Just can't orgasm

Originally Published: February 2, 2001 - Last Updated / Reviewed On: June 20, 2008
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Dear Alice,

When I masturbate, I can never achieve orgasm. I've never had an orgasm and I think I am not concentrating enough. After a while, it just gets annoying down there and I give up. Any tips on how I can concentrate more or what I should think about?

Dear Reader,

Both men and women can have difficulty having the BIG "O," although it's more common among women (see archived Q&A No orgasms with intercourse (male) for more info). For many people, becoming orgasmic takes practice. Masturbation helps people figure out what feels good and what helps them build tension toward orgasm. Having already taken matters into your own hands, you've taken a step in the right direction.

Levels of concentration for orgasm vary for everyone. Some find it helpful to "be in the moment" and focus on sensation, feelings, and intensity, rather than worry about the anticipated end result. You many want to try to relax and enjoy the experience instead of concentrating too hard on reaching orgasm. Reducing pressure you put on yourself, taking the time, romancing yourself, and creating an atmosphere that turns you on can elevate the experience. Also, your thought patterns can influence your concentration. If you think "I'll never do this," or "I have work to do," this can work against you.

It's common for people to get annoyed or discouraged while trying to orgasm. When this happens, the trick is to take it to the next level. One way to do this is not to "give up," but to continue to stimulate yourself. Think of it as if you were on a diving board: you take a running start... when you get to the end... don't stop... take the plunge!

You may decide to take the plunge by experimenting with new sensations. People masturbate in different ways to heighten the level of sexual arousal. Some prefer using their fingers and hands, with or without lubricant. Others masturbate with sex toys, fantasy, or erotic magazines or videos. Kegel exercises can also increase sexual feeling and orgasmic intensity (see Kegel Technique). In addition, touching other body parts at the same time can add another dimension to pleasure — some enjoy stimulating their nipples, anus, neck, arms, and/or back (view Anal stimulation ain't just for gay men).

Some books provide information about masturbation techniques and orgasm, including:

  • Betty Dodson's, Sex for One: The Joy of Self-Loving
  • Rebecca Chalker's, The Clitoral Truth: The World at Your Fingertips.

Other Q&As to check out the Go Ask Alice! archive include:

If you're still unsuccessful, consider that certain medications, drugs, or alcohol can interfere with orgasm. If after trying the above, orgasm still doesn't happen, you can see your health care provider. If you check out okay, a sex therapist can probably help you learn to orgasm. For a referral, visit the American Association of Sexuality Educators, Counselors, and Therapists (AASECT) web site and click on the "Locate a Professional" link.

While learning how to orgasm may take time, practice makes perfect. In the meantime, enjoy the trip.

Alice

December 23, 2012

520556
Reader, I'm 23 and until last night I had your problem. Then I had an orgasm. What worked for me was ignoring the negativity "i'm never going to orgasm, this is a waste of time", and instead focusing...
Reader, I'm 23 and until last night I had your problem. Then I had an orgasm. What worked for me was ignoring the negativity "i'm never going to orgasm, this is a waste of time", and instead focusing on the sensations, then pushing through the stage where I used to get my mental block. Force yourself to keep going. It's pretty fun when it finally comes, just don't worry about it because it makes it harder.

December 11, 2012

519996
to the reader: pulsating vibrator... don't think about "trying", just let yourself go by tensing up your muscles throughout your body and just not thinking... that's how it happened for me =)
to the reader: pulsating vibrator... don't think about "trying", just let yourself go by tensing up your muscles throughout your body and just not thinking... that's how it happened for me =)

June 9, 2008

21290

To the reader:

There are many vaginal areas which can be stimulated to orgasm other then the G-Spot or clitoris. So if you cannot achieve/or in addition to these two areas you can try...

To the reader:

There are many vaginal areas which can be stimulated to orgasm other then the G-Spot or clitoris. So if you cannot achieve/or in addition to these two areas you can try others. One area that is particularly sensitive is at the bottom of the vagina where the hymen is located or was located. Gently (or maybe your preference is not so gently) rubbing this area will produce a very nice orgasm. Also, I found that by stroking only one side of the vaginal wall I can produce an orgasm and when done with that one stroke the other side for another what else?? Orgasm. Experiment by starting just inside then work your way up farther a little at a time. Same with the top and bottom of the vaginal walls also. The trick is to stimulate the muscle enough to contraction then sweet explosion.

July 26, 2007

21261
hi, i had exactly the same problem as you up until about 2 months ago. all of a sudden it just happened, and then it seemed so easy after that i can have an orgasm whenever i want! i just wanted to...
hi, i had exactly the same problem as you up until about 2 months ago. all of a sudden it just happened, and then it seemed so easy after that i can have an orgasm whenever i want! i just wanted to tell you to hang in there! there is nothing wrong with you and it will happen! the thing that did it for me was talking to my boyfriend about it and talking through my worries, after which i reaxed and stopped pressuring myself. don't think of orgasm as your destination, if it happens its wonderful but if not its the journey that counts!! hope this has helped!

February 22, 2007

21192

Dear Reader,

You mentioned the problem of things getting "annoying" down there. I have the same problem in that my skin starts feeling really irritated from too much rubbing. Some...

Dear Reader,

You mentioned the problem of things getting "annoying" down there. I have the same problem in that my skin starts feeling really irritated from too much rubbing. Some water-based lube may help things go more smoothly. You didn't mention if you used fantasy along with your fingers. Your imagination may just be the secret ingredient that you need, and you don't have to share your fantasy with anyone.

Please keep trying and don't give up on yourself. I wish you many stimulating times in the future!

May 3, 2002

20424
Alice, In response to Just can't orgasm and all other female orgasm questions, I would like to say the following: my boyfriend always seemed really great at oral sex. I felt...
Alice, In response to Just can't orgasm and all other female orgasm questions, I would like to say the following: my boyfriend always seemed really great at oral sex. I felt I orgasmed every time. I also felt I orgasmed during intercourse. However, I then mastered masturbation manually and using vibrators and I experienced such intense orgasms that I questioned whether or not I had actually ever orgasmed. I then had very high expectations of what I wanted my orgasms to be every time I had oral sex with my boyfriend. I realized I was wrong in thinking this when I read that one should enjoy what one feels instead of waiting to feel something specific. I also determined that I had in fact been orgasming all along, but they were very subtle orgasms. I feel badly for putting my boyfriend through my self-discovery and making him think he never pleasured me. We are also going to try to incorporate a vibrator in our love making just for fun, NOT because it's better or because my boyfriend isn't good. My suggestion for any woman trying to orgasm is to try vibrators so you will know what an INTENSE orgasm is like and then just relax and enjoy what you feel — wherever it may fall on the spectrum of intensity. And don't be afraid to try new things: ice, Altoid mints, vibrators, whatever! Just have fun.

-the big O