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Why Can't I Orgasm?

Updated: Jan 30, 2023

10 Things That May Prevent You From Having An Orgasm


Orgasms can be notoriously difficult, especially because the more you think about it and worry if it's going to happen, the harder it can be, but there are 2 important things everyone should know about them:

  1. Orgasms are not the only important and pleasurable measure of sex. You can have amazing, satisfying and fulfilling sex without having an orgasm.

  2. Everyone (from all genders) can struggle to orgasm and a lot of people have never orgasmed, so you are not to blame, and you are certainly not alone.

Failure to orgasm is not always because the sex was bad, or your partner is bad at pleasing you. In most cases, there's no one to blame, but there are some things we can all learn that may help increase the chance of orgasm and give some clarity to the complicated reasons why they can be challenging, and that's what we will look at in this post.


*If you'd like to experience more pleasure, check out our new video workshop on stimulation and arousal for people with vulvas, including fingering and sex toy techniques. Check it out here.



Orgasms Are Getting Harder, Not Easier.


People with vaginas, statistically have a harder time having an orgasm. Only 39 per cent of women said that they usually or always experienced an orgasm in partnered sex, so actually, (cis) women are more likely not to orgasm during sex.


An easy answer to this may be more sex education and sexual liberty, but shockingly, despite having come a long way in sexual freedom and education, people are having fewer orgasms than they did a decade ago.


A study in Finland noted a drastic drop in orgasms:


Even erectile dysfunction is increasing, especially in young (cis) men, which shows that some serious issues need to be understood and talked about more within our sexual education and understanding.



Not Enough Pleasure Focused Sex Education


Sex education is much more than just abstinence and learning to use a condom. If you've only had limited sex education, understanding how to experience and give yourself and a partner pleasure may be completely alien to you. Part of the failure of poor sex education is that it can leave us with a sense of shame and fear around touching and discovering ourselves which has a huge impact on our ability to orgasm.


Lack of Mental Stimulation


Desire, arousal and orgasm are intrinsically linked to our mental state and rely on being able to be able to turn ourselves on mentally. If you're not in the headspace, or you only have negative memories or associations of sex, it will be very difficult to orgasm.

Try to encourage and develop your erotic mind. Think about things that turn you on, read erotica, watch a sexy movie scene. The more you build on this part of your imagination, the more easily you will be able to orgasm.


Performance Anxiety


Worrying about how you look, taste, sound, and smell will negatively impact your experience of sex and hinder your ability to orgasm. Performance anxiety affects us all and has a huge impact on people with penises too. This may be because of the influence on porn or having no realistic expectations or representations of what sex is, so you feel you have to perform a certain way. This means you're not really allowing yourself to relax and fully let go, which is key to having an orgasm.

When we orgasm, our whole body is taken over by the feeling of pleasure, and you may make some strange sounds, smells and body movements, but that's okay, it's part of sex and it shouldn't make you feel worried or concerned.


Only Vaginal Penetration


One of the biggest reasons people cannot orgasm is because much of heteronormative sex is vaginal penetration. Although the vagina does have some areas and zones of pleasure, for most people with vulvas, it's the clitoris that has the most pleasure power.


"A comprehensive analysis of 33 studies over 80 years found that during vaginal intercourse just 25 percent of women consistently experience an orgasm, about half of women sometimes have an orgasm, 20 percent seldom or ever have orgasms, and about 5 percent never have orgasms." - Medical News Today

The clitoris is essentially the equivalent of the penis, so imagine a (cis) man having sex without his penis, many of them would not be able to orgasm, and it's the same with (cis) women.

Clitoral stimulation should be one of the first parts of the body to be pleasured during a sexual experience and vaginal stimulation is much more enjoyable when the clitoris is erect, so it will (in most cases) make all experiences much more enjoyable.


Relationship & Communication Problems


Partnered sex is, for most people, very reliant on the connection between the people involved.

One study noted that an increase in female orgasms came mainly from mental and relationship factors:


So this suggests that if you are not comfortable with your partner, are having relationship issues, or cannot fully communicate your needs and desires, then the likelihood of having an orgasm is much lower. Learning to have open communication should be a priority in all sexual relationships.


No Lubrication


Vaginal dryness can lead to painful and uncomfortable sex. Many of us experience dryness and some experience it more often due to their vulvas not producing much naturally, and it's not always linked to lack of arousal.

