More about orgasms with and without vibrator assistance

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Dear Sex Counselor,

I have trouble orgasming unless I use my vibrator (plug in, medium size) and lately I’ve found that I can’t orgasm unless I am using it. Is it possible that I could have damaged the nerves in my clitoris somehow?? I am happily married, love to masturbate, have no problem telling my husband where and how to touch me, but still can’t orgasm unless I use my vibrator. I realize that many women don’t come during sex, but I can’t help but feel that there is something "wrong" with me!


You don’t say whether anything else has changed in your life that might affect your ability to have an orgasm. For example, some medications (especially SSRI antidepressants, and anti-hypertensive medications) can make it difficult to achieve orgasm without additional stimulation such as that provided by a vibrator.

You are very correct when you say that many women cannot have orgasms during sex, particularly if what you mean by sex is sexual intercourse. If you look at the way that women are put together, most of us are constructed such that our clitoris is nowhere near our vagina, so that intercourse will not stimulate our clitoris enough to produce an orgasm. So most women (80% or more) need additional clitoral stimulation in order to have an orgasm during intercourse.

While vibrators don’t damage the nerves, they do alter our perception of how long it takes to have an orgasm. Most women need 10-20 minutes of direct and consistent manual or oral stimulation to have an orgasm (some take longer, some shorter, but this is the average). With a vibrator you are able to have an orgasm, or several, in a couple of minutes. So you become used to the short period of time it takes to become aroused enough to have an orgasm. This is not bad, but it is something to be aware of.

Many women report that they have to consciously remind themselves that it takes longer to have an orgasm without a vibrator. The time to play with this is when you want a long, leisurely lovemaking session. There is nothing wrong with using a vibrator during sex, in fact, if it allows you to have an orgasm when you would not otherwise do so, then I would encourage you to enjoy your orgasms, and find many creative ways to incorporate your vibrator(s) into your play with your partner.

If you wish to explore sex without vibrator, then I recommend setting up a session where you are able to get extended manual or oral (or both) stimulation during which you can lie back, enjoy, and take the time that your body needs. Fingers and tongues just can’t move as fast or as intensely as a vibrator, so will take longer. You are more normal than different, and I encourage you to look at this as an opportunity to explore, define what you like and what works for you, and then incorporate what you learn into your sex life so that you get maximum pleasure.

The Sex Counselor