Skip to main content

Having trouble reaching orgasm? Masturbation is your friend.

Share |
buddybuds asks:

I am 17, me and my boyfriend of two years had a spree of sexual intimacy. We did everything every day, couples times a day here and there. I read a lot about how masturbation can help to bring a woman to orgasm, I don't feel the need to, but doesn't it help that my boyfriend and I basically did every day? I have lost my extreme sex drive, I feel like no matter what it wont happen for me (orgasm). I love giving him what he wants, he tries to give me the same but it never happens? Is there any way past masturbation that can help for an orgasm and bring that sex drive back to my life?

Heather Corinna replies:

Let's say I decide I want to learn to bake bread, so I decided to try and make bread every day. But what if in doing that, every day I had the oven set at the wrong temperature, was using the wrong measuring tools for my ingredients or kept using yeast which wasn't active anymore? I could keep doing that every day, but I'd still likely wind up with a gloppy mess of goo instead of with a loaf of bread. Get my gist?

Sexual frequency is only going to help someone reach orgasm if what that person and/or their partner are doing are things likely to result in orgasm for that unique person, and if that person is in a space in their mind and body throughout that supports being aroused and experiencing pleasure and orgasm, a space that usually includes not trying for orgasm, but just enjoying oneself and feeling relaxed about seeing what happens.

So, you and your partner having a "spree" of sex for a few days (I think that's what you mean, but "spree" is pretty vague) certainly could have made it more likely for you to reach orgasm, but that alone by no means would have assured it happened. And that it didn't happen with all that sex doesn't mean anything is wrong with you, either.

You seem to be asking what you can do without masturbation, but I have to be honest with you. You're going to have a very tough time finding any sex therapist or sexuality educator who won't tell you that the first place to start with becoming orgasmic is almost always with masturbation. The vast majority of people, of all genders, first orgasm through masturbation and continue to learn to orgasm through masturbation. Chances are awfully good that's how your boyfriend learned to orgasm himself.

I hear you saying you don't feel a need to masturbate, but some of what you're expressing here is a need to masturbate in my view. In other words, you say you're not orgasmic and want to be. You say you and your boyfriend are having a tough time finding what works for you. Those two statements are effectively appeals for masturbation because it's what's very likely to help with this. When you discover some things that feel good to yourself, it's easier to teach partners what you like or might like with them. And when you can have sex without feeling zero pressures from yourself or anyone else -- like being worried a partner is getting frustrated or that you need to orgasm to make them feel good about themselves -- and can 100% focus on yourself sexually it's often far easier to start to learn what feels good for you. Many people also feel freer to engage in sexual fantasies in their heads during masturbation, something plenty also bring to partnersex, so masturbation may give you space to better explore your sexual imagination, too, something else likely to help with orgasm as well as your overall pleasure.

We talk about masturbation often and in a lot of different places on the site, but I do want to make sure to briefly unpack some things you may be thinking about it. Women do masturbate: it's not just men. The majority of women masturbate, and while fewer women than men do, that's likely to be mostly about men being given greater cultural permission to do so and thus, having less hangups about it. People also often don't masturbate because we feel this inescapable need to do so we cannot control: many, if not most, masturbate because it's something we simply want to do and enjoy doing, much in the same way people tend to choose to have sex with partners. In the case you have the idea there's something icky about it, or something less acceptable about touching yourself than about someone else touching you, if you ask me, that doesn't make a lot of sense. Our sexuality isn't something a partner gives us, it's something we choose to share with them. And if it's okay for someone else to touch our bodies, how can't it be just as okay to touch ourselves? If we don't feel comfortable touching ourselves, how can we expect to ever be fully comfortable with someone else touching us?

Know how people say that you can't really love anyone else if you don't also love yourself first? As far as I know, from years of working with people and these issues, and from reading and listening to other sex educators and sexuality therapists, the same is true when it comes to partnersex and masturbation. It's awfully hard for a lot of people to really enjoy and fully experience being sexual with other people if they don't also enjoy and fully experience being sexual all by themselves.

While it's totally okay not to masturbate -- masturbation, like any other kind of sex, isn't ever required, or like people going without oxygen or water -- if you're wanting to cultivate sexual desire, explore your sexuality and to reach orgasm, it really is pretty essential, and also probably something you'll also enjoy if you already find you enjoy sex with someone else.

Here is a piece on masturbation for you to take a look at: How Do You Masturbate?

Now, when it comes to sex with your boyfriend, I have no idea what the sex you were having involved and what it was like. When we say "sex" we can mean so many different things done so many different ways with so many different kinds of dynamics, it's dizzying. I can tell you I eat, but if that's all I say, you can't know what I eat, how I prepare my food, how much, when or how I eat, what I like or dislike, what I crave or don't, when I'm hungry or when I'm full.

