“I'm 22 and have masturbated basically as long as I can remember. It wasn't until getting a vibrator about a year ago that I finally had an orgasm, but I have yet to have an orgasm with my boyfriend without using my vibrator. We've tried missionary, doggy-style, cowgirl, him going down on me — nothing but the vibrator gets me off. I would love to have an orgasm with my boyfriend without the electrical help. Any advice?“ To hear what Dr. Glickman has to say,
This is a really common situation — it happens much more often than most people realize. It turns out that some women need to learn how to have an orgasm. Not just in the sense of figuring out what feels good to them, but also in the sense of having their bodies learn how to do it. Fortunately, since you’ve had orgasms with a vibrator, we can probably set aside the different medical reasons that can get in the way.
Most women report that they need some sort of clitoral stimulation to have an orgasm, so it’s not a surprise to me that trying different positions hasn’t done the trick. In fact, some women find that the reason that a particular position works for them is that they get clitoral stimulation from their partner’s torso, not because they get deeper penetration. Although you’ve tried lots of different positions, you might find that small things make a big difference — how you position your legs, for example, can have a big effect on how things feel. I can’t say for sure what will work for you since everyone’s a bit different, but one thing you can try is making small adjustments and seeing what that does.
It’s not clear from your question — have you tried using the vibrator while having sex with your boyfriend? For many women, that can be a way to take something that works and connect it with something different. I’ve heard from quite a few women that combining the two for a while eventually made it easier for them to have orgasms without the toy.
You could also try using your vibrator with your boyfriend for a while before shifting to intercourse. The more turned on you get before changing things up, the more likely it is that intercourse will put you over the top. Another option would be for you or your boyfriend to pleasure your clitoris by hand during intercourse. A little bit of lubricant can help with that — I like the silicone-based lubes because they don’t dry out and they’re safe to use with condoms. And if you don’t have an orgasm during intercourse, feel free to grab that vibrator afterwards and enjoy yourself. You can always give it another try next time.
Having said all that, it sounds like you (or you and your boyfriend) might be putting a lot of pressure on the idea of orgasms without a vibrator. Ironically, the more you stress over whether you’ll have an orgasm, the less likely it can be. It’s the female version of performance anxiety creating the very situation you’re trying to keep from happening, just as performance anxiety can lead to erection difficulties for a lot of guys. And in both cases, one of the best ways to respond is to not worry about it. I know that can sound like the line about “don’t think of a pink rhinoceros” but it’s often true that if you can enjoy what you’re doing without getting stuck in the “will it happen this time” loop, you’ll have a lot more fun.
One of the best ways to do that is to do whatever the two of you enjoy without stressing about using a vibrator. If a vibe is what you need at this point in your life to have an orgasm, go for it! It’s really, really likely that you won’t always need it — sexual response changes a lot and you will probably find that in the not-too-distant future, what works for you will be quite different. I’ve spoken with a lot of women who have found that they needed the intensity of a vibrator when they were younger and that when they got a bit older, things were very different. That’s one of the best things about sex: we get to keep trying new things. It’s kind of like food. Your favorite foods will probably also change over time, so you get to try new cuisines. The only thing that’s important is whether you’re enjoying whatever works for you right now.
If you want to do a little reading, there are some books I can highly recommend. I Love Female Orgasm is a fun read that covers pretty much everything — masturbation, partner sex, safer sex, toys, anatomy, and more. There are also lots of useful tips for women in your situation. Orgasms is an excellent guide for folks who want to figure out how to have an orgasm or how to have them more consistently. It’s a great read for partners, too. And Becoming Orgasmic is one of the best on the topic. It’s a bit more text heavy than the first two, but there’s an incredible amount of information there.
So the upshot of all of this is that the more you can relax and enjoy yourself without worrying about whether it’ll happen or not, the more fun you’ll have. And don’t stress about whether there’s something wrong with you — you’re not alone and lots of women have found that practice does, indeed, make perfect. Usually when you least expect it.