Q&A: When Masturbating, I Near Orgasm But Don’t Come. Why is That?

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QUESTION: When I am masturbating I get close to having an orgasm but I don't come, why is that?

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Fleeting

Although, we often talk about difficulty experiencing orgasm during intercourse, less is said about how often or rarely women or men experience orgasm during other types of sex, including masturbation by oneself.

Numbers

A 2005 study of more than 2000 women found that about 14% of women said they never or rarely experienced orgasm when they masturbate. This is very close to the 16% of women who generally report never or rarely having orgasms during intercourse.

In contrast, about twice as many women report having orgasms always during masturbation as compared with always during intercourse.

Specifically, this same study found that 34% of women said that they always orgasm during masturbation compared to 14% of women who report always having orgasms during intercourse.

Why?

So why don’t women have orgasms during masturbation?

In part, it can be a woman’s mindset. I’ve heard from some women who masturbate because they think they should, not because they want to. If a woman’s mind is elsewhere, and not particularly focused on sexual thoughts or feelings or fantasies, then it may be more difficult for her to experience sexual pleasure or orgasm.

Other times, women are still learning to touch their bodies in ways that feel good to them and that promote pleasure or orgasm. Spending time learning about one’s own body can help a woman to become more familiar with what kind of touch she enjoys.

Other women feel limited by how they respond to touch. Some are afraid to let go. Some feel overwhelmed by pleasurable genital sensations and stop whenever those feelings build up. Other times, sexual guilt or shame or body images issues can interfere with a woman’s ability to relax, let go, and experience sexual touch – even when it’s her own touch.

Research

Reading a book like Becoming Orgasmic or Because It Feels Good may help expose women to a variety of positive, pleasure-focused ideas about sex and masturbation, and may also help to give her sufficient ideas and ways to practice opening herself to pleasure. You can learn more about these books and others on our Kinsey Confidential website.

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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