Help! I Can’t Orgasm With My Partner

Jess and Brandon respond to a listener who can orgasm on her own, but not with her partner. They share tips, insights, personal stories as well as practical mindfulness strategies you can try tonight.

Please find a rough transcript of this podcast below…

Welcome to the Sex With Dr. Jess Podcast.

We’re going to talk about orgasms today. We have a question from a listener.

“I have been having trouble orgasming with a partner, but by myself, it’s extremely easy. I have tried to add sex toys when I’m with my partner (which is the usual way I orgasm on my own), but that didn’t even work. He feels insecure since he can’t make me orgasm and I’m embarrassed.”

First – you have nothing to be embarrassed about. Your orgasm is for you. It’s not about your partner — unless you’re playing with that fantasy specifically — often in a kinky way. You might allow your partner to take control of your orgasm.

One example might involve orgasm denial. It can be — with consent.

Orgasm denial is often practiced as BDSM and it involves maintaining arousal without allow orgasm to follow. You might bring your partner to the brink and then pull back and stop altogether. And then you can continue to repeat. You might use your hands or body or you might use chastity belts or cock cages to prevent simulation of the genitals.

Some people create a whole scene or experience around orgasm denial and others simply play with it in passing. They might tease their partner that they’re going to pull back and not let them orgasm.

But back to the question.

Let’s begin with the basics. Your partner doesn’t really give you an orgasm. They might be a part of the process, but your body — with your brain at the helm — gives you an orgasm. They can physically and mentally be a part of the stimulation process, but ultimately, it’s your nerve endings that communicate with the brain and it’s your brain that fires in multiple regions. And then at orgasm, your brain’s center of reason and behavior (the lateral orbitofrontal cortex just behind your left eye) actually shuts down momentarily allowing your animalistic needs to overpower any reservations or preoccupations.

When you can orgasm on your own, but not with a partner, oftentimes it’s because you do something physically different on your own. You use toys, you use your hands, you rub on the outside, you contort your body in a natural way, you breathe differently when you’re on your own and it facilitates orgasm easily. But then when you get with a partner, you change it up. You’re more focused on penetration, you move your body for their pleasure, you control your body at different angles, you hold your breath, you hold back or exaggerate your sounds and all of those physical activities simply don’t lead to orgasm.

If this is the case, you’ll want to bring your masturbation practices — the angles, the toys, the techniques into your partnered play and replicate them. And this will likely lead to orgasm.

In your case, however, you use toys to orgasm and you’ve already tried bringing them in to partnered play, so you likely need to consider another angle: And that’s performance pressure.

If you’re doing the exact same things with your partner as you do when you’re alone and you still can’t enjoy an orgasm when your partner is present, it’s likely a matter of mindset, mood and pressure.

So first — I want you to remove the physical barriers to orgasm. Is is the way you’re positioned? Move into the position you use when you masturbate most often and have your partner work around you. Is it the setting? Try to replicate the setting in terms of location, lighting, temperature, what you’re wearing. Again, have your partner work around you. Is it the physical sensations? When you use a toy alone, how do you do it? Can you show your partner with your hand? If you’re using the toy that always leads to orgasm, is there something else they’re doing that you find distracting?


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