Ask Professor Foxy: I Just Can’t Cum!

This weekly Saturday column “Ask Professor Foxy” will regularly contain sexually explicit material. This material is likely not safe for work viewing. The title of the column will include the major topic of the post, so please read the topic when deciding whether or not to read the entire column.

Dear Professor Foxy,
I have what is a common problem, but for the life of me, I can’t figure out why: I don’t orgasm. I never have. Not with my lovers (who have devoted considerable effort), not through masturbation (which I do nearly every day).
Thing is, all the reasons why women usually have problems achieving orgasm just don’t apply to me.
I’m pro-sex. I don’t have hang-ups about sex – I enjoy it, I have it when I want to (and I don’t when I don’t).
I don’t equate sex with love, and I’m not scared of intimacy.
I am confident and fun in bed. I’m playful, explorative and open.
I don’t have major insecurities about my body — I take pride in my curves and I’ve gotten tons of positive reinforcement from my lovers that they love my body, too.
I don’t sleep with selfish partners; most of the relationships I’ve been in have been with people who would go down on me for *hours* when I’ve wanted them to. I love it when we spend hours touching and teasing and savoring each other.
I’ve been masturbating (though not to climax, unfortunately) since at least junior high. Usually every day. And I’m 31, so why the hell wouldn’t I have figured this out yet?
Yet even though I’m confident, have a healthy attitude towards my own body and towards sex itself, and have lovers who take tons of time giving me pleasure – I just can’t come. Oh, I get close. I get to a point where I feel more and more intense sensations, my hips start thrashing around — but then I just get to a point where it just… stops. Like, I’m climbing up a ski slope and then instead of getting to the top and whooosing down the slope, I all of a sudden sort of stop right before the top of the slope. I never go over. I never experience anything other than the climb. Never experience the big release everyone talks about, where you feel a total loss of control, where you’re flooded with sensation and pleasure, where you can’t imagine stopping, where you can’t imagine anything feeling as good as that… I just don’t know what that feels like.
I can’t figure out what the hell is wrong. It feels like a physical block. I just can’t get over the hill. And I don’t know why. I don’t think it’s psychological, because I enjoy sex and everything about it, and none of the usual psychological causes I’ve read about apply. Honestly.
It just bugs the hell out of me that I’m not able to experience what should be my natural right. So, my question is: WTF? Why can’t I come? Could it be medical? When I was in college I asked the college health center’s doctor, but she brushed me off and said I was young and needed to spend more time exploring. What a crock — I’d been masturbating nearly every day for six or seven years by that point, and had a couple of lovers who were giving it more than the college try — what I wanted was medical advice. But without health care at my non-union job (thanks, union busters) I don’t have a trusted doc to ask. And whenever I’ve read up on female orgasm problems the answers are always about psychology (women with insecurities or hang-ups or fear of loss of control, none of which apply to me), or inexperience (also not my issue — I’ve been there, done that), and no one really talks about any medical issues that would impact a young woman’s ability to achieve orgasm (aside from menopause).
So, what can you tell me? Do you know any medical causes that would prevent a woman from EVER having an orgasm, even though she gets aroused, wet, and enjoys sex up until that point?
Frustrated in Chicago

Hi Frustrated –
Up until this point in this column, I have been wary of medicalizing women’s bodies. Too often our bodies have been reduced to parts and I firmly believe our largest sex organ remains not the one between our legs, but the one between our ears.
First, let me apologize for the people who have brushed you off in the past and put their assumptions of your sexuality (too young or inexperienced) over your actual experience. Let’s talk some medical possibilities and let’s talk some other options.
Since you eliminated many, many of the things I would have suggested as a problem and since you are concerned that it may be medical, I went to a doctor. Here is what she told me:
“I am a physician specializing in women’s health at Howard Brown Health Center in Chicago. Believe it or not, I have had many women have these concerns.
It is actually not too uncommon that young women do not have orgasms. You have mentioned several things in your detailed letter already that helps rule out many causes including some of the most common reasons being attitude towards body and sex. Another common cause of this is medications. I doubt this is the case with you since you have had this concern since your teens. If you are having a normal level of libido and excitability it is not a problem with your hormones (especially your testosterone level). Most women I see with an inability to orgasm do not have medical problems.
Having said that, many women orgasm differently. Some women orgasm with clitoral stimulation, some only orgasm with g-spot stimulation. Even the need for clitoral stimulation is different for every woman. Some will orgasm with light flickering touch, some will prefer deep slow grinding motion. Some will only come with vibrators, penetration, grinding, or nipple stimulation. Some women masturbate with water; some need anal stimulation to orgasm. I would encourage you to think about the times you have been able to come close to it and think about what it was that you enjoyed and go explore that some more. The other encouraging thing is that most women report that their sex is better as they get older! ”
Ahh. . . a sex positive healthcare provider is a wonderful thing. I would second everything she said. Try all the different things she suggested, including having your testerone level checked.
I would also suggest to stop thinking about how you cannot cum. Often times we set ourselves up for failure before we even start. I would also try doing Kegel’s, these exercises may give you an increased level of control over your vaginal muscles.
I hope that some part of this advice works for you. Best of luck,
Professor Foxy

