How to have an orgasm?
July 30, 2014 6:37 AM   Subscribe

I'm female, twenty-six, haven't orgasmed, and want to. Suggestions? (NSFW.)

I value greatly the sex I'm having: it's frequent, varied, lasts 30 minutes or more, and is with a partner I love. But, while I'm pleased about having good sex, I'm also bothered that I don't understand the way my body works well enough to guide it to orgasm.

Any tips for finding what works? I've already tried vibrators and relaxing, so I'd especially appreciate overly detailed, specific suggestions: movements to attempt, thoughts to try out, essays to read, attitudes to cultivate, and things to ask of my partner.

Any suggestions for balancing enjoyable sex with finding an orgasm? In the past, I've felt that pursuing an orgasm was time-intensive, labor-intensive, and stressful. I like the way I have sex now, and don't want it to become too focused on problem-solving or trial-and-error orgasm work.

Finally, how can I identify success? Occasionally, I feel a cresting sense of pressure/pleasure. When I try to push that, I fear what I'm actually doing is urinating (?), especially since there's no obvious sense of relief or achievement afterwards. Given that orgasms can vary in their intensity and pleasure, what are some examples of ways I can gauge whether or not I've had one?
posted by anonymous to Health & Fitness (13 answers total) 17 users marked this as a favorite

Ahem, sorry parents.

A good resource on sex/sexy toys is Oh Joy Sex Toy.

Many women only orgasm through clitoral stimulation. If you're worried about the fluids coming out, may I suggest trying things out in the shower or bathtub until you're comfortable with it. Easy cleanup. Fluids you are describing are probably from a g-spot orgasm.
Source for the following.

"Urination on Orgasm?

But such dismissals do not ring true for many women who notice that they release fluid on orgasm. Some feel embarrassed about “peeing” when they climax. (Over the years, I’ve received many questions about this.) Others realize that the fluid neither looks nor smells like urine.

In the 1980s, sexologists John Perry, Ph.D., and Beverly Whipple, Ph.D., popularized the G-spot, the area of sexual sensitivity that most—but not all—women feel when fingers or a sex toy press on the front wall of the vagina (the top when the woman is on her back), about two inches in from the vaginal opening. Perry and Whipple also documented the fact that vigorous G-spot stimulation increased the likelihood of female ejaculation on orgasm.

Definitely Not Urine

They and other researchers analyzed female ejaculatory fluid and found that it is not urine, but rather a combination of secretions from the paraurethral glands that chemically resemble prostate secretions in men. But how could women produce prostate fluid when they have no prostate?"

Here's more info about it and the gland that's probably involved. Female ejactulation is still a bit of a mystery.

Again, the majority of women need clitoral stimulation for orgasm. Rubbing, vibration, and oral stimulation are best. It's a good idea to know what you like before teaching a guy[or girl/partner] (it can be pretty nuanced movement since it's such a small area of nerves.)

Another big thing is to relax and don't worry about "having an orgasm" focus on feeling good. Of course you can work on this but if you're making it top-of-mind it's hard to actually relax and let things happen.

Best wishes. Memail me if you want more, ahem, detailed info.
posted by Crystalinne at 6:54 AM on July 30, 2014 [1 favorite]

This is a topic that is near and dear to my heart, and that I wish there was less stigma around discussing. I was 22 when I had my first one, and had spent the previous five or six years assuming that my body was broken and feeling awful about it. Thinking of my own body as a problem to be solved just made me feel like crap.

Here is what I did:

1. An OBGYN in college asked me if I had any questions about sexuality. I am indebted to her forever- no medical professional had ever asked me that before! I told her about the issues I was having and she recommended two things that helped a lot: use lube with a vibrator (I'd had a vibe but no lube), and read I Heart Female Orgasm.

Buy that book and read it, seriously. It almost made me cry. It has such an emphasis on the fact that you are ok and your body is ok and I dunno, it just was something I really needed to hear.

