What to Do If You're a Woman Who Struggles to Orgasm


Art by Angelica Alzona

A few months ago, I wrote an article for men who struggle with orgasm. Today, I’m back to share my advice for women. If you’re ready to have your first orgasm, or learn how to orgasm with a partner, here’s your game-plan.

A quick note: I typically don’t like being so binary about gender, but orgasmic challenges for female-bodied folks tend to be different than they are for male-bodied people.

First, See Your Doctor

Female orgasmic challenges can be rooted in medical issues. Just as I wrote in the article for men, it’s a good idea to book an appointment with your doctor to talk about potential medical factors. Some of the most frequent causes of orgasmic blockages include:

  • Prescription drugs. Anti-depressants and anti-anxiety medications are the most frequent culprits, but anti-psychotics, high blood pressure medications, beta-blockers, and pain relievers can all make it harder to orgasm.
  • Depression (yes, both depression and anti-depressants can make it harder for you to orgasm)
  • Anxiety (ditto)
  • Hormonal imbalances
  • Thyroid disorders
  • Pituitary conditions
  • Issues with your nervous system

It’s also helpful to take it easy with your partying. Drugs and alcohol makes it much harder for women (and men) to orgasm. Alcohol in particular tends to be problematic. You may feel tempted to have a few drinks to calm your nerves before sex (especially with new partners), but alcohol makes it surprisingly difficult to feel anything, much less orgasm.

Masturbate

If you want to have your first orgasm, masturbation is the absolute best way to learn what your body needs to get there. (Side note: Men tend to have orgasmic problems because of masturbating too much or only in one specific way. Women tend to have orgasmic problems because they don’t masturbate.)

Check out my article on learning to love masturbation for more advice on technique. In general, direct or indirect clitoral stimulation tends to work best for most women. In that article I link to above, I list five specific strokes you can try on your clitoris:

  • Diagonal across your clitoris
  • In a circle around your clitoris
  • Up and down across or along the side of your clitoris
  • Side to side across or along the side of your clitoris
  • In a figure-eight around or across your clitoris

You may also want to try circling your clitoris and the surrounding areas with your finger. Try to get a sense of the most pleasurable zone on your body.

If you can orgasm on your own, but struggle to get there with a partner, pay more attention to how you masturbate. What’s the specific technique you use? What does your body respond to? What does it not respond to? This is all valuable information, and I’ll describe what to do with it later.

Try a Vibrator

If you’ve never had an orgasm, I recommend trying out a vibrator. Vibrators can deliver a level of sensation and intensity that you will never be able to replicate with your hands, so they can make it easier to have an orgasm.

To be clear, vibrators do not work for everyone. I fully expect to see more than a few vibrator haters in the comments! Some people just don’t like the sensation. I That’s perfectly OK. But they do have good enough success rates to make them a worthwhile experiment. (There’s a reason sex toys are a $15 billion a year business.)

Adjust Your Expectations

I’ll be honest – when you’re learning how to orgasm, masturbation can sometimes feel kind of boring. You’re figuring out what your body likes, which means you’re going to spend a good amount of time doing things your body doesn’t particularly like. If you’re expecting it to be a non-stop pleasure party, you’re going to be disappointed. But if you lower the bar and try to find techniques that feels pretty good rather than mind-blowing, you’ll be well on your way to having an orgasm.

You can also try to make the entire experience of masturbation feel more fun by reading erotica, watching porn, fantasizing, putting on some lingerie that makes you feel hot, or cheering yourself on for prioritizing sexy self-care. Most of us tend to be pretty lazy with our masturbation habits, even when we’ve learned how to orgasm, so it’s important to remember that we have the capacity to make it a much more enjoyable experience!

Adjusting your expectations is also important when it comes to orgasm itself. I have an online course that teaches women how to masturbate, and one of the top three questions I get asked from the participants in the course is, “did I have an orgasm?” A woman will describe her experience, and I can tell even through a computer screen that she absolutely did have an orgasm. The problem is that she was expecting the experience to be different, so she doubted (or even wrote off entirely) her orgasm.

When you are first learning how to orgasm, your orgasms aren’t going to be that intense. Women expect fireworks and earthquakes the first time, so they overlook the more subtle reactions in their bodies. For now, imagine that your orgasm will feel just slightly more pleasurable than what you’ve felt through masturbation thus far. You’ll learn how to make them stronger later.

Examine Your Blockages

With the vast majority of the women I’ve worked with, not being able to orgasm boiled down to never having given masturbation a fair shot. If you put time and effort into developing a solid masturbation routine, you will learn how to orgasm.

Still, you may want to spend some time thinking about the specific fears or blockages that may be coming up for you. Do you feel guilty or ashamed about touching your body? Do you have a hard time letting a partner focus on you? Are you overly perfectionistic in every area of your life, including your orgasm? Try to identify the specific blockages that are coming up for you.

I like to walk my clients through a process I call the polite brushoff. You know when you’re at a party, and you see someone you really don’t want to see? Yes you could turn around and run right out of the party, or you could give them a polite hello or a little wave, then you quickly turn your attention somewhere else so they don’t approach you. You acknowledge them, but you don’t pay any additional attention to them. You can do the same with your negative beliefs about masturbation and orgasm. Acknowledge the belief to yourself, then try to turn your attention to something more positive, like one of your goals for learning how to orgasm.

Teach Your Partner What You Like

If you can orgasm on your own, but struggle to get there with your partner, it’s probably due to one of two reasons:

  • You haven’t shown your partner what you like.
  • You won’t allow your partner to focus on you.

Above, I recommended paying more attention to what you do when you masturbate. This is valuable information that needs to be shared with your partners. Tell or show them what you like, then allow yourself to receive that time and attention from your partner.

Remember: It’s OK to have needs! So many of us feel like we’re not supposed to need any sort of attention or stimulation from our partners. But why even bother having sex in the first place if you’re not going to allow yourself to have sex that feels good to your body?

In your quest to learn how to orgasm, don’t forget that orgasms aren’t everything. They’re not the only way your body experiences pleasure, and they’re not the only reason to be intimate with yourself or a partner.



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