How to stop orgasm anxiety from holding back your sexual pleasure

14 Aug, 2023 | Relationships

5 Minute Read

Words by Kate Lucey with advice from Sarah Mulindwa

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We’re a nation of over-thinkers, but when our mind starts racing in the bedroom, it’s not doing us any favours. WYLDE MOON spoke to sex and sexual health expert Sarah Mulindwa who shared her practical, considerate advice.

We’re all friends here, so I’m going to get straight to it; do you ever find yourself feeling frustrated, stressed, or anxious because you just can’t seem to reach orgasm? Or maybe you can have a wonderful time when you’re on your own, but with a partner you never quite manage to experience the same feelings? You’re not alone.

It seems like we’re constantly surrounded by TV shows, film scenes and stories of everybody having a fantastic sex life, doesn’t it? When a show or a film has a scripted sex scene with a straight couple, all it seems to take is a man unzipping his fly for a woman to start to feel herself in the throes of orgasm (which, to be fair, could be a reasonable representation of shagging the Duke from Bridgerton…). Jokes aside, though, all these gasping gals don’t do much to reassure people who actually find it quite a challenge to orgasm.

Orgasm anxiety is a real thing, and it affects a lot of women – only around 50% of women will truly reach orgasm during sex, and this anxiety has a lot to do with it. It’s that nagging feeling in the back of your mind that tells you that you’re not doing something right or that you’re broken because you can’t reach orgasm like everyone else seems to. It’s the pressure you put on yourself to perform, the fear of disappointing yourself or your partner, and generally being so distracted during sex that you’ll never end up reaching orgasm anyway… and so the cycle continues. But, sweet friends, there is no such thing as “normal” when it comes to orgasms. Everyone’s body is different, and what works for one person may not work for another. We’ve spoken to some sexual wellbeing experts (sexperts, if you will) about how you can start to overcome orgasm anxiety, have more sexual pleasure, and generally feel better about it all.

Why do we feel so much pressure to orgasm?

Society has long perpetuated the idea that sex is all about the “big finish” – that moment of intense pleasure and release that comes with orgasm. Reaching orgasm is often referred to as “getting to the finish line”, and while orgasms can be amazing, they’re not the be-all and end-all of sex. Sex is about intimacy, connection, pleasure, and exploration. It’s about enjoying the journey, not just the destination.

But despite all of this, many women still feel like they’re failing if they can’t reach orgasm. They may feel pressure from their partners, friends, or even themselves to “perform” and reach that elusive climax. This pressure can actually make it harder to reach orgasm, as it can lead to stress, anxiety, and self-doubt. Not fun.

What can we do about orgasm anxiety?

The first step in overcoming orgasm anxiety is to stop putting so much pressure on ourselves to orgasm. If your mind is full of ‘does this feel good? Will this help? Am I starting to feel someth- oh never mind’, then your body will never be relaxed enough to really enjoy the sensations.

Sarah Mulindwa is a sex and sexual health expert for LoveHoney, and advises that “one way to stop thinking about having an orgasm is to focus on the sensations and pleasure of the moment rather than the end result.” If you stop thinking about orgasms altogether and don’t make it the ‘end goal’ of sex, you’re actually far more likely to have one.

“Many women have never experienced an orgasm, and that’s okay”

“Orgasms are a complex and multi-faceted experience that involves both physical and psychological factors. While physical stimulation is important, feeling comfortable and relaxed is also crucial for reaching orgasm,” says Sarah. “If you feel pressure to climax, it can create anxiety and tension, which can make it more difficult to reach orgasm. It’s important to focus on the pleasure of the moment and let go of any expectations and create a safe and comfortable environment where you can fully express yourself.

“It’s also important to communicate with your partner and let them know how they can best support you. Instead of asking ‘are you close?’ or ‘did you come?’, your partner can ask if there is anything they can do to make you more comfortable or find out what you enjoy most. This will help create a more relaxed and comfortable atmosphere, which can help you let go of any pressure to reach a specific goal.”

And if you’ve never had an orgasm before, don’t worry – you’re not alone. Many women have never experienced an orgasm, and that’s okay. It’s important to remember that orgasms are not the be-all and end-all of sex. If you’re enjoying yourself and feeling pleasure, that’s what matters most.

Faking an orgasm is never a good idea

While it might seem easier ‘in the moment’ to throw out a few When Harry Met Sally style groans and gasps, it’s actually not being very kind to yourself or to your partner if you’re faking it. You deserve a real orgasm, and faking it means your partner thinks you’re having one, and that they don’t need to do anything else to help you to get there because look at you, orgasming away there with no problems.

Sarah adds that “if your partner believes you are having an orgasm when you are not, they may continue to use the same techniques that are not working for you. This can lead to frustration and dissatisfaction for both partners. Additionally, faking an orgasm can cause you to feel disconnected from your partner and can prevent you from experiencing the real pleasure of intimacy.”

Imagine how crushed you’d be if you learnt that your sexual partner was faking their orgasms. We want sex to be great fun for all parties involved, and if something’s not working for you, it really doesn’t help to pretend that it is.

orgasm anxiety - how to have an orgasm

How to have an orgasm if you’ve never had one before:

But if you do want to try to reach orgasm, there are a few things you can do to increase your chances. Exploring your own body, by yourself, when you feel safe and comfortable, is a brilliant way to help you figure out what works for you. It’s wise to start your focus on clitoral stimulation, as this is the most common way for women to reach orgasm. Experiment with different types of touch and pressure, and don’t be afraid to use a vibrator or other sex toy..

“Starting with clitoral stimulation is a good idea since this is the most sensitive area for a vulva owner,” says Sarah. “Experimenting with different types of touch, pressure, and rhythm can help you discover what feels best for you. You can start with something as simple as a small vibrator to stimulate the clitoris

“It’s important to communicate your needs and desires”

“If you feel confident enough, don’t be afraid to use your toy with your partner involved or watching. You might be surprised how aroused you both become, knowing they are watching you enjoying the moment and indulging in a spot of self-pleasure. Remember, consent is key, so be sure to check they are comfortable with this before using a sex toy.”

If you’re exploring with a partner, it’s all about communication. Let them know what feels good, and help them explore you and discover what they can do to really turn you on. “It’s important to communicate your needs and desires,” says Sarah. “You can show your partner how you like to be touched or guide them with your hands. Using sex toys can also enhance your experience and help you discover new sensations.”

Do what feels right for you – orgasms are not the ultimate goal

Orgasm anxiety is a common issue, but it’s important to remember that there is no right or wrong way to experience pleasure during sex. Whether or not you reach orgasm, what matters most is that you’re enjoying yourself and connecting with your partner. So let’s stop putting so much pressure on ourselves to perform, and instead focus on exploring our bodies, communicating with our partners, and enjoying the fun side of sex. As Sarah says, “exploring your orgasm potential should be a fun and pleasurable experience, so take your time and enjoy the process.”
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Whilst WYLDE MOON consults with experts, no advice should replace that of your registered doctor. As such, the information we publish is for information purposes only. It is not intended to be a substitute for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Always seek the advice of your qualified healthcare provider for any medical conditions, and never disregard professional medical advice because of information you have read from WYLDE MOON.

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