Can’t Feel Sexual Pleasure

Questions and discussion about your sexual lives, choices, activities, ideas and experiences.
CatHaru26
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Can’t Feel Sexual Pleasure

Unread postby CatHaru26 » Fri Jul 10, 2020 8:15 am

Hi! I’m 18 years old and have been dating a boy for a few months now (my first actually). We decided to bring sexual things into out relationship because honestly it just felt right. We talked multiple times about what it would be like and I was like “Yes!! I want that so bad.” Because well, I do! Theres just one teensie little issue.

Nothing feels pleasurable for me!

I guess my first issue is that It’s super hard to get my body turned on even when my mind is. The only time it really does is when I’m either ovulating or sometimes when I’m PMSing. Other than that my body just doesn’t wanna get turned on. And we try lots of foreplay and things too!

My next is that when I AM turned on, It still doesn’t feel good. Like it feels a little good for a bit and then just goes away. I’m specifically referring to my clit. I’ve vocalized that it doesn’t feel as good as it should and he is very understanding and willing to try new things to help me out. I’ve research all the different ways to stimulate the clit (including other parts since I know the clit is bigger than it seems) and just—nothing! Vaginal penetration is just uncomfortable for me as well (i’ve only tried with fingers, nothing bigger). He’s even tried oral on me and it felt like nice but not as nice as it should’ve felt.

I try all these same things while masturbating too and it also does nothing. But to be fair its even more difficult for me to get turned on if hes not there. I never really tried masturbating when I was younger. I would get aroused of course but never acted on it.

Idk I just need some help here. I wanna experience what people tell me is so good :(

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Re: Can’t Feel Sexual Pleasure

Unread postby Sam W » Fri Jul 10, 2020 8:38 am

Hi CatHaru26,

It sounds like you're already doing a lot of experimenting and communicating with your partner around this, which are some good first steps. One thing I do want to say is that there's no universal way something like oral sex or clitoral stimulation "should" feel. For instance, people will often talk about oral sex as an amazing experience, but for plenty of folks, it feels pretty meh or just isn't their cup of tea. Same goes for clit stimulation; some people find it feels super-good, others find it doesn't. So it may help to focus more on finding the things that do feel good rather than on trying to make the things that you think "should" feel good work.

To make sure I'm understanding things right is it that you get no pleasure at all from the things you've described? Or is it more that it feels good to some degree, but not as mind-blowing as you're expecting? Too, do have a pretty easy time feeling types of pleasure that aren't sexual, like when you're eating or doing something that feels good to your body (like getting a massage or taking a warm bath)?

I do also have to ask, since COVID is still spreading, were you two living together prior to the pandemic? Or are you being really clear with each other about your expectations for social distancing and safety?

CatHaru26
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Re: Can’t Feel Sexual Pleasure

Unread postby CatHaru26 » Fri Jul 10, 2020 8:48 am

Oh no worries about the pandemic! We both have parents that are essential works and so the both of us are taking this pandemic VERY seriously to avoid spreading anything. We only see each other really and we’ve found a schedule that is safe and works for us! :)

But yes I do easily feel pleasure when doing things that aren’t sexual like eating and what not. Honestly, the type of pleasure I get from things like getting a massage are kind of how I feel about when I get touched sexually. Its kinda like “Yeah it’d be nice if you kept your hand there but it doesn’t really matter.”

I don’t really know what else to try other than clitoral stimulation or vaginal penetration with fingers. I’m not comfortable with trying anal or having vaginal sex yet. So I’m not entirely sure what to do!

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Re: Can’t Feel Sexual Pleasure

Unread postby Sam W » Fri Jul 10, 2020 9:07 am

Glad to hear you've worked out ways to keep each other safe!

Okay, so it sounds like you're feeling something, just not something intense. I would definitely keep focusing on only being sexual, with him or with yourself, when you're already feeling aroused (even if that isn't the most frequent thing), since that's going to make that pleasure easier to connect to.

Have you tried using a vibrator or other sex toy? Sometimes those can introduce new or intense sensations that can really increase the pleasure someone feels.

CatHaru26
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Re: Can’t Feel Sexual Pleasure

Unread postby CatHaru26 » Fri Jul 10, 2020 10:09 am

So you’re saying I should only do sexual things when I’m feeling aroused ? Sorry, I just wanted to make sure I read that correctly haha.

