Why Can’t I Orgasm? A Decisive Guide To Owning Your Arousal For Women

This goes out there to all the ladies who have stared up at the ceiling tiles mid-sex like they hold the magic answer to the same question: Why can’t I orgasm?

Indeed, nothing is more frustrating. In both subliminal and blatant ways, sex is all around us. Hollywood makes it look like women orgasm as often as they sneeze. Magazines give 50 tips for better orgasms when gee, thanks — I can’t have orgasms in the first place. Not having orgasms just feels like shit; like we missed the birthday party with the sweet ass piñata and Slip N’ Slide.

Perhaps even worse, our bodies feel to us like some cryptic enigma that we can’t tap into. Not fulfilling the potential of our own womanhood is estranging. But time for the good news: once you learn what’s going on with your orgasms (and you will) they become one of your go-to tools for empowerment. “How do I make myself climax” will be a ghost that never haunts you again.

Today, we’re taking the mighty orgasm off its pedestal. Orgasms are Shangri-la, it’s true. But their hype can be a big reason why we’re not having them. Take the princess tiara off the big O. Now we can get to work.

Note: This article was written for those interested in heterosexual sex.

Are Women Having Orgasms? Not As Many As You Might Think

It’s not new news that men are orgasming more than women, but I’ll update you on the latest facts.

When current research tells us that only 57% of women orgasm during sex most of the time or always, we’ve got a pickle. When you compare it to the 95% of men who orgasm during sex most of the time or always, we’ve got a dire discrepancy. And it’s not just the kind of problem a magical orgasm cream will solve.

What is the orgasm gap? Men have more orgasms than women.

In a national survey, 14.5% of women viewed their last sexual encounter as just “a little” or “not at all” pleasurable, compared to 4.3% of men. Last time I checked, we’re not chasing sex because it’s “not at all pleasurable.” Right? How did our sex lives get so lackluster? No wonder so many women are asking, “why can’t I orgasm?”

Instead of seeking answers and confronting their partners, women practice the standard fake-the-orgasm routine. And research proves we’re good at it, too: while 67% of women admitted to faking orgasms occasionally, 80% of men don’t think their female partners are faking it. (This makes me giggle a little, is that bad?)

According to a large survey by Cosmopolitan, 78% of women think that their partner cares if they orgasm or not. Except 72% of women have experienced an encounter where their partner comes but doesn’t help them finish. Sorry to rat you out guys, but that hurts.

So now you know the facts. If you’re not orgasming, you’re sure as hell not alone. And while things sound a little grim right now, hang in there. It’s about to get wetter — I mean, better.

“I Get Blue Balls If I Can’t Come” — Not Just An Excuse For Guys

Just because we aren’t having orgasms doesn’t mean we don’t get aroused. Some of us find that when we’re turned on but don’t orgasm, we stay in a perpetual state of hornyness. Our minds dwell in the gutter. We speak only in “that’s what she said” jokes. It doesn’t bode well for anyone.

We’re so close yet so far: 50% of women often feel like they’re about to orgasm with a partner but can’t get over the edge. It’s emotionally frustrating and sometimes more. Just like men, women can get a version of blue balls. Call it pink balls or blue walls, whatever — I just call it no fun.

Female blue balls happen via a physiological process called vasoconstriction. Vasoconstriction happens whenever you’re aroused. Blood rushes to swell your genitals, including your clit, uterus, and ovaries. If you don’t have the strong contractions of orgasm to open the floodgates, the blood stays in your genital area. Consequently, your genitals throb uncomfortably and feel raw and heavy.

It’s about as much fun as a pap smear, only “blue walls” can take up to two hours to return to normal. All the more reason to figure out why you’re not coming and how to get yourself over that orgasmic edge.

Trouble Having An Orgasm? You Need To Know Why

How do you have an orgasm, I’ve been asked by partners that wanted to make me come.

I used to give the same, routine answer with a sigh: “Well, it’s complicated.”

It was the wrong thing to say, but I had no other explanation at the time. And our resources all approach the female orgasm from the same perspective: that it’s complex. One Cosmo article says, “having an orgasm shouldn’t be like solving a difficult math problem but for a lot of women, it really can seem like that.” Well, so long as we’re treating the female orgasm like a “problem,” it will remain that way.

I don't know how to orgasm— it can be very difficult.

I won’t deny that our anatomy is complex. But it only seems complex because majority of us never quite learned about it. I don’t know about you, but my sex ed course spent more time horrifying me with herpes pictures than helping me understand my own body. I fumbled into my anatomy blindly, and orgasms felt like a mere fairy tale.  