2. After reading the book, I eventually decided to undertake a project of exploring my sexuality in a really systematic way. And- I think this is important- it was something I did completely alone, with no partner. My tactics were:

- Actively investigate erotica and porn, something I had never really done. The lack of pressure to maintain my own invented fantasy scenario freed up some brain space to focus on my body, plus it allowed me to discover some stuff I didn't know I was into.

- Masturbate on a regular schedule, like a couple times a week. Sounds unsexy, I know, but practice makes perfect.

- Start taking a B vitamin, because I read that niacin promotes orgasm. I have no idea if this helped, but hey, the placebo effect is strong.

These things brought me far closer than I had ever been, and the absence of a partner removed the self-consciousness that had really been standing in my way.

Now, the above would probably have been sufficient given enough time, but what actually happened was:

3. I got incredibly high on brownies for the first time, went to practice masturbating as usual, and it happened.

After this, it was much easier. Like my body learned what to do. I still don't come every time I'm with a partner, or even every single time I masturbate, but who cares?

(I also find it is easier for me to come in the morning, and apparently this is fairly common. Your body is relaxed and you haven't had to deal with any of the stresses of the day yet.)

As for gauging whether you've had one:

One thing the book emphasizes is that orgasms come in different strengths, and so it's possible that a woman who thinks she hasn't had any has actually just been having small ones. This may be the case for you, and it may have been the case for me. That being said... I sometimes told me friends that I "thought I might have had one" and they always told me "no, you would know." I fucking resented that so much, but you know... once I had that brownie-fueled one, I just Got It. It was very different, and unmistakable.
posted by showbiz_liz at 7:27 AM on July 30, 2014 [14 favorites]

I don't think an orgasm that is undetectable to the have-er would be worth having. You WOULD know. It's something like a sneeze, in the sense that it's a buildup of pressure that is a huge relief to have, but is also intensely pleasurable. Unmistakable, as showbiz_liz says.

What I'd recommend is setting private time aside, with a locked door, a glass of wine (optional), a Wahl electric massager (you don't want to worry about batteries giving out) and a good erotica anthology so you can flip through to find what interests you. Read - try a few different things because you might not know what's going to pop back into your head and work for you - and then go to town and see what happens.
posted by fingersandtoes at 7:41 AM on July 30, 2014

Dr Betty will tell you everything you need to do and make you laugh too.

The female anatomy ain't the most straightforward design. Things that have helped me.. finding the right fantasy, feeling like no one could hear me, a layer between me and a toy (too intense otherwise), focusing just on the feeling in that place, gentle rocking, being comfy, my head raised (this is a biggy for me) or focusing on my breathing. If you felt the build up.. you're half way there... look out for possibly shaking legs.. for me it's quite full body. Oh and water jets can have many uses ;).. ie jacuzzi baths etc
posted by tanktop at 7:54 AM on July 30, 2014

If you haven't tried a Hitachi Magic Wand - try it. No other vibrator has quite the same oomph.

Put yourself in the mood however works for you (reading/watching sexy books/movies, sexy clothes, a hot bath) and then explore with it. Try it while you're reading/watching TV/on the computer - doing something else can actually help because it means your whole focus isn't on what you're doing, but just an extra exciting sensation. Other times, your mood might be better to totally just do nothing else but focus on it.

It's very strong, so start with your underwear or even your pants on, and work up to more. You can try it directly if you think you can take it, but because it's that strong it means you can get a lot out of indirect pressure too, like pressing your legs together and getting the vibrations through your thighs and mound. Don't go at it with the intent that YOU WILL CLIMAX. You're just messing around, figuring out what you like - what works for you, what doesn't. Stop when you're done - just stop, and go do something else - don't let it get tiresome - only do it as long as it's exciting, and drop it when it's not. Come back to it another time. It's like teasing yourself, really, especially if you find yourself thinking about getting back to trying it again - then it's working even though you haven't come yet. And you're not letting your brain make the association that it's any kind of a grind, either.