And no I haven’t tried any kind of sex toy actually. I never thought they’d work for me since I couldn’t get off anyway and I didn’t wanna waste the money. I’m not very educated on what to even get.

Also something I guess I should mention is that I suffer from severe anxiety. It took me quite a while to even let him touch me and when he did I actually wouldn’t let him move because I needed to just get used to the idea that he was there if that makes sense. I had to do the same thing while learning to touch myself as well. I’m wondering if maybe part of the issue is that I don’t let myself relax enough. I try to release all tension that I’m holding but maybe thats not enough. I don’t know if this has any influence but it very well could so I thought I’d let you know.

Sam W
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Re: Can’t Feel Sexual Pleasure

Unread postby Sam W » Fri Jul 10, 2020 10:44 am

Yep, you're reading that right! That's one of the biggest pieces of advice we give people who are having issues with pleasure during sex, because our brains play such a huge role in how we experience pleasure. Of course, you can still have days where your brain and body are both ready to go but things still feel "meh," but making sure your whole system is aroused is still a sound call.

I totally get not wanting to spend money on a toy when pleasure already feels like it's hit or miss for you. That being said, they still may be worth a try, and there are a few ways to do that without breaking the bank. We have a guide to safely D.I.Ying them, so there are some options there: D.I.Y. Sex Toys: Self-Love Edition. You can also find a basic, no-frills vibrator for under thirty (and sometimes under twenty) bucks at a lot of online sex toy sellers. As far as type goes, some people swear by "wand" types that offer a LOT of stimulation, while other folks like ones that target certain body parts like the clitoris or G-Spot.

Anxiety sounds like it may be playing a role here as well, since anxiety and stress can be major pleasure and arousal killers. When you're being sexual, either with him or on your own, do you have a hard time fully shutting of that anxious voice in your head?

CatHaru26
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Re: Can’t Feel Sexual Pleasure

Unread postby CatHaru26 » Fri Jul 10, 2020 11:07 am

Ooh that sounds great! I’ll definitely read that article. And spending less than $30 doesn’t sound too bad either! Thank you :)

And yes I definitely do have issues quieting down my anxiety. Not so much with me as with him. I’m comfortable with him and all but of course me being me I’ll always find new things to keep me nervous from “What if I make a weird noise?” to me just sitting there focusing too hard on trying to feel pleasure. I let my body try to relax but I guess that doesn’t mean my mind is.

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Re: Can’t Feel Sexual Pleasure

Unread postby Sam W » Fri Jul 10, 2020 11:52 am

You're welcome!

Okay, so it's sounding like anxiety may the culprit here. Are you getting any sort of treatment for it, whether that's medication, therapy, or something else?

Since it also sounds like some of your worries are tied to performance or how your body is looking/acting during sex, I want to give you this article: The Sex Goddess Blues: Building Sexual Confidence, Busting Perfectionism.

CatHaru26
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Re: Can’t Feel Sexual Pleasure

Unread postby CatHaru26 » Fri Jul 10, 2020 1:37 pm

I started going to therapy recently but we’re still in the beginning stages of it. Is it weird if I was to tell her about this issue?? I feel as though its out of her area.

Also thank you! I will read this as well

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Re: Can’t Feel Sexual Pleasure

Unread postby Mo » Fri Jul 10, 2020 3:24 pm

It's not weird at all to discuss this with your therapist! I realize you may not feel super comfortable discussing sexual things with her early on in your relationship, but therapists deal with sexual topics all the time and it's very common for something like anxiety to interfere with sexual enjoyment, so it should be something she can help you with.

Are there types of nonsexual physical intimacy you engage in with your partner that are easier for you to relax into, where you're more able to enjoy the feel of it without your brain feeling overactive or worried? I wonder if taking some time to really get into something like that, where you're able to inhabit your body more easily, before you try to transition to something more sexual would help you turn off that anxious brain during sex.

CatHaru26
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Re: Can’t Feel Sexual Pleasure

Unread postby CatHaru26 » Fri Jul 10, 2020 4:32 pm

Ahh thats great to hear and makes me feel a lot better about speaking to her about it. I always thought that I’d have to go to a specialized sex therapist but in my current situation I couldn’t do that without my parents finding out.

Also yes, there are tons of nonsexual intimacy in which I feel almost no anxiety at all like cuddling, hugging, and napping together. We already do tend to take breaks in between being sexual and cuddle for a little while though.

