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 will remain anonymous. Please send your sex and relationship inquiries to firstname.lastname@example.org. Now, on to today’s topic: how long should it take you to have an orgasm?
Q: “I'm curious about why it takes me so long to orgasm. I've had a few comments here and there from past partners about how long I take, so I get self-conscious that I’m taking too long, and that my partners are getting bored or irritated. It's always been that way for me. It's not like sex doesn't feel good... it just takes me a while. Any idea why it takes me so long? And are there any ways I can speed up the process?”
A: Thanks for the question! As the creator of Finishing School, an online course that teaches women how to orgasm, this is one of my absolute favorite topics to address! I know how much it sucks to be lying there thinking, “Am I getting close? Am I any closer now?” So let’s dive right in, with six important things to know about orgasmic timing,
Orgasms Are Wonderful, No Matter How Long They Take
I want to start with one of the most important parts of your question — you can have orgasms and that’s awesome! It probably doesn’t seem like that big of a deal to you, since you’re more concerned about your timing at the moment. But I work with so many women who have yet to have their first orgasm, and who would be thrilled to be in your place. We all have the tendency to focus on the ways that we’re not “good enough” or not “living up to expectations,” especially when it comes to sex, so it’s important to remember that you’re doing pretty damn well for yourself!
It Doesn’t Matter How Long It Takes You
Here’s my bottom line when it comes to orgasmic timing: it doesn’t matter how long it takes. However long your body needs to orgasm is however long your body needs to orgasm. It sounds like you’ve been pretty consistent throughout your sexual history, and this may just be your body’s typical response pattern. In my work, I try to teach women to respect and connect with their bodies instead of fight against them. A big piece of the puzzle for you might be acknowledging your body’s natural timing, and being happily willing to give your body what it needs. Because hey, your body deserves this!
Think About Ways You Can Enjoy The “Waiting”
I also want to take a moment to point out the language that we typically use when it comes to orgasmic timing. We use words like “waiting” and “taking too long.” I know it’s easy to get wrapped up in self-consciousness and anxiety about your orgasm.
But the reality is that this isn’t the same thing as waiting in line at the DMV or waiting for your crush when they're taking too long to respond to your text. I want to offer you a simple but powerful way to reframe this process — you’re not “waiting” to have an orgasm; you’re “building up” to one. You’re feeling waves of pleasure slowly but gradually rising. You’re noticing sensation in more and more parts of your body. You’re enjoying that anticipation of reaching your peak. The build up can be just as much fun as the orgasm itself! And here’s another funny reality — an actual orgasm lasts 10-20 seconds, but that building up process can last for hours if you want it to.
The Average Amount Of Time It Takes Women To Orgasm Is 20 Minutes...But Wait Before You Compare Yourself To That
At the same time, I know it can be nice to have some sort of ballpark idea of how long female orgasm typically takes — but unfortunately, there isn’t a lot of great research out there. I usually use the timeframe of 20 minutes, but that number came from research done in the 1960s by famous sex researchers Masters and Johnson. so its not exactly current.
It’s also tricky because that number is an average created from data — which doesn't mean it's exactly how long the average woman takes to orgasm. There are some women who can take an hour or more to orgasm, and there are some women who can take just 30 seconds to orgasm. It’s not the most useful piece of information, but there you go.
Don’t Let Partners Guilt You
You mentioned that some of your partners made remarks about your orgasmic timing in the past. I’m not sure what their specific comments were, but I want to encourage you not to let your partner’s questions get in the way of you enjoying yourself. You can respond with something like, “I’m enjoying the ride right now, but I’ll let you know when I’m close.” If someone pesters you about it or seems to be judgmental, that’s a major red flag that they don’t deserve to be sleeping with you in the first place.
I also want to point out that the questions may have been relatively harmless — your partners may have been trying to check in on you out of curiosity, rather than out of judgment. Maybe they were trying to figure out if they needed to switch into a more comfortable position, or give their tongue a break. Or maybe they were concerned about their own orgasmic performance — like orgasming too quickly — and wanted to make sure you got yours before they got theirs.
The Only Way To Speed Things Up Is To Focus On Pleasure
All that being said, I also know that there are logistical realities when it comes to sex. In the real world, we don’t always have the time to have long, luxurious sex sessions. Sometimes you just have a few minutes for a quickie before you need to run out the door to an appointment, or you just want a fast orgasm so you can go to sleep.
You can typically get yourself to orgasm faster by creating more sensation — the idea is to add even more pleasure, so you get yourself closer to that peak experience. You can play around with a couple of different things:
- Trying a vibrator. This can be a great option. Vibrators create an intensity of stimulation that we just can’t replicate with our hands or mouths, so a vibrator may be able to get you off faster.
- Touching yourself while you’re with your partner. You probably know how to get yourself off faster than a partner does. Nothing wrong with taking the lead and getting it done for yourself!
- Tag-teaming your body with your partner. You can focus on your clitoris while your partner fingers you internally, or plays with other parts of your body.
- Increasing speed and pressure. A lot of women need more intensity in the lead-up to orgasm.
- Hitting multiple hot spots at once. You don’t have to limit yourself to what you’ve got between your legs. You may be able to orgasm faster by also incorporating nipple play, anal play, or any of your other favorite spots.