Why can't I orgasm with a partner?
Squeezing and clenching instead of relaxing and letting go...
Chronic tension inhibits orgasm
‘Why can’t I orgasm with a partner’ – a very common question that brings my female clients to sessions. I recommend that you take a read through Part 1 of this series, if you haven’t done so already. As a bodyworker and masseuse specialising in intimate and sensual touch, I have seen that pretty much, without fail, every person that I’ve worked with who is experiencing some level of anorgasmia has chronic tension patterns in their body. There is very, very often a built-in conditioning