Sex

Are you sabotaging your orgasm?

Anxiety is definitely not an aphrodisiac. We show you how to let your body reach the big O.

If you took sex advice from TV and movies, you’d assume that orgasms went hand-in-hand with having sex, right? Especially if the sex scene in The Notebook (hello multiple orgasms) is anything to go by. But in real life, having an orgasm can be hard, verging on distressing. Some women hardly ever orgasm and others? They’ve never even experienced the “Big O”. Is your anxiety diminishing your ability to come to a happy ending? Here’s how to nix it.

Fear of the O

Sexologist Giverny Lewis (who blogs at notestovirgins.blogspot.com.au) says many women experience orgasm anxiety. “Just as most people get performance anxiety around public speaking, the same goes for reaching the big O,” she says. “It’s a whole lot more common than you think. We have fears about what might happen to our body when we orgasm. Will a bit of wee come out? Will I shake? What if I fart? We can also have the subconscious belief that orgasms are dirty, or we’re not supposed to have them.”

With all those fears jostling about in your brain, it’s no wonder your body can’t give in to a little bit of ecstasy. But where does that anxiety come from, and why is it so common? Lewis reckons it all started in high school sex ed.

“We’re not taught much about orgasms, particularly female orgasms, so we don’t know what to expect. And if we don’t talk to our partners or our girlfriends about it, we end up feeling alone and as though we’re the only person in the world who’s not having mind-blowing orgasms,” she says.

“But the reality is there are lots of women who are having a hard time getting there. You’re not alone – and you’re definitely not a freak.”

How to fix it

So, what can you do about it? Start by working out where your inhibitions are, ah, coming from: are you scared of the sensation? Nervous about your reaction? Uncomfortable with your partner? Too focused on getting him off?

If you’re too scared to come… “Relax. Taking deep, slow breaths and focusing on pushing away any negative thoughts will help let your body give in to the sensations,” says Lewis. “I would recommend masturbating, too. It’s one of the best ways to find out what works for you and, if you get there, what an orgasm feels like.”

Worried the guy is bored? “Talk to him,” says Lewis. “Some women find it a huge turn-on when their partners ‘validate’ them by saying things like, ‘I love doing x to you.’ Try it yourself, and see if he returns the favour.”

And if you’re too focused on his pleasure, rather than yours… “Learn to ask for what you want,” suggests Lewis. Simple suggestions, with a positive, can help you narrow down what’s going to work, like ‘That feels great, can you go a bit slower/harder/faster/softer?’”

If this approach fails, channel your inner sex kitten and bring out the role play. “Try a game where you both take turns focusing exclusively on each other for a certain period of time,” says Lewis. “That way you know it’s coming back to your turn soon, so the stress can subside and you can both really enjoy giving and receiving pleasure.”

A happy ending

When you work out what you need from sex, orgasms will follow. Zoe Eisenberg, a blogger who likes to write about food and sex, (because what could possibly be better?) is very open about her struggle with orgasm anxiety.

“As soon as I start to feel real good, my brain goes on some self-loathing, orgasm-thwarting monologue about how my partner is probably bored out of his mind,” she says. “I’m anxious he’s bored and wishing I’d hurry up and come already. Of course, angsting over how long it’s taking just makes it take even longer – or prevents me from getting there at all.”

Zoe had been sexually active for seven years before her first proper O-moment. She had to figure out what she needed emotionally from sex before she could enjoy it physically.

“To relax enough to come, I need to feel extremely safe and secure,” she says. “I give myself sexually entitled pep talks all the time: ‘You deserve to come.’”

If, like Zoe, you can get in touch with yourself both mentally and physically, you can overcome orgasm-related panic. She reckons honesty is the way to go.

“I was dating someone new, and I confessed I’d never had an orgasm and I didn’t know if I ever would,” she says.

“Once that was out there, the pressure I felt to come was far less. My partner was attentive and wonderful and made me feel safe. As our relationship continued and I gradually became more and more comfortable with him, my anxiety simply began to fade.”