Q&A with J: “I Just Can’t Seem to Orgasm”

My Q&A with J feature has moved to Thursdays, giving me more time in the week to contemplate my response and answer. Today’s reader question is about one of our favorite topics (right, ladies?): orgasm.

We’ve been married for only 18 wonderful months, and have enjoyed the journey so far! But, I just can’t seem to orgasm. . . . I’m very body confident and pro sex, so I don’t think negative attitudes are what is holding me back. We have tried so many things to help me get there, and I often read blogs and Christian books to glean information. . . . When we make love it’s like I go up and up and up, and feel like I can’t possibly go any higher, but just can’t find what will help me tumble over the edge. It’s frustrating.

I know you encourage masturbation in these circumstances, to find out what works, but my husband closes up at the idea of me going solo, even if he were to be present. This is probably because I had an issue with masturbation when I was a sexually frustrated single woman. Because it was sin to me then, he has a hard time even accepting that it could be part of our marriage bed.

So I was wondering if you have any other ideas that might help, or are we just too green yet? Can I expect that with more time, trial and error and getting to know one another will eventually get me where I want to go?

Q&A with J: "I Just Can't Seem to Orgasm"

How many wives have experienced that annoyance of not getting all the way to orgasm? At times, that climax can feel as elusive as the answer to that one crossword puzzle clue you can’t solve. So how can you “tumble over the edge”?

I have stated before that wives who cannot seem to orgasm may want to explore their own bodies to see what works and to demonstrate to their husbands how to touch them. This is very different from pursuing solo masturbation as a habit, because it’s for information and intimacy between husband and wife. But that’s certainly not the only way to go about this, and given the reader’s history, I can understand not wanting to introduce this activity.

First, here are a few prior posts about orgasm:

Orgasm: If Only I Could O
3 Tips on Having a Great Orgasm
What’s So Great about an Orgasm?
But I Still Can’t Orgasm! What Next?

And Julie Sibert of Intimacy in Marriage has a reference page for orgasm posts written by her and others. Reading those posts may help.

Ah, the frustration! I can’t help but think that one is issue is how hard we wives try. I understand that moment when you’re in the midst of making love and what your husband is doing is totally turning you on, and you think any minute now this is going to give me the kind of orgasm that deserves a standing ovation, and then . . . you’re waiting . . . you’re waiting . . . still waiting . . .

“Frustrating” is accurate. But here’s what happens to your body when you’re frustrated:

Throat closes
Stomach hardens
Chest tightens
Blood pressure rises
Head aches
Jaw hurts*

Does any of that sound sexy? No, not really. Of course, your body can tighten up and your blood pressure can rise when you’re in the midst of an amazing high, but most physiology of frustration runs counter to getting you fully to climax.

Which is why when you reach that why can’t I edge over?! moment, one help is to back off that ledge, breathe deeply, and focus merely on the sensations happening in your pleasure zones. This may take you to an earlier point so that you have to build back up again, but you’re more likely to reach orgasm if you can lean into those feelings rather than having them tighten you up.

But what about sex toys? I know exactly what some readers are thinking right now: Just grab a vibrator already and let the buzz do the job! And I know vibrators have helped wives who really struggle with orgasm to finally reach climax. I think there’s a place for such marital aids.

But honestly, the longer I’ve been writing about sex in marriage, the less eager I am about sex toys. Maybe it’s because I watched this shift in our culture to sex being a purely physical experience, and then saw that perspective move in and take hold in some Christian circles. And while I’m 100% sold on sex being physically pleasurable (thank you, God!), if that’s our main focus, we’re missing out on God’s full design for sex in marriage.

There’s something valuable and sensual about using only the body parts God gave you to satisfy one another sexually. Not that it has to happen that way every time, but sex toys can shortcut the opportunity to really get to know our own body and our spouse’s body. Speaking for myself, I find it seriously sexy what my husband’s hand can do, but I wouldn’t be so impressed if a device with batteries did the same thing.

My point is simply that the ideal is to figure out together how to bring complete sexual satisfaction to one another without depending on outside frills. If the problem continues for a long time, however, I’d certainly look into marital aids as an option.

Practical tips. This wife says, “We have tried so many things to help me get there.” Since I don’t know what “so many things” includes, here’s a quick roundup of ideas:

Parts. Contact with his penis is the least easy way to reach orgasm. (Sorry, guys, it’s great — but I’m being honest here.) To reach that first, second, or maybe fifth orgasm, he should use his hands or his mouth.