If you have a question for Professor Foxy, send it to ProfessorFoxyATfeministingDOTcom.

Join the Conversation

  • annajcook

    While I don’t (now) have trouble reaching orgasm, I struggled for many years until my mid twenties. I wasn’t in relationships, but was exploring on my own. Felt aroused, but always frustrated re: orgasm.
    I’m assuming, Frustrated in Chicago, you’d have mentioned if you’re taking medication for any other health conditions? I was on thyroid meds (tapazol) from about age 14-25 and then went through treatment and switched to something else (levothyroxin). No one never mentioned low libido or problems with coming as a side-effect of the meds, but I’ve always been suspicious about the link. Right around the time I switched, I suddenly felt a big increase in libido and was finally able to orgasm (yay!).
    Since then, I’ve noticed people talking more about women’s sex drive and ability to orgasm getting stronger as they get older (into their 20s and 30s), as Prof. Foxy does in her response, and I find that an interesting hypothesis. I like how it subverts the cultural assumptions we have about youth=sex :).
    Good luck figuring this out; Undiagnosed physical issues can be sooo frustrating!

  • ikkin

    This was a really good entry. While I do not specialize in sexuality for individuals, I would also recommend you take a short break from sex and/or masturbation. I can sense that you feel a considerable deal of anxiety towards needing to orgasm, and it might help to find a way to take the emphasis of that act to relieve pressure.

  • ElleStar

    In addition to what others have said, I’m going to suggest having a very specific fantasy in your head. Find something, some kind of scenario, you find unbelievably hot and sexy, and hold onto it. I have found it much easier to orgasm if I feel like I’m an actor in my fantasy, something about feeling like someone else just helps me let go.
    Even when I’m feeling incredibly sexy and good about myself, my partner, and in a situation that is all about having an orgasm, there are times I just need that extra bit of fantasy to get over that hill.
    Maybe you’ve tried this, but if not, it might help.

  • Doug S.

    Maybe you heard about it on the news a few years ago, but Dr. Stewart Meloy discovered that spinal cord stimulation can help women have orgasms.
    It’s expensive, though, and requires surgery…

  • bigbrowneyes

    Have you tried using a vibrator? I don’t think you explicitly mentioned that you had. Maybe you could experiment with different kinds to see if that would work for you better than manual or oral stimulation.
    Also, I agree with the poster who said to take a break. I notice that if I take a break for a week or so I notice an increase in sensitivity. (And on the flip side, for me, over reliance on a vibrator can result in a temporary decrease in sensitivity.)
    Good luck!

  • Igiveup

    Yes, it gets easier as one gets older. I always orgasmed with a fair amount of clitoral stimulation starting somewhere before age 10, I think, but when I hit my late thirties, the multiple orgasms came, and a few months ago at age 50 (I was postmenopausal by then) I discovered my G Spot and discovered a whole ‘nother type of orgasm with G Spot stimulation. And discovered how doing Kegels has its own reward.
    I can’t wait until I’m 60!
    Chicago, the advice about getting your testosterone level checked is a good one. I’ve had a few friends who went through a rough time with menopause and their sex drives plummeted, and a little dose of testosterone (usually delivered in the form of a cream rubbed into the skin) helped them tremendously. You’re too young for menopause, but your hormones may be skewed.
    For short periods of time throughout my life when I was on SSRI antidepressants, I had a difficult time orgasming ranging from nigh on impossible (Prozac) to “takes a little longer” (Zoloft). If you are on SSRIs, talk to your doctor about fiddling with the dosage/trying something else/trying a combination of two drugs.
    Also, if you masturbate with just clitoral stimulation, had you thought about switching things around and trying to focus somewhere else, like your G Spot?
    Do you have a vibrator? I usually need one to get me “there” and I highly recommend the Hitachi Magic Wand. There is this wonderful G Spot attachment called the “Gee Whiz” which I can’t say enough good things about. ;-)
    Also, I hafta agree with the suggestion about taking a break or cutting back to less often and see what happens. Give yourself some time to enjoy feeling aroused. Try Kegels. Try rocking your hips and fantasizing. Enjoy the sensation of being turned on for its own sake.

