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I've never been able to have an orgasm. Why not? Is there anything I can do?

If you have never experienced orgasm, you are not alone. Many women have not, and for most, it is something that can be learned. When we speak of "never" having had an orgasm, we mean by any method of stimulation including masturbation, manual or oral stimulation, vibrator or intercourse. Again, sex is about much more than orgasm, and there are people with satisfying sex lives who do not experience orgasm. But for many, it can be physically and emotionally frustrating not to have an orgasm. Orgasms are a natural release of sexual tension. A sense of well-being or relief often follows, perhaps because orgasms are thought to release pain inhibitors in the body.

Contrary to popular myth, most women don't achieve orgasm through intercourse alone. In the majority of women, the position for intercourse and the way in which the clitoris is stimulated through intercourse is not conducive to orgasm. There are many alternatives for you. Your partner can stimulate you manually either during, prior to, or after intercourse; you can stimulate yourself manually during intercourse; or you can try out alternatives to your lovemaking including oral sex, manual stimulation or vibrators.

How can I achieve an orgasm?

Just because you have never experienced an orgasm, doesn't mean that you can't. The first step should be to have a physical evaluation to make sure that there is no medical problem. Low hormone levels, poor blood circulation and lack of lubrication can all contribute to a women’s inability to experience an orgasm.

One theory that is being explored as a contributor to women’s orgasmic problems is insufficient blood flow to the vaginal area. Much like a man who will have problems with his erection if the blood is not flowing properly, there is some thought that a lack of blood can keep the clitoris from becoming properly engorged. If the clitoris does not become engorged it cannot have the release we know of as a female orgasm. This can be caused by certain medical conditions, medications or surgeries. In certain cases prolonged stimulation or more intense stimulation can help. Some medical providers are trying both topical and oral medications to enhance blood flow to the vagina and there is an FDA-approved vacuum device that can help with this as well. Interestingly, exercising prior to sex may also have a significant effect on those women who have a blood flow problem. There have been some preliminary studies which show that women, immediately after exercising, have increased blood flow, increased lubrication, become aroused more quickly and reach orgasm more easily.

Another reason why you may not be able to reach orgasm may be due to medications. There are a number of medications, most notably some widely used antidepressants, which significantly hamper a woman's ability to have an orgasm.

Finally, there are women who are “blocked” psychologically from experiencing orgasm. For some reason, at this time in their lives, they are facing situations or relationships where it may be difficult to let go or experience pleasure. This can be explored further in sex therapy sessions.

Along with medical help, a woman may need to learn how to have an orgasm. Although it is a natural physical response, it often must be learned. For most women it is a combination of learning about your body, relaxation and finding what kind of stimulation works for you. Most people, women and men, first learn to experience orgasm through self-stimulation (masturbation.) It cannot be stressed enough that this takes time and patience and cannot be rushed or pressured. And remember that our bodies don’t respond mechanically. Your mind and body are in this together. A physician who specializes in female sexual dysfunction or a sex therapist can recommend books, videos and specific techniques that can help you.

Women's questions about orgasm

I used to be able to have an orgasm but I can't seem to anymore. Why not? Is there anything I can do?
My orgasms are not as intense as they used to be. Why is that?

I can't seem to have an orgasm with intercourse. Why not?

What is the g spot?


Read Dr. Bat Sheva Marcus' article A Different Way to Orgasm.

Free women’s sexuality information packet.

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Sexual Dysfunction in Women

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Information provided on this website is authored and edited by Dr. Bat Sheva Marcus, LMSW, MPH, PhD
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