Q. I’m a straight woman in my early 30s in a long-term relationship with a great guy. We’ve had great, awesome, loving, and occasionally experimental sex. As for most women, the big Orgasm is sometimes a hard-fought battle of mental and physical will, but 90% of the time I get there. In the past month, I haven’t been able to come at all. Even on my own. I’m not on any new medication. Stress could be playing a factor, and that stress is compounded every time I don’t come, especially when boyfriend has patiently been trying whatever combination of tongue, fingers, penis and toys he hopes will work. How do I get my O back?
A. My love, do you remember Funky Divas? The fantastic 1992 release of En Vogue’s second album? If you don’t, I highly recommend it, but if you do, then you are sure to remember a certain song on the album called “Free Your Mind.” The song has that perfect sort of formula, wherein it thinly disguises serious social messages within a pop culture smash that was easy to listen to, and like all best social messages, crept into your brain slowly and surely, causing one of those “a-ha” moments at some point. Social ills such as racism and sexism came rushing forth in a way that has always been, and continues to be, one of the best ways of accessible communication: music.
So, what does En Vogue have to do with you? Well, as the title of the song I referenced notes, “free your mind, and the rest will follow.” It’s pretty solid advice for a day-to-day philosophy, but in your case, I think it might be able to help you potentially reach your “O,” or at least not feel so stressed if you do not reach the big “O.”
Now, when I say not reaching the big O, I don’t mean let’s all lie back passively and think of England. I only mean that when we put pressure on ourselves to have an orgasm, we are probably making it harder to actually have one. You say that stress is compounded every time you and your partner have sex – that doesn’t sound like fun. It sounds like y’all are trying to run the ten yard dash to orgasm via every method under the sun, rather than just having the type of sex you both want to have. I would also imagine that this comes with an air of disappointment for not just yourself, but your partner when you don’t have an orgasm. It’s like, “Well, look at all the effort I put into this and yet I got nothing back!” I think this might be wherein your problem lies.
You know, not for nothing, but not a whole lot of people gave a good got-damn about whether or not women had orgasms through the ages. Some didn’t even believe it was possible. Whatever the reason be, we now are on a different plane of thinking, which is great, but I think also creates the “Cosmo hole” affect. The Cosmo hole, named after none other than Cosmo magazine, but certainly extending to equal counterparts Glamour, Marie Claire, etc. now presumes the exact opposite – women can have like 452 orgasms in an hour! 987 things to turn you on! Bananas in vaginas! Sex positivity for the masses! It’s like Oprah started standing up and yelling, “You get an orgasm! You get an orgasm! Everyone gets an orgasm!” Orgasms seem to be a must-have for sex; and not just sex, but for successful sex, sex that is equal and feminist and good and whatever else sex is standing for these days. Orgasms, the alpha and omega, the one to rule them all.
To a degree, it’s all true. Yet, it also doesn’t matter. It is not to say that you should give up on trying to orgasm, not at all, but that maybe the pressure to produce an orgasm, rather than have one on your own time, is causing stress that further plays into you not having an orgasm. Whether you are aware of it each time you go into sex, it seems like it would hang over your collective heads like a scarlet letter, reminding you constantly that this needs to happen, and if it doesn’t, then this sex was not good sex! Furthermore, I can only imagine that with a bullet point list like the one you mapped out, and running through each orgasm-inducing activity would make me feel not so”¦ sexy. More like a science experiment, or a lock that is being tinkered with to find the correct combo to crack. Or the idea that your partner is patiently waiting for you to have an orgasm while he is trying everything in the book. It just doesn’t sound completely enjoyable, more methodical, more point A to point B. It sounds like the pressure to produce the orgasm to have proof that “this was official good sex!” is weighing heavily on your shoulders.
So, like the good ladies of En Vogue say, free your mind. Figuratively speaking. Drop the get to orgasm map and just have sex – the kind that feels good for you. Don’t think about the golden “O” – just think about how your body feels, what different sensations are enjoyable, and what you enjoy. Tell your partner not to worry about the “O” – having an audience emphatically waiting for you to reach mythical “O” status can be libido killing and can bring on feelings of, “What’s wrong with me? Why didn’t I do this?” – and you certainly haven’t done anything wrong. You just seem to be putting yourself under a whole lot of pressure.
Perhaps this is a good time to engage in some solo sex as well, with the same philosophy of “do what feels good.” Don’t worry about “O.” Just concentrate on what you enjoy, without a goal in mind. Like you said in your original question – it is a whole lot of mental. It would be so much easier if we could just get off because someone rubbed our weiners the right way, but most of us require a head space that requires equal parts not thinking and explicit concentration. I also know that telling you to just let certain thoughts go is a little harder in practice than in theory. How do you just un-think something? Especially if you are used to thinking it ? One of my favorite tricks is mindfulness practice – there are some great resources out there that can help you not only let go of racing thoughts when you want to enjoy yourself sexually, but also serve as pretty helpful methods for coping with the everyday ridiculousness of life.
Lastly, I just want to emphasize that there is nothing wrong with you. Orgasm or not orgasm talk can bring up a lot of societal baggage that has been thrust upon us like it was just our fault to begin with. Our orgasms have run the cultural obstacle course from hysterical to non-existent, to must have, to clinical, to dysfunctional, to medicated and need-to-be medicated, you name it, there has been something attached to it. Now of course there are folks who have actual medical conditions that make orgasms damn near impossible. I certainly don’t think every woman who struggles with having an orgasm has it, but there are a lot of folks who are invested in making it seem like you are broken if you don’t cum like you have breakfast. I only know that you know yourself and your body the best; you know what is a normal routine for you on a good day and what constitutes as a healthy sex life for you and your partner. The best thing you can do is just slow it down on the must have orgasm path and just have sex, without feeling like you “have” to do anything. If you want to, you will – there is no doubt about that. But like the ladies of En Vogue preached, free your mind and the rest will follow.