  • PamelaVee

    You are not alone!
    This may be TMI, be warned.
    I am almost 25 and have this same problem. I am pro-sex, consider myself a sexual person as well. I enjoy sex, I love my partner. I get turned on. I lube naturally. I feel great during sex. I just never, ever ever get off. Ever. Motherfucking EVER.
    For those who haven’t experienced have no idea how much it affects your sense of sexuality, womanhood, etc. It’s so much more than sex. It’s about feeling good as a woman. It honestly makes me feel less than even though I know it’s not my fauly or his. Don’t even really know why I am sharing this. Just to let your reader know she’s not alone! And maybe to get some sympathy. haha. I think I’m relatively chilled out for someone who’s never had one. Can you imagine?!

  • PamelaVee

    heard about that. One of the women got the surgery and it didn’t even help her. It was extremely depressing.

  • quarker

    I kind of have this problem as well, and I would second the comment above about having a fantasy. In my case, I feel like I need to…I don’t even know how to describe it…disconnect from my body in a way? I enjoy the pleasure of sex but I find it keeps my mind active and in the moment, and I can’t just Let Go the way I have to to orgasm if I stay in the moment. I don’t know if that’s a problem – maybe it’s a stress thing and a need to get out of my own head – but it works. If I don’t kind of tune out (that’s a terrible way to describe it but I don’t know how else to say it) I just keep climbing that hill, as the letter writer describes, and never get over it.
    The one exception to this is when I use a vibrator directly on/around my clit. Sometimes (though not always) that physical sensation is powerful enough to overwhelm whatever keeps me blocked in other situations.

  • hoolissa

    OMG PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE DON’T TO THIS. no matter how much you want an orgasm. i just watched a documentary called ORGASM INC by Liz Canner and she had a section on the “orgasmatron,” which is what this spinal chord surgery is called. It only worked on 3 out of the 9 women that opted to have it. One woman ended up having an orgasm in her leg! (well, it wasn’t really an orgasm, it was like a tickle in her leg!).
    Maybe try masturbating for longer?

  • commonrosie

    I’m in the same situation, although I haven’t completely ruled out the possible psychological explanations. I’m a pretty introverted person, and a huge worrier, so that may play into it. But yeah, basically I just don’t come. I went through a masturbating stage when I was about 7 – but then I didn’t even really know what it was, I just did it because it felt good. As far as I remember, I didn’t orgasm at that age. I started masturbating again when I was about 12, when I’d heard about puberty etc and saw it as a kind of rite of passage that I needed to try. I couldn’t get myself there, and I just got frustrated with the whole thing. I felt like I was doing it wrong. I was also kind of insecure about my body at that age – the fact that I didn’t come just added to my feelings that there was something not quite right about me.
    So maybe there are feelings of inadequacy rooted at this problem. I don’t know. But it has certainly put a strain on my relationship in the past. My boyfriend is ok about it now, but it used to really depress him. I think he saw it as his responsibility to make me come and saw it as a failure on his part. The idea of me using a vibrator to experiment kind of depressed him as well. So now if I do want to experiment with a vibrator (I haven’t yet, though it’s been years since I’ve wanted to), I’d feel like it was some dirty, bad little secret and I was betraying him. Not good for the whole letting go of negative emotions thing.
    But I totally relate to Frustrated’s description of what it feels like. I get more and more worked up (oral clitral stimulation with added g-spot is where I generally feel closest), but there comes a point where the feeling just goes. Poof. Either that, or it almost becomes painful. I can only describe this stage as being similar to being held down and tickled – it feels ‘good’, but you ultimately want it to stop. I end up having to push my boyfriend away and say ‘stop’, because it feels like I just can’t take it anymore. I’ve tried riding it out, but the conflict of ‘I want him to stop’ and ‘I need to let it continue’ jus makes it less pleasurable.
    Quite depressing, when I think about it. I just feel like I’m missing out, and I’m worries it’s never going to get better. My ray of hope is that my mum (apparantly) didn’t orgasm till she was 33. So maybe it does get better as you get older.

