When having sex, should I worry if I don't feel an orgasm? What should I do if I don't experience an orgasm during sex?


 Do I need to worry if I don't orgasm during sex? In a word: No. As long as sex is a consensual, pain-free and enjoyable experience, there’s no need to worry if you didn’t orgasm during sex.

Your image of good sex has likely been informed by movies, porn and magazine articles with titles like “10 Tips for Having Mind-Blowing Orgasms Every Time.” If you’re older, it may have been formed by late-night Cinemax movies with blue-tinted lighting, soft jazz and just enough nakedness to make it look real. Either way, you’ve likely come to think that if you’re doing it right, sex always ends in simultaneous orgasms.

Not in real life. In real life, sex is rarely a beautiful, choreographed dance, and there’s no guarantee that both partners will come at all, let alone at the same time. That’s OK.

As a sex educator, I’ve learned that most questions about sex come from the same underlying concern: “Am I normal?” (And there’s the closely related, “Am I good in bed?) I realize that I don’t know anything about you — not even your sex, gender or sexual orientation — but nonetheless, I can promise that you are not alone.

In one study of over 50,000 people, 95% of heterosexual men said they always/usually orgasmed when with a partner. That still leaves 5% who did not, and the percentages went down from there: 89% of gay men, 88% of bisexual men, 86% of lesbian women, 66% of bisexual women and 65% of heterosexual women said they always/usually orgasmed with a partner.

We can get a lot out of sex even if there’s no big finish. Kissing, licking and touching all feel good. Having someone run their hands through your hair or their fingers down your spine can send the good kind of chills all over your body. The skin-to-skin contact that comes with a loving naked snuggle can release some of the same bonding hormones that flood our brains after an orgasm. And there can be a lot of satisfaction in getting your partner off.

So while there’s no need to worry if you don’t have an orgasm with your partner, you might like to change the situation. If that’s the case, it’s worth exploring why you don’t orgasm with a partner.

The first question I’d ask is whether you orgasm when you're alone. If not, you might need to take some time to figure out what’s going on physically. Certain health conditions and medications can make it harder to orgasm. If this is the case — or if there is any pain during sex or masturbation — start by seeing a health care provider (you can find a sexual health expert here).

If you orgasm just fine when you’re flying solo, I’d suspect a different issue. This, too, is normal by the way: 92% of women orgasm during masturbation which, looking back at the stats above, is a lot higher than the number who consistently orgasm during sex with a partner. This could be a technique issue (sometimes we have to train our partners on the best way to touch us) or an issue with what you’re doing in bed (only about 1 in 5 women orgasm from penis-in-vagina sex, for example). It might also be a case of performance anxiety, especially if your partner is eager to make you climax. The intention is good, but the pressure can make it worse.

If you haven’t talked about this with your partner yet, it’s time. Trust me, they’ve noticed that you’re not finishing with a bang. (Very few people are actually good at faking it.) This is not the kind of issue that goes away if you ignore it. In fact, a lot of couples who struggle with orgasm end up avoiding sex all together, which is something I’d absolutely tell you to worry about.

Start by acknowledging what’s going on and letting your partner know what you want. Be gentle when you talk to them — they grew up with the same pro-orgasm messages that you did and may be feeling pretty bad about it. If you’re fine with having orgasm-less sex, explain that to them, and let them off the hook for any feelings of failures. If, on the other hand, you’d like to work on reaching orgasm more often, let them know how they can help. Work together to try new techniques, new positions and new sex toys to see what reliably knocks your socks off.

My best advice is to put aside any shame or FOMO and go into sex with an open mind each time. Let yourself enjoy every sensation without worrying about the end game. If you have an orgasm, great. If not, relax in the idea that you still had a good time.

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