In the two years that she’s been married, Angeline* says that she’s never had an orgasm while having sex with her husband. “Paul* and I are sexually intimate about once a week, which I think is acceptable, but for some reason I can’t seem to hit that peak that my friends talk about,” says that 32-year-old client services executive. 

“My husband is the first and only man I’ve ever had sex with so I can’t compare our sex life to anything else. And while I enjoy being intimate with him, I can’t help but wonder what I’m missing out on. I like the way he touches me but I know that the pleasure I feel doesn’t fit the description of an orgasm.”

Sex tips on why you can not orgasm climax when having sex DECOR

Tara*, on the other hand, knows what an orgasm feels like, but says that she rarely experiences it with her partner of four years. “Sometimes I climax and sometimes I don’t. I wish I could have an orgasm every time like my partner does, but some nights it’s just too hard so I give up trying to have one,” shares the 29-year-old teacher. “My partner thinks it’s his fault when I have difficulty climaxing, so to avoid hurting his feelings, I sometimes fake my sexual pleasure.”

There’s nothing wrong with you if you find it hard to achieve orgasm. Women not only have more difficulty than men when it comes to reaching their pleasure peak; they also have to work harder to get there.

Common reasons why you can’t climax – and what to do about them
If you’ve been faking your orgasm all this while or tried to convince yourself that it doesn’t matter whether you climax or not, STOP. All women deserve to orgasm. While having one isn’t the be-all and end-all of sex, it can certainly enhance your enjoyment in the bedroom and boost feelings of intimacy and connectedness between you and your partner.

Here’s how you can get around the most common obstacles to the
big O …

You don’t spend enough time on foreplay: You can’t expect to just launch into sex and have an orgasm right away. A pre-sex “warm up” is essential to prepare your mind and body for the big event. Kissing, cuddling, dirty talk, mutual masturbation, oral sex, and role-playing are all great ways to “warm up” before sex – they will help you feel closer to your partner and give your vagina time to become lubricated, which makes for more comfortable sex. (Warning: Your man may find it hard to control himself and may want to cut the foreplay short and penetrate you before you’re ready. If this happens, he should turn his attention to pleasing you – this will distract him a little and help him get a handle on his excitement.). There is no “right amount” of time to set aside for foreplay. Some nights you may need 10 minutes or more, other nights, far less. Take as much time as you need to build up that arousal.

Your head is not in the game: If you take your work, money and personal problems to bed with you, of course you’ll have trouble focusing on your sexual pleasure. Body hang-ups (such as anxiety over the size of your thighs or the shape of your breasts), and sexual performance worries, too, can be psychological barriers to achieving orgasm. It’s important to be fully present when you’re having sex. So try to “de-clutter your mind” and allow yourself to get lost in the moment. Pay attention to the way your partner is touching you; enjoy his caresses; act on your sexual desires; and give yourself permission to let go, both emotionally and physically.

You’re trying too hard to have an orgasm: Just like a watched pot never boils, it’s almost impossible to climax if you’re fixated on the outcome. If all you can think about while making love is how much longer it’s going to take until you hit that peak, you’re only setting yourself up for disappointment. Make sure that your partner doesn’t try to rush you to climax, either. In fact, try not to think about having an orgasm at all.

You’re physically exhausted: Sleep deprived? No energy to spare? You might still be able to have sex, but having an orgasm will not be easy. If you and your man have crazy schedules and are drained by the time you get into bed, it might be a good idea to pick a time when you’re both relaxed enough to have sex. Some couples love morning sex for this reason – it’s when they have the most energy, plus, a man’s testosterone levels are highest in the morning, and making love at that time increases your oxytocin levels, making for hotter, more intimate sex.

You’re not hitting the right spots: Most women need direct and consistent clitoral stimulation during sex in order to climax. While making love, ask your man to manually stimulate this super-sensitive part of your genitals (you may have to guide his hand to the exact location of your clitoris). If your neck and nipples are particularly sensitive, then get him to zero in on either or both erogenous zones during foreplay or sex. Some women also enjoy their G-spot being stimulated. The point is, once you know how different parts of your body respond to touch, you will know how to turn yourself on (or guide your man to turn you on) during sex, thereby increasing your chances of having an orgasm. The best way to determine your sexual hotspots: Self-exploration.  

You have an underlying health issue that makes it hard for you to climax: Anorgasmia, or the inability to orgasm despite responding to sexual stimulation, is a real problem for some women. There are different types of anorgasmia – it can be lifelong, acquired, situational or generalised – so if you believe that you suffer from this condition, it might be a good idea to ask your doctor for help or advice. Anorgasmia has a number of causes, which range from medical diseases like diabetes, to gynaecological issues. And then there are the psychological causes, such as cultural or religious beliefs, fear of pregnancy or STDs, past sexual or emotional trauma, guilt, embarrassment, or mental health issues like anxiety or depression. 

You take certain types of medication, or you drink and/or smoke: Some antidepressants, and some drugs for blood pressure and anxiety, can interfere with your ability to orgasm. So too can tobacco and alcohol. Smoking constricts the blood vessels, including those that transport blood to the genitals. This limits blood flow into your vaginal wall and affects vaginal lubrication. Alcohol is a central nervous system depressant (the central nervous system plays a crucial role in sexual arousal and orgasm). It also dehydrates the body, affecting blood flow to your genitals and causing vaginal dryness, which can make sex painful. And it can cause headaches and fatigue, making it difficult for you to fully enjoy the sexual experience.   

*Names have been changed.

Want some more tips on sex? Read our stories Singapore men tell us the top 12 sex mistakes women make; How to give your man a great blow job and Has he lost that lovin’ feeling? Top reasons your man doesn’t want to have sex