  • notexactlybutch

    I used to hold my breath during sex, but I found that when I tried to breath regularly, it increased my ability to orgasm. I’ve heard this elsewhere–try to breathe, even if it seems more natural to hold your breath. I also echo the comments about checking your medicine for possible side effects.
    Beyond that, though, I want to emphasize that not all women experience orgasms in the same way. What it feels like can really vary, depending on your menstrual cycle, your age, your partner, the type of stimulation, your comfort level, your energy/ tiredness, and so on.
    Only rarely have my orgasms felt like a big release or a total loss of control. Often my orgasms feel like, well, a lake of calmness and relaxation spreading through me. I, too, often thrash around, getting more and more excited, and then just sort of stop. I’ve learned to take some deep breaths and concentrate on how good I feel at that moment.
    My (female) partner has helped me realize that we orgasm very differently from one another, but all the feelings are “acceptable” and lovely. Once I accepted this, then sometimes I began having the “big release” type of orgasm; you may find the same thing. But it’s certainly not my “usual” sort of orgasm.

  • nerdyfeminist

    I get to a point where I feel more and more intense sensations, my hips start thrashing around — but then I just get to a point where it just… stops. Like, I’m climbing up a ski slope and then instead of getting to the top and whooosing down the slope, I all of a sudden sort of stop right before the top of the slope. I never go over. I never experience anything other than the climb. Never experience the big release everyone talks about, where you feel a total loss of control, where you’re flooded with sensation and pleasure, where you can’t imagine stopping, where you can’t imagine anything feeling as good as that… I just don’t know what that feels like.
    …maybe you are cumming. I never experience any huge woosh or a crazy total body rush when I cum, just a moment of strong pleasure in my clit region (sometimes not even that) and then all the build-up is gone, more simulation doesn’t feel great and my vagina starts to contract a few times.
    I don’t really have any advice about that (obviously I haven’t learned to make it bigger, either). I can only say, enjoy the ride and try not to get frustrated.

  • ebetty

    This may be unwelcome advice but…
    The film Short Bus addresses this with the sex-therapist who can’t orgasm storyline. Have you considered tantric sex?

  • Emily

    yeah, that kinda sounds like my orgasm. Not really all that obvious. It actually took me a few times to realize that it was an orgasm.

  • jupiter

    I have found that gradually increasing stimulation and rhythm can actually make it harder to get off, because you get accustomed to more and more stimulation until there’s nowhere to go.
    Here’s a suggestion: When it feels super intense, stop. Give yourself sixty to ninety seconds. Then start again at a lower level. Don’t try to “power through it.”
    Also, if you’re stimulating the G and the clitoris at the same time with the same rhythm, try slowing down on one of them.
    Another thing that can put you over if you’re very close — curl your toes.

  • afb1221

    PamelaVee – you took the words right out of my mouth. seconded… you have sympathy and understanding from me that’s for damn sure.

  • afb1221

    Frustrated in Chicago — that question could have been written by me. I’m with you!
    This: “I get to a point where I feel more and more intense sensations, my hips start thrashing around — but then I just get to a point where it just… stops”

  • ghostorchid

    I had a partner (who identified as feminist, no less!) who got so insecure at the idea of me using a vibrator that I felt like I’d have to hide it. As a result, it was quite a few months with my new partner before I was comfortable using a vibrator in front of him. I felt guilty and embarrassed…until I realized that he’s completely nonplussed about me using one. He’ll even power it up and tease me with it during sex. To him, it’s no different than any other manner of masturbation, so now I use one almost daily and it’s no big deal.
    The first time I used a vibrator I wasn’t expecting much; I thought, how the hell is something that vibrates going to bring me off. I promptly came in about 15 seconds. It won’t work for everyone, but I highly recommend trying it. Ones like the “Pocket Rocket” (or similar ones like the “Water Dancer”) are cheap and powerful and take a simple AA battery.

