I don’t enjoy having sex at all. It is a tiring experience for me and I have never been able to achieve orgasm. However, I enjoy masturbating and it is more relaxing to me. I am not sure what to make of this. (I am a male).

Based on the fact that you enjoy masturbating, it seems as if there aren’t any physical issues preventing you from the big finish – rather the key factor seems to be the partner. I’m curious how the activities you’re engaging in together compare to your solo experiences. Could it be that you’re uncomfortable telling or showing a partner what you really enjoy? If you and your partner are engaging in activities you enjoy, my next guess is that your lack of orgasm is due to worry about your performance.

This phenomenon is commonly known as the spectator effect, where people step outside their bodies mentally and criticize what activities “should” be happening or how bodies “should” look. Sadly, the standards being used for these criticisms are often unrealistic and created by the media. People can’t help but be disappointed when comparing real experiences to scripted soulmates having simultaneous orgasms or scream-filled sessions that last hours.

If you’re heterosexual, this factor can increase the pressure since the gender-typed script for a man is to be the initiator of sexual activities and sex is over when the man has an orgasm. In trying to stave off an orgasm to help their partner achieve one, men try to distract themselves in many ways – I hear baseball stats are a popular go-to – but that also means they aren’t focusing on the experience.

Finally, you could be unable to have an orgasm because certain sexual positions are physically exhausting. For example, the traditional missionary position (man on top laying down) is essentially repeated abdominal crunches while supporting your body weight on your arms in a half plank pose.

Given these possible explanations, I have a few suggestions to make partnered sex more enjoyable.

First, communicate what you enjoy to your partner and get feedback on what you’re doing. That should help reduce worry about your partner’s fun while also ensuring that you’re enjoying what’s happening.

If you’re too shy to have a conversation, non-verbal feedback can be a great start (moans are universal for “that feels good” and silence for anything that’s not enjoyed).

Second, try to remember that sex isn’t script-perfect and that the ultimate goal is for both people to have a good time. Orgasms are a wonderful side effect of that good time, but focusing only on them can ruin the overall experience and ironically make them harder to achieve.

In line with this reasoning, remember too that there is a learning curve both in terms of technique and understanding your partner’s body. Finally, please ignore traditional scripts about what men/women should or shouldn’t do. There’s no reason why sexual activity can’t continue after a man’s orgasm or why you can’t switch up the initiator roles. Finally, if you think that this may boil down to physical fatigue, you can either spend more time on your ab workout or feel free to use this as an excuse to experiment with new positions.

Can you reach an orgasm vaginally without squirting?

Absolutely. In fact, vaginal orgasms without squirting are the rule, not the exception. Although squirting is now the buzz word in orgasms, in reality only a minority of women can achieve them, and even then not always regularly.

Research suggests that this type of orgasm is typically due to stimulation of the Grafenberg spot (aka “G spot” or “clitoral cluster”), a bump on the inside frontal wall of the vagina that feels like a nose. Firm pressure on this area for some women can induce an orgasm and sometimes the expulsion of small amount of fluid from the urethra. This ejaculate fluid appears to originate in the larger para-uretheral glands known as Skene’s Glands.

Although some people suggest that the fluid that these glands produce is urine, analysis suggests that in fact its a clear alkaline solution that is much closer in composition to male prostate fluid.

Note, however, that since Skene’s glands only produce a small amount of liquid; any large amount of  “gushing” ejaculate seen in videos and magazines is most likely urine. Importantly, there isn’t any research suggesting that orgasms that cause female ejaculation feel any better than the rest, but if you or the person you’re with is able to achieve them, there isn’t any reason to hold back.

Estrada is a visiting assistant professor in the Department of Clinical & Social Psychology.

To submit an anonymous question, visit sex-thect.tumblr.com/ask.

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