Ask Emily: I’m Not Having Orgasms During Sex

not having orgasms during sex

Dear Emily, 

Is there something wrong with me because I’m not having orgasms during sex? My friends all rave about how amazing their sex lives are but I feel like I’m totally missing out because I can only orgasm with myself. Because of this, I end up faking it with the guys I have sex with and I know I can’t go on like this forever. Any advice?


Dear Michelle,

It sounds like you have sexual FOMO—which I totally get! I used to be in a very similar situation. I felt like all of my friends were having great sex and I just didn’t see what the big deal was. Now I understand my needs and my body, and I’m going to help you to do the same. 

Orgasms aren’t the point of sex, but it’s still pretty frustrating when you’re unable to have one. If you’re tired of not having orgasms (or even faking them), fear not. We’ll get you set up with the tools you need to start making sex the orgasmic experience you deserve. 

There’s nothing wrong with you.

First of all, please don’t beat yourself up if you’re not having orgasms during sex. Many of us first learn about sex by seeing it on TV or through porn. In many of these fictional scenarios (emphasis on the word fictional), we see a woman who is climaxing from sheer penetration alone—and that isn’t always the case in real life. 

Only 20% of women can orgasm from penetration. Most of us need clitoral stimulation. But we typically don’t see that part in media, and so it’s understandable why you would be confused as to why you’re not having orgasms during sex.

Quit faking. 

We get it—it can be so tempting to fake an orgasm. The majority of vulva owners have done it. We often fake orgasms because A) we don’t want to disappoint our partners and B) we want the sex to end. But try to get out of the habit of faking orgasms. 

If this means having a conversation with your partner, lead with empathy and kindness. Tell them that you enjoy your sex, but you’ve been struggling to orgasm and you would love it if this could be a project that the two of you embarked upon together. While there’s a chance they might partially blame themselves for your struggle to orgasm, gently remind them that you enjoy the sex you’re having, you just want to try some new things. An attentive partner will be excited to pleasure you. 

Do a little bit of me-search. 

One of the best ways to start having orgasms with a partner is to spend more time masturbating. Do you ever orgasm by yourself? If so, what does it take to get you there? If not, can you start exploring the possibility of orgasming when you’re playing by yourself? Again, orgasm is not the point of sex or masturbation—but it does feel pretty amazing.. 

Add toys and lube. 

Once you learn what works for your body, start to apply that technique in partnered sex. Maybe it’s grinding on top of your partner so that you’re using their body to apply pressure to your clitoris. Maybe it’s using a small bullet vibe—toys are great for partnered sex! Don’t be afraid to show your partner what toys you like and suggest bringing them into the bedroom. There are tons of smaller toys out there (the Mimi from JeJoue is a great one) that fit perfectly into your partnered sex session. 

And let’s not forget about lube—vulva-owners are 80% more likely to orgasm when lube is present! Foria’s Intimacy Sex Oil with CBD is one of my go-to lubes. Foria’s products use CBD to help promote blood flood (a vital part of arousal), release tension, and relax your muscles. I’ve found that when my body is more relaxed, I’m much more open to orgasms! 

Be patient. 

Don’t be frustrated if orgasms don’t happen overnight. Go easy on yourself and give yourself time to explore—both with your partner and on your own. 

With time, patience, and a bit of creativity, and some communication, you should be able to work yourself up to a place where you’re experiencing orgasms. You deserve pleasure—even if it takes a minute to get there.