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Andrew Zaeh for Bustle

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 this week’s topic: The best ways to ensure you have an orgasm during sex.

Q: I have never been able to orgasm during sex. Intercourse feels amazing; I particularly like vigorous, deep thrusting. But even when it’s as rough as I like it, I never climax. I’m fine not orgasming every time, but it would be nice to have it happen once in a while! I always worry I'm taking too long so I just let him finish. How do I start coming in time?

A: Orgasming during sex is a tricky feat for most people who identify as women, so I’m devoting two separate articles to this important question. Previously, I shared the five best sex positions for female orgasm, and today I’m sharing even more orgasm-friendly techniques.

According to Jessica O’Reilly, PhD, host of the @SexWithDrJess Podcast, worrying about how long it takes you to orgasm can take you further out of the moment, and really isn't necessary. "When it comes to sex, averages are mostly useless, because individual variation and experience are highly varied," O'Reilly says. "Just as the average time it takes to run a mile varies from person to person, the average time to orgasm also varies greatly."

Also, it's important to note that though the headline uses the gendered term "woman," that not all women have vulvas, and not all people with vulvas identify as women. For the purpose of this article, the term "woman" will be used to identify a person with a vulva.

So without further ado, here's how to to ensure you have the best chance possible of inviting the big-o to town —without worrying about being fashionably late.

Remember To Take The Pressure Off

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Though it can be hard in the moment to not be self conscious about the time it takes to orgasm, remembering that there is no "right" length of time is key. The more you relax into the moment, the more likely you are to have an orgasm. Also, it's important to remember that orgasming doesn't always have to be the goal. Sex can still be pleasurable, even without orgasming.

"Sex isn’t a race," O'Reilly says. "You don’t get a prize (or extra pleasure) for reaching orgasm faster than your partner or your friends. And the length of time it takes to reach orgasm can vary with your mood, sleep patterns, health, menstrual cycle, level of arousal and what you’re doing physically to produce orgasm. For example, for many of us, if your partner is thrusting a penis or strap-on in and out of our vaginas, it will take longer to orgasm than if we’re rubbing or vibrating against the clitoris on the outside."

Being kind to yourself and communicating your body's needs to your partner can really be helpful if the end goal is to have an orgasm. Let them know what you need to get there, and they'll take the time you need to make it happen.

"One study published in the Journal of Sexual Medicine, found that the average time to orgasm for women was 14 minutes for partnered sex and 8 minutes during masturbation," O'Reilly says. "It’s our partners (or what we’re going with our partners) that slows us down. And of course, slowing down isn’t a bad thing. Some people find that when they slow down and take their time, they enjoy higher arousal and more powerful orgasms once they do arrive."

Invite Your Clit To The Party

One of the biggest myths about orgasm for people with vulvas is that they can climax from penetration alone. In fact, only 20-25% of women can. That number may be even lower, as indirect clitoral stimulation frequently occurs during intercourse.

If you’re one of the lucky few, the best positions for orgasm are ones that allow for deep, powerful thrusting. Try standing while you drape yourself over the edge of the bed or a desk. Or you can try positions where your G-spot gets stimulated, like doggystyle.

But if you’re like the other 75-80% of women, you’re going to need direct clitoral stimulation to reach orgasm. This isn’t a bad thing though! The combination of sensations — the fullness of penetration with the intensity of clitoral stimulation — can be amazing. And fortunately, there are plenty of ways to give your clitoris some love during sex:

  • Get in positions where your clitoris is easily accessible. Previously I shared that girl on top, doggystyle, and bridge all work well.
  • Have your partner stroke your clitoris with their fingers during sex. In certain positions, like with you on top, you can can have your partner place their fingertips against your clitoris, to give you a surface to grind up against.
  • Touch your clitoris yourself. Your partner might like watching you touch yourself, so this will be enjoyable for you both! If you’re shy about touching yourself in front of your partner, try it out in positions where you're facing away from them, like doggystyle or side-by-side.
  • Use a vibrator or a vibrating cock ring to get clitoral stimulation. If there’s some distance between your torsos, you can easily hold a vibrator against your clitoris. Or you can hold a vibrator between your bodies. There are also couples toys that provide vibration for both parties.
  • Find positions that create friction against your clitoris. If you put a pillow under your hips while in missionary position, your body will create a nice angle against your partner's pubic area.

