Sex

6 Tips To Overcome Orgasm Anxiety For Better Sex

Photo: Harada Tatsunari, francesco_de_napoli | Canva
Woman feeling shame, surrounded by fireworks

Orgasm anxiety is a topic that doesn’t get enough attention, but it's a real issue that affects a lot of women.

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What is orgasm anxiety?

Orgasm anxiety is a sense of nervousness and stress surrounding the ability to orgasm, typically during partnered sexual activity. Orgasm anxiety can manifest itself by hyperfocusing on achieving orgasm or excessively worrying about a lack of orgasm.

What causes orgasm anxiety?

A lack of sex-positive, pleasure-focused sex education is a significant cause of orgasm anxiety.

In our sexually liberated society, many women feel pressured to have great sex with mind-blowing orgasms. While great strides have been made to help women orgasm by self-stimulation, millions of women struggle to orgasm when a man is involved.

The ability to orgasm is of primary concern among women, with approximately 25% of women having never experienced an orgasm or having difficulty experiencing one. Even more women do not orgasm during partnered sex, with a study reporting that only 18.4% of women orgasm during intercourse alone.

Some men know how to bring a woman to orgasm. Many women are not informed or confident enough to tell men what they need to orgasm. It’s a taboo topic that must be addressed if we want to close the orgasm gap.

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Six tips for overcoming orgasm anxiety and enjoying sex more 

For women who want to overcome orgasm anxiety and experience sexual fulfillment, here are six tips:

1. Stop overthinking and practice mindfulness

Overthinking is when you repeat your negative thoughts and feelings, examine them, and question them. Some women overthink more than men due to brain activity, as shown in a study by the Amen Clinics.

Overthinking causes stress and anxiety, the most common reasons why 58% of women don't orgasm. Feeling anxious can cause orgasm difficulties as it creates a barrier to sexual fulfillment.

According to experts, overthinking is the most significant barrier to women's orgasms. It's similar to ‘spectatoring’. For example, focusing on oneself from a third-person perspective during sexual activity rather than focusing on one’s sensations or sexual partner.

In the bedroom, a lot of women overthink and find it challenging to climax due to the negative thoughts. “Overthinking gives you tunnel vision that can only focus on what’s wrong in your life,” writes renowned psychologist Dr. Susan Nolen-Hoeksema, who helps women who ruminate too much. To stop overthinking, shift your perspective from “what’s wrong?” to “what’s not wrong?" Adopt a pleasure-positive perspective to become orgasmic.

For many women, the practice of mindfulness is vital to overcoming orgasm anxiety. Learn how to be present during intimacy to enjoy sexual pleasure.

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2. Focus on pleasure, not climax

While most women can easily stimulate themselves to orgasm, up to 65% of women do not orgasm during sexual intercourse, even with clitoral stimulation.

If orgasm anxiety is preventing you from having an orgasm with a partner, it might be worth focusing on sexual pleasure instead. Goal-orientated sex can create a lot of internalized pressure and may leave you feeling frustrated when you don't orgasm.

Pressure can create anxiety and make it even more difficult to orgasm. The expectation to climax is known as the orgasm imperative.

Prioritizing sexual pleasure can help relieve orgasm worries.

Take the focus off the orgasmic goal and follow the pleasure journey. You are more likely to reach orgasm when you are on the road to pleasure.

3. You’re not broken, you’re normal

It's common for women to experience orgasm anxiety at some stage in their life. Many women find it challenging to climax or have never experienced an orgasm, and that’s okay. Remember, when it comes to orgasm, there is no such thing as “normal.”

Every woman is different, and every woman has different orgasmic experiences. What works for one woman may not work for another, and that’s okay. Some women do not orgasm until their forties or even later, and that’s okay.

It's important to understand that you are not abnormal, damaged, or broken because you do not orgasm as often as you would like or expect.

Learn what works for you and set realistic expectations without comparing yourself to others.

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4. Communicate your feelings

Effective communication is vital to overcoming orgasm anxiety. Open communication in a safe and non-judgmental way can help eradicate bedroom stress.

If you are in a relationship, speak to your partner about your desires, preferences, and boundaries. It can help him understand your needs and learn how to support you.

Often, women will speak to their female friends about bedroom issues and assume that men are not concerned about their needs. It’s important to remember that men are not mind readers. We think differently to women, and that’s okay. This is why it’s critical to communicate your needs and desires effectively.

You can show your partner how you like to be touched or guide him with your hands to help you discover new sensations.

5. Try new techniques

The route to climax varies among women. If you’re someone who struggles to orgasm during sex, try different techniques to help you achieve the elusive big O.

Researchers at the sexual pleasure platform OMGYES identified four techniques to help women increase sexual pleasure. According to the OMGYES Pleasure Report, adult women in America reported that the “shallowing,” “pairing,” “rocking,” and “angling” techniques made vaginal intercourse more pleasurable.

Intercourse is only one technique for lovemaking; women can reach orgasm through non-penetrative techniques such as kunyaza. It's a myth that orgasm should occur through intercourse alone.

Find the technique that works for you!

6. Learn what gives you pleasure

Many women have convinced themselves that they are unable to orgasm because they’ve experienced years of unsatisfactory sex. It can also be challenging to open up to a partner or friends about orgasmic dysfunction. A lack of sexual knowledge can lead to bedroom anxiety.

Misinformation about women's sexuality is rampant, as there are many misconceptions about female sexual arousal and women's orgasm. Such misinformation has contributed to many women feeling inadequate.

Hollywood actress and author Kim Cattrall believed she was unable to orgasm until she experienced her first orgasm in her forties. Despite playing a sexually confident character on screen, Cattrall struggled to orgasm until she met her third husband and learned what turns her on.

Educating yourself about women's experiences can help normalize your path to sexual satisfaction.

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Habeeb Akande is a sex educator, YourTango Expert, and author of Kunyaza: The Secret to Female Pleasure. Habeeb runs intimacy workshops on sexual well-being and was featured in a BBC documentary exploring female sexual pleasure.