Given how sex is portrayed in Hollywood and porn, one might think that orgasms come easily for everyone (else), so to speak. However many folks face challenges with orgasm. And some wonder if they are having orgasms or not. While one can experience much pleasure and satisfaction without a climax, difficulties with orgasm can be a great source of distress for some individuals and couples. It can raise feelings of shame, inadequacy and brokenness for the individual and often a partner as well.
To be clear, orgasm is not the holy grail of sex. For most, the reason to have sex is not just about the orgasm. But when it is missing, its silence and absence are often deafening. So if you or a partner find it hard to orgasm, here are some suggestions (which, by the way, also might help those who are already quite happy with their climax).
Calm Down Your Brain
Easier said than done, it is not just about relaxing. It is about calming down the ideas spinning in our heads. Sometimes they are so insidious that we do not even notice that they are there. Thoughts about “Will I get there?”, “What if it doesn’t happen again?”, “What is wrong with me?” are common. Equally common are dialogues about whether our partner finds us attractive, how to respectfully ask for a different kind of stimulation, or what we should cook for dinner. All of these mental distractions take us away from feeling our pleasure.
Moreover, many of these thoughts are anxiety-ridden. When we have sex, our body is supposed to be in “rest and digest” mode where the blood flows freely to our erectile tissues. As soon as we get anxious- and it does not take much to flip the switch- our body shifts into fight or flight mode. Our ancient brain interprets this stress as the equivalent of a bear chasing us: ie not an appropriate time to have an orgasm. And thus all of the blood flows back to our main organs to be able to run away from the presumed bear. As a result, erections/ arousal gradually dissipate or ejaculations happen quickly in order to lose the erection, with frustration often ensuing. Take note of any such messages swirling in your brain and talk about them later with your therapist, partner and/or trusted friend. Banishing those messages is a first step to working towards an orgasm- or at least to noticing more pleasure.
Savour the Sensations
Imagine eating the last truffle you will ever get for the rest of your life. Picture how much you would notice the texture, taste, sensations on different parts of your tongue and mouth. You would be so into it (unless you are not a chocolate fan, in which case, imagine something else you love) that you would not worry whether you were doing it right, what others thought or hypothetically, naked people dancing in your midst. All of your attention would be on the truffle.
Do the same thing when you have sex. Focus on the sensations and try to fill your brain with noticing the pleasure and seeing how much you can feel. When you focus so much attention on the pleasure, there is no room to worry about your performance or what you look like or what will happen or not happen later. You are simply so focused on the enjoyment that orgasm might be a surprise. When you stop looking for it, sometimes it appears. Or at least more pleasure is likely to emerge.
Men are often told to think of something other than sex, to distract themselves from the anxious thoughts surrounding the behaviour of their erection. But then much of the pleasure is lost. Instead, focus on the pleasure at hand. Notice the sensations and fill your brain with as much as you can feel. Pleasure is more likely to result as well as more satisfaction with one’s “performance”.
Permission to Get Assistance
Sometimes we need a little help. Lube can make everything feel better. Even if we have a vagina, we might need to add lubrication for external pleasure where there is no natural wetness. And medications, menopause, hormones and stress can affect how wet we are internally as well.
Sometimes we need a little more intensity than what a hand, tongue or penis can offer. A sleeve or stroker can add a little more pressure on a penis while giving your hand a break. Other toys can offer internal stimulation with added pressure according to our desires. And as long as there is lube, more pressure can often feel surprisingly great.
And some of us need the power of a vibrator. The Hot Octopuss sleeve vibrates the frenulum of the penis and can be used with or without an erection. The Original Magic Wand has power and breadth of contact with its large head that some of us need in order to orgasm. Some newer toys like the Satisfyer provide throbbing pulses and a slight suction indirectly around the clitoris or frenulum. Of course the good ol’ standby of the detachable shower head is another great option for an alternative type of sensation. And there is no shame in using these types of products to enhance our pleasure. Some of us need glasses to see, others need a calculator to do math; some of us need a toy in order to orgasm.
Everyone is going to need something slightly different in order to maximize their pleasure. While it is lovely to read, watch and listen to learn what works for others, using those suggestions as options to try rather than as sure-fire pathways to pleasure is more realistic. Explore and play on your own and/or with a partner. You may be surprised to discover some new favourite techniques along the way.