Is It Normal If I Can't Have a Vaginal Orgasm?

It is a myth that vaginal orgasms are more normal than clitoral orgasms. Research shows that orgasms are different for different people.

Not everyone can have a vaginal orgasm. The ability to have a vaginal orgasm has nothing to do with maturity.

Vaginal orgasm is not a myth. People who have orgasms from vaginal stimulation alone may not be in the majority, but they do exist.

This article discusses different types of orgasms, including vaginal orgasm. It also discusses ways to increase the frequency of orgasms, and possible ways to solve an absence of orgasms.

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What Is an Orgasm?

Sexual pleasure comes in many forms. It is not easy to define the word orgasm because it can be different for different people.

Orgasm is usually defined as a series of rhythmic contractions of the genital muscles followed by relaxation.

In someone with a penis, this is often accompanied by ejaculation, or the release of semen. In someone with a vagina and/or clitoris, orgasm is not usually associated with the release of secretions.

Orgasms may happen more than once during a sexual encounter, or only once, or not at all.

Orgasms can occur without sexual stimulation. They may also happen only in response to certain types of stimulation.

Making orgasm a goal can be a distraction from sexual enjoyment. Sexual pleasure can happen in the absence of orgasm.

Types of Orgasm

People assigned female at birth may experience clitoral orgasm, vaginal orgasm, or both. A clitoral orgasm occurs after stimulation of the clitoris. Manual sex and oral sex are types of stimulation that can lead to a clitoral orgasm.

A vaginal orgasm occurs from stimulation of the vagina. This usually happens during vaginal intercourse.

Some people have one type of orgasm, some the other. Some can orgasm both ways, and some can't orgasm at all.

Outdated Ideas About Orgasm

Sigmund Freud was at least partly to blame for the idea that vaginal orgasm is the norm. Freud thought having a vaginal orgasm was more more "mature" than having a clitoral orgasm.

Freud believed this because he thought the clitoris was a "male" organ. He based this idea on the structural similarity of the clitoris to a penis. He thought stimulating "male" parts was less mature because it was less feminine.

Today, we know Freud's beliefs were based on flawed reasoning. Many of his ideas were heterosexist. This means he was biased towards opposite-sex relationships.

Bias in Research

It is important to know that much of the talk about orgasm and sexual function is based on heterosexual behavior, or relationships between people of opposite genders. It is also biased towards cisgender bodies. A cisgender person is someone who identifies as the gender they were assigned at birth.

Research on the sexual health of people assigned female at birth has historically focused on cisgender women. Much of this research is based on cisgender women's sexual response to cisgender men.

This research is often in the context of penetrative vaginal intercourse, or sex that includes vaginal penetration by a penis. It usually focuses on sex that leads to orgasm for both people.

Gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender people have been historically excluded from this research. These individuals may have sexual experiences that do not center on or even include intercourse.

Research that focuses on penetrative vaginal intercourse may also exclude some opposite-sex couples. Some opposite-sex couples may have sexual interactions that are not focused on penetrative vaginal intercourse. These couples may find other types of sexual interactions just as or more satisfying than vaginal sex.

Recap

Research on orgasms is often biased towards cisgender women in opposite-sex relationships. It is important to remember that not all people experience sexual pleasure the same way.

Orgasms During Vaginal Intercourse

It is normal to need clitoral stimulation in order to orgasm during vaginal sex. More people report that clitoral stimulation during intercourse makes them more likely to orgasm.

It is also normal to have orgasms from vaginal stimulation alone. It is just much less common.

There isn't much quality data on orgasms during vaginal intercourse. Very few studies ask about how people with vaginas have sexual intercourse.

Most studies do not distinguish between intercourse with or without clitoral stimulation, or intercourse where clitoral stimulation wasn't specified.

A 2018 study tried to distinguish between these types of intercourse. It found that cisgender women were most likely to report having orgasms when clitoral stimulation occurred during intercourse.

Half of the women in the study said they had orgasms with clitoral stimulation. Less than a third said they had orgasms without clitoral stimulation.

Researchers in Finland collected data from 50 years of surveys for a study of cisgender female orgasm during intercourse. They found that only 40% to 50% experienced orgasms most or all of the time during sexual intercourse. The number declined with age.

