I Didn't Have My First Orgasm Until I Was 21 — and It's More Common Than You Think

So . . . let me tell you what having sex was like for me until I was 21 years old. You know how you go to an amusement park because you want to ride the biggest, scariest roller coaster there? You get ready and go on all the other roller coasters first, just to amplify the experience for when you get on the biggest roller coaster? You finally get to the entrance, only to see that it's closed for the day. The other rides were still fun, but it's not why you went there in the first place. That's what sex was like for me for about five years.

Don't get me wrong, I still felt pleasure, but it wasn't the best. And trust me, I tried a lot of things to get to the next level, from masturbation to different sex positions, but nothing worked. It wasn't until I had a magical night with my current partner.

I used to think I was so weird for not having my first orgasm until I was in my 20s, but I recently found out I wasn't alone.

The candles were lit, it was dark, and we just focused on having a truly intimate night together. He went down on me, and I figured it'd be like the rest, but oh boy, I was wrong. He really took his time, learning everything about my body along the way. (Fun fact: most women need at least 13 minutes of sexual activity to climax.) But the best part was how much attention he was paying to my clitoris. It wasn't too much later into the experience that I finally had my first orgasm. It was insane, like lightning down my spine insane, and I tried desperately to not let my roommates hear the revelation I was having in my room.

I used to think I was so weird for not having my first orgasm until I was in my 20s, but I recently found out I wasn't alone. A study from the the Journal of Sex and Marital Therapy discovered that nearly 37 percent of American women required clitoral stimulation to experience an orgasm. I definitely fall into this category, and it was so good to know the issue wasn't on me — I just needed to find the right person who cared enough about pleasing me in ways I liked.

According to another 2018 study, 10 to 40 percent of women report having difficulty or an inability to reach orgasm, so the fact that it's really not that uncommon was even more comforting. So many factors can go into not having an orgasm. For me personally, it was anxiety, stress from past traumas, and not having good self-esteem at the time. Research even shows that self-esteem, including about one's own genitalia, is directly linked to the quality and occurrence of an orgasm. And even once you have your first one, it can be tricky to reach every time. Sometimes our minds are crowded with other things, and sometimes we're able to shut everything off and enjoy the moment. The important thing is not to stress yourself out if it doesn't happen every time.

To ensure I have the most pleasurable time possible with my partner, I try to keep communication open and honest. Don't be afraid or ashamed if you haven't hit your big roller-coaster moment yet. It's very normal, and with the right partner, it's coming.