  • Unequivocal

    Off topic FYI: “nonplussed” means bewildered, confused and at a loss as to how to proceed, not comfortable and at ease.
    (Thought you’d want to know – it’s one of those words that actually means just the opposite of what many people assume.)

  • Athenia

    I’ve felt similiar when I’ve been with a partner or when I first started using a dildo.
    First, I’d lay off masturbating every day. Give your body a break (even though you say you have no hangups, maybe your frustration is getting to you).
    Then, I second what something else said, don’t “power through” to orgasm. When I haven’t come, it’s because I tried to power through it. I’d stop for 30 seconds or so and then start again. Also, have a hot, tension filled, fantasy too.
    Finally, try masturbating with a pillow–it gives great full stimulation.

  • zp27

    I was thinking this myself – it might be possible that Frustrated has one idea of what an orgasm is, and her particular orgasm might not fit in with her image of what an orgasm is. Essentially, all orgasms are not the same, peoples’ bodies are not the same, and Frustrated seems to be getting a LOT of pleasure.
    Frustrated, if you read this, I would add that you could continue doing what you’re doing, without worrying or focusing on “the orgasm” and think about the pleasure as a whole. I could be wrong, but it might just be that you don’t orgasm like other people do-and that’s fine! You’re having fun, so keep on doing that.
    That being said, if you can talk with a more sympathetic and sensitive doctor about this, it’s good to rule out medical problems.
    I wish you luck,

  • South

    I sometimes have the problem of lackluster orgasms as well. What I’ve found can work is to bring yourself to the point and stop, calm down and then repeat. Do this a few times and when you finally do let yourself orgasm the intensity of the experiance may be greatly increased.

  • ggg_girl

    You might feel uncomfortable with this, and it’s definitely not for everyone, and if it sounds unappealing don’t try it, but here goes:
    Sometimes I experience this feeling that you mention: “I can only describe this stage as being similar to being held down and tickled – it feels ‘good’, but you ultimately want it to stop. I end up having to push my boyfriend away and say ‘stop’, because it feels like I just can’t take it anymore. I’ve tried riding it out, but the conflict of ‘I want him to stop’ and ‘I need to let it continue’ jus makes it less pleasurable.”
    If I’m alone, I have a vibrator and cheap handcuffs (the fake ones with a little switch, not a key, that you can get at the 99 cents store). I’ll put my vibrator on full speed an ride it with my hands handcuffed behind my back. Once the tingling slightly uncomfortable stage is over I have the best orgasms in the whole world. (I’m also really loud so usually I bite down on a scarf or something so I don’t scream. If you’re nervous about being too loud it might kill your sense of pleasure.)
    Again, this is just a suggestion and you can completely take it or leave it. If you want to try it with a partner, you could ask your boyfriend not to stop unless you say a predetermined word and see if that works out.

  • ggg_girl

    “Another thing that can put you over if you’re very close — curl your toes.”
    Funny, my toes tend to curl and it’s easier for me to orgasm when I relax them instead.

  • ghostorchid

    Hahahaha. Well, although I think the popularity of using “nonplussed” as “unaffected” in North America will eventually lead to a second definition, you’re right – I meant nonchalant (and if nonchalant means “agitated and perturbed” or something I promise to stop commenting for a week as penance).

  • cordygee

    This sounded like me as well! I actually had problems with this when I first started masturbating and having sex. I would stimulate my clit, which felt good, and it would reach a point of very good and then go away. I didn’t think I had orgasmed though because I had always heard it described as something different.
    The teen magazines said it was “like a sneeze, but better,” making me think it was forceful in some way, exploding outward rather than the slow build of what I was feeling. Books described fireworks and people blacking out from pleasure. Movies and television always portrayed sex with lots of moaning and thrashing, hands slapping against windows (like that scene in Titanic!).
    I just thought there would be more to an orgasm than what I was feeling and got frustrated when it didn’t seem like I could experience an orgasm as had been described to me. I thought I wasn’t doing it right. Eventually I thought, well maybe this is it. Maybe it was all hype.
    I began to aim for what felt really good (classifying that as an orgasm) rather than trying to achieve something more (what I thought was an orgasm). It totally changed everything! I began to get used to what I was feeling, it began to feel better, and actually began to feel like an orgasm (rather than just “feeling very good”). I hope this makes sense. It just seems such a weird mental hangup to have, to think your sexual experiences aren’t valid or are less in some way because it doesn’t match up to what popular media says it should be like. Orgasms, not like sneezes for me. :)
    Also, more TMI. I used to have to stop right in the middle of masturbating or having sex all the time because I wasn’t recognizing the pleasure as pleasure! I kept feeling like I had to pee! I eventually got past that, lol.

