Confession: Orgasmless Sex Isn’t Just a Female Thing

photo via Flickr

In keeping with this week’s “Did You Come?” theme, one of our recent college grad friends has a confession to make:

The first time my boyfriend didn’t orgasm during sex I was completely shocked. This NEVER happened. Was I loosing my touch? Was I not sexy anymore? Was he bored or losing interest? Ironically, it was the first time that I did orgasm during intercourse. So even though I had had a blast and he had seemed pretty damn proud of himself, as we fell asleep there was a lingering, niggling worry in the back of my mind.

I myself had never felt any pressure to orgasm during sex. After all, I’d read the countless articles explaining that most women don’t orgasm from sexual intercourse alone. And I had assumed my body was like most women’s and needed a little extra oomph to get the job done (a vibrator, oral, manual stimulation, OOMPH!). But I always expected my partner to finish during sex. You hear about women faking it, but never about men faking it – presumably because they always come for real! Not only was I used to him orgasming, I thrived on him orgasming. I loved feeling how he’d lose himself in that moment. It felt like the cataclysmic end to an awesome evening. Suddenly not getting that dramatic, climactic conclusion from him was unnerving.

As he began to fall into his after-sex coma, I realized that if I didn’t ask him about it now, by morning my nerve would be gone. So I just blurted it out: “Did I do something wrong?”

Unfazed, my boyfriend lazily rolled over onto his side to face me and laid it all out. “I enjoyed it just as much as always. Maybe I didn’t finish because I was worn out from the previous ten times we’ve done it this weekend. My body isn’t used to being able to orgasm that many times that quickly.” Then he pulled me close and fell asleep.

As reassuring as he was, I still wasn’t completely okay with this new development in our sex lives. Old expectations die hard. But I didn’t press the issue any further that night since I figured it was a fluke occurrence anyway.

Over the next few months, however, it happened again…and again…and again. Each time I’d ask for clarification, and each time he’d try to set me straight. It wasn’t until after the third time that I finally really heard him: sex together was awesome no matter the orgasm count. I needed to stop obsessing over what had gone ‘wrong’ those nights he didn’t finish and instead realize that the main reason he wasn’t finishing was because we had already done quite a lot of things oh-so-right. Just as orgasmless intercourse didn’t mean I wasn’t enjoying myself, the same was true for him.

I felt like yelling “EUREKA!”: It’s not all about the orgasms!

Since then, we’ve had sex end a lot of different ways. Usually it involves him orgasming before we both pass out. But sometimes, neither one of us climaxes. And those evenings (or afternoons or mornings) are some of my favorite memories. There comes a point (no pun intended), around halfway through, when we both realize it’s not going to happen for either one of us. But you know what? That doesn’t stop us! Then we’re just having sex to be close to one another, to express how we feel about one another, and to enjoy each other in a way no one else can. And that’s one of the happiest endings of all.


  1. Funny, I’ve had this happen to me many times. I’ve actually faked orgasms for girls just to avoid them thinking there was a problem. It’s really not a big deal, if I’m happy and done, it’s all OK.

  2. I’ve never orgasmed during intercourse. I don’t know if it’s because I felt like I couldn’t let myself go with my partners, or if it’s lack of sensitivity from the condoms. I’ve only had intercourse with two women, and I knew from my other adventures that I have a bit of stamina. Both women were concerned that I didn’t come, and it only started to bother me because it bothered them.

    Is there something I can do to make it easier for myself?

  3. Oh wow is this a hugely important topic! There’s so much to unpack from this it would make a good book. But at least three things are really, really important about the fact that men don’t always come from sex:

    1) As with the original poster women can end up thinking they’re doing something wrong.

    2) As with, well, almost everybody it’s never happened with, the idea of a man not coming violates pretty much everything we “know” about men’s sexuality.

    3) Because both men and women are likely to believe parts 1 and 2 above, men can feel under a heck of a lot of pressure to “produce.” Or at least pretend to.

    Oh heck, there’s more

    4) Getting back to #1, sometimes women really can do something “wrong” in bed. Which might sound horrible, and might sound like it’s just confirming every Cosmo reader’s worst nightmare, but really, it’s a heck of a lot better than the “common wisdom” of the 1970s and before that a woman can just lie there or (yikes!) be unconscious or even (yikes again!) dead and men will still get off.

    5) See also how the belief contributes to the idea that male ejaculation more or less defines the stopping point of sex. Which, in turn, contributes to the idea that it’s harder for women to have orgasms “during sex.”

    There’s also a really, really important clue in the line “Maybe I didn’t finish because I was worn out from the previous ten times we’ve done it this weekend.” We’re all very used to the idea that men initiate sex. And sort of by definition sex is initiated by horniness. And horniness also sort of implies ability or at least interest in having an orgasm. And so finally, again sort of by definition, we’re not really used to the idea that men might be called upon or feel obliged to have sex when they weren’t up to it but their partner was.

    Which leads to another missing notion that’s actually kind of cool

    7) It’s usually invisible to us since men usually wait till we’re already horny do the initiating but men need foreplay too.

    And finally, as the writer noted, another casualty of the idea that men are always going to have an orgasm during sex is…

    8) It’s not orgasms that make sex incredibly pleasurable, desirable, fulfilling, and hot.

    I like to think of orgasms the way I think about dessert after a delicious meal. You don’t really see people over age six saying “there was no dessert so the whole meal sucked.” Same with orgasms.

    One other way the orgasm/dessert analogy works, by the way: it’s fine and not even remarkable for someone to pass on dessert when offered; it would be rude beyond belief for someone else do decide “oh, she/he doesn’t need dessert so I’m not going to bother offering it.” Well. Not everybody has an orgasm during sex either, but unbelievably rude to assume one’s partner doesn’t want one.

    Extending the orgasm/dessert analogy one last time, it might be just as rude, for both men and women, to insist that, no, no partner of mine leaves the table without eating dessert so I’m not going to stop pushing till they have one. That attitude just increases the pressure to please the partner by faking it.

    Anyway, cool, cool post! As always men and women aren’t completely interchangeable. But once again we’re waaaay more alike than the stupid Mars/Venus viewpoint would have us believe.


  4. I am so glad to see this issue being brought out in to the open here. I think more women could benefit from hearing it, that’s for sure! I often find myself asking my partner “Did you come?” because, in all honesty, I sometimes can’t tell. As was mentioned in the earlier post, sometimes real-close seems pretty much the same as already-there. And since my partner is adverse to telling me when he’s having an orgasm (I try to articulate when I’m coming, if it seems appropriate and doesn’t ruin the mood, so my partner knows and doesn’t have to ask)… well, I often find myself asking the question. Maybe it doesn’t matter, but until I feel confident that he is capable of asking me for what he wants, I will probably continue.

  5. Has happened with me also and I think it is actually a nice thing to not have to worry about for both partners. So much hype about having to have a mindblowing orgasm every time you have sex. It is possible to have the best sex without!

  6. Sex without orgasm happens to me too. If I wear a condom, it’s pretty much not happening. Even without one sometimes I can’t, and there really is no explanation.

    Women, despite being able to relate, do not like this. They expect every man to come every time. If anything, women are more accustomed to premature ejaculators, from what I gather.

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