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Re: Can’t Feel Sexual Pleasure

Unread postby Mo » Fri Jul 10, 2020 5:06 pm

I think the existence of sex therapists tends to make a lot of people think they are the only kinds of therapists you can talk to about sexual matters, or the only ones who can help, but a lot of "regular" therapists can be a great help when it comes to sexual issues, especially when they're related to something like anxiety that they're already well-equipped to help with. Like with any issue, you may or may not like this particular therapist's approach, but she should be able to give you some thoughts. :)

I'm glad you can be close and cuddle and nap together without feeling very anxious. If you're feeling anxious or overwhelmed during sex it may be nice to take a step back from what you're trying and spend some time cuddling or touching in some way that feels less anxiety-inducing and stressful; this is definitely an area where "pushing through" anxiety is very unlikely to be effective.
You mentioned above that it took a while to be comfortable with your partner touching you, and needing a lot of time to get used to the idea that he was doing it. How are you feeling about sexual touch in general, right now? Does it still feel like you need some time to adjust to it when it happens, or does it feel a bit easier?

CatHaru26
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Re: Can’t Feel Sexual Pleasure

Unread postby CatHaru26 » Fri Jul 10, 2020 5:31 pm

I think somewhere in the middle. If its just his hands down there I think I’ve gotten more comfortable with it. I definitely still get tense if he inserts a finger but thats also getting better with time. But with oral, for example, the idea of his face being down there still gives me way too much anxiety.

And honestly, you saying that pushing through anxiety is unlikely to be effective really resonated with me. A lot of my coping skills with anxiety tend to be to just push through and in a lot of situations it works fine, but the thought that it might not be fine in every situation makes a lot more sense than I’ve thought about.

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Re: Can’t Feel Sexual Pleasure

Unread postby Sam W » Sat Jul 11, 2020 8:08 am

I feel you on the "just push through" instinct; I do that with anxiety as well. And you're right, sometimes it works fine. But the tricky thing is that it usually means you're not addressing whatever core thing is causing the anxiety. When you address that core thing, it actually helps you ease (or sometimes even get rid of) those anxieties over time.

Are there particular worries you notice with the idea of his face being close to your genitals?

CatHaru26
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Re: Can’t Feel Sexual Pleasure

Unread postby CatHaru26 » Sat Jul 11, 2020 5:57 pm

I think theres a few things that alarm me when his face is that close to my area. Number one is because obviously growing up, that area is taught to be a private area for only me to look at, so the thought of someone else being there just gives me like a general anxious feeling. Number two is that when we’re in a situation such as that, the attention is all on me. And that terrifies me. I’m a very shy person, so I tend to not like it when the spotlights on me but then? Its all on me and its for my pleasure and I worry why it doesn’t feel good.

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Re: Can’t Feel Sexual Pleasure

Unread postby Alexa » Sun Jul 12, 2020 8:53 am

I totally get all of that. I've had similar experiences. For me, it has helped to have other "distractions" to help me feel less on the spot while having sex -- like having music on, or being able to talk to have banter with the person I'm with. That doesn't work for everyone, but it can help me feel like the attention isn't 100% on me or my body. Are there similar things that you've thought of or tried?

Of course, you also never have to push yourself to do these things if you're not in the mood for them! I see that you do already take breaks for yourself for cuddling, etc. -- that's great!
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CatHaru26
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Re: Can’t Feel Sexual Pleasure

Unread postby CatHaru26 » Sun Jul 12, 2020 7:22 pm

Well usually we have TV on in the background but thats about it. We also stop to have small conversations every so often. I never try to do things when I don’t want to—and if I did I wouldn’t expect to be enjoyable obviously. Its just the matter of it not feeling good when I want it to.

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Re: Can’t Feel Sexual Pleasure

Unread postby CatHaru26 » Sun Jul 12, 2020 8:48 pm

I also wanted to ask if you guys might know anything that might help me get aroused more often. I know that can vary from person to person so I understand if theres not a clear cut answer. We of course do lots of foreplay and have tried many different things. Even when I’m solo, the things that used to turn me on don’t really turn me on anymore, and nothing new that I’ve tried works. I used to get turned on quite often (more so around my sexual awakening two years ago) and so I feel like its strange that all of the sudden its like impossible for me.

Sam W
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Re: Can’t Feel Sexual Pleasure

Unread postby Sam W » Mon Jul 13, 2020 7:35 am

I'm glad to hear you two are actively communicating even during sex, that's a really good habit to develop!

