Ask Ainsley, Student Life

Ask Ainsley: How do I have an orgasm?

Dear Ainsley,

I’m a cisgender, straight female and a first-year student at McGill. So far, I’m loving Rez, school, and all the friends I’m meeting, but there’s something that’s been bothering me. In high school, I briefly had a boyfriend, with whom I had sex. Since then, I’ve had a few one-night stands. My friends back home and I never really talked about sex, but my friends at McGill are much more open about it and are constantly talking about having orgasms. I’ve never had one myself, and I feel like something is wrong with me. It’s not that I don’t enjoy sex, because I do, but I never have felt that big moment that everyone talks about. Is it because I’m doing it wrong? Is it because the guys I’ve slept with haven’t been good at it? What can I do to help myself have an orgasm during sex?


No ‘Oh’ (NO)

Dear NO,

Contrary to popular belief, the majority of people with vaginas can’t actually reach orgasm solely through vaginal penetration. In fact, only 25-33 per cent of all cisgender women can. It’s hard not to feel inadequate when both pornography and the media portray orgasms as not only common, but the ultimate goal of intercourse. Being unable to have an orgasm from sex is completely normal, and you shouldn’t feel badly about it. According to the famous sexologists William Masters and Virginia Johnson, clitoral orgasms are actually more intense than vaginal ones. But, if you’re not happy with your sex life, there are plenty of things you can do to try to change it.

First, if you don’t already, you could try masturbating. It’s hard for someone else to give you what you want if you don’t know what you like. You may also want to invest in some sex toys. Using a vibrator may help you orgasm more easily.

While knowing your body well is important, it’s also important to feel comfortable and assert yourself with your sexual partners.  It’s important to communicate your sexual desires to your partner, which can be daunting in both short and long-term relationships and comes with time and comfort as you and your partner grow closer. 

While it is often easier said than done, it is also key to remain relaxed during intercourse. It is common to feel self-conscious during sex, especially if you’re concerned about sounds, smells, and movements. If you are able to ignore some of these inhibitions, it will become easier to remain present and focused on pleasure during sex. 

While there is no set-in-stone guide to having an orgasm during sex, there are some common techniques that are worth keeping in mind. Repetitive stimulation of the clitoris during sex—either orally or manually—can be key to achieving an orgasm because clitoral orgasms are far more common than vaginal ones. For example, many women find that the angle achieved from being on top of their partner stimulates the clitoris moreso than other positions. Additionally, the human body contains far more pleasure centres than the vagina and clitoris; stimulating the nipples, ears, neck, or thighs often leads to greater arousal in the stages leading up to orgasm. For this reason, foreplay can be key to climaxing.

The best thing you can do is to spend time getting to know yourself and what turns you on. Try not to stress about climaxing and instead focus your time and energy on learning about your body, staying calm and focused during sex, and communicating your sexual desires with your partner. 

Best of luck!


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