I think most people who begin using lube will tell you that they wished they started using it earlier. It's not something to be ashamed of and it's not something that your body builds a tolerance to, it's just a wonderful tool that can add to the experience, allow for longer and more adventurous sex sessions and bring more pleasure!


Hormone Levels, Menstrual Cycle & Menopause


Those who menstruate and do not take a hormonal suppressant birth control will notice the effects of hormone levels rising and dropping through the month. These levels have a huge impact on our sex drive and physiological facts such as lubrication and blood flow, so you might notice that some times of the month are harder to orgasm.


People who are menopausal will also notice a difference in their sex drive and ability to orgasm. Since less testosterone is produced, it means sex drive may lower and people experience less lubrication. Pelvic floor muscles may be weakened too, and some may have hot flushes, so it is absolutely not your fault if you find sex less enjoyable around this time.

There are ways to overcome this through lubricant, hormone treatments and working with a pelvic floor therapist, and many women actually have very enjoyable and active sex lives later in their lives.


Depression & Antidepressants


Depression and anxiety will have a huge effect on the mental stimulation required to want and enjoy sex. Stress hormones actively suppress sex hormones so if you're experiencing this, it's natural to have a lower sex drive and you should not put pressure on yourself to have sex.

In addition, many antidepressants also hurt sex drive, due to the rise in serotonin reducing sex hormones.

Your mental health is a priority and focusing on yourself and not adding extra worries like sex or the ability to orgasm is important in aiding your recovery.


Trauma


Memory plays a big part in mental arousal, so if you've had a traumatic experience, it will be very difficult to enjoy sex. It will take time to realign your associations with sex and physical touch, but it can happen through therapy and patience. Again, know that you are not to blame, you are not required to have sex either, and it's totally up to you if you want to have sex again.



The Skene's Glands


The Skene's glands are part of the vulva that play an important part in urinary and sexual function. During sexual arousal, they become swollen and produce lubrication, which is hugely important in sexual pleasure. They are also connected to the stimulation of the clitoris and g-zone area, and scientists are studying their function in female ejaculation.


The size of the Skene's glands differ from person to person and some studies have indicated that some people have very small glands which means they may not produce enough lubrication and may reduce the pleasure and sensation of vaginal stimulation:


"Dissections of 14 cadavers revealed that the enzymes [that indicate sexual stimulation] were mostly clustered in the G spot. But in two of the subjects with much lower concentrations of PDE5, he couldn’t find any Skene’s glands at all. “For such women, having a vaginal orgasm is anatomically impossible,” he says." - Nicola Jones, New Scientist Magazine


This is only one study, so it's by no means confirmed, but it does start to indicate that some people with vaginas have a harder time with orgasms purely because of their personal anatomy.


Surgery and Gynaecological Issues


Conditions like vaginismus are unfortunately very common and for those experiencing them, it will mean that finding pleasure from sex will be much harder. Similarly, if you've recently had surgery or have recently had a baby, the vulva, vagina and another area will be healing and need time to recover. Most conditions are treatable, and many other parts of the body can produce pleasure and orgasm!


Even More...


There are many more potential reasons that you may have difficulty with orgasms. Health plays a huge role, especially heart health and mental health. There can also be a multitude of different small issues at play, so it's important to not blame yourself but to seek help if you are experiencing problems regularly.


How to Orgasm More Often


Strangely enough, one of the best tips for having more orgasms is to stop trying. Taking away the pressure to have one, allows you to relax and actually enjoy other parts of the sexual experience. Often, this will increase overall pleasure, satisfaction and can lead to easier and more regular orgasms.


Since there are so many potential reasons why you may struggle with having an orgasm, the first thing to do is to reflect on your sexual experiences and see if there's a common theme or occurrence in your sexual experiences. You can ask yourself questions like; 'Do I experience pain, or am I always having sex in one particular position?'. Understanding what may be the root of the issue is always a good start to finding a solution.


Some key things everyone can work on is understanding their own body more, working on their sexual confidence and being able to express and communicate their sexual likes, dislikes and needs to a partner. This will lead to a much healthier sexual relationship with yourself and others.


Lastly, stop comparing your sex life to others. We all have different needs and comparing how often we have sex or how often we orgasm, with a friend, is likely to only lead to disappointment. Whatever works and feels good to you, is the only thing that matters.



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