Too young to orgasm?

Dear Alice,

I'm 17 years old and my boyfriend and I are having oral sex. When I perform fellatio on him, he loves it. But when he performs cunnilingus on me, I don't feel anything. He stimulates my clitoris, both with his tongue and fingers, but I end up faking it rather than becoming genuinely aroused. I'm beginning to wonder if I'm too young to have an orgasm. I want to become sexually active with him, but I'm afraid that that won't help me feel anything, either. And sex is too big a risk to take for me not to even get anything enjoyable out of it. Is there something wrong with me?

A Youngin' Who Ain't Cumin'

Dear A Youngin' Who Ain't Cumin',

Before delving into potential explanations, it’s good to remind yourself that the big “O” is only one (optional) part of having enjoyable sex. The age of first orgasms varies — it’s as early as childhood for some or well into adulthood for others. That being said, it’s unlikely that age is a factor; rather, it might be that it’s taking some time to learn how to have an orgasm. A good place to start might be to get some more practice (solo or with your partner) to figure out what makes sex enjoyable and safe for you. You may find it helpful to speak with your partner about your concerns. Additionally, you may decide to talk to with a health care provider to rule out potential medical reasons that are preventing you from climaxing might be helpful.

Figuring out your anatomy, the ideal stimuli, and the right mood for you takes patience and practice. One strategy is to learn to orgasm by yourself first, and then apply those techniques during sex with a partner. Touching yourself may be a place to start by using your fingers to see what feels good to you. Orgasm is a learned physiological response and this process will help you discover what you respond to best. Check out the Masturbation category if this is something which with you're unfamiliar or just want more information!

It's also good to consider that there are a variety of factors that contribute to feeling both physically and psychologically aroused when having sex. Have you been able to orgasm outside of oral sex? Would it feel better if your boyfriend varied his style, intensity, or duration of his movements during oral sex? Are there other psychological or emotional factors that prevent you from feeling comfortable and enjoying the experience? Or, are you a person who just isn’t turned on by oral sex? Reflecting on these questions may give you a bit more insight into addressing this on your own — and fodder for discussion with your beau. If you haven’t communicated these concerns with your partner, you may consider it. Doing so may open the doors to talking about your respective and shared pleasure and ways to improve both together! And, if you still find that getting to the big O is still elusive, you might consider speaking with a health care provider or mental health professional about what might be factoring into your orgasmic challenges. Also, if you’d like to have penetrative sex and are worried about potential risks, try speaking with a health care provider or health promotion specialist about safer sex practices, contraceptive methods, and sexually transmitted infection (STI) prevention.

Whatever sexual activities in which you choose to engage, it’s good to remember that sex is an experience and isn’t defined by having — or not having — an orgasm. Trying to focus on the enjoyment, pleasure, and connection you have either with your own body (in solo activities) or with your partner (in paired pleasure sessions) may help you increase the sexual satisfaction you experience. To learn more about orgasms, check out the Orgasms category in the Go Ask Alice! Sexual & Reproductive Health archives.

Hope this helps!

Last updated May 25, 2018
Originally published Feb 27, 1998

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