What Sex Therapists Tell People Who've Never Had An Orgasm

Here's some expert-backed advice for dealing with anorgasmia.

If you’ve never had an orgasm, it’s easy to feel like your body is defective. But the reality is, there are many things that can contribute an inability to orgasm and plenty of ways to address it – it’s not hopeless!

According to Sadie Allison, a sexologist, author and founder of sex toy retailer TickleKitty, being “anorgasmic,” as it’s sometimes called, could be attributed to “inhibitions in the bedroom, cultural or religious beliefs that make it hard to mentally relax, medical conditions or taking medications, sexual hang-ups from past experiences, and relationship or intimacy issues.”

Past trauma, subconscious feelings of shame or fear, body discomfort, anxiety or even just lack of knowledge about anatomy can also be factors in anorgasmia.

“One of the main reasons, however, is a lack in education around sexual anatomy, arousal and response, pleasure and the clitoris,” Allison adds. “Unfortunately they don’t teach this important information in school. But the good news is, this is something that can be practiced and learned with success!”

But how exactly should you go about learning and practicing if you’ve never had an orgasm? Below, Allison and other sex therapists share their advice.

First, recognise that there’s nothing wrong with you

If you’ve never had an orgasm, it’s important to understand that you are not alone and there’s nothing wrong with you. This is a not-uncommon experience, especially for people with vulvas.

In fact, studies suggest that roughly 10% of women have never had an orgasm, and 50% do not experience orgasm during sexual intercourse.

“You are not broken,” says Kate Balestrieri, a sex therapist and founder of Modern Intimacy. “Orgasms and pleasure can be complex, layered, and unpredictable, especially if you have less experience with sex that you enjoy. Refrain from judging or shaming yourself if you have not yet experienced an orgasm.”

Try getting to know your body

“Most people will find their first orgasm through self pleasuring vs. with a partner,” says sex and relationship coach Keeley Rankin. “This is because being with a partner offers a whole new complex dynamic. And while potentially sexy and fun, for folks who are looking for an orgasm, it is typically more stress inducing.”

Instead, start with your own body, by yourself. Explore which zones are your hot spots and get comfortable masturbating.

“Choose a place where you feel you have privacy and make yourself comfortable,” advises Nazanin Moali, a sex therapist and host of the Sexology podcast.

She recommends building psychological arousal by reading or listening to sexually explicit or romantic content, whatever turns you on.

Sex therapists recommend spending time by yourself getting to know your body.
Miki Onigiri / EyeEm via Getty Images
Sex therapists recommend spending time by yourself getting to know your body.

“When you feel aroused, I recommend that you start with a body scan from head to toe and make a note of all the sensations in your body,” Moali says.

Consider gently massaging lotion all over your body. Take deep breaths in and out to release any tension.

“Start with touching and caressing your face and neck and explore different types of strokes,” she advises. “The goal for the first few times is to get to know different sensations in your body. Set the intention to get to know your body and explore it without putting any pressure. When you are ready, slowly move to your genital area and pay attention to the types of stroke that feel good.”

You can use your fingers or a vibrator or other sex toy in your exploration. Familiarise yourself with lots of different sensations.

Remove the focus on orgasm as the goal

“I initially take orgasm off the table as a goal,” says sex therapist and psychologist Megan Fleming. “The goal is getting back to the basics of giving and receiving pleasure. The pressure of having an orgasm as a goal is often a big part of what inhibits their arousal response.”

Rather than concentrating on having an orgasm, try to focus on the pleasure of arousal, connection with your body or your partner’s body, creativity and general enjoyment.

“Re-conceptualise your expectations for sex,” Balestrieri says. “So many people organise themselves around penetration and orgasm being the pinnacle and goal for pleasure. But that perpetuates a performative experience of sex and limits the countless other opportunities for pleasure that can increase the likelihood of an orgasm. Changing the goal from having an orgasm to experiencing pleasure and fun can paradoxically make orgasms more accessible.”

“There is no magic pill for finding an orgasm. It is often a deep dive into your own sexuality, emotional wounds, psychological blocks, beliefs, as well as learning new skills.”

- Keeley Rankin, sex and relationship coach

Get cliterate

“The sexual encounters we see depicted in film primarily depict penetrative sex,” says Zoë Ligon, a sex educator and founder of Spectrum Boutique. “And while some people can orgasm through penetration alone, the vast majority of people need external stimulation or external stimulation paired with internal stimulation in order to achieve orgasm. We as a culture ignore clitoral stimulation, as well as the time that is needed to build up arousal in order to achieve orgasm.”

She hopes society will continue to move away from penetrative intercourse as the standard definition of “sex” and seeks to educate people with vulvas and their partners about the importance of the clitoris – the small erogenous organ with highly sensitive nerve endings – in reaching orgasm.

“Become cliterate,” echoes Allison. “If you’re still learning where your clitoris is, or how to pleasure it, this is your starting point. The clitoris has about 8,000 nerve endings and is the main epicentre of orgasm creation. While there are other types of orgasms like G-spot, penetrative, anal, they are more advanced, so consider exploring those after you become your own clitoral expert.”

