Learning From Lack of Orgasm

I’ve always kept track of all of the questions that readers, students, and acquaintances ask me related to sexuality and relationships. This morning, I was reading through some of the questions, and noticed a theme of orgasm throughout. Most of the orgasm-related questions came from folks with female partners wanting to know how to positively contribute to their orgasm experience.

I also found this trend interesting because in research that I’ve recently conducted with colleagues in a sample of over 200 heterosexual couples in long-term (average length of 9 years) relationships, we found that for men, the number one thing they desired when they experienced sexual desire was to pleasure their partner. And for many people, pleasure is gauged based on orgasm (which shouldn’t necessarily be the case, but that’s a topic for another day).

So I thought about whether there is any data out there to give readers tangible advice about orgasm. I went to the Good in Bed survey data on orgasm, which provides us with data from over 6,000 men and women about factors that contribute to orgasm and factors that take away from orgasm. In this post, I’m going to share the factors that take away from orgasm and see what we can learn from lack of orgasm.

I’ve broken these responses down into types of sexual behavior: orgasm when masturbating, orgasm during oral sex, and orgasm during intercourse. Responses do not add up to 100 because participants could select more than one response option. These percentages are in response to the question “What I DON’T have an orgasm during [masturbation/receiving oral sex/intercourse], it is typically because (choose all that apply):”

Orgasm During Masturbation
I am generally sexually unresponsive: 6.4% of men, 8.2% of women
I did not particularly want to have an orgasm: 8.8% of men, 6.1% of women
My fantasy was not arousing: 8.6% of men, 8.3% of women
It was a matter of luck: 2.1% of men, 4.0% of women
I was mentally distracted: 29.3% of men, 44.2% of women
I was interrupted: 25.8% of men, 27.7% of women
I always have an orgasm during masturbation: 39.9% of men, 30.1% of women

Orgasm While Receiving Oral Sex
I am generally sexually unresponsive: 6.6% of men, 13.4% of women
I did not particularly want to have an orgasm: 20.6% of men, 9.0% of women
My fantasy was not arousing: 6.5% of men, 6.6% of women
It was a matter of luck: 4.6% of men, 7.7% of women
I was mentally distracted: 21.0% of men, 47.3% of women
I was interrupted: 15.5% of men, 18.0% of women
I always have an orgasm during oral sex: 21.7% of men, 11.3% of women

Orgasm During Intercourse
I am generally sexually unresponsive: 7.3% of men, 15.9% of women
I did not particularly want to have an orgasm: 8.3% of men, 8.2% of women
My fantasy was not arousing: 6.4% of men, 9.0% of women
It was a matter of luck: 5.0% of men, 10.4% of women
I was mentally distracted: 32.3% of men, 48.8% of women
I was interrupted: 22.5% of men, 23.8% of women
I always have an orgasm during intercourse: 35.9% of men, 7.8% of women

Additionally, participants had the option to provide an “other” response. When we gathered those other responses and text analyzed them, we found that the most commonly cited reason was being tired. However, other themes that came up were just having stopped, being drunk or something involving alcohol, technique, medication, etc. This wordle provides an overview of the responses found in the “other” category for both men and women in all three behavioral categories. The larger the text, the more frequently it was mentioned.
Capture2.png

So, what can you do with this information? If you’re tired, stressed, or have a lot going on in your life (who doesn’t anymore?!), you’re more easily mentally distracted, and all of those things can take away from orgasm. Also, try to engage in sex during a time when you’re less likely to be interrupted, as that was also a commonly cited inhibitor. I think it is important to note that the top reason both men and women felt their orgasm was inhibited was due to mental distraction in all three behavioral categories. Practicing mindfulness during a sexual activity is something that may contribute to orgasm, and research conducted by Dr. Brotto and colleagues at the UBC Sexual Health Lab has suggested that it may help with sexual desire and arousal issues in women. Mindfulness is the deliberate effort to be fully aware of one’s thoughts. Practicing mindfulness during sex (and generally) may help to prevent the mental distraction many cited as a main reason for inhibited orgasm.

This was originally posted on Good in Bed.

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