Easing orgasms for women

Originally Published: November 1, 1993 - Last Updated / Reviewed On: October 21, 2011
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Alice,

What about women who find it hard to orgasm? Can you advise?

— Signed, Looking for Pleasure

Dear Looking for Pleasure,

Pressing and rubbing the clitoris can lead to many pleasurable sensations: pelvic fullness, bodily tension, tingly sensations, earth-shattering shakes, and more. An orgasm is the point at which all the tension is suddenly released in a series of involuntary and pleasurable muscular contractions. For women, these contractions can be felt in a variety of places, including the vagina, uterus, and/or rectum. Orgasms can be mild, intense, ecstatic, or sensuous, depending on the woman, the environment, the moment, the type of stimulation, her partner…the list goes on and on.

Many women find it difficult to have an orgasm, either alone or with a partner. Lack of information, shame about touching one's own body, and/or unknown fears are only a few factors that may prevent women from learning how to orgasm. The following are common barriers that women experience when trying to achieve an orgasm:

  • Concentrating on thoughts, rather than sensations. It's easy to be distracted, wondering whether or not you're doing it right, why it isn't going well, getting bored with yourself, wondering what your partner is thinking, whether or not he or she is impatient, and/or whether or not your lover can last.
  • Worrying that you won't have an orgasm, even though you are aroused, and so you don't want to get into the hassle of trying, repressing your sexual response.
  • Fearing that asking too much from your partner might seem demanding.
  • Fearing that if your partner concentrates on your pleasure, you will feel such pressure to come that you won't be able to — and then you don't.
  • Trying to orgasm simultaneously.
  • Feeling conflict about, or anger at, your partner.
  • Having guilt about sex, which may prevent you from really enjoying it.
  • Rushing into sex — being swept off your feet, just like in the movies, and being swept under the rug when it comes to climaxes.

Fortunately, there are many resources out there aimed at educating women and their partners about pleasure. You may want to check out the related questions, and the Go Ask Alice! archive for a plethora of questions about orgasms. If you want to hit the books, Lonnie G. Barbach's For Yourself: The Fulfillment of Female Sexuality and Betty Dodson's Sex for One: The Joy of Self-Loving, are the orgasm bibles. Also look at Julia Heiman and Joseph LoPiccolo's book, Becoming Orgasmic: A Sexual and Personal Growth Program for Women. Some hints about relaxation and effective techniques for achieving fulfilling orgasms, whenever you want them, can be found in these books.

Alice

February 13, 2004

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Dear Alice, I'm just commenting on a variety of answers given in regards to a woman's difficulty in reaching an orgasm. Your answers really helped me to understand what may or may not be going on...
Dear Alice, I'm just commenting on a variety of answers given in regards to a woman's difficulty in reaching an orgasm. Your answers really helped me to understand what may or may not be going on and gave me great ideas for a checklist I can develop so I can figure out what I need to work on. Thanks so much! It's just such a relief to know that it's not just me!