Advocate for your pleasure

When it comes to sex with a partner, good communication is crucial. Everyone is different, so don’t be shy in sharing how you like you like to be touched.

“Don’t be afraid to tell your partner what feels good and what doesn’t,” advises Kimberly Resnick Anderson, a sex therapist and assistant professor of psychiatry at UCLA School of Medicine. “You’d be surprised what a conversation about sexual preferences and fantasies can accomplish. If you are too embarrassed to talk to your partner about sex, you are missing out on an opportunity to increase your sexual satisfaction.”

Of course, the conversation can be uncomfortable, especially with a new partner, but having an open dialogue will bring you closer.

“Orgasm is about surrendering to the moment, to your body’s pleasure, and to another person,” says Jenni Skyler, a sex therapist and director of The Intimacy Institute. “If you are with a new partner, trust is still developing, and thus surrendering to a new person can be tricky.”

Whatever you do, don’t fake an orgasm, or stop doing it if you’ve already developed that habit.

“At times, women fake orgasms in an attempt to please their partner,” Moali says. “However, through this, you are also sending the wrong information to your partner about what works for you. Instead, focus on slowing down and getting curious about what types of touches feel good in your body. Spending more time engaging in foreplay will help you build enough arousal, thereby shortening the arousal gap between you and your partner.”

Don't be afraid to experiment with different sex toys, erotica and more.
Mikhail Reshetnikov / EyeEm via Getty Images
Don't be afraid to experiment with different sex toys, erotica and more.

Keep experimenting

Never stop trying new things, from techniques to toys. Resnick Anderson suggested vocalizing as a tip to facilitate orgasm.

“Research has shown that expressing sounds of pleasure during sex can increase capacity for orgasm,” she explains. “Women are also more likely to climax during coitus if they can control the speed, depth, and angle of penetration with positions like cowgirl or reverse cowgirl.”

Resnick Anderson also recommends trying different kinds of porn, like more female-friendly videos or erotic writing. Even something as simple as keeping your socks on might make you feel more comfortable and relaxed.

“Activate as many senses as possible,” she adds, noting that some people struggle to get out of their heads and into their bodies. “The more sensations one experiences at the same time, the easier it is to connect to your body. Tantalise your senses by engaging your hearing, vision, tastebuds, sense of smell, and sense of touch all at once. When our brains are busy listening, smelling, tasting, seeing, and touching, it’s easier to ignore intrusive or anxious thoughts.”

Invest in a new vibrator or other sex toys for solo or partnered sex. Try a lubricant. And pay attention to the different kinds of sensory experiences that give you pleasure, or even turn you on.

“Don’t limit yourself to what you think should turn you on, and instead give yourself permission to explore a full range of fantasies or erotic material, so you can learn what your body responds to,” Balestrieri says. “Refrain from judging yourself. Fantasies are just fantasies and do not say anything about your character. Often, fantasies give us access to an emotional or sensory experience that we can’t (and may not even want to) experience in real life. Think of fantasies and sex as play, and let yourself colour with vibrance.”

Seek professional help

If you’re concerned about your inability to orgasm, you may also consider seeking professional help.

“First and foremost, go to a sexual medicine specialist to ensure nothing physically going on – hormone issues, pelvic pain, tissue issues,” advises sex therapist and educator Nicoletta Heidegger. “Not just a regular [gynaecologist] or urologist – someone who has specialised training in sexual medicine and sexual functioning.”

If there are no discernible medical issues, she recommended then reaching out to a sex therapist, sex coach or sexological bodyworker to continue your journey.

There are also a number of apps, books other resources that might be useful. Heidegger recommended Come as You Are and Becoming Cliterate by Laurie Mintz. Ligon is a fan of Girls & Sex by Peggy Orenstein.

“Check out the app OMG Yes, Beducated, or Vanessa Marin’s Finishing school,” Heidegger says. “With many other topics like driving or changing a tire, we learn, and practice or take classes. There is no shame in this not coming naturally – pun intended. You may need practice, help, tools, education, and support, which is totally OK.”

It can also be helpful to talk to a mental health professional about any negative feelings or past experiences around sex.

“Address any shame you feel about sex,” Balestrieri says. “Shame – unless it’s part of your kink – is an inhibiting experience. It makes us feel small and unworthy, and when it comes to pleasure and the permission one gives themselves to feel pleasure, shame is a huge barrier to orgasm.”

Be patient

“I explain right away to my clients that this is often a long journey ― not to scare anyone, but to create realistic expectations for what they can expect,” Rankin said. “There is no magic pill for finding an orgasm. It is often a deep dive into your own sexuality, emotional wounds, psychological blocks, beliefs, as well as learning new skills.”

Patience is key. Be prepared to spend a lot of time with your body and try to remain relaxed and optimistic. Focus on the fun exploration and in-the-moment sensations.

“Stay positive and be patient,” Allison said. “Don’t be discouraged or feel something is wrong with you. Sometimes it could simply be a new rubbing technique or vibrator that surprises you with that special sensation, or even a new partner that brought that special something. Hang in there and enjoy as you explore and try new things. Remember, it’s a journey, not a race. And you’re so worth it!”