You're right that arousal is tricky to create at times, especially if you feel like the things that worked in the past don't quite fit the bill anymore. Plus, arousal is affected by lots of different things. One starting place is to look at the questions Heather lays out in this column to see if any of them apply to you: https://www.scarleteen.com/article/advi ... ven_off_to. I also really like the exercises in this article: How to Approach Sexual Fantasy and Desire on Your Own Terms.

CatHaru26
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Re: Can’t Feel Sexual Pleasure

Unread postby CatHaru26 » Mon Jul 13, 2020 6:20 pm

I decided it was easier for me to sit there and write my answers out so I could look at them. If you’d want to maybe skim them that’d be great, but I understand its quite a lot haha. If you see anything that might stick out it’d be great to know!

• How is your general health right now? How is your sexual health?
- I’m currently completely healthy besides asthma that I was diagnosed with a few months ago, but I doubt that had any play.
• Are you at least moderately active? Do you also get enough rest?
- Definitely not haha. I’d like to exercise but haven’t found the time or motivation. I sleep A LOT tho.
• Do you have a lot of stress? How do you manage your stress?
- Sadly yeah I’m a pretty stressed out person, but I’ve been doing better recently.
• How do you feel, overall, about your sexuality? What ideas about sexuality did you grow up with?
- My mom was always open about things like that and willing to talk to me about it. That being said I wasn’t very educated. I don’t think I really understood what sex was until I was like 13 and I was pretty scared when I learned.
• What has your sexual history been like in terms of masturbation? How often is sex for you with a partner and how often is it solo?
- I’ve tried to masturbate in the past few months but nothing felt good enough to encourage me to keep going. I try often though. My partner and I haven’t had sex yet but he tries to get me off maybe twice a week and I try to get myself off maybe three times a week.
• What have your experiences with sex been like with your partner(s)? Have they been satisfying, and if so, how satisfying physically, emotionally, spiritually? If not, why do you feel they haven't been, or what areas of your sexuality do you feel haven't been satisfying? How well do you two communicate about sex?
- No they haven’t been satisfying at all :/ The only thing I take from these experiences is the romantic intimacy of it and how I just enjoy being with him. We communicate well, but neither of us know what to do about it.
• Do you feel confident and safe with sex, or do you feel unsafe, or maybe like you're a bit lost and need more information or background?
- I’m very well-educated on sex and I know how to do it safely and all that, yet the whole thing in general is just very scary to me regardless.
• How are you defining and experiencing sex? How often is sex for you intercourse, and how often is it any number of other things, such as oral sex, manual sex, massage, making out, et cetera? Is your definition in decent alignment with the way your partner defines and experiences sex?
- We’ve never had intercourse. We make out all of the time and do things like oral/manual maybe twice a week. Usually we try it on me and I don’t like it and I proceed to please him.
• What's your body image and self-image like? What's your overall identity and self-esteem like? How is the rest of your life going, outside of sex and your sexual relationship?
- I’m definitely not very confident but I wouldn’t say I’m insecure. Other than sex, I’m doing well! Excited for college and what not.
• What times of your fertility cycle are you finding you have higher or lower desire?
- I definitely have higher desire when I PMS, but get aroused more during ovulation.
• How is your relationship right now, in general and when it comes to all of the dynamics with sex?
- Perfect outside of sex. Its difficult when it comes to sex due to him having a very high libido as a teenage boy, and me having these issues.
• Do you feel like your current sexual relationship is in alignment with your sexual orientation, your gender identity and your overall sexual identity?
- 100%!
• Do you feel supported -- by your partner, by friends, family, community -- in being a sexual person, and as the unique sexual person you are?
- Yeah I’d say so.
• How is your partner handling your libido being lower (than you'd like, then his is, whatever the sitch is)? How do you feel about it emotionally yourself?
- He handles it fine and always reminds me we can stop whenever I want and constantly asks if I’m into what we’re doing at the moment. Emotionally I’m really upset about it and I wish I could just be better.
• What worries do you have about libido, sex or sexual partnership? What worries does your partner have? Have you two communicated those and talked them through?
- As far as libido goes, I think its tough because sexual intimacy is his love language. We’ve talked about that and its very apparent. And so I feel guilty that I can’t accept all of the love he wants to give me. I’m also quite worried that when we do have intercourse, I won’t enjoy it. I’ve communicated these to him and he always reassures me its okay.
• If the sex you are having carries pregnancy risks you don't want to take, are you using methods of birth control you feel comfortable with? How about safer sex: are you comfortable managing that and with how your partner is (or isn't) cooperating? If you are taking risks of pregnancy, to try and get pregnant or not, how do you feel about those risks?
- I will be starting birth control before we have intercourse and we’ll be using protection. Obviously it does scare me a bit but I’m confident it’ll be alright.
• What does feeling horny mean to you and feel like for you? How do you identify those feelings?
- I suppose its a combination of the “throbbing” feeling in my vagina combined with a racing heart, and lustful thoughts. Its like, I just know that in that situation I WANT to be touched.
• Is partnered sex -- of whatever kind -- something that you want right now, something you feel ready for, something that feels right?
- I feel ready for it. It just feels like our relationship is heading in the right direction and I trust him.
• Are you taking any medications for anything which may have sexual side-effects, such as antidepressants or birth control pills?
- I’m taking Straterra for ADHD, but I voiced these concerns to my doctor and she kind of brushed it off saying that hasn’t happened with any other patients of hers, so I’m assuming its not that.
• Do you feel like there is a "right" level of libido?
- No, I’d just like to have enough to at least want to do things sometimes.
• What do you find really gives you pleasure in life, and how do or don't you incorporate those things into your sexuality and sex life?
- I’m a very creative spirit. I love making things like art and seeing the results. I also enjoy making others happy as much as I possibly can. This kind of works because it at least makes me morally want to please my partner even if I’m not sexually in the mood to.

