Q&A: Achieving Female Orgasms During Intercourse

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QUESTION: I'm a 22-year-old female, and I've never had an orgasm during "standard" sex - only oral. I thought that maybe it was my first partner, but I wasn't able to achieve it with my second partner either. Is this normal for women?

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Actually, this is very common. If what you mean by “standard” sex is penis-vagina intercourse, you may be interested to know that quite a lot of women don’t orgasm during intercourse.

But Why?

Let me guess – your next question is probably “why?” Well, the clitoris is the part of a woman’s genitals that is most packed with nerve endings and is made up of erectile tissue, similar to the inside parts of a man’s penis that contribute to his erection.

The clitoris, therefore, plays a very important role in sexual arousal and orgasm for women. However, the clitoris is not inside the vagina, it is actually one of the outside parts of a woman’s genitals – just above the vagina or birth canal.

In order to stimulate the clitoris during vaginal intercourse, many couples find that they either need to choose positions that provide more clitoral stimulation, or else they might use their fingers or a vibrator to stimulate the clitoris.

Oral Sex And Masturbation

Other women find that they prefer to receive oral sex or to engage in self-masturbation or mutual masturbation either for sexual pleasure or to experience orgasm.

There is no right or wrong way, so whatever feels good to you and makes sense in your sexual life is fine. You might try exploring your body a bit on your own or with your partner, making sure to communicate to your partner what kinds of touching or stimulation you do or do not enjoy.

Every woman is different, so don’t assume that he is an expert who will magically “give” you an orgasm. Sexual pleasure and orgasm are things that you can work toward together.

Try Different Positions

If you are anxious to have that elusive orgasm through intercourse, try positions that will stimulate your clitoris as well as your vagina. Some women find that being on top gives them more control; some find that a partner’s fingers rubbing their clitoris during intercourse is the extra touch that they need. Some partners just take turns pleasuring each other to orgasm.

Finally, try to avoid focusing on orgasm as the goal of your sexual experience with your partner. There is no right or wrong way to make love; the point is to achieve intimacy and pleasure, and there are many techniques towards that end.

Learn More

To learn more about orgasm, you might enjoy reading Becoming Orgasmic by Dr. Julia Heiman and Dr. Joseph LoPiccolo.

Dr. Debby Herbenick (M.P.H., Ph.D.)

is a sexual health educator at The Kinsey Institute, Associate Director of the Center for Sexual Health Promotion at Indiana University and author of several books including Sex Made Easy and Because It Feels Good: A Woman's Guide to Sexual Pleasure and Satisfaction.
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