  • allegra

    I feel like, for me, some large part of it is … “learning” to let yourself go, if that makes sense. I’m currently dealing with having no libido from taking an anti-depressant, but I was very sexual since childhood and was orgasming from like age 2, so I know specifically what the problem is now. But I experience a similar thing … getting “really close” and then shutting down suddenly. And I think at least some of the shutting down is me over-thinking the whole thing.
    Sorry, advising you to “let yourself go” is very mysterious and I don’t know if I can explain it more right now. I’ll think about it and get back to you.

  • Jessica Lee

    Speaking from a virgin standpoint, I cannot make myself cum from using my fingers on my clit, although I have often heard that that is supposed to work. It feels nice at first, but I can’t go on consistently for too long because I feel like I have to pee. :(

  • cordygee

    I mentioned this above, but I had the same problem with feeling like I had to pee during masturbation or sex when I first started doing it. My tip is to take potty breaks if you really need to or simply just stop doing whatever for a bit and try again. Eventually you become used it and no longer feel like you have to pee.
    It’s like you have to train your body to get used to the sensation of vaginal/clitoral stimulation. My theory is that most of us aren’t used to feeling anything going on down there and our brains just go, “Body is sending me signals from nether regions! Must have to pee!”
    So keep at it and eventually you’ll teach your brain/body how to interpret sexy funtime signals from the gotta pee signals. I think it actually took me a couple of months before the having to pee feeling went away. Though sometimes I would have sex and then REALLY have to pee afterwards. And my goodness, I don’t think I’ve ever used the word pee so much before, lol!

  • delilahfantastic

    maybe edging yourself would work– taking yourself close to the brink of orgasm, stopping, and starting again.

  • Catelin

    This may be because your body wants to ejaculate as the pee sensation is pretty similar but that may not be why. If you’re finding it so off putting i’d recommend trying masturbating on the toilet or in the shower or bath, places where it doesn’t matter if you pee.

  • pzm

    I’m (or I was) in the same boat. I’m not shy, not scared of sex, had many sexual partners try many different things, tried lots of stuff by myself and could still never ever ever cum! VERY frustrating.
    I’m 26 now and I first came a year ago having sex with my new boyfriend. I don’t know how it happened but it just did. I was elated. After that I KNEW I could physically do it (I had major doubts before that) so I tried masturbating again after having given it up a few years before out of frustration. Ahh new found glory when I realized I could make myself cum…
    Of course all good things come to an end and my orgasm abilities went away as swiftly as they came (LOLPUN). For about half a year I had a 90% hit rating during sex and a %100 hit rating when mastubating, and now nothing. Fucking tumbleweeds.
    Anyway, it sucks and I just want you guys to know how you feel. People brush this problem off all the time by saying “it’s a mental block” or “you need to experiment more”. Unfortunately it’s just not that simple for us.

  • zeitgeist

    I’ve more than once heard from women (who were your and my age in the sixties and seventies) that using pot once or twice helped them orgasm for the first time, and then they were able to come without it.
    That said, picking up nerdyfeminist’s point, sometimes I orgasm like that and sometimes I do so in the way you’re hoping for, and I find they’re about as fun as each other, really.

  • Siby

    I’ve never experienced the peeing sensation, but if I were you I would try to use a vibrator on your clit. I was extremely frustrated for a few years because I could never cum, but then I tried clitoral stimulation with a vibrator and it works like a charm. The only bad thing is that I’m totally dependent on a vibrator, I’ve never been able to cum with a partner or with my fingers.

