Why Is It Difficult for Some Women to Orgasm During Sex?

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Among the most common questions that people ask me about sex are questions about women’s orgasm. Women of all ages often want to know why they have never had an orgasm or why they have had them only during masturbation or oral sex but never (though I like to say “not yet”) during intercourse.

Men often want to know about women’s orgasms too – why their female partner hasn’t had an orgasm or what they can do to increase the odds that she will have one (or more) during intercourse.

Fundamentally what many people want to know (I was asked this just the other day) is why is it that so many women have difficulty with orgasm? Are they going about it the wrong way? Are their partners unskilled? Is it a physical problem?

Although physical problems can contribute to orgasm difficulties, for most women who have not yet had an orgasm it is because they or their partner lack information about sex or because they have found it difficult to relax or “let go” during sex. Let’s explore this a bit further.

Lack of Information: Many people mistakenly believe that orgasm should come as easily during intercourse for women as it does for many men. In fact, that’s not the way that women’s bodies are built or the way that sex often happens. The nerve-rich glans clitoris (the “head” or “tip” of the clitoris, if you will) is located outside of the vagina.As such, it doesn’t get much stimulation during penile-vaginal or toy-vaginal penetration unless partners use their fingers or a clitoral-focused vibrator to stimulate this part of the clitoris, or unless they choose sex positions (such as the coital alignment technique) that direct stimulation here.

As couples learn more about the types of sexual behaviors or positions that are more effective – and make relevant adjustments to their sex lives – they often find women’s orgasm easier to experience. Of note: there are some exceptions of women whose clitoris is positioned very close to the vagina and thus is gets exceedingly more stimulation during intercourse than is the case for other women.

Letting Go: Many women work very hard to learn to orgasm. However, orgasms may seem elusive – and they can rarely be successfully “worked on”, “thought out” or “forced”. Rather, orgasm tend to thrive in relaxation, when women can let go and be open to the physical and emotional sensations and pleasures that comes with sexual stimulation. If a woman begins to feel tense or stressed that orgasm is nowhere in sight, she may find it helpful to relax by taking deep breaths. That said, relaxation is not necessarily in and of itself to induce orgasm: it’s just a nice way to set the stage. Learning to orgasm can take weeks, months or even years. Patience, relaxation and learning to let go can make it easier with time.

To learn more about how to have an orgasm, check out Chapter 5 of Because It Feels Good: A Woman’s Guide to Sexual Pleasure and Satisfaction or the book Becoming Orgasmic.

Related MSP articles:
- Sexual fantasies aren’t always about sex
- Foreplay tips to arouse her: women and sex
- Four tips for better woman on top sex position fun

About Dr. Debby Herbenick

Dr. Debby Herbenick

Dr. Debby Herbenick is a sex researcher at Indiana University, sexual health educator at The Kinsey Institute, columnist, and author of five books about sex and love. Learn more about her work at www.sexualhealth.indiana.edu.