“Why can’t I orgasm?” is a search I’ve typed into Google countless times. After having sex for a few years, I had never experienced the big O. Even before I was ever having sex, I was masturbating regularly and was never able to bring myself to that point. Each time I had sex, it became less fun and more frustrating as my partner finished time after time and I was never granted the same pleasure. Eventually, I came to the conclusion that maybe I just couldn’t orgasm and never would.
It wasn’t for lack of trying—that’s for sure. I tried, and tried, and tried. I was blessed with an extremely understanding partner who was more than willing to try everything we could possibly think of. We tried different sensation condoms, like “ribbed for her pleasure” (not quite). We went lube shopping and came out with a tingling one that we thought might do the trick. Let me tell you: that stuff does something, but still not what I wanted. Every position, no matter how weird it seemed, we tried it. There was foreplay and oral sex galore. Eventually, we ended up at a sex shop where I bought a small and cheap vibrator that came into play once or twice.
A little bit of research told me that up to 11 percent of women can’t regularly orgasm or never orgasm. I was convinced that it was just my luck to sit in that happy category. Not only did this make me angry, but it frustrated my partner. The beautifully giving person that he was, he just wanted me to be able to feel the same satisfaction that he got every time we had sex. My inability was causing us both distress and I eventually grew to resent sex. It was no longer fun, but a chore that I was doing for my boyfriend who felt nothing but guilty after the fact. It put a wedge in our relationship in a way that I didn’t think was possible. How could something so trivial, like an orgasm, be causing so much turmoil?
As it turns out, it was because orgasms aren’t as trivial as I had once thought. I had my first orgasm after I’d been having sex for about three years. It was with a new partner, who I had also failed to orgasm with in the past. I don’t know exactly what it was that did it, but I can tell you it had a lot to do with the clit and nothing to do with penetration. It wasn’t that I was more comfortable with this partner than my last—quite the opposite—or that I found this person more attractive. It was like a switch was just flicked on and it happened. After the first time, orgasms still weren’t a guarantee, but they were happening semi-frequently and it was a huge relief off my shoulders.
If there’s one thing I can take away from the misdiagnosis I gave myself, it’s that nothing is for certain. The best thing to do was to just let go of the problem and let my body do what it needed to. I had to embrace my sexuality for all that it was, orgasm or not, and that’s when I hit the climax. Orgasm rock bottom isn’t when you can’t orgasm, but when you stop having fun trying to. Sex isn’t always just a means to end, no matter how great that end is. So, if it’s not happening for you, my best advice is to simply keep trying, like, a lot, and just basically have a bunch of sex. Last, but certainly not least, not being able to orgasm does not make you less of a person, or inferior, in any sense.
At the end of the day, the orgasm doesn’t make the sex: the sex makes the orgasm.