For many people, first orgasm stories aren't just about the orgasms themselves: they're about the symbolic weight that they carry. If you've never had an orgasm before, it can feel like you're missing out on an entire world of adulthood. However, it's important to remember you are not alone; plenty of people, whether they are having sex or not, have found themselves unable to reach orgasm. While this is perfectly normal, there are ways to make it happen for yourself.
I chatted with some experts to figure out how to navigate the world of orgasms if you've never had one before and to discuss why this journey is so important to so many of us.
Why are orgasms so stressful in the first place?
Many women who haven't had orgasms by the "expected" age feel truly alone and awkward about it. Remy Kassimir, host of podcast How Cum, was in her 20s when she had her first orgasm (something she talks about a lot on the podcast). When asked how that made her feel, Kassimir said, "It was horrible! I felt like a defective weirdo. It was lonely and sad to be excluded from something it seemed like everyone else was doing."
"A lot of women feel embarrassed if they haven't yet had their first orgasms," says Vanessa Marin, sex therapist and creator of Finishing School: Learn How To Orgasm. "You may have this idea that it's supposed to happen without any effort whatsoever, so if it hasn't happened yet, you may worry that something is wrong with you or that you're blocked in some way. You may be scared that it won't ever happen for you. You may also be feeling pressured by your partner to orgasm. Or even feeling pressure from society or from your friends to orgasm."
It's important to realize that just because experiencing an orgasm is "normal" doesn't mean there is anything wrong with you if you have not experienced one yet. You shouldn't feel pressured to experience an orgasm simply because your friends or people you know have. It can take time for you or your partner to fully understand your body, as everyone is different.
How can you put less pressure on yourself to orgasm?
"If you're feeling a lot of pressure to orgasm, channel that energy into actually learning how to orgasm!" Marin says. "A lot of [people] get stuck feeling pressured and anxious, but still expect orgasm to just happen. If orgasm truly is important to you, you can spend that energy exploring different techniques and figuring out what feels good for your body."
If you want to learn more about orgasms, there are endless resources. Get real with your friends. Talk to your mom. Read a book. Figure out what makes you feel best and start there.
Why is it important for young people to know their bodies and discover their "O?"
"The corniest answer would be that you can’t really be loved until you love yourself. But also — it’s true," Kassimir says. "You have to love yourself first, figuratively and quite literally too. A lot of women expect their partners to make them cum or have some special sexual knowledge, but there’s no better knowledge than knowing exactly what you want, being able to do it yourself and being able to ask for it. Usually masturbating or using a toy is the way to figure that out."
How Cum's Charlotte Kassimir agrees. "In a way, often sex and sexual discovery isn’t about sex at all, but rather learning how to take time for ourselves and to put ourselves first," she says. "Once we do that, when we are with a partner, we can communicate much better and make the experience enjoyable for ALL parties. It’s also just incredibly cool to have control over something that powerful and well, awesome."
It's never a bad idea to go into a sexual experience knowing what you're into. By experimenting by yourself, you'll be able to tell a partner exactly what you want and need. This way, if your partner does something you don't like, you can remedy it with a pretty quick, "uh, no. How about this?"
Why are orgasms empowering for young people?
"Orgasms are empowering for everyone!" Remy Kassimir says. "It’s essentially realizing you can be self-reliant and able to give yourself a release. For some of us, it’s the first time we’ve ever been able to feel independent and self-satisfied. It also puts way less emphasis on finding 'the one.' You’re the one! How fun is that?"
Charlotte Kassimir says being able to achieve orgasm can also translate to other aspects of your life. "Not to sound super cliché, but I really do think that being confident and secure in your own skin, especially in such an intimate way (the MOST intimate way, really) affects all facets of your life for the better," she says. "If you can speak up and advocate for yourself in what many would consider the most intimidating of settings, why not also in a classroom, boardroom, etc.?"
A reminder: your orgasms are for you.
Marin says it's important to understand that your orgasm is your own. "If orgasm isn't important to you, that's totally fine!" she says. "You can have an active and satisfying sex life without them." Preach.
Empowerment, here we come. You should never feel weird or ashamed for exploring your own body. Orgasms don't come easy to a lot of people and there is nothing wrong with taking the time to learn yourself. Ultimately, orgasms are about you, your body and your experience within it.
Have a million orgasms, or zero. Whatever makes the most sense for you.