Expert Shares Why You May Be Struggling To Orgasm With Your Partner - Exclusive

At various points in our lives, orgasms can be the ultimate bliss and the ultimate frustration. Remember that our relationships with our bodies can be fluid and changeable, and sometimes, this can change the sex we have with our partners. For many women, achieving orgasm with a partner can be a challenge — even when achieving orgasm alone, or with the assistance of something akin to a handy-dandy vibrator, comes easily. We may start to blame ourselves, our partners may start to blame themselves, and the bedroom can start to feel anxiety-provoking, rather than a relaxing space to unwind and enjoy all the pleasures our bodies can feel. 

Should you be looking for solutions to easier orgasms, but you're having trouble honing in on what could be addressed, we have some ideas for you. Women spoke exclusively with Aliyah Moore, Ph.D., a certified sex therapist, to better understand what barriers might need to be broken to achieve orgasm with your partner. She said, "Sex is not a performance, and there's no one-size-fits-all approach. Take the pressure off of yourself and focus on enjoying the moment. Don't be discouraged if things don't go as planned; it happens to the best of us."

Put your body first

Whether you have recently been struggling to orgasm in the bedroom, or have been struggling for some time, the stress of wondering, "Am I going to orgasm this time?" could be enough to stop you from being in the moment. Speaking exclusively with Women, Dr. Aliyah Moore said, "Sometimes, our brains can get in the way of our bodies. If you're too worried about whether or not you're going to orgasm, you might end up putting too much pressure on yourself and making it harder to actually get there." In order to combat this, remind yourself that when it comes to sex, there is no race to the finish; there is no "right" amount of time it "should" take to get to orgasm. Instead, feeling and embracing pleasure throughout the sex act is part of the experience. 

Should you feel your mind racing during sex, and the anxiety over your orgasm has set in, try to redirect your thoughts to the physical sensations in your body. Remind yourself that it is okay to let go of the expectation of orgasm. Perhaps you will be surprised how far that can take you.

Prioritize quality stimulation

Remember also that, when engaging in sex with a new partner, it could simply take time to learn about each other's bodies. And, of course, knowing your own body is key. "Masturbation can be a helpful way to learn what types of touch and stimulation feel good for you," Dr. Aliyah Moore said, speaking exclusively with Women. "When you know what feels good for you, it can be easier to communicate that to your partner and guide them to provide the stimulation you need to reach orgasm." 

While you might feel self-conscious speaking up to your partner when you want them to do something different, keep in mind that your partner wants to please you. You can communicate before sex, or gently guide your partner through movements that feel good to you during sex as well. "Approach the issue with empathy and an open mind, and work together to find solutions that work for both of you," Dr. Moore said. "Try to avoid blame or criticism and instead focus on finding ways to support each other and address the issue together." Do not be afraid to tell your partner when a certain action does not feel good, either. Incorporating longer foreplay into your sexual encounters has also been shown to increase the rate of orgasm, according to a 2014 article published in Human Reproductive Biology.

Review your medications

Being on certain kinds of medications, namely antidepressants such as selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors, aka SSRIs, can also significantly impact one's ease in having an orgasm. For those whose depression symptoms are significantly improving on medication, but are still having trouble in bed, there are some ways you can work around side effects that might include lack of sex drive, or difficulty reaching orgasm. 

First, know that over time, the side effects of SSRIs on your libido can sometimes fade as your body adjusts to the medication. Should you have just started your treatment and feel frustrated with the changes in your sex life, do what you can to be gentle with yourself, and give the circumstances some patience. Should the issue persist, "Talk to your doctor," Dr. Aliyah Moore suggested, speaking exclusively with Women. "If you're experiencing difficulty reaching orgasm, it's a good idea to talk to your doctor to rule out any underlying medical conditions or medication side effects that could be contributing to the problem. Your doctor may be able to suggest treatments or adjustments to your medication that could help," she said. This could include anything from lowering the dose when appropriate, to switching medications to see if the issue continues.

Assess your physical health issues

A number of physical issues could also hinder your ability to orgasm in bed. One is anorgasmia. According to Mayo Clinic, "Anorgamsia is delayed, infrequent or absent orgasms — or significantly less-intense orgasms — after sexual arousal and adequate sexual stimulation. Women who have problems with orgasms and who feel significant distress about those problems may be diagnosed with anorgasmia." 

There are other issues, too. Speaking exclusively with Women, Dr. Aliyah Moore said, "Unfortunately, certain health conditions can impact our sexual function. Diabetes, multiple sclerosis, and spinal cord injuries are just a few examples. But even things like hormonal imbalances or thyroid issues can play a role."

There are also several kinds of sexual dysfunction disorders that could contribute to issues with orgasming, where symptoms could include having pain during sex, perhaps caused by ovarian cysts or fibroids, and having a lack of sexual desire or arousal. Age does tend to be a factor in many sexual dysfunction disorders, however. For any number of these concerns, see a doctor or specialist for treatment plans and ideas.

Consider the role of past trauma

Past trauma can also be a sensitive barrier to achieving orgasm. When you have had a traumatic experience surrounding sex, reclaiming your body can be a process that necessitates care, love, attention, and trust. Survivors of sexual assault, for example, might experience self-blame, disgust, or otherwise feel disconnected from their bodies, which can make sexual experiences hard to enjoy. Some may even have flashbacks of the traumatic incident. Know that it is possible to repair your relationship with your body and with sex, even when it feels challenging. Understanding your triggers and boundaries, as well as engaging in robust communication, are just a few ideas that can help shape what you want out of your sexual experiences. 

Perhaps you might simply be having issues in your relationship that make having an orgasm difficult. "If past trauma or relationship issues are impacting your ability to orgasm, working with a therapist can be helpful in addressing these issues," said Dr. Aliyah Moore, speaking exclusively with Women. She continued, "A therapist who specializes in sexual issues can help you work through any underlying psychological factors that may be impacting your ability to reach orgasm." And where therapy is financially unfeasible, explore sexual education resources online. The sex exploration app Ferly, for example, offers expert guides, insight, and community for a small fee each month. 

In the end, Dr. Moore advised, "Be gentle with yourself and your partner: It's important to remember that sexual function can be impacted by various factors, and it's not necessarily anyone's fault."