Pacing. Take time with the build-up. This might feel like a slow-motion movie to a guy itching to get it on with his wife, but oftentimes it’s that first orgasm that’s hardest to reach. Once you know your bodies better, it can become a quicker process. Let your hubby know where to start and what you need, guiding the pacing with clear communication.

Pressure. The right pressure matters. Too hard, and you won’t feel good. Too soft, and you won’t feel. Help him know how much friction you’d like and whether he should press or stroke harder or softer. He’ll likely need to change the pacing as you go, so help him make adjustments.

Positions. Try lying on your back, lying on your stomach, straddling him, butterfly pose (knees cocked out, opening up access), on your knees, sitting on the edge of a chair, whatever you can think of. Despite all of us ladies having the same basic parts, our sensitivities are not the same, and some positions will give you more pleasure than others. See what works for you.

Clitoris. That’s what he’s aiming for. Make sure he starts elsewhere and gets you warmed up, but when it’s time to aim for the climax, he needs to be making pleasurable contact with that little knob of flesh between your urethral opening and your vagina.

Edging. I’ve been planning to write a whole post about this technique, so I’ll move that up in my queue and get to it soon. But edging in mutual sex is bringing your partner close to orgasm, slowing things down, and then bringing her back up again — a few times. This can increase the intensity so that when he finally follows through, it’s easier to reach orgasm.

He’s doing great. One last thing I want to mention: It’s frustrating for hubby too. The general message out there is that real men make their women hit the ceiling with orgasms every time. I have yet to see a rom-com or read a romance novel where the guy was a great lover but his woman didn’t climax. Which is frankly silly.

To husbands reading this, you’re a terrible lover if you aren’t trying. But if it’s a more of a challenge than you expected, hang in there and help her reach the height of pleasure that she, and you, deserve.

And for you wife, reassure your hubby that he’s doing great, that you’re in this together, and that you love that closeness with him. Of course, you want the orgasm and that should be a priority, but let your husband know he rocks your world in many ways.

What other ideas would you add for reaching orgasm?**

*From The Emotion Thesaurus by Angela Ackerman & Becca Puglisi, a must-have book for fiction authors!

**You might want to check out my Comments Policy. Highly graphic comments or comments linking to questionable resources do not get approved.

15 thoughts on “Q&A with J: “I Just Can’t Seem to Orgasm”

  1. Lee

    Wow. Her story nearly mirrors mine. My wonderful husband and I have been married almost 6 months – we waited for sex till we were married. I was raised with a healthy view of sex, I very much enjoy having sex, I don’t think I’m very inhibited, but I can’t seem to orgasm. I still love having sex even without the orgasm, but both of us are dying for me to get there. I feel like we’ve tried so many times, and I get really close and then just stay there.
    I know we’ll get it one day, and we pray about it. I just wish there was a magic answer. Sometimes I’ve wondered if my clitoris is broken 😛 Thank you for your post – it inspires me to keep trying.

    Reply
  2. Ron

    This was (sort of) an issue we had some time ago. Orgasm for her thru intercourse was not going to happen due to some physical issues of mine, so we (ahem) let my fingers do the walking. Um, yeah, that was OK she said, but on a 0-5 scale, it was about a 3. We tried oral on her, but the need for me to breathe became a source of frustration, and we rarely got above a 3. Then we experimented with oral with me approaching from her side, not a true 180 degree like in 69, but more like a 120 degree approach. That allowed me to breathe while continuing, and that was when we broke the 0-5 scale. It’s a regular part of our loving now, and the scale has been extended to beyond 10 😉 Don’t be afraid to experiment. You may find a gold mine.

    Reply
  3. A happy wife

    How about adding a bit of lubrication while he manually stimulates you? For me that helps with getting the right pressure. Also try stimulating the clitoral stem rather than directly on the clitoris. Sometimes direct stimulation can feel overwhelming and be distracting. Once he stimulates the stem for a while it doesn’t take me long before I am ready for him to touch the clitoris directly and shortly thereafter I am tumbling over the edge. My final suggestion is to stimulate multiple places at once. While he manually stimulates you have him gently suck your breast or insert a finger in your vagina. Consider doing that part for yourself while he focuses on the clitoris . That way you have skin in the game and can create sensations you find pleasurable. Since that might cause problems in your relationship ask him if he’d be willing to stimulate you in multiple places at the same time. God bless you and keep at it!!

    Reply
  4. MM

    I have found that keeping myself trimmed makes a difference. I assume it’s because of more direct skin to skin contact.

    Reply
  5. HarpString

    Some questions for you:

    So how long would you advise waiting in a marriage before trying toys/vibes if nothing else was working to find a way to climax?