Having an orgasm is just as much the mental as the physical - it's not just finding what's going to set you off physically, it's so much also finding that state of mind that's going to let you get there. You develop cues that set your brain down the "we're going to come!" path - certain positions, words, scenes - from positive associations with the feelings you've gotten in situations where those cues were present. So your focus is on is finding those cues. What gets you closer? Is it when you're on your back, your side? Is it when you're holding something or pinning your free hand down, is it when your partner talks to you while you do it, is imagining a specific sexy thing that really gets you?

If you haven't tried masturbating with the vibrator in front of your partner - try it.

It's hard to orgasm if you feel pressure to climax. It's stressful - and boring. So when you incorporate it into sex, do it in small steps. Try just a few minutes at a time, just play around and see how you feel. If you're not getting near enough amped up, ditch it & do something else. If you're uncomfortable, try to figure out why (feeling too exposed? worried your partner isn't excited? worried too much focus is on you? worried it feels too clinical or contrived?) and talk about it, either in the moment (maybe your partner knows how to reassure you) or later on after the fact. Then come back to it later. Or don't - come back to it next time. And try it a little bit longer. Get comfortable with the idea. See how your partner is turned on by watching you, see if you're turned on by the idea of being watched, or being held or kissed while you use it.

It's common to feel urination sensations near or with female orgasm - I mean, all the bits are down in the same area, right? So pee before you fool around, and then really just do not worry about it. Maybe put a towel under you. Some women squirt on orgasm - which is not urine - and it may be that you do; but it's also likely just a bit of crossed wiring because your body doesn't quite recognize this new sensation and it's trying to interpret it - which is expressed as a feeling you might pee.

I really hate to say "when you have one, you'll know" but, yeah, when you have one, you'll know. I can't say what every woman's orgasm is like, obviously - only my experience: a bearing-down feeling in the lower abdomen & pelvis, holding my breath & focusing, a deep sort of full-body clench where everything is coming to a point in my pelvis, and then a full-body release where the vaginal walls clench & release in uncontrollable rhythm for a short burst of time & my back arches into it. It spreads up from the pelvis into a full-body tingle where I can't think, talk, or do anything else while it's happening. It's intense. I have "smaller" ones that aren't as consuming but they follow the same pattern & they're definitely recognizable.

On preview, showbiz_liz's "brownie" mention is actually pretty on-point. I find it easier to come, or even just get in the mood - and I think many women do too - if I'm a little "outside my head" where my brain's running commentary & analysis is dampened down. So a couple of drinks or some pot helps with that. And I find smoking pot actually enhances sexual (body) sensations. The one time I ever came without a vibrator, I was high - just an anecdata point.

Hope this helps! Feel free to MeMail me if you have specific questions not covered here, too.
posted by flex at 7:56 AM on July 30, 2014 [1 favorite]

Do you have any erotica you like? Do you like watching porn? Don't just sit alone in the dark masturbating, get your brain involved too? Find something you find really hot and watch/read it while masturbating. Orgasms aren't always just physical.

If you drink a glass of wine or 2, or enough of a "special" brownie to just take the edge of depending on what you like might help you relax.

Also logistics wise, if I am having trouble reaching an orgasm for some reason I find straightening my legs & pointing my toes helpful. I have real trouble orgasming in the traditional legs up and out having sex position. Oh and nipple stimulation. Don't feel you have to just work on the clit, you have 2 hands so feel free to play with any other bits of your body that feel good while masturbating too.

Is your partner aware of what is going on? Would they be up for a bit of low pressure lets just muck around and see what happens if I do this with my tongue & while you experiment with a vibrator kind of thing. They would have to be low pressure and not too goal fixated but that might be fun.

Also I find most vibrators & the hitachi wand to be just too powerful. They are great at the end of a long sexcapade when I need to finish in a hurry, but I find a nice little egg to be the best for masturbating. You can just tuck it in the folds down there resting on or near your clit to buzz away, it's easily adjustable as the cable puts the controls within easy reach, leaving you hands free to explore the rest of your body or hold the tablet while you find hawt porn. And you can get them for like $6 on Amazon.
posted by wwax at 7:57 AM on July 30, 2014

Hello, are you me?

