Skip to main content

Why doesn't Sex Feel Good?

Share |
clk666 asks:

im 17, and have never ben able to have an oragsm through sex. people have told me that its the guys im with but ive been with enough guys to know its not them, its definately me. i dont even like sex, i mean sure i like it, some positions feel alright, but other than that im kinda sitting there like, "okay just get it over with". i have even tried many different positions and none of them seem to help, some even hurt, ALOT. i can orgasm with my vibrator because it stimulates my clit, but anything vaginal is more just annoying. i do have a baby, and before i had her sex felt better, i was still never able to orgasm, but i was still able to feel more of it than just "in and out". is this normal? anything i can ddo to have an orgasm through sex? and is the feeling loss due to giving birth?

Johanna Schorn replies:

Before I say anything else, I want to make sure that you understand that it's okay for you to simply not feel like having sex, and to decide to not have it for the time being. You say you don't like sex, and that's absolutely valid: We don't have to like it, at any given time or ever.

Now, if you DO want to have sex, and just aren't sure how to have sex that's pleasurable to you, read on.

It's very unlikely that childbirth had any effect on your ability to feel pleasure during sex. And you also mention being able to achieve orgasm via masturbation, so if that's also been true for you since you gave birth, you can be sure that we're not looking at a physical cause here. But in the interest of being thorough, and if that's something you are concerned about, then you can certainly consult your gynecologist about this.

One of your other questions was whether you are normal. The most frustrating and the most true reply I can give you for that is another question: What is normal? For a whole host of reasons, defining anything as “normal” and then measuring yourself by that is unproductive at best and harmful at worst. When it comes to human beings, with all our diversity and individuality and unique traits and personalities, trying to look for a “normal” is just, well, going to sell us all short.

So my very best reply here is going to be to suggest that you don't worry about whether or not you're normal. This isn't about anyone else and where you stand in comparison to them. This is about YOU. So let's see what we can do to help you, okay?

There are a lot of factors that contribute to whether and how we experience sexual arousal and pleasure. Perhaps the most obvious first question to ask here is whether you are confident that you can tell when you are aroused, and that you know what the different stages of arousal feel like to you, and which activities (alone or with a partner) lead to arousal for you. Have you ever just taken some time to yourself to thoroughly explore your body, find the places where you like to be touched and the ways in which you like to be touched? If you're not sure that you know all those things, then an excellent place to start is to simply take some time to yourself and start exploring. Take an afternoon off, make sure that you have plenty of time and privacy, and get a little better acquainted with your body.

It might be that you already know what gets you off, but you've just not been able to apply that to partner sex. That leads me to wondering what kinds of partners you've had, and how you've selected them and why you chose to become sexually active with them. Were these people that you felt a large amount of chemistry and sexual attraction with? Were these people that you trusted and that you felt comfortable with? Did you want to be sexually active with them?

It can be really difficult to sort out different emotions and identify the differences between liking someone as a friend or as a romantic partner, finding someone attractive and being attracted to them, feeling drawn to them emotionally or sexually, etc. Not all strong feelings we may have for another person also translate into sexual attraction, and vice versa. And no matter how much we like someone, that's often not enough to also experience strong sexual attraction and is thus not going to make for very pleasurable sex. And that's okay: We can like, even love, someone and not want to have sex with them. So, if you're ever not sure whether you really want to be sexual with someone, it's better to hold off on that: having sex with someone when you're not into them isn't fair on either of you.

When we do have sexual attraction and chemistry with someone, that's pretty unmistakable. You'll be able to feel the electricity in the air when you're around them. You'll likely find yourself thinking about the other person when you're not with them, and a lot of those thoughts will revolve around being physical. And when you're with them, you'll likely want to touch them and be intimate with them. And those are just some general signs for recognizing chemistry: you'll likely feel some things that are unique to you that let you know that this is someone you want to be physical with.

Now, even when you know your body well and are with someone you're sexually attracted to, experiencing pleasure still isn't automatic. There are still a couple of other factors that play into this.

One of them is being with a partner you can communicate with openly. Just because YOU know what you like doesn't mean that your partner instinctively knows, too. And the same goes the other way around: without asking, you won't know what your partner likes. I know that there is this idea out there that sex is instinctual and that there are some things that are universal, and once you figure them out, you'll be able to satisfy any partner you're with. But you know, that's not true. We're still all individual, with out own unique likes and dislikes and quirks, and the way to figure all of those out is to communicate with a partner. Let them know what you want, guide their hands, speak up when they're doing something you're not into, and ask them to do the same for you.

Now, with all of what I've said here, I've been talking about the ways to have pleasurable sex. I have not been talking specifically about orgasm, and that's for one very simple reason: Orgasm does not have to be a Must. It's perfectly possible to have completely satisfying sex that does not include an orgasm. Sex isn't a competitive sport, and orgasm is not the prize. When it happens, it's an awesome bonus, but it should not be the sole aim and objective.

If you've been viewing orgasm as that, and have been making it the be-all-end-all of sexual activity, that may also be part of the problem. Being able to experience sexual arousal (and orgasm) is all about being able to relax and let go. And if you're preoccupied with trying to reach orgasm, and putting pressure on yourself, then, well, you're just not likely to be very relaxed. So, that pressure is something you'll want to let go of.

The last point I should address is about another myth: That most or all women are able to orgasm from intercourse alone. Some women can and do achieve orgasm through intercourse alone, but most do not. That is because the vaginal canal doesn't have very many nerve endings beyond the first inch or so, and most of what we feel beyond that is simply a sensation of fullness. That can feel pretty awesome, too, but it often just isn't what'll bring a woman to orgasm. Clitoral stimulation (as you've discovered yourself via masturbation) is much, much more likely to lead to orgasm. So clitoral stimulation is something you'll want to incorporate into your sexual activity.

I hope that this all isn't too much to digest. I wanted to be thorough and cover all possible causes. If some of this doesn't apply to you, feel free to skip it and focus on the information that IS useful to you. I'm also going to link you to a few of our articles that cover some of the points I mentioned more in depth.

Sexual Response & Orgasm: A User's Guide
With Pleasure: A View of of Whole Sexual Anatomy for Every Body
From OW! to WOW! Demystifying Painful Intercourse
Be a Blabbermouth! The Whys, Whats and Hows of talking about Sex with a Partner
The Great No-Orgasm-From-Intercourse Conundrum

written 18 Jul 2010 . updated 18 Jul 2010

More like This

This is not another article about how everyone you meet on the net is an axe murderer. The Internet can be a great way to communicate - that's why this website is here, after all. Many people...
We talk a lot about sexual safety and safer sex here at Scarleteen in terms of your physical health. But what about checking in to see if sex is safe for you and yours emotionally? Taking care of...

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.