Columns / Discourse / May 20, 2008

Sexiled: Can’t orgasm? Join the club

About six months into her relationship with her boyfriend, my best friend “Alice” called me up with some highly distressing news.

“I can’t orgasm!”

“You can’t orgasm?”

“I can’t… at least, not with Matt. It’s been over four months of sex, and I haven’t been able to once.”

I was miffed.

“Doesn’t he do foreplay?”

Yes, they did. And it seemed they were both doing everything else right as well. According to her, they spent around an hour each time on foreplay, used lubed condoms, and were genuinely into each other. She just could not orgasm.

Well, the sad fact is that Alice (who doesn’t go here, by the way) is not alone.

According to a study published in “Biology Letters” (a peer reviewed online biological journal) 16 percent of the 4,037 women they studied had never had an orgasm with a partner, and 14 percent never achieved orgasm, even during masturbation.

On the plus side, 14 percent of women reported almost always achieving orgasm during sex, while 34 percent almost always did during masturbation.

Based on studying the women (who were all either fraternal or identical twins) they determined that up to 45 percent of the differences between women and their ability to reach orgasm is due to their genes. The other 55 percent is most likely due to other variables such as technique, upbringing, culture, etc.

So what can these women who cannot ever orgasm do, besides curse their genetics?

Well, there is the possibility that the inability to orgasm is actually just the inability to orgasm with the wrong man or woman. Some scientists think that the female orgasm may serve the purpose of helping women find the right guy or girl, one that is caring enough and attractive enough (both physically and mentally) to cause her to orgasm.

Of course, that does not explain why 14 percent of women cannot orgasm through masturbation.

Whatever the case, women having trouble achieving orgasm can try the following methods to see if they will help:

  • Masturbate! If you do not even know what you like, how is your partner supposed to know?
  • Partake in lots of foreplay. Make sure you are wet before you have sex (to help your body out, oral works great, or lube). It takes many women longer to get ready for sex than it does for men.
  • Tell your partner to rub your clitoris during sex, or do it yourself. Few women can orgasm from penetration alone.
  • Take control. Get on top, tell him/her what you want, and make sure to tell them what you don’t like.
  • Get comfortable around your partner. Before you start having sex, you should feel comfortable with your own body and with being naked around them.
  • Try not to worry about finals, papers, etc. If your mind feels cluttered and you can’t concentrate on sex, try writing down whatever is bothering you, and try again.
  • Try something different, such as a vibrator, porn, giving each other erotic massages, reading aloud an erotic story, etc. You never know what might work for you.
  • Check the meds your taking. Certain medications, including anti-depressants such as Prozac, antihistamines such as Allegra, and even The Pill can make reaching orgasm much more difficult or nearly impossible
  • Forget about sex! Instead, concentrate on passionate kissing without the pressure. Ease into sex whenever you feel like it.

If none of this works, don’t let you or your partner beat themselves up over it. Guilt from being unable to make one’s partner orgasm can cause the in-orgasmic partner to feel guilty as well, which puts stress on the relationship and may cause her to feel like she has to “fake it” in order to make the relationship work. Just be patient, keep trying things, and don’t put too much pressure on obtaining the mighty orgasm.

Christy Reuter


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