The study also found that, during sexual intercourse, more than half usually achieved orgasm through both vaginal and clitoral stimulation. One-third achieved orgasm through clitoral stimulation alone. Only 6% achieved orgasm through vaginal stimulation alone. Other studies have had similar results.

The study also found that outside factors can make orgasm more difficult. This can include:

  • Fatigue
  • Stress
  • Difficulty concentrating

The study also found that 1 in 5 cisgender women linked difficulty having an orgasm to their partner. The vast majority, though, linked the difficulty to their own bodies, minds, and lives. This included things like low sexual self-esteem. Some women also said it was because sex was not an important part of their relationship.

Unfortunately, there isn't much research on how trans people with vaginas achieve orgasm. This is an important gap in the science.

Recap

There isn't much research on orgasm during vaginal intercourse. Most studies that do exist have found that it is normal to need clitoral stimulation in order to achieve orgasm.

Having More Orgasms

Not every person cares if they have an orgasm during vaginal sex, or at all. However, for people who want to have more orgasms during vaginal penetration, the research is clear.

Orgasm during penetration is more likely with clitoral stimulation. This can be achieved in a number of ways, including:

  • Changing sexual positions to increase pressure on the clitoris
  • Manual stimulation of the clitoris
  • The use of sex toys

Communication is also important. Some people find intense clitoral stimulation to be uncomfortable or even painful. For them, it is not the right way to achieve more orgasms.

Addressing the Absence of Orgasms

Anorgasmia is a medical term for the inability to achieve an orgasm. If you have never had an orgasm and would like to, don't lose hope. A small percentage of people with vaginas will never experience orgasm. There is a much larger group, though, who don't have orgasms until later in life.

A combination of mental and physical factors may play a role in anorgasmia. These things can make it hard for some people to experience orgasm.

If you experience anorgasmia or other forms of sexual dysfunction, it may be helpful to talk to a professional. This could be a gynecologist, a primary care doctor, or even a sex therapist.

A doctor will be able to determine if there is a medical reason why you are having trouble achieving orgasm. A therapist may be able to offer helpful suggestions.

Masturbation can help you learn to orgasm. This may be difficult for some people. Religious, cultural, or other factors can make some people uncomfortable with self-stimulation.

Becoming more comfortable with your own body can be helpful, though. It will make it easier to understand how you respond to a partner's touch, what kinds of touch you enjoy, and what kinds you don't.

It can also be helpful to learn how to have what a sex therapy instructor would call "sexy thoughts." Sexy thoughts are thoughts associated with arousal.

For some people, these thoughts occur when watching romantic movies. For others, they may happen when reading or watching pornography. Concentrating on these thoughts is an important first step.

This is a process that can take time. When combined with safe experiences of touch, sexy thoughts may help you experience orgasm.

Recap

It is possible to have an orgasm even if you have never had one before. Becoming more comfortable with your body can be helpful. Learn how to have and enjoy "sexy thoughts."

Summary

Vaginal orgasm is not more normal than clitoral orgasm. Many people with vaginas report that they need clitoral stimulation in order to have an orgasm.

Research into this subject tends to be biased towards cisgender women in heterosexual relationships. It is important to remember that not everyone experiences sexual pleasure the same way.

You can increase the number of orgasms you have by including clitoral stimulation during intercourse. You may also be able to have an orgasm if you have never had one. This can be achieved by becoming more comfortable with your body and learning to think "sexy thoughts."

A Word From Verywell

If you don't learn to have an orgasm, or don't want to, there's nothing wrong with that.

Many people have healthy, happy sexual lives without wanting or having orgasms. And, for some people, a healthy, happy life may be one that doesn't include sex at all.

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2 Sources
Verywell Health uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. Shirazi T, Renfro KJ, Lloyd E, Wallen K. Women's experience of orgasm during intercourse: Question semantics affect women's reports and men's estimates of orgasm occurrence. Arch Sex Behav. 2018;47(3):605-613. doi:10.1007/s10508-017-1102-6

  2. Kontula O, Miettinen A. Determinants of female sexual orgasms. Socioaffect Neurosci Psychol. 2016;6:31624. doi:10.3402/snp.v6.31624

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