Instead of considering the “why can’t I come” scenario a problem, think of it as a circumstance that just needs a little understanding. The reason why you’re not orgasming is hiding in the dark, and this article is here to shine a little light on it for you.

Well, so long as we’re treating the female orgasm like a “problem,” it will remain that way.

You many find that one or more of these reasons is haunting your sexuality. Don’t feel discouraged. Instead, remind yourself that by identifying the reason why you aren’t orgasming gets you one step closer to finally having the pleasurable orgasm you’ve long anticipated.

1. Your mental state is interfering with your ability to have hard orgasms.

Ever been in the sack and remembered you forgot to move the laundry through? Forgot to feed the fish? Women’s brains and multitasking skills allow pesky distractions to interfere with pleasure. If the distraction is strong enough, your arousal can extinguish faster than you can say pink balls.

But it’s not just distractions that kill the mood. Research shows that a lack of erotic thoughts correlates with women that struggle to orgasm during intercourse. For that reason, the brain is often considered the most important sexual organ for women.

Certain negative thoughts are scientifically linked to women who struggle to can’t have orgasms during sex. Thoughts of sexual abuse, sexual failure, a partner’s lack of affection, sexual passivity, and sexual control all correlate with sexual dysfunction. Thoughts stemming from negative body image correlate with sexual difficulties (instead of dysfunction).

Research from the Human Sexuality Research Laboratory at the University of Ottawa shows us the importance of a positive headspace during sex. Women who regularly orgasm think more erotics thoughts and focus more on bodily sensations during sex than those who don’t.

It doesn’t matter whether you’re masturbating or with a partner. Bad moods, negative thoughts, and stress have a lot of power over your ability to orgasm. If your mind isn’t completely clear, you won’t be able to focus on the sensations that start small and magnify into an orgasm.

Why can't I orgasm? Might be negative thoughts.

Try this: Before you start any sexual experience, try a little bit of introspection. What are you feeling? Are you experiencing any thoughts, distractions, or worries? Do your best to set them aside until your sexy time is over. If it helps, dedicate a time in your schedule completely devoted to sexual exploration. Treat this event in your planner just like the work meeting or spring cleaning. No excuses allowed!

Some negativity stems from psychological circumstances, like traumas or body image disorders. Consider contacting a professional to overcome these challenges in a supportive and knowledgeable environment.   

2. “Why can’t I orgasm?” Your anatomy makes it more difficult to orgasm during P in V sex.

A recent study in the Journal of Sexual Medicine compared the genitalia of women who regularly orgasm and women who don’t. Women who had difficulty orgasming had a longer distance between their clitoris and vagina. On average, the distance was five to six millimeters longer than women who regularly orgasm. The women who struggled to orgasm also had a smaller-sized clitoris.  

During arousal, the clit actually swells towards the vaginal wall, making its stimulation even more likely. The closer your clitoris is to your vaginal wall, the more likely you’ll reach the climax during sex.

Don’t whip out the tape measure unless you’re keen on killing the mood. Your anatomy might make orgasm during P in V sex less likely, but it doesn’t mean won’t orgasm during sex at all. It just means that you’ll have to use a different method to come. And an orgasm is an orgasm — one method to getting one isn’t necessarily better than another. Right now the idea is to get you moaning with delight under the spell of any orgasm, so we won’t be picky.

Once you feel a little bit a pleasure, hone in on it.

Try this: If you’re antsy to experience an orgasm during P in V sex, try a position that favors your body. The best positions to orgasm during sex are those that stimulate the front wall of your vagina and your clit. Ask your partner if you can try a little workshopping of missionary and girl-on-top positions.

These positions rub on your clit better than others. Explore new angles, depths, and rhythms until you feel the tingly sensations of pleasure. When you find something that feels good — stick with it! Don’t switch until your sensations start to decrease.

The truth is, you may not climax right away. Sometimes you have to train your nerves to respond to new sensations. Once you feel a little bit a pleasure, hone in on it. Give it all your focus without forcing it. Over time, this focus helps the pleasure intensify. Eventually, it will spread throughout your body. At this point, an orgasm is right around the corner.

3. You aren’t taking enough time to learn how to make yourself come.

We are conditioned to believe that sex only lasts as long as it takes for the guy to come. Once he does, the sexcapade is over. Because of this assumption, women often feel rushed to get their orgasm in first. Or, as Hollywood depicts rather misleadingly, at the same time. Not only does this completely stress us out, but it’s sometimes unachievable.