  • Mina

    “…Beyond that, though, I want to emphasize that not all women experience orgasms in the same way. What it feels like can really vary, depending on your menstrual cycle, your age, your partner, the type of stimulation, your comfort level, your energy/ tiredness, and so on.
    “Only rarely have my orgasms felt like a big release or a total loss of control. Often my orgasms feel like, well, a lake of calmness and relaxation spreading through me. I, too, often thrash around, getting more and more excited, and then just sort of stop…”
    Good points!
    For several years in my teens and 20s I thought “I haven’t had the total-screaming-loss-of-control-during-masturbation yet so that means I haven’t had an orgasm yet” then I realized “wait a minute, orgasm is sexual climax, right? I’ve reached climaxes while masturbating before, even though they weren’t total-screaming-loss-of-control ones, so I have orgasmed before.”

  • annajcook

    Picking up on what you and a couple of other folks have said — I was really surprised (I don’t know why!) when I started orgasming what a wide range of sensations it could produce, depending on when and how. It was kind of cool to back up and be like, “wow, instead of this one focused feeling to be replicated, it’s like a surprise every single time!”

  • Yoshimi

    I love the Hitachi! I just got it about a month ago and it’s the first thing I’ve found that rivals my favorite vibrator,

  • marie123

    The hitachi is so amazing!!

  • j7sue2

    I have similar problems. I can’t come with my partner. I’m a transsexual woman so I know what coming with the male gear was like; I can get exactly similar feelings when everythings right by rubbing my clit and vagina on a pillow. And I do come like that.
    The nearest I’ve come to coming with my partner was using a We-vibe, which is a good hands free experience. When I get to the point that several people have described, of being near, so frustratingly near, my body starts thrashing around… and I had this thing on high, and was thrashing around so much I couldn’t turn it off. The switch is fiddly…. I was just laughing hysterically – my partner thought I was having a great time. But I wasn’t. I won’t use the vibrator again, it was horrible.
    Wish I knew the answer. we’re working with a sex therapist, and doing the stroking each other with no erogenous zones thing. (me & my partner, not the therapist lol) Which is very nice, relaxing – but totally non-sexual. I’m not sure what the point of that is.

  • ghostorchid

    This. “Fucking tumbleweeds”. Well put.

  • Kathleen6674

    I hate that thing. It numbs me out so much that I can’t come. I actually get the problem the letter writer has when I use this thing!
    The funny thing is, I LOVED the Hitachi Magic Wand when I was in my early 20s, when I could rarely come with manual stimulation. It worked like a charm each and every time. But for some reason, my body’s reaction to it changed! I can get off really easily with my hand now and with gentler vibrators. It’s like I’ve done a 180.

  • Kathleen6674

    “…there comes a point where the feeling just goes. Poof. Either that, or it almost becomes painful. I can only describe this stage as being similar to being held down and tickled – it feels ‘good’, but you ultimately want it to stop.”
    This is EXACTLY what it’s like for me, too.

  • nifty50

    Great point about medications. This happened to me in my mid-twenties when I was taking an antidepressant (zoloft, an SSRI). Unfortunately, my physician didn’t bother to tell me and I didn’t know what the euphemistic “sexual side effects” meant on the drug info from the pharmacy. So, review your meds if you take any and explore all the other possible explanations being offered. Good Luck.

  • afb1221

    woah/. exciting / terrifying idea. I thought I’d try this I’ve tried several times with my boyfriend to say, okay, when I want it to stop, just dont stop and we’ll see what happens, but always that ends with “SAFEWORD!! fucking stop!!” hmm .. maybe you’ve inspired me to give that nmore tries..

  • karak

    This questioner could be me. I’m so glad she wrote in, because I was finally about to. This gives me the confidence to know I’m not only one in the world, and to keep trying to get the experience that I and my partner want.