Get The Timing In Your Favor

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Research has also found that the average person who identifies as a man requires far less time to reach orgasm than the average person identifying as a woman. Most men can orgasm in under five minutes.

If having sex with someone who has a penis, to combat this timing discrepancy, make sure to spend plenty of time focusing on you during foreplay. Try not to start having sex until you feel like you’re already on the verge of climax, or at least well on your way.

Once you’ve started having sex, you can try positions that aren’t as stimulating for your partner as they are for you. I know you like intense thrusting, but that type of movement generally leads to pretty quick orgasms for your partner. If you focus more on grinding rather than thrusting, you can usually slow your partner down. You on top and the sideways straddle both work well for this purpose.

Or you can try taking breaks from penetrative intercourse to give your clitoris some time to catch up. Have your partner pull out and spend a few minutes stroking or licking your clitoris, or use a vibrator for extra stimulation. Having “time outs” from sex can be a wonderful tease for both of you.

And remember: you're not "taking too long" — your body is different than your partner's, and there's nothing wrong with that.

Make Sure Your Partner Isn't Pressuring You

For some people, the pressure to come within a certain timeframe can actually come from their partner, not themself. If you feel like your partner is pressuring you to have an orgasm, it's important you talk about it.

"If your partner keeps asking 'did you come?,' let them know how this makes you feel," O'Reilly says. "Do you feel stressed out? Does it distract you from the pleasure and ruin the mood? Do you feel as though they’re making your pleasure about their own performance?"

O'Reilly says that a lot of your partner's pressuring can come form their own insecurities about how quickly they orgasm. "But there is no ideal length of time to orgasm regardless of gender," O'Reilly says. "Some people prefer sex to take a few minutes and some people like it to last for an hour — and it varies from day to day, so your communication about your desires needs to be ongoing."

Use Lube. Really!

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I can’t overstate the importance of lube. Most people’s experience of lube is limited to an old, sticky bottle of KY Jelly, but there are hundreds of high-quality lubes now on the market. Even if you feel adequately wet during sex, you should still try using lube. A good lubricant will feel wonderfully silky against your skin, and will create nice gliding sensations during sex. It quite simply makes sex more enjoyable.

If you put a little lube directly onto your clitoris, it can make clitoral stimulation feel even more intense. Fingers and skin will slide over your clitoris instead of tugging at it, making you far more likely to orgasm. Many of the previously doubtful participants of my online orgasm course have become lube evangelists after discovering just how effective it can be.

Explore

Learning what your body needs to reach orgasm during sex requires exploration and experimentation. Many of my clients tell me that they’re embarrassed to try out new positions and techniques during sex because it feels too awkward. It’s hard to experiment in the moment if you’re afraid of looking stupid or killing the mood.

What I suggest is to have a few sex sessions explicitly for the purposes of exploring some of these tricks and positions. Tell yourselves that it’s OK to take a few risks, and that you won’t tease each other if things go awry. Even be a little silly and playful about it! If you set it up beforehand as one big experimental session, you won’t feel as uncomfortable trying out new things and talking to each other about what does and doesn’t work.

Try Not To Think About It Too Much

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A lot of people get stuck up in their heads wondering if they’re getting close to reaching orgasm, or worrying that their partner is going to climax before they do. Too much thinking only serves to delay the process and make your orgasm even harder to come by.

If you find yourself getting distracted by your thoughts, take a deep breath and redirect your attention to the pleasure your body is feeling. I know this can seem easier said than done, but really try to get in touch with all of the nuance of sensation. By focusing on pleasure rather than anxious thoughts, you’re much more likely to topple over the edge. If you're feeling anxious, try expressing it to your partner and give your partner a chance to reassure you that they're enjoying themselves just fine.

And, again, remember: You're not "taking too long." You deserve to have an orgasm, just like your partner. Don't be afraid to advocate for yourself, and trust me — your partner will appreciate the effort. If you want to learn even more about how to orgasm, check out Finishing School, my online orgasm class for women!

Experts:

Jessica O’Reilly, PhD, host of the @SexWithDrJess Podcast

Studies included:

Rowland, D. L., Sullivan, S. L., Hevesi, K., & Hevesi, B. (2018). Orgasmic Latency and Related Parameters in Women During Partnered and Masturbatory Sex. The Journal of Sexual Medicine, 15(10), 1463–1471. doi: 10.1016/j.jsxm.2018.08.003

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