Question: How long does it take a woman to orgasm? Answer: As long as it takes her to orgasm. There is not a definitive time frame in which all women orgasm. It depends on the woman, the circumstance, and the partner.

But research by famous sexologist Alfred Kinsey did find an average orgasm time for women during masturbation. According to his findings, the average time it takes a woman to orgasm by masturbation is a bit under four minutes. It’s similar to males, who take an average of 2 to 4 minutes to ejaculate by masturbation.

Kinsey states that women can take 10 to 20 minutes to climax during sex, due to distractions and interruptions. But I say 10 to 20 minutes still isn’t enough.

Try this: During masturbation or partner play, carve out a time where you can focus on pleasuring yourself. Whether it’s through sex or other stimulation, take as long as you want. Instead of obsessing over an orgasm, stay present and follow the sensations as they ebb and flow. If you feel frustrated or embarrassed that you can’t come, acknowledge the thought and get over it. If Kinsey’s research is true, a lot can happen in those extra four minutes.

4. You aren’t trying enough variety during your sexual encounter. Women having orgasms regularly can vouch for this.

A lot of the orgasm advice out there says that once you find something that feels good, you should keep doing it. That’s true, once the preliminary phases of climax become clear. But it’s just as important to switch up the flavors of sexual stimulation.

A study in the Journal of Sexual Medicine found that the more sexual acts a couple tries during a hookup, the more likely they will both orgasm. In other words, if you throw a variety of sex acts into the mix — oral sex, PIV sex, anal sex, fingering, etc. — you up your chances of climax. Yet majority of the 3,900 men and women in the study only reported trying PIV intercourse during their last encounter.

Women and foreplay go together like condoms and one night stands. We need our foreplay. The more stimulation you get pre-intercourse, the easier it will be to climax. It’s true for masturbation too, by the way. Switch up your techniques, toys, and methods to increase your odds of orgasming. (Plus, a little variety will make you come harder.)

Women and foreplay go together like condoms and one night stands.

Try this: During sex, try every kind of foreplay you’re comfortable with before you start the P-in-V routine. Take your time. Check as many boxes as you can.  By the time you get to intercourse, your arousal will be a lot higher, meaning it won’t take a lot to push you into orgasm territory.

If you’re masturbating, same thing goes. Switch between stimulating your clitoris and penetrating your vagina to excite internal pleasure points. Don’t forget about your nipples. And, if you’re up for it, try on a little anal play.

5. You partner isn’t lasting long enough for you to learn how to reach climax.

For male partners, size doesn’t always matter but how long they last definitely does. Your partners’s stamina contributes to the sexual chemistry you two share. And if you want to start the fire, you need to nail the chemistry.

An experienced or skilled partner has a lot to do with whether you’ll orgasm. Most women agree: according to the Cosmo survey, 35% of women say that they’re not orgasming because their partner isn’t giving them the right kind of clitoral stimulation.

Other women might actually orgasm if the intercourse lasted just a bit longer. As far as how long your guy “should” be lasting in bed, it comes back to the most common answer in the sex genre: it depends.

Research by Dr. Brendan Zietsch at University of Queensland sought to determine the average time couples have sex. He measured the start of sex at penile penetration and the end at ejaculation. The 500 couples in his sample had sex that lasted anywhere from 33 seconds to 44 minutes. What this means is: there’s really no “standard” time your guy should last.

Although, the average length of sex was 5.4 minutes. The chances that a woman will orgasm in that time? Again, it depends. But I’ll bet you dildos to donuts the chances are tiny.

But I’ll bet you dildos to donuts the chances are tiny.

The relationship you have with your partner also makes a difference for orgasming. According to the Journal of Sexual Medicine, women orgasm 62.9% of the time with a partner they’re familiar with. During casual sex, with someone they aren’t familiar with, they only orgasm 40% of time.

Keep this in mind if you’re heading out in the middle of a dry spell, in search of a one night stand. The odds of quenching your thirst for an orgasm are pretty low. Sorry to burst your bubble.

Feeling dissatisfied with your partner’s performance is always a tricky situation to navigate. There are many strategies that your male partner can work on to increase his stamina in bed. Not only does it enhance your pleasure, but delaying his ejaculation will make his orgasm feel more even more delicious.