  • Lane

    I can relate to so many of these comments in so many different ways, it’s mind-blowing. I was actually considering writing something as a public service announcement a month or so ago, because I had an experience very similar to this.
    I’ve been very curious about sex since I was a young child, and relatively uninhibited since the age of 14 or so. I used to try masturbating in various ways, but I never seemed to get anywhere. I always assumed it would work itself out, but it never did, even when I went away to college and bought a vibrator, or started having sex with my boyfriend. Not being able to get off made me feel like the worst girlfriend in the world, and I thought I was just medically abnormal somehow, like a clinically frigid woman.
    During all of this, I was on antidepressants (Zoloft; like some posters upthread, I’m introverted and anxious). About six weeks ago, I decided to stop taking them. I was in the tub, just messing around for the heck of it, when I noticed that certain stimulation made me spasm involuntarily, which I’d never really noted before. I bought myself a new vibrator, came home, and this time, instead of trying to get to that mystical electric-shock bungee-jump orgasm point, I just paid really close attention to what was happening to me physically. Things got more and more sensitive, there were involuntary spasms, the muscles in my stomach and thighs got tense, and I found myself… I can’t describe it, except as a slight mental shift. I stopped thinking about sex and just concentrated on feeling everything that was going on, and when I did that, it was like giving myself a little push, and I had about fifteen seconds of involuntary spasms, fast, followed by a heavy feeling in my limbs, warmth, relaxation, and sleepiness. And that’s how I learned to have an orgasm.
    All of that may sound clinical, but it really pisses me off when I hear all the ridiculous statements about how orgasms are singular and unmistakable and you always know when you have one. That may be true for some people, but for me, sure, orgasms are nice, but not nearly as mind-blowing as they’re cracked up to be. The best thing about learning to orgasm, for me, was not the feeling itself, but just the reassurance that I was physically normal, and didn’t have to worry about it anymore. What’s interesting is, once I learned what I was looking for, I could find ways to hold it off, or stimulate myself to make it more intense. It hasn’t even been two months yet, so I’m really looking forward to seeing where this goes.
    Anyway, to sum up, here’s some general advice:
    – MOST IMPORTANT: DO NOT expect orgasms to feel like everyone says they will! My theory is that they get more intense with time and practice, but start out small for lots of people. I think the only reliable way to tell an orgasm is to look for a series of rapid involuntary vaginal spasms, so look for this!
    – I know everyone says this, but try not to think too much about it. It’s almost like meditation: try to learn to turn your brain off and only feel physical sensations.
    – I still can’t orgasm using only my fingers, it isn’t enough. I would strongly suggest buying a vibrator: cheap ones are only ten dollars, and (in my experience) clerks don’t even look at you cross-eyed. If that’s too embarrassing, scoot down to the end of the bathtub and hold yourself under the faucet, that feels really good.
    (Oh, and PLEASE feel free to correct me if anyone thinks this is wrong/bad advice. I’m still relatively young and inexperience, but I was so happy to figure this out that I had to share it.)

  • earthling

    There are some neurological conditions, particularly those involving the lower spine, that have lack of sexual sensation and/or lack of ability to orgasm as a symptom. ‘Tethered spinal cord’ is one such condition but there are others.
    If you have any other symptoms in that region for example lower back pain, leg pain, tingling or numbness anywhere in the lower half of the body (even the feet), problems going to the loo (e.g. urinary urgency or irritable bowels) – it might be worth seeing your doctor again with these symptoms as a ‘package’ and requesting investigation of this region (perhaps via MRI).
    I might add, it is an *unlikely* cause but I just wanted to draw your attention to it, on the off-chance. Sometimes these things really are just physical.

  • ggg_girl

    what works for me is if my boyfriend handcuffs me and I bite down on a scarf and he and pleasures me, because then I’m focusing only on the sensations, and not being too loud for the suite-mates. We use a safeword as well. If you agree before hand that all sexual activity will completely stop if you use the safeword, it can give you the motivation to keep passing through the tingling sensation to the mind-blowing orgasm part. And then you still have an established safeword in case it isn’t a good situation.

  • Shinobi

    This is going to sound completely weird.
    I have found that the best most earth shattering orgasms I have are when I am trying NOT to have an orgasm. (Wait what?)
    It essentially boils down to what other commentors have suggested which is to get yourself almost to the peak and then back off.
    But I find it easier to think of it as trying not to reach the peak or have an orgasm. (This works much better solo because you can control things.)
    Maybe it is just my contrarian personality? But I find that telling myself NOT to focus on pleasure and NOT to let myself go makes it that much more intense.
    But I think that focusing on NOT coming allows you to focus on the sensations of your body, and really feeling them, and not feeling some pressure to make your body do X and Y RIGHT NOW DAMMIT. (I find sometimes, especially with partners, the pressure to cum can be such a big deal that I just can’t enjoy it, I can’t take my time and really experience the sensations of my body because I am focused on “getting it over with.”)
    /totally weird suggestion.