I can't orgasm from intercourse and it's ruining my relationship!

A friend of mine referred me to this website to sort out some of my complications that arise during sex. I am 17 and have been sexually active for probably the past 6 months but not once have I reached an orgasm. I have no idea what is wrong with me and I am desperate to find out because it is destroying mine and my boyfriend's sex lives. I can orgasm through clitoral stimulation but that is it and I do not know what else I can do. Please help me because I don't know what is wrong with me.
Heather Corinna replies:

Nothing in the world is wrong with you. We explain this a lot here, but I'll say it again: the majority of women do NOT reach orgasm through vaginal intercourse alone.

You're not the only one asking, either. Sadly, more women than not have just never been informed as to how their sexual anatomy works, and that vaginal intercourse is not often "the" sex for women, or a kind of sex which results in orgasm for most all by itself.

Just from the question queue over the last few days, we've got Leah:

I am 19yrs old and I have been sexually active for 4 yrs and I have never had an orgasm. I have lost boyfriends over it because they think its them...sex feels like nothing most of the time and I am out of ideas can you please help me or explain to me whats wrong with me?

...and Daniegirl:

I have been sexually active since i was 15, I'm 18 now. I have had sex with three guys, and I can NOT orgasm through sexual intercourse. I can however, orgasm by rubbing my clit or with my vibrator. I have been with my current boyfriend for a year and a month. We have been having sex for about 8 months. Sex KIND OF feels good when I am really in the mood, but then the feeling goes away real fast. I'm real frustrated. Please HELP!

We get this kind of question so much, that if it was about something being wrong with women's bodies, it'd have to mean something is wrong with MOST women's bodies. But since most women, through history, have NEVER been able to reach orgasm through intercourse, or only do very infrequently, it doesn't make sense to think something is wrong with us, just as we are.

If you need more proof than my own words -- or more than seeing the gobloads of female users you can read here who have had the same "problem" as you -- let's go ahead and pull out some other sources.

For instance, check out what Dr. Drew Pinsky and Dr. Gail Saltz have to say here:

Dr. Gail: Women take on average 20 minutes of stimulation and arousal to have an orgasm. Men take quite a bit less. Women also have more variation in what they find to be stimulating as well as having more difficulty defining exactly where and how stimulation works best. Only 20 percent of women are able to orgasm with intercourse alone, most women need some sort of direct clitoral stimulation.

Dr. Drew: Yes, men and women are wired differently, moreover women are wired differently from each other. Many times women will feel as though they are flawed because they are not living up to a certain standard of climaxing. Men make it worse because they generalize what’s needed to make a woman climax. Often men believe women are the same, and once they figure what works for one woman they apply that same method to all the other women they are intimate with, and that’s one of the major problems.

  • 50-60% of women will never have an orgasm via intercourse and will require clitoral stimulation to climax.
  • 30% of women will have a reliable orgasm with intercourse.
  • 10% of women will orgasm with intercourse and could possibly have sequential orgasms.
  • 5% of women have true multiple orgasms only through intercourse and these women typically find oral sex uncomfortable.

It's also important to recognize that there really isn't such a thing as "vaginal" or "clitoral" orgasms. That terminology was invented mostly by psychologists way back when, before we even had real study on women's sexuality or on human orgasm in general. orgasms happen primarily in our brains and nervous systems, we simply feel the effects in our whole bodies, including our genitals. Women may arrive at orgasm through clitorial stimulus, but that doesn't make that orgasm clitoral. Make sense?

You might also find this New York Times interview of Dr. Elisabeth Lloyd on the evolutionary purpose of female orgasm interesting, and check out what she has to say on this matter:

Central to her thesis is the fact that women do not routinely have orgasms during sexual intercourse. She analyzed 32 studies, conducted over 74 years, of the frequency of female orgasm during intercourse.

When intercourse was "unassisted," that is not accompanied by stimulation of the clitoris, just a quarter of the women studied experienced orgasms often or very often during intercourse, she found. Five to 10 percent never had orgasms. Yet many of the women became pregnant.

Dr. Lloyd's figures are lower than those of Dr. Alfred A. Kinsey, who in his 1953 book "Sexual Behavior in the Human Female" found that 39 to 47 percent of women reported that they always, or almost always, had orgasm during intercourse. But Kinsey, Dr. Lloyd said, included orgasms assisted by clitoral stimulation.

And take a look at what renowned sexuality researcher Shere Hite has always found, too.

The problem here isn't your body or women's bodies. How could our bodies be a problem just as they are?

The problem is the expectation that vaginal intercourse is going to be as pleasurable for most women as it is for most men, which is a pretty silly one since it doesn't often stimulate our most sensitive parts. The problem is defining a kind of sex -- intercourse -- as THE sex, which is very often satisfying for men and even more often NOT satisfying for women.

The solution to that non-problem is educating your male partners so that they really understand that and know more about female sexuality and sexual anatomy, communicating with partners about what DOES feel good for you and what DOES result in orgasm for you, and not going nuts like the evil stepsisters in Cinderella by trying to make a show fit that just isn't likely to. The fact that intercourse alone is not satisfying for most women should not be destroying anyone's sex life, because any sex life with women in it should be taking women's bodies and sexuality into account, not making women try like crazy to make something work for them just because that's what male partners want to expect.

Imagine, if you would, if women expected their male partners to orgasm frequently or all the time when we rubbed their bottoms. It'd be pretty loopy of us to expect that, since even though it can feel nice to have your bottom rubbed, it's not a very stimulating activity and isn't something that results in orgasm for most people when that is all that's going on.

Here is some more information from the site -- on the specifics of your anatomy, including explaining that the vaginal canal isn't very rich with nerve endings, on how sexual response works, and on why making intercourse the be-all end-all isn't the best idea ever -- here to help you both understand this further and know how to "fix" it:

What I'd suggest is that you read those for yourself, and then either print them out for your boyfriend or send him those links so that he can be filled in on all of this, too. You might also pick up a copy of our book -- which goes very in depth about intercourse expectations -- as a shared holiday gift. Once you both know those basics, that's going to help give you a shared foundation of knowledge to start talking with.

Talk together about the fact that it is unlikely for women to reach orgasm during intercourse, and then each talk about what sexual activities you do enjoy and find some middle ground. If, for instance you both do like intercourse, but you're just not reaching orgasm, a couple can have intercourse while using fingers (of either partner) to manually stimulate your clitoris. In the case that you don't enjoy intercourse at ALL, please know that NO sexual activity is required of anyone. No one HAS to have intercourse. Most men have at least one kind of sexual activity they don't want to engage in or don't like that much, and it's no more sound to require women to do everything men want or like than it would be for women to require that of men.

Talk to figure out some new activities you can both try, and to be sure that the sex you're having -- of any kind -- is always really about both of you, not just one. Remind one another that no one should ever be getting angry or upset when their partner isn't reaching orgasm: anger has no good place in the bedroom, and frustration is always going to inhibit orgasm (as well as making sex together pretty emotionally awful).

Lastly, do yourself and your sexuality a favor and just accept that there is not a thing wrong with you. Make sure your partners are just as solid in that conviction as you should be, even if they need a little time to adjust to being more informed about women and sex than they were before. And with anything in sex, when the shoe doesn't fit, never presume it's because something is wrong with your foot. Know that it usually just means you're trying on the wrong shoe.

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