Try this: If your partner isn’t lasting long enough in bed, initiate a respectful conversation with him. Bring research and strategies to the table that the both of you can work on together. If you don’t feel comfortable having this conversation quite yet, lengthen the foreplay. Just by foreplay alone, try to get to the brink of orgasm. Then immediately start penetration. It shouldn’t take long before you’re in the hands of orgasmic bliss.

Remember to try positions that allow you to stroke your clit, like doggy style, spooning, and girl-on-top. If you add clitoral stimulation during sex, you’re much more likely to orgasm. Orgasms aside, it feels amazing, so why wouldn’t you?

6. “Why can’t I orgasm?” Because of sexual dysfunction.

Different types of sexual dysfunction present themselves in staggering numbers. According to research, 43% of women and 31% of men deal with some kind of sexual dysfunction, making them a “highly prevalent” condition. Take a peek at the numbers:

  • 30% of women and 15% of men have hypoactive sexual desire disorder. Also known as inhibited sexual desire, this condition is characterized by a continuous disinterest in sex and erotic desire.
  • Erectile dysfunction and female sexual arousal disorder are present in the lives of 10% to 20% of men and women. For me, there is a strong correlation with age.
  • 10% to 15% of women suffer from anorgasmia, or the inability to orgasm despite sufficient stimulation.
  • Premature ejaculation was reported by 30% of the men in the study.
  • 10% to 15% of women deal with sexual pain disorders which inhibit their ability to find sex pleasurable.

There are many types of sexual dysfunction disorders and perhaps they’re more common than you would’ve guessed. Unfortunately, there’s not a lot of knowledge around women’s sexual dysfunction or difficulties. We don’t know where they originate and there aren’t yet mainstream pharmaceuticals that help.

What we do know about sexual dysfunction and difficulty, however, is that they make orgasm extremely difficult for the women who suffer from it.

Try this: If you think that you’re dealing with sexual dysfunction, the best thing to do is talk to a doctor and/or a psychologist. A doctor can assess physiological roots while a psychologist can delve into emotional ones. Instead of getting discouraged or stressed out, stay devoted to understanding your body. Sexuality is a journey, not a destination. It takes time for everybody!

What we do know about sexual dysfunction and difficulty, however, is that they make orgasm extremely difficult for the women who suffer from it.

So How Does A Girl Come? Sex Toys To The Rescue

One of the most frustrating parts about orgasms is that they aren’t one-size-fits-all. What feels like cloud 9 for me may do zilch for you. But what we all have in common is how we first achieve orgasms: exploration. And it just so happens that there tools to make exploring your body euphorically pleasurable and straightforward.

Let me tell you a little something about sex toys. A lot of them get a bad rap by conservative parties who find joy intruding into our personal lives (I’m looking at you Georgia). But sex toys happen to be your number one fan when it comes to well, cumming. Sex toys are designed to increase your chances of orgasm. If you haven’t tried one yet, then you simply haven’t done everything you can to orgasm.

Many sex toys have automated features that work in a way we humans cannot. Hallelujah, they vibrate! They provide higher stimulation, which increases arousal and sexual tension to make orgasm more likely if not unavoidable.

But sex toys happen to be your number one fan when it comes to well, cumming.

So if you’re wondering why you can’t come, the real answer might be that you don’t have a vibrator! There are so many sex toys on the market, but I know you have one thing on your mind: climax. Therefore, a vibrator should be your next purchase.

Vibrators come in all shapes, sizes, and styles. Every vibrator is fun (it’s impossible to be in a room, naked, with a vibrator, and not enjoy it at least a tad). But not every vibrator is guaranteed to make you orgasm. Some are just better than others, in form and function.

Since you’re looking to increase your chances of orgasm, you want the vibrator that will give you the most and strongest sensation. Your toy should stimulate your clitoris and other external spots in addition to your G-spot. Dual-stimulation vibrators (toys that excite the inside and outside of your vagina) are the most likely to make you orgasm.

If you’re truly serious about Project Orgasm, try the G-spot & Clitoris Vibrator by Lyps. This toy is designed to wow your clit and G-spot with its 10 different vibration settings. Lyps only uses certified, medical-grade silicone, which means two things. One, this vibrator feels like the the softest, firm erection you’ve ever felt. Two, it’s completely safe — nontoxic and nonporous. This vibrator is the genie for those deep spot orgasms you’ve been wishing for.

The other option worthy to take your V-card (vibrator card) is the Lyps Rabbit Vibrator. While this toy penetrates you with smooth vibrations, it also has a little rabbit that tickles your clit with its buzzing ears. So if you know that you go wild with clitoral stimulation, this vibrator is your new BFF.

