6 Steps for Teaching Yourself to Orgasm

Dear Em & Lo,

I’ve been sexually active on and off for about four years now. The problem is that throughout those four years I have never reached an orgasm. I’ve had sex with partners and even bought a vibrator, but I still don’t think I’m finishing. When I use a vibrator it’ll be really really awesome and I’m feeling good and right when it’s at its peak, the good feeling goes away. I’m worried and beginning to accept the fact that I can’t finish. I don’t know if it’s just me thinking too much, since it’s been such a long time with out finishing, or maybe I actually can’t.

— Stuck at Mile 25

Dear S.A.M.25,

To answer your questions briefly: Yes, you’re probably thinking too much. Yes, we’re pretty sure you actually can have an orgasm. Yes, you can teach yourself to “finish.” It might help you to know that you’re in good company: As many as ten percent of women have never had an orgasm, and many more than that have never had an orgasm with a partner. And many many many more than that waited years to have their first orgasm. But maybe you don’t want the company! Maybe you’d rather just break out on your own with a massive, screaming O! Here are six tips that may nudge you in the right direction:

1. Realize that orgasms — the female kind, at least — are hard to, er, come by. Women drew the short straw when it comes to achieving orgasm — male orgasms practically grow on trees. An inability to orgasm during intercourse doesn’t mean you have faulty equipment — in fact, it’s as natural as the snow falling up north in wintertime. And it’s certainly nothing to be ashamed of.

2. Take a really long bath. Experiment with a stream of water or a shower jet (but only externally and never aimed inside you, since that can cause a fatal air embolism). Don’t expect to climax the first time you try—instead, just try to figure out what you like… and what you really like. If you get bored, stop, and try again the next day.

3. Learn how to masturbate differently. One reader of ours discovered at an early age that bouncing on her bed while lying on her stomach gave her a great feeling; once she became a teenager, she graduated to the floor for stronger stimulation. Swear off your standard way of masturbating (whether it’s a toy or a position) and force yourself to try something new every night for two weeks.

4. Think really dirty thoughts. Getting in the mood is key, whether for alone time or partner sex, since our biggest turn-on is our brain. So reading or seeing something sexy will prime your mind for an orgasm, so you (or he) won’t have to work as hard to get you there. Try kicking off your diddling with some saucy literature. Say what you will about the terrible writing in the  Fifty Shades of Grey trilogy — the woman knows how to write sex scenes! Skip all the “character development” and go straight for the naughty bits in those books; they really get the job done. For something more classic, try Anais Nin instead.

5. Don’t overthink it. (We know, that’s like telling you not to think about a pink elephant — suddenly all you can picture is a pink elephant!) Every expert we’ve ever spoken with about female sexual function agrees that you should do your best to ignore your orgasm. Don’t be goal-oriented, just enjoy the sensations as they happen. This takes the pressure off, paving the way for your orgasm. Focus on what you’re feeling in the moment — muscle tension, a change in your breathing, your desire to thrust or writhe — rather than where you’re hoping to wind up.

6. Just breathe. Lots of women hold their breath when they feel they’re getting close to point O. But then your brain might feel it needs to focus on more important things than orgasming, like not dying. Let your breathing reflect the intense feelings you’re experiencing and you may find all that heavy huffing in turn makes those feelings even more intense.

Most of all: Practice, practice, practice. You’ll cross that finish line eventually, and when you do, we’ll be cheering loudly for you! (Metaphorically, of course — we’re not that creepy.)

Go team,

Em & Lo