Q. I'm a thirty-something year old female and I've been harboring a very embarrassing secret: I've never had an orgasm. At least, I don't think I have. My close friends are so confident about their sexuality, while I live my days wondering why I am so different from them all. I mean, I've been sexually active, but my experiences have been few and far between. What do I do to enjoy great sex (not to mention an orgasm)?
A. Bravo for admitting your secret. You've just earned an amazing opportunity for healing, sexual and otherwise. It sounds like you've felt like an outsider for a long time, questioning whether it's actually possible for you to be in on the pleasure your friends have been relishing in for years. Feeling like there's something wrong with you - especially over something that comes so naturally for others - is a heavy emotional burden. It isn't any wonder that it's a challenge for you to recognize what an orgasm really feels like.
A Female Orgasm can be a complex matter, a menagerie of emotional state, past experience and mood. On the other hand, learning to reach climax can be liberating and deeply satisfying, opening you up to profound levels of physical and emotional self-awareness. Though there's a possibility that you're physically unable to get off, chances are your situation has more to do with psychological processes, and can be alleviated by using a number of strategies.
Whether it's done during childhood or later on in adulthood, "The brain must learn to ride its little rod [the clitoris] the way it must learn to balance its body on a bicycle. And once learned, the skill will not be forgotten" (‘Women: an Intimate Geography’ by Natalie Angier). Some women have been masturbating from a very young age, and as such have fine-tuned their ability to come to pleasure. There are just as many, much like yourself, who haven't been yet realized their true potential. Discovering your orgasm comes with practice and optimism. Think about whatever you want, taking as much time as necessary, using whichever techniques feel comfortable (see our Female Masturbation Guide).
If this is sounding a tad cerebral, it's because your brain truly is your biggest sex organ. Engage your mind sensually and it will, in turn, awake sensations in your body without any conscious effort on your part. It's also important to comes to terms with any derogatory beliefs concerning such things as body image and self-esteem. Though it's easier said than done, many women agree that female arousal is closely tied to personal empowerment. Refer to The 10 Secrets of Great Sex for more on that.
Suffice to say that you'll be more apt to come when you feel comfortable with your sexual needs and wants. If you don't really know what those are yet, begin by accepting that you too are a sexual being, deserving of pleasure and intimacy.