How can I support my girlfriend if she is afraid of achieving orgasm? I want her to be able to enjoy it but simultaneously really don't want to make her uncomfortable or pressure her.

Expert answer:

Dear Student,

Thank you for reaching out to Sexual Literacy to get some answers around this. It’s great that you have the presence of mind to ensure you aren't pressuring your girlfriend about experiencing orgasm. It’s a good idea for your first step to be having a conversation with her about her desire to achieve orgasm.  It's important to know if "afraid" is a word your girlfriend introduced or if it is the inference you are drawing.  If she has not used this word, definitely let her apply her own language to the situation.  If she has shared she's afraid to orgasm, there are some simple questions to consider, starting with is achieving orgasm something she wants? If not, it might be time to leave the conversation there and let her bring it up again in the future if the time feels right for her.

If she does want to achieve orgasm you can ask directly what her fears are. It’s common for people to be afraid of losing control, which is often what happens when we experience orgasm. Sometimes people have trauma histories that make it difficult to reach orgasm.  Other people have medical conditions that complicate things physiologically.  In order to truly understand your girlfriend’s fear, having a conversation will be necessary for you both.  Acknowledge that it’s a hard conversation to have but assure her you want to be as helpful to her as you can, even if it means dropping the subject.

If you determine she does want to have this conversation and is willing to share some of her thoughts, then it might be time to discuss ways to tackle her fears if she would find that helpful. It's okay for you to have feelings about this, too.  When we care about our partner we want them to feel good and safe with us.  We want them to enjoy sex with us!  So it's perfectly okay for you to feel anxious about your girlfriend's fear.  Chances are, this isn't about you and that's important to keep in mind.  Try and put your feelings aside when you broach this topic.  Remember to be gentle, kind, and let her lead the conversation. You are there for support and to learn more about your partner.

It might also be helpful to offer her other resources for this discussion if she feels nervous talking about it with you.  There are great books, blogs, and in-person resources that might be helpful for her to explore this topic on her own.

We wish you the best of luck with this hard conversation and if you ever have more questions about sex and orgasm don’t hesitate to visit us on the 6th floor of the HUHS.

Best,

Amanda Ayers, MPH

Health Educator

Health Promotion & Education


Student Answer:

Hi Student,

Thanks for the thoughtful question! It’s clear you care about your girlfriend and great to see that you are considering her sexual satisfaction while also valuing some really nuanced emotions.
 

The first step here is just to try having an honest conversation with your girlfriend. I’d recommend doing this at a time when you both feel relaxed and comfortable - talking about sex and orgasms can be awkward and difficult so try and set up the conversation as best you can.  

Once you two start talking, it will be important to understand the reasons causing her lack of orgasms. Is it really that she’s afraid, or is it that she hasn’t been aroused enough during sex? (it also can definitely be a combination of factors) As you talk through causes it’s so important to affirm that you won’t be offended by her answers and that you aren’t trying to make her feel pressured to come (especially because this pressure can just put more stress on her) but that, like you said, you simply want her to be enjoying herself.

If it’s a matter of arousal (work through the awkwardness, you can do it) then have a concrete discussion about ways to be make the sex better for her. Try asking questions like, “how does this feel?” or “Do you like this?” to help her be more vocal and direct about what she wants in bed.

If it is being caused more by fear, as Amanda mentioned, it’ll be helpful for you to know how many different things can be guiding this. Nervousness about losing control, past trauma or negative sexual experiences, worry about being so vulnerable with you, and many others, could all be possible causes. As you two start to talk through this, remember to validate her concerns and feelings. Just articulating and understanding the causes is a huge first step and will let you both be able to move towards possible solutions. Be patient, working through these things is really hard and can take time!

However, I totally agree with Amanda that if your gf just straight up says that she doesn’t want to have an orgasm then it’s important to respect that. Set the conversation aside and just end by saying that you’re here to talk about it in the future if she wants to (and remind her that there are other resources like blogs, peer counselors, and healthcare professionals if she wants to learn more on her own).

Good luck!

-A

Student