    What do you do if a husband has lost interest in learning what works?

    Do you think that any woman capable of orgasm is capable of reaching it using non-mechanical methods, or is it possible that some need the high level of stimulation that a vibe can produce?

    My situation: Both clueless virgins when we got married, and intercourse was initially painful for me, although that resolved after a few weeks. We tried various methods for several years but I never climaxed, so my husband stopped trying. Sex was just for him. I struggled for several more years, and we did try a few toys but still nothing worked. Finally, pretty recently, I figured out how to use a vibe effectively by myself and experienced a sexual awakening.

    But my husband still isn’t interested in trying to learn how to turn me on and stimulate me himself. He seems content to let me keep using the vibe, but that’s not a solution. I used it intending for it to be a stepping stone to a more connected sex life. This should be an exciting new chapter in our marriage. I don’t get why he wouldn’t want to retry everything we’ve done before to see what might work now that I know how to let it happen. But his disinterest is a turn-off and it’s very hard for me to get there with him even using the vibe, never mind trying other things. Even when he used to try things, it was pretty half-hearted. Now that my prayers for reaching orgasm have been answered, I pray I might rekindle his interest, as mine is slipping away.

    Reply
    1. J Post author

      I don’t think the issue here is a lack of the right sex toy, but rather your husband’s frustration, sense of failure, and giving up. I know some will disagree with me, but I think almost every woman can reach orgasm without mechanical intervention. Does that make sex toys always wrong? No, of course not. They definitely can help some wives.

      But if I was struggling to get my hubby to orgasm, and he said, “Never mind. Just use this toy,” I might feel even worse. Like I was being replaced by a cyborg mate. So I get that feeling, whether it makes sense in a particular circumstance or not. So I think dealing with that issue can be important for you two deciding how to best go forward.

      Honestly, you should talk to your doctor to see if there are any physiological issues. And try a lot of different stuff (positions, foreplay activities, etc.), because even if you end up needing the greater stimulation that a sex toy can provide, it would be nice to have the just-us-two option from time to time. It’s a pretty heady thing to make your mate climax just with the God-given body you have.

      I know I’m walking the fence a bit here, but so much depends on a specific scenario. Coordinate with your doctor and your husband. And I’ll write soon about difficulties in orgasming again. Because it continues to be an issue I receive emails about. Blessings!

      Reply
  6. Anonymous

    We have been married for over 35 years. My wife has never an a true O, probably due to her health issues like fibromyalgia. She has not asked her doctor about this problem (probably too embarrassing). She is okay with this. She enjoys the time with me.

    Reply
  7. Ashley

    There are a couple of things that help me. One is making sure I get clitoris stimulation while hubby’s inside me. In the position we use most often, it’s easier for me to get my finger in there, than for him. Also, we have this tingly gel that I apply when things are getting close, and it usually gives that last little boost I need.

    Reply
  8. Jemmie

    Orgasm doesn’t feel like you think it will. For me, I’m still not completely sure I ever have- but I think I do. It’s just a feeling of not being able to go on to the point of collapse. That’s it. Honestly nothing amazing. But when I do, I can feel my husband coming, afterward. And that’s the very best part, for me.

    Reply
  9. Jared

    My advice would be to check if her husband is having an orgasm or not. Ejaculation and orgasm are not the same thing to a man (ask any man, he will tell you there is a difference). A man can ejaculate without having an orgasm. If he isn’t having an orgasm either, chances are he doesn’t feel that great about the experience.

    She should aim for both of them to orgasm. Its definitely one of those things that will be better if you both experience it at the same general time.

    You certainly don’t only want one person to have one, because then the other person may feel like they are “missing out”. If he isn’t having an orgasm, she should ask what she could do better. Who knows, maybe if he isn’t having them and suddenly does, it make him try harder to make sure she has one.

    Reply
  10. El Fury

    Every person’s body is different, and it’s just a fact that some (most) women don’t have orgasms from penis-in-vagina sex alone. Use your hands, his hands, his mouth, or whatever it takes to make it happen. My wife and I use sex toys about 1/3 of the time, and they’ve been nothing but a blessing to our sex life.

    Reply
  11. Possum's Wife

    One thing to consider is medications being taken. I am on an antidepressant that, unfortunately, has a side effect of preventing me from orgasm. I get so close, but just cannot get over that edge. It’s a real struggle for me, as I usually have no trouble reaching orgasm when off the med, but I’m a total wreck mentally if I stop taking it. I’m not sure if all antidepressants have this side-effect, but it’s something to consider.

    Reply

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