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Re: Can’t Feel Sexual Pleasure

Unread postby Sam W » Tue Jul 14, 2020 7:16 am

That's all really helpful context! I do want to say that it wasn't great of you doctor to brush of your concerns like that, for two reasons. One is that when a patient is expressing an issue or concern, you want to actually talk it over with them. And two, sexual side effects (including trouble with orgasm and a decreased interest in sex) are listed as in the "more common" category for that drug. Just because it's not something her other patients report doesn't mean it's not playing a role for you.

From your other answers, and what you've mentioned talking with us, it does sound like anxiety--especially around being the center of attention--is also playing a role here. When you think about sexual situations, what do you think you would need in order to feel comfortable with your partner putting a lot of focus on your body?

CatHaru26
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Re: Can’t Feel Sexual Pleasure

Unread postby CatHaru26 » Tue Jul 14, 2020 8:24 am

Yeah I agree!! She told me I was still young and that she would be concerned if I was over 25 and it was affecting my marriage or something. I kind of just assumed she knew what she was talking about since she was the doctor.

Also thats definitely hard to say, since its hard for me to even tell what exactly is making me anxious. Maybe if he tried to comfort me while we did it? Like whisper encouraging/comforting things to me or just held me while we did it? At the same time I’d feel bad because then I feel like I’d be ruining the moment by doing that.

Sam W
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Re: Can’t Feel Sexual Pleasure

Unread postby Sam W » Tue Jul 14, 2020 8:52 am

Oy, yeah, I've noticed healthcare providers will sometimes take concerns about sexual side effects less seriously from younger or unmarried patients.

It's okay if you can't quite put your finger on it yet! You may need to sit with your anxiety a bit and examine it to see if you can identify specifics (and honestly, sometimes anxiety is just vague and free-floating, and that's okay too). And for what it's worth, neither of those things you think would help sound like ruining the moment to me. Being held and talking in comforting or encouraging ways are a big part of sex for lots of people. Do you feel like you could ask for those things the next time you two try being sexual together?

CatHaru26
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Re: Can’t Feel Sexual Pleasure

Unread postby CatHaru26 » Wed Jul 15, 2020 9:06 am

I think I could definitely give asking him for that a shot. It might be easier having someone else calm me down rather than trying to calm down myself at the same time if that makes sense.

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Re: Can’t Feel Sexual Pleasure

Unread postby Jacob » Wed Jul 15, 2020 10:41 am

Hi Cat, just dropping in to say that wanting support in calming down makes total sense, it can be grounding just to be around other people... and that it's good you're open to asking him, as Sam suggested. Talking about things almost always a step in the right direction.
"In between two tall mountains there's a place they call lonesome.
Don't see why they call it lonesome.
I'm never lonesome when I go there." Connie Converse - Talkin' Like You


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