Have you been doing a range of sexual activities, including many about your body, or mostly just intercourse? If it was the latter, most female-bodied people don't reach orgasm that way, especially with intercourse alone. What's far more common is for women to reach orgasm either via other kinds of activities, like oral sex or manual sex, or by combining intercourse with other kinds of stimulation, both for the more sensitive parts of your vulva (namely, your clitoris), but also for your body as a whole. When it comes to reaching orgasm, as well as what people tend to find most enjoyable as a whole, you're going to want to mix it up.

During all of this sex, were you both able to let go of any worry about or attachment to orgasm or "performance" and just enjoy yourselves? If not, one of the easiest ways to psych ourselves out of orgasm is to fixate on it or be thinking about how we wish we could just get there the whole time instead of going with the flow of what feels good.

What about the emotional dynamics in your sexual relationship? Do you feel emotionally comfortable and engaged with sex together? Do you feel like you're connecting well emotionally with sex and do you also feel able to be yourself during sex (rather than, say, putting on a sexual performance)? If anything hasn't felt quite right emotionally, that's something else you'll want to talk about together.

Were you talking to each other throughout, or at least showing each other in some way what felt good and what felt ho-hum? When things felt really good, were you asking your partner if he'd continue with that? If not, on either count, finding out what gets you there, as well as what feels good, together is going to be tough. With that spree, were you talking in between the sex you were having, sharing with each other, in words, what you really liked about it? Not only is that a way to increase intimacy, it's also very helpful for partners to hear that from one another so we can learn what each of us truly enjoys.

You say you love giving him what he wants, but he can't seem to do the same for you. Are you clearly communicating what you want to him? He can guess at it, but he's more likely to discover what that is if you can pass on some clear clues. Mind, this may be information you don't really have yet, but again, this is something masturbation will probably help with, and where more open, honest communication -- which can include things like sharing sexual fantasies, as well as telling him kinds of touch or stimulation that are highly pleasurable for you -- will help, too. You may well need to communicate more, and/or you may need to talk to him about being sure he's being attentive and responsive to what you're communicating, rather than sexually doing what he wants or thinks he should be doing for you based on what he's heard other people say.

In terms of your sex drive -- your desire for sex -- know that it's very common that when we're in a new relationship, or sex is brand new in it, for all of us to feel stronger (I tend to think of them as louder versus more quiet) or more frequent sexual desires than we probably will as time goes on in that partnership. In other words, people tend to mellow out over time in relationships, and sexual desire can also chill out a bit and become less consistently high-key. That said, if you've gone from lots of desire to none, something is probably going on in your life or your head, maybe even with your health. Now, that could be just the frustration and worry you're feeling about all of this by itself, or even just about having a phase of lower libido, which happens in life sometimes for most of us, but it could also be other factors.

Here's a link to a list of possible factors in decreased libido for you to check out: Where's my sex drive driven off to?

Suffice it to say, if right now you're just not feeling it when it comes to wanting to be sexual, but you're still having sex all the same, I'd encourage you to change that habit. Having sex out of feelings of obligation is a pretty surefire libido killer.

In long-term relationships, we're often going to have times when one or both partners just aren't feeling it, and we're going to each always need to be down with accepting that if and when it happens. Every part of a relationship isn't always exactly as we'd want it to be at a given time: part of staying in a relationship long-term is signing on to hang in through the ebbs and flows of life together. Since your relationship is probably about more than just sex, that shouldn't be that big of a deal, even if it isn't what either of you would ideally like. Your boyfriend can hang in there while you work this out without having sex with you in the interim: again, he probably does masturbate and he can do that while this is going on. To be intimate with you in the meantime, you two can also share different kinds of intimacy, like talking a lot (or a lot more deeply), kissing, snuggling or massage, doing some kind of creative project together or a world of other things we do as couples to get close. Sex certainly isn't the only way to be intimate: it's just one way of many.

I'm leaving you with a few links for you to look over that I think will help, including one about how to talk about sex. I know that talking out these issues can feel nervewracking, especially if you're not used to talking about sex together when things aren't going well, rather than when they are. I've also included a piece on sexual anatomy that can give you a better idea of how much more of this is about your brain than you probably think it is and one that explains in more detail how and why a majority of women don't reach orgasm from intercourse alone. I hope all of this helps, and that you soon find yourself feeling a lot better about this, as well as discovering more about what does and doesn't work for you.

And seriously: do consider trying masturbation, okay? You may well find it's something you need, after all, but also something you want that helps you get to the place you want to be in sexually.

written 17 Mar 2010 . updated 19 Mar 2010

More like This

AIDS. Understanding, for the first time, what those four letters meant was shocking for me. It must have been in the late eighties, and I can't have been much older than 10 or 11. There were glossy...
There's nothing wrong with masturbation. Come on, say it with me: "there's NOTHING wrong with masturbation." Not a thing. It won't put hair on your palms, make you go blind, ruin you for sex (...

Information on this site is provided for educational purposes. It is not meant to and cannot substitute for advice or care provided by an in-person medical professional. The information contained herein is not meant to be used to diagnose or treat a health problem or disease, or for prescribing any medication. You should always consult your own healthcare provider if you have a health problem or medical condition.