Seriously, I was in your exact spot a few years ago. Still am to a degree, in that I am becoming skilled at knowing what my body needs on my own but still working on communicating it to a partner. It can, indeed, be frustrating. I think a lot of us empathize with you and so I want to make sure you really internalize that there is nothing wrong with you or your body! This is a process, hopefully one that is enjoyable for you and allows you to experiment to really get to know yourself. I don't know if you're like me, a very analytical problem-solver who felt frustrated with being unable to think my way out of this one. I had to *teach* my body to truly be able to surrender to pleasure and to its urges and inclinations, no matter how weird they seemed to my conscious brain at first. Like, I like a layer between me and a toy as well. I love it when a partner can kiss my neck or my upper body at the same time, which is almost more important than what's going on below. I like lying on my back, not on my side. And I fantasize about all kinds of random people and situations that surprised my conscious mind (hello, much younger Alan Rickman, I didn't know we were so close). Your body wants what it wants, and sometimes getting to that point and figuring out what it wants can be a journey. But, if you can turn off your brain a little and what you think you *should* be doing to really discover what your body *actually* wants and to *feel* each little response, it's amazing what can happen. There's a lot of great advice above about how to accomplish this, from porn to reading erotica to just hanging out with the showerhead and seeing how you feel. But don't be afraid to really acknowledge what you want.

I know exactly what you meant by feeling like you might pee. YMMV, of course, but for a long time I experienced this feeling and what actually happened when I just gave in to is that, well, I came. And the fluid leaking out may be, as others say, related to your orgasm and not urine.

I also just wanted to give a shout out to the awesome folks at Babeland. I don't know if you have a Babeland store in your city, but not only do they sell toys, they are staffed by some incredibly kind, empathetic people who are skilled at handling all sorts of questions. I wandered in, a deer in headlights staring at vibrators, and not only did they help me pick one out, they were really great at listening and suggesting resources for my particular issue. They even offer classes about everything from orgasms to role play to reproductive health, which (if you can overcome a natural level of embarrassment!) are amazing sex-positive resources. They're doing the best work.

Finally, I hate to echo a really trite phrase, but, yeah, you'll know. You just will. That being said, I'll leave you with this exchange from Woody Allen's Manhattan:

Diane Keaton: I finally had an orgasm, but my doctor told me it was the wrong kind.
Woody Allen: I've never had the wrong kind, ever. My worst one was right on the money.

Any steps that you take to feel more empowered, more self-aware, about what your body likes, are fabulous. The more you get to experiment with yourself, the more you'll realize that you, yourself, and your body are awesome. And that's the biggest turn-on of all (for yourself and for a partner).
posted by bookgirl18 at 8:10 AM on July 30, 2014

Any tips for finding what works?

Vaginal penetration actually has kind of a poor track record of success for women. So if that does not work for you, hey, that would make you fairly normal.

Having said that, women typically have a G Spot (vaginally) and if you can involve that along with clitoral stimulation, that will increase the odds of this working. The more erogenous zones you can involve, the more likely you are to get there. For many women, G Spot penetration is kind of position-specific. This may be why vaginal penetration per se doesn't have some stellar track record of success. I read an article where some guy said his wife could only get there from vaginal penetration if she was on top and they were on the floor, not the bed. So try different positions, under different circumstances.

Also, talking about your fantasies with your partner can be very powerful. It's a really intimate, trust-based thing to do and can help both of you have a good time. If those fantasies can be safely acted out to some degree, many people get a real rush out of that.

