How can I learn to orgasm during intercourse?

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Dear Sex Counselor,

I am a 45-year-old reasonably healthy woman, a mother of five and in shape. I am finally writing this because I have never ever had an orgasm during sex. I have tried everything, but the only way I orgasm is to use a vibrator. I learned to do this by reading a book by Lonnie Barbach called "For Yourself". The exercises helped and I found out what it was about to orgasm, but still can’t do it during sex with my partner. I feel so bad when I have to fake it with my husband - if I could have an orgasm during sex, I would do it everytime. My husband says my clitoris is small. Could this be my problem, or am I doomed forever?


Let’s start by helping you understand that what you are describing is normal sexual response, and that there is nothing wrong with you. 80 percent of women do not have orgasms during intercourse unless they add clitoral stimulation by a finger or a vibrator. 80 percent! So you’re among the very normal majority.

The first thing I want you to do is to stop faking orgasms. It’s not your "fault" that you don’t have them during intercourse, and it’s not your partner’s "fault" either. You can enjoy intercourse with your partner as an intimate activity between the two of you without the need to achieve some kind of goal. You can choose to have orgasms before or after intercourse with the help of your vibrator, or maybe with oral sex performed on you by your partner, but don’t feel guilty or push yourself to fake an orgasm because you’re worried about hurting your partner’s feelings. Let him know that you know it’s not something he’s doing wrong and it’s not something that’s wrong with you either.

Then, let’s talk about your anatomy, and what does and doesn’t happen during sex for you. The clitoris is mostly hidden under the skin (which is why it seems like your clitoris is "small" - most of it lies under your labia and cannot be seen), and very little of it gets direct stimulation during intercourse. Most women need direct stimulation of the clitoris to have an orgasm, and many women need the intensity of a vibrator to have an orgasm because even fingers and mouths have a hard time providing the consistent and intense stimulation that they need to achieve orgasm. This sounds like what is happening for you. There’s nothing wrong with you; it’s just about what works for you and what doesn’t.

What most women have to do is find a way to make sure that they either get stimulated to orgasm before or after intercourse by using a vibrator or having their partner perform oral or manual stimulation on them. Or they have intercourse in such a way that they can stimulate their clitoris with a vibrator or hand stimulation, either their own hand or their partner’s, during intercourse. This means having intercourse in positions where you are on top, side-by-side, him entering you from behind, or sitting up in a chair, so there is room and the correct angle to slip something between the two of you so you can get direct clitoral stimulation during intercourse.

So I want to encourage you to do some experimenting; bring your vibrator to your sex play with your partner, and be okay with how you have your orgasms. Teach your partner what you have learned about how you have orgasms, and then go ahead from there. There’s nothing wrong with you or him; you just have some learning to do about different ways to explore pleasure together.

The Sex Counselor