I started having sex with males this past summer. It’s fun and exciting, but I’ve yet to reach an earth-shattering orgasm. That may be too high of an expectation for myself, but it feels like I’ve never had an orgasm at all.
I feel the build up, but there’s no release. I think this may be contributing to my extremely low sex drive, because sex isn’t really beneficial for me. I really do want to be having more sex, and more fulfilling healthy sex with my long-term partner.
How do I have an orgasm? How do I go about figuring out what I like, what gets me off? Am I getting in my own way somehow?
Usually when I have sex it’s vaginal penetration with short bursts of clitoral stimulation. I guess my main problem is starting the dialogue, “Hey, can you try this?” because I don’t know what to ask for. Should I watch more porn, go on kinky websites for ideas? Or, considering how sex in mainstream media is depicted in a way that is largely unbeneficial to women, is that more hurt than help?
— Still Searching
Your questions echo the many, many questions I get from people trying to overcome this sexual hurdle — or just come at all. An orgasm is typically characterized by a pleasurable build-up which ends in a climactic release.
It sounds like you’re on your way, but haven’t quite reached Orgasm Town — a common experience.
You’re on the right track in your thinking about this — your search for an orgasm is going to take a lot more than basic P-in-V penetration. Logistically speaking, direct and consistent clitoral stimulation is a requirement for most. More importantly, orgasms take personal work both in between our legs and in between our ears. What I mean to say, is the brain is our largest sex organ; so let’s start there.
First: have high expectations for yourself, your clitoris, and your sex life! Just because so many women have been told that their pleasure is “too high maintenance” to be “worth it” doesn’t make it so. It just means we need to get intentional about learning about our pleasure and brave when instructing others on how to provide it for us.
Self-education and communication are key. The failure of our formalized sex education — which is only mandated to be medically accurate in 13 states and never, or at least hardly ever focuses on vaginal pleasure — has driven many of us to mainstream porn, happy accident, and Google to be our haphazard sex educators.
The majority of the porn available to us is hyper-fantasized and misogynistic and therefore unhelpful and/or damaging to our real sex lives. If you know how to look for it, XXX-rated educational porn like The Expert Guide to Female Orgasms directed by Tristan Taormino or the videos on PassionateU.com or OMGYes.com can be great to dive into solo or with a partner.
Knowing how your own sexual pleasure operates and how to communicate those directives to your partner is essential. Come As You Are by Emily Nagoski and Girl Sex 101 by Allison Moon — both books that sexually validate and empower — should be required reading for everyone.
Nagoski in particular eloquently describes a dual control model that shows how sexual pleasure is both a matter of discovering and pushing on our sexual “accelerators,” i.e. lighting candles, being with a trusting partner, reading erotica, and letting up on our sexual “brakes,” i.e., discomfort, sexual trauma, or in your case, S.S., feeling unable to say, “Hey! Can you try this?”
Masturbation is another great way to get to know our sexual selves. Giving yourself orgasms is a handy skill to have and will better equip you to tell your sweeties, “Actually, I get off best with circular motions directly on my clit.”
Remember that porn is scripted, while our real sex lives are gloriously unscripted. This means we need to create the dialogue to communicate what we need, want, and desire. Whether it’s a matter of building your confidence or getting a more dialogue-welcoming partner, or both — this is absolutely clutch to finding the climax you seek.
Yana Tallon-Hicks is a pleasure-positive writer and educator living in the Pioneer Valley. She has a website bursting with sexual advice, resources, and workshops at yanatallonhicks.com.