We've been getting a LOT of posts like this from female users lately, so I thought I'd address it in one place. Please use it when you have a question like this, and if you've got an individual circumstance that doesn't apply, you can just post below. That helps us keep all our eggs in one basket, as it were.
I think all of our regular readers know that we feel the soundest approach to partnered sex is to understand it's not just all about orgasm. It's about a lot of things, and orgasm may be one of them, and sometimes, it may not.
But at the same time, it is important to a lot of us, and when it doesn't happen, it's pretty normal to want to know why, especially if it continually doesn't happen.
So, here are a few things to look at:
1) During penis/vagina intercourse, is the ONLY real physical stimulation you're getting that intercourse? If so, that can be the problem. The vaginal canal by itself is NOT rich with nerve endings like the clitoris or other body parts (not just genitals!) are (if you doubt that, spend a day at the library with some current sexual anatomy and sexology books and studies). So, during intercourse, whole-body contact, or additional stimulation to body parts that really DOES arouse you, like the clitoris in most women, is important. Sometimes that's as simple as moving around and finding a position that gives you more contact. Sometimes, that means having manual sex during intercourse, for instance. Since sexual arousal tends to be pretty individualized, what works for you is usually something you have to come to through trial and error.
Too, don't forget that intercourse -- and most sexual activities -- is just not likely to feel good if you aren't aroused beforehand, if you aren't adequately lubricated (and with condoms, that pretty much ALWAYS means using extra latex-safe lubricant), and if you aren't feeling okay about it emotionally, able to trust your partner to listen to your boundaries or needs, or if your privacy isn't a sure thing, and so forth.
2) Are you feeling anxiety? That could be from many things: from maybe not feeling ready to be having intercourse with a given partner, knowing you're with a partner having sex for the wrong reasons, worry about STIs or pregnancy, worry about your own body image, feeling pressured not just to be having sex, but to be having arousal or orgasm from one particular activity, etc. In other words, look at the whole situation. And take the pressure off -- that may mean a talk with your partner about what feels good to you and what expectations are realistic. It may also mean not having intercourse right then, or with that partner, at all, or at that time. It may mean taking some time away from sexual partnership to explore your sexuality and your feelings about it by yourself so that you can come back to sexual partnership with the tools you need to make it right for both of you, physically and/or emotionally. It may mean making sure you have reliable birth control or safer sex tools to use next time, if that's the worry.
3) Are you "spectatoring?" That's the term sex therapists use to describe when a person continually is having sex for nothing but orgasm, putting all their energy and thought into making orgasm happen. And that's the thing most sex therapists say is responsible for orgasm NOT happening, more than anything else. In a word, try not to worry about it. Do what feels good for the both of you on all levels, and go with the flow. if it happens, great. If it doesn't, and you've had an intimate, pleasurable, healthy experience anyway, it really isn't THAT big of a deal. Cosmopolitan magazine only says it is on covers again and again because it makes them gobs of money, folks.
4) Are you expecting something bigger than orgasm? In other words, my sense is that a good number of our readers who say they aren't having orgasms actually ARE. Most women, for instance, do not ejaculate with orgasm. And for most people, an orgasm doesn't shake the roof or the walls, make your whole body feel nigh unto exploding, or make you scream like a banshee. Every now and then, all of those things CAN happen, but they're not that common. And orgasm differs a lot from person to person, as well as even for one person, from one day to another. Sometimes, it just feels kind of floaty and tingly. Other times, you can feel your whole body tense up a lot, then relax. Some people might tremble or quiver, others might not. For the most part, what it just feels is good. Sometimes squealy-moany amazing, other times, just plain nice.
But if you're looking for a porn-star movie orgasm, chances are, you're expecting something that isn't much like real orgasm.
If none of this seems to fit, or you find you cannot have orgasms or even arousal with a partner, or by yourself masturbating, then talk to your gynecologist. Sometimes, there are physical conditions, medications or psychological conditions that can directly affect the ability to orgasm or become aroused.
Certainly, that's not all to say on this topic, but it's the basics, and it's pretty much what the answer is to this question every single time it's asked.
Editor and Founder, Scarleteen
My epitaph should read: "She worked herself into this ground."
-- Kay Bailey Hutchinson
[This message has been edited by Miz Scarlet (edited 06-24-2002).]