A low pressure way to do that is to email each other video clips or other snippets of things found on the internet. It can be a window into your sexuality without the immediacy of "and we are in bed RIGHT NOW doing it" which can be kind of threatening and a good way for things to go awry. Putting a little time/distance between the psychological/emotional sharing and the physical act can let you focus on your feelings and fantasies in a way that just talking dirty in bed may not support so well. It gives him time to absorb and think about information about you and think about how to respond to that and it gives you time to think about it and say "Well, the thing I liked about that clip was x. The y part really does nothing for me. So if that is what you think, um, no." That can help prevent some runaway-train where he reacts strongly (whether positively or negatively) and you react strongly (whether positively or negatively) to his reaction and you are off and running, and not necessarily in a good way.

Finally, how can I identify success?

I am going to disagree with those folks saying "You cannot miss it!" In my teens, I absolutely could miss it. Orgasms can be of differing intensities. But you should feel relaxed/relieved afterwards, even if there were no strong, can't-miss contractions. When I was younger, I absolutely had cases of "Um, I am not sure what that was. I mean, the earth did not move. But, whatever. Because now I can finally sleep!"

Years ago, I read about some study where a serious academician got a couple of sex workers involved in some study she was doing. They allowed her to observe them as they worked. They reported that some men ejaculated without any apparent twitching. One said about one client "I would not have known had I not tasted it." So, sexual relief without muscle contractions that could pass for a local seizure can and do happen for both men and women. I have had both the "can't miss it!" kind and the "um, was that what I think it was?" kind. The thing they both have in common is that, afterwards, I am not all tense. In short, I have a sense of relief/relaxation.
posted by Michele in California at 10:28 AM on July 30, 2014 [1 favorite]

Really good suggestions so far. One question for you, though. Are you currently on any medication that inhibits or prevents you from orgasm? Many SSRIs have this effect, and you can talk to you doctor about switching to a medication that doesn't do this. I suddenly became anorgasmic when I was on Zoloft. Not fun. It lined up with my first partnered sexual experiences, so I thought for a really long time that something was wrong with me. Once I got off Zoloft, things got a lot easier :)
posted by ananci at 10:35 AM on July 30, 2014 [4 favorites]

Have you tried Kegal exercises? Done correctly, they can strengthen the fun muscles and give you a more intense orgasm. We are all a little different. Some of us can only orgasm from clitoral stimulation while wearing a blindfold and listening to a-ha while others of us can come from any kind of stimulation quicker than a sneeze. If you are enjoying what is going on, don't worry about it. Do your kegals and if something is feeling good, encourage your partner to continue it or do more of it on your own. You may start off with small orgasms that don't shake your body and cause you to scream out. The nice thing about the small ones is that you aren't finished and can keep going and going and going. You won't necessarily have the same type of orgasm every time. If you haven't already, take up yoga. Not the hard core, 100 degree room, perfect body yoga, though. The calm, pleasant, stretching, breathing, aware of your body yoga.
posted by myselfasme at 11:19 AM on July 30, 2014

I think the big secret to having an orgasm is letting go. As the moment approaches and your body begins feeling the pressure and the tension and then it builds up even more and more - and we back away because it feels like losing control and that's scary. The thing with orgasms is it's the first one that matters - after you figure out that you did indeed lose control of your body completely, thrashing around, moaning or verbally making weird noises, "wetting" yourself, shuddering - all that stuff we don't allow ourselves to do - but we not only did those things but came through it just fine, feeling exhausted but WOW! - the fear of letting go vanishes and it becomes a thousand times easier from then on. There's just something about the idea of your mind moving into the background and your physical body taking over that's a freaky idea and not really comfortable, but you find out that in no time at all things are back in proper order and you just had a really cool experience.

Working at it, trying so hard to make it happen, just pits your brain against your body and I think it causes more harm than good. I'd recommend getting comfortable in your bed, in your panties, a vibrator handy, plenty of time (hours) so you don't have to hurry, and a book/magazine with a variety of erotic material - or a catalog or descriptive list of XXX movies. As you peruse the material you'll probably hit a few things that turn you on - put the paper down, pick up the vibrator, and let your mind take the idea and run with it. And when you're all tensed up and twitchy, just let go.

Don't let yourself fall into the trap of believing that you "can't" have an orgasm. Indeed you can - you just need to stop trying and go ahead and let it happen.

