I’ve always had a really, really difficult time being fully satisfied in the bedroom. It’s not that I’m not attracted to the people I sleep with, or that they’re not good at what they do. Sometimes, I just can’t get off – and believe me, it’s just as frustrating to me as it is to them.
For whatever reason, some women just have a harder time reaching orgasm than others. For a long time, I thought it meant there was something wrong with me. But there’s nothing wrong with me, and there’s nothing wrong with you if it’s difficult for you, too. Here are 7 things that might go through your mind when you realize that it’s just not going to happen – and what to do about each one.
1. “I’m so horny – what gives?!”
Believe it or not, your ability to orgasm doesn’t really have much to do with your sexual arousal. Some women can have an orgasm while running, or giving birth, or even while standing there minding their own business. Likewise, there are women who can’t orgasm, even if they’re painfully close and super into it.
This phenomenon is called “arousal nonconcordance”, which is just a fancy science-y way to say that your brain and your nerve endings are not on the same page.
Your body can experience similar nonconcordance in other situations, too, but arousal nonconcordance is definitely one of the most frustrating. According to sex expert Emily Nagoski, your brain and your body only agree about 10% of the time – so it’s statistically more likely for you to not get off.
2. “But she’s always been able to get me off before.”
Almost as frustrating as thought #1, there’s the frustration that your partner is suddenly not doing as great of a job as she usually does. While it might seem that the blame should fall squarely on her shoulders, that’s not necessarily the case.
In some cases, a partner who’s suddenly unable to bring you to climax can indicate that she has other things going on in her life, that may or may not have anything to do with you. For example, if she’s been stressed at work, she might have a hard time focusing enough attention on the right areas while she’s pleasuring you. Likewise, if your relationship is on the rocks, there’s a chance that guilt can come through and wreak havoc on your sex life. This usually isn’t a permanent condition, but it may take a substantial amount of effort to get back to the sex you used to have.
In other cases, it might be your life that’s got too much going on to perform in the bedroom. Do thoughts of work or money or household chores get a chance to show up in your sexual sanctuary? While it’s difficult (and ill-advised) to completely compartmentalize your life, you do need to establish healthy boundaries and limits. Focus on work when it’s time for work, but make sure you’re focusing on your partner when it’s time to focus on your partner.
3. “What’s wrong with me?”
Well, the short answer is: Probably nothing. Certain medications are known to interact with your libido in weird ways, so if you’re on any prescriptions, you could try talking to your doctor about getting them changed. Likewise, it’s common to be unable to orgasm when you’re under the influence of alcohol or some drugs. In most cases, once you stop taking, drinking, or using whatever was messing with your sex drive, things should go back to normal pretty soon.
It’s also important to realize that, in some cases, a sudden change in your ability to orgasm can indicate a more serious issue, such as mental illness or diabetes. If you’re concerned, it’s never a bad idea to speak with your doctor, just to rule out any chance of a bigger problem. It’s better to know for sure than to keep wondering!
4. “My ex would have known how to get me off.”
This one comes up a lot when you’re fresh out of a break-up and scrambling around under the sheets with the Rebound Girl. We know that rebound sex is a bad idea, but sometimes we just can’t help ourselves. It’s almost encoded into our DNA to fuck out all our frustrations. And sometimes, it’s a good idea!
But when you’re having sex purely because you’re upset – especially if you’re having sex with someone just to spite your feelings – you’re doing yourself a huge disservice. Not only are you comparing completely unrelated experiences, but you’re also leaving your ex some room in your sex life that she doesn’t deserve. To top it all off, you may also be taking advantage of someone else’s feelings, which can cause guilt to mess with you. Next time, avoid the guilt and the frustration by just masturbating before you go out. Trust me on this one.
5. “I wish she’d just ______.”
One of the worst excuses for not enjoying your sexual experiences is to just write off your partner’s ability to get you there. Just because she isn’t doing the things you want her to do doesn’t mean she won’t – but she can’t read your mind! You actually have to be proactive and ask for the things you want, otherwise you can never expect to get them. Sure, your girlfriend might guess right eventually, but why settle for mediocre sex until then? Speak up about the things you want in the bedroom, and do your best to accommodate your girlfriend’s wants, too.
You’re not always going to agree on the things that get you off, and that’s okay. A healthy sex life requires that you learn each other’s bodies and get to know what makes your partner happy. After all, if you’re only worried about getting yourself off, you might as well just do it solo, right? Right – so let’s move on.
What do you do if your partner is totally unwilling to do the things you want in the bedroom – even after you’ve asked? Unfortunately, there is such a thing as incompatible sexual desires. No matter how much you care about a person, you can’t force a spark that isn’t there, and if your sexual desires are that important to you, you might need to find a new partner.
6. “Am I ever going to be able to?”
According to Healthline, orgasmic dysfunction comes in a number of different varieties. Some women never have an orgasm, while others have difficulties or must have certain sexual activities in order to climax. There are some women who go through periods of anorgasmia (another name for female orgasmic dysfunction) and have other periods where their sex life is much more climactic. There’s no real way to know what the answer will be for you, unless you try out your options.
Additionally, at least to some degree, your experience and how long you’ve been sexually active may impact your ability to orgasm, too. It’s highly unlikely that your very first partner will get the job done for you, and it’s also unlikely that any partner will be able to make you orgasm when you’ve just started dating. Everyone’s sexual wants and needs are different, and it takes time to learn your own, as well as to learn others. Don’t rush into things – if it’s going to happen, it’ll happen. If it’s not going to happen, you might as well learn to enjoy taking the scenic route.
7. “I don’t even mind – I’m still having a good time!”
Our final group of not-orgasming women don’t really care that they’re not climaxing. They enjoy their sexual experience as it is, and don’t necessarily need to orgasm in order to enjoy themselves. If you’re one of these women, don’t worry – you’re totally normal, too.
In most cases, sex is going to feel good, regardless of the eventual outcome. When you’re with someone you truly care about, spending time together, and being sexually stimulated, you’re still forming a bond with that person. Make sure you let her know that you are enjoying yourself, and that she shouldn’t put so much focus on the finish line.
No matter which of these categories you fall into, there’s nothing wrong with not being able to orgasm – whether it’s occasionally, most of the time, or even every time. Sex is about so much more than just getting off, and if you’re too preoccupied with getting things done, you won’t be able to appreciate taking your time. Besides, high stress levels are known to make orgasm more difficult – so why stress yourself out even more?
No matter what your particular situation is or how long you’ve been there, it’s important to remember that you are in charge of your own sexual satisfaction. If your needs aren’t being met, speak up! But if they are, feel free to say that, too. All too often we put the emphasis on the wrong areas, and that leads to more disappointment than the orgasm is worth. Just relax, and take it easy – your sex life doesn’t have to be so serious all the time.