I have a hard time orgasming during sex. I masturbated for years and think it has hindered me from having orgasms with my girlfriend. We have to get me off masturbating after I get her off. What can I do?
Believe it or not, I hear this question from cis* men like yourself, and the people who love them, a lot. File it under “topic many people struggle with but no one knows anyone else struggles with.” It’s estimated that 1-4 percent of men experience delayed or inhibited ejaculation.
Ejaculation and orgasm aren’t the same
In people with penises, the two processes often occur together but they aren’t intrinsically tied. For this piece, we’re going to talk about them interchangeably because that is typically how it’s discussed within a medical setting.
Don’t blame masturbation, change it
You mention masturbation hindering your ability to experience orgasm. This may be true. Anecdotally, most of the people who report delayed ejaculation also tend to rely on uncommon masturbation techniques. These can include rubbing the penis against a harsh fabric like a rug or your mattress, using a strong vibrator, or stroking with a dry hand.
If that’s the case, consider changing how you masturbate. Start by not masturbating for several days. This builds sexual tension and arousal. When you begin masturbating, switch it up. Use a dry hand one session, then a well-lubricated one; watch porn, then don’t; rub one out in the shower, then while sitting down; etc. This helps your body learn to experience orgasm in new situations.
Manage your mind
It’s normal to feel a whole range of emotions when our bodies and our sex lives don’t work the way we hope, want, and have been taught they will. Most commonly, there’s a sense of shame, guilt, or embarrassment. You want to fix what’s wrong!
I invite you to get curious about the thoughts and feelings you have around this issue. Here are some questions to explore. I recommend writing down your answers to these questions, and when you think you’ve answered them thoroughly, to ask, “what else?”
- What thoughts run through your head when before, during, and after sex?
- How do these thoughts, and this situation makes you feel?
(If naming your emotions is newer or challenging to you, a feelings wheel can be a supportive tool.)
- What does struggling to orgasm during intercourse mean to you? What do you believe it says about you? About your relationship? Are these things true?
There aren’t any “right” answers here—it’s all about your Truth. So often as adults, subconscious thoughts rule our thoughts, feelings, and behaviors. Getting under the surface frees you to choose the sexual messages you want to believe and act on.
Take the pressure off
Orgasm thrives in situations of relaxation, not pressure. If your girlfriend—or your internal monologue—keeps asking, “Are you there yet?” I promise that’s not helping this situation. At the risk of being trite, it helps to remember that sex—like life—is about the journey, not the destination.
It’s also important to note here that many of us spend a good chunk of our sexual lives worried about pregnancy and STIs. There’s no switch that gets flipped when your reality goes from worrying about coming inside someone to free love.
Change your goal
Is the sex you have with your girlfriend intimate? Exciting? Fulfilling? Fun?
Instead of focusing on the orgasm, get curious about what it would be like to focus on pleasure. Change your question “How can I orgasm during intercourse?” to “How can I experience more pleasure?”
Focus on foreplay
Spend lots of time enjoying all the other fun sex acts available to you. Get yourself worked up right to that edge before going for intercourse.
Talk to the experts
Certain medical conditions and medications impact one’s ability to orgasm. It’s always worth checking in with a medical doctor to discuss what’s going on. If this is a long-standing problem, I also recommend connecting with a sex educator or therapist who can provide personalized support.
Make peace with your body
So much of sex has to do with your perspective—how you and your partner(s) think and feel about your sex life. Changing your perspective on what a good sex life looks like, regardless of whether you experience orgasm during intercourse or not, often is the very thing that leads to the intimate, exciting, and fulfilling sex life you crave.
*Cis, short for cisgender, is a gender identity in which the person agrees with the sex they were assigned at birth. Other gender identities include transgender, non-binary, and gender-nonconforming.