Good luck and happy times!
posted by aryma at 3:51 PM on July 30, 2014 [2 favorites]

Oh dear. I addressed this problem from a similarly academic standpoint quite a few years ago, and I have a lot of specific suggestions for things to try. But, um, would you mind me-mailing me? I'm feeling uncharacteristically modest.

I will say that this is something you address solo first, before you try to bring your partner in on it.
posted by telepanda at 7:05 AM on July 31, 2014 [1 favorite]

I meant to reply to this months ago Anon, but - even if you're not reading this now, someone will be. I know I used to.

Things to do solo:
Plug in magic wand style vibrator - something that makes a deep BUZZZZZ not a tinny bzzzzzz! (which numbs me), and something that you can have on lowest setting for a long time. Batteries do not cut it for me. I've got a Lelo Smart Wand at the moment, but the cord just died, and I'm totally just gonna get a Hitachi knockoff with adjustable control.

Be very warm. Heater on, electric blanket, socks.

Erotica - Get into erotica, fanfiction (AO3), porn. Whatever turns your crank. Find out what turns your crank. I think there's some value in going for the filthiest thing that doesn't wig you out. Why? See, it's actually kind of... easy to get distracted during maturbation. So, something with a medium high shock value actually means I don't get sidetracked. It's the rubbernecking approach to mental fantasies. If you know someone who reads or watches porn widely, ask for recommendations. 99% of everything is dreck. I wouldn't bother watching visual porn except for a few specific recommendations I got based on what *I* requested (tastes are very, very different).

Yes to weed if it's available (anyone who doesn't count anorgasmia as a medical usage is a cruel, cruel person).

The next bit is TMI, because I'm going to get really specific about the first time I cracked it, as oh man, have I ever been where you are...

My first orgasm while masturbating was in my very late 20s, and I'd had a pretty awesome sex life for about a decade, variety of skilled partners, etc etc.
I was actually by myself, on acid. (Yet another thing to thank acid for!).
So to recap, warm, comfy, weed, getting into an lsd enhanced fantasy about a foursome with Betty Page and two guys (I'm not normally that visual), a bullet vibe, and a towel under myself. So, go figure, I ejaculated (turns out this is a real thing - just a sudden gush of 'lubricant', still not regular occurrence for me). I thought I was peeing for a moment, but had a towel under me, and had been to the bathroom recently, so relaxed instead. How many other times, had I accidentally 'held in' an orgasm? Make yourself comfy.

But, yeah, it's like that first time unlocked the bit of my brain that lets me come.

Internal sensations - it's probably different for everyone, but what I was doing wrong for years, was whenever I felt the pressure building, I... tried to build the pressure. I'd tense up, and clench in, and it felt like I was getting closer and closer, but never quite there (although, on weed, still somewhere roughly equivalent).
It turns out I need to not tense up, but because I have trouble doing that, I usually push out, kind of like I'm bearing down. When you can't resist 'contracting', do so, but push out again. The involuntary contractions grow in strength until this good feeling just washes through in a wave. The whole time, whenever you do have control, push out. If I allow myself to tense up or 'hold on' to the contraction, there's nothing to 'contract', and I lose the orgasm I'm chasing.

This comic seems accurate/useful (and again, TMI, but the ass tip, as mentioned in comic, is absolutely something that helps me also).

It's gotten easier and easier. For a long time, I needed weed, AND a vibrator, (and warm, porn, etc) basically all the above things at any one time (more is more!), and now I can even come plain old manually, no vibrator or weed. Boo yah!

Anyway, hope something there helped (Especially the tension thing - that was the trick for me). Best of luck!

P.S. And another thing! I'm LOUD. I cannot come if I'm trying to hold noises in. Sorry neighbours (actually, current house has no such problems in that regard - for good reason!).
Put sexy music on. Dim the lights - nothing bright. Urgh. Fairy lights or red lamps.
posted by Elysum at 3:52 AM on October 20, 2014

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