There is one line that has been dropped on girls’ nights for far too long. “My boyfriend can’t make me come.” Your orgasms aren’t just your partner’s responsibility. If you want to have the pleasurable orgasms for the rest of your life, you have to take your pleasure into your own hands. You have to take a vibrator into your own hands, more specifically.

How To Pleasure A Woman: It’s Not Just About The Orgasm

Have you ever gone out for dinner at an incredible restaurant so hungry that you can’t see straight? The food is delectable and innovative but you’re so starving you devour it without a second thought. Once your stomach is full you look back and realize you didn’t savour a single bite. (Sigh, all of my metaphors involve food.)

Sexual pleasure works the same way. We’re told by social influences that an orgasm is the qualifier for good sex versus bad sex. But what about all the pleasure you feel along the way?

By focusing too much on the orgasm at the end, you not only risk your chance of having an orgasm in the first place, but you lessen your overall satisfaction. If you’re alone, you miss the opportunity to stimulate new places and feel new sensations. If you’re with a partner, you miss the chance to connect with them as you become increasingly aroused together.

Orgasms, delightful as they are, can be quite blinding. They aren’t the sole purpose of sex. They might be the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow, but the rainbow is beautiful too, right?

2 responses to “Why Can’t I Orgasm? A Decisive Guide To Owning Your Arousal For Women

  1. Ehh, the vast, vast majority of women cannot experience a vaginal orgasm.
    This article is written from the perspective that there is something “wrong” if you can’t, no, it’s completely normal and treating it like there is something wrong is what leads to the cultural problem.

    It never seems to amaze me how few people from the US know this. The amusing thing is that the statistics imply that in the US,if a woman shows the symptoms of a vaginal orgasm she is more likely to fake it than to actually have one. Yes, more women in the US report repeatedly faking it than actually having it.

    I can only blame the terrible sex-ed over there. Everyone here knows that most women cannot have one because we wee told when we were twelve at school. “Don’t worry if you can’t achieve a vaginal orgasm, this is perfectly normal. And guys, if your girl can’t, that’s not because you did something wrong or your penis is too small.”, but in many prude countries the overwhelming cultural mentality seems to be that the man does something wrong if the woman can’t orgasm. So Because they don’t want to make them feel like they do something wrong and think the “problems” is theirs because they never had one, they fake it. Because they know if they tell the guy they never had one he’ll just be like “You just had poor lovers until now, I’ll make you have one.” Nope, that’s not how it works.

    I’ve had so many women and men just casually ask me if I was one of those who could get a vaginal orgasm and I just answer in the negative. Everyone here knows that most women can’t. It’s almost like schools actually do their duty and teach kids about sexuality instead of ‘abstinence only’. That’s basically like teaching kids to not perform mathematics instead of teaching them how maths works.

    1. Thanks for the comment! I agree with your stance for many reasons. And I think our perspectives are more similar than you think! You said that it’s “completely normal for women [to not have vaginal orgasms] and treating it like there is something wrong is what leads to the cultural problem.”

      In the article, I also said “One Cosmo article says, ‘having an orgasm shouldn’t be like solving a difficult math problem but for a lot of women, it really can seem like that.’ Well, so long as we’re treating the female orgasm like a ‘problem,’ it will remain that way.”

      So it’s true. If we treat women’s orgasms, or lack thereof, as a problem — that’s exactly how it will be. This article aims to educate women on how to orgasm with techniques that they may not have tried yet. It may help, or it may not. But it’s important that we try!

      We’re also speaking about orgasms in general in this article — not just vaginal orgasms. And a lot of the tips here are there to help you get more clitoral engagement during sex, since 80% of women need clitoral stimulation to orgasm during sex. A lot of women don’t get vaginal orgasms, but they can get clitoral orgasms during vaginal intercourse.

      You’re totally right about the crappy sex ed in the States. Women and men aren’t thoroughly educated about their own anatomy, and it leads to a lot of confusion when we start getting physical with ourselves or others. Growing up becomes a matter of sifting through these sexual expectations and realizing that a lot of them are bullshit! If the sexual education was better, I do think women would have a better perspective on their pleasure anatomy and how to navigate it… Since it’s currently lacking, we are doing our part to publish helpful tips and information that can help everyone achieve healthy sexuality.

      The bottom line is that if a woman isn’t having an orgasm (vaginal or clitoral), there are many reasons why. And understanding the reason why, gets them that much closer to having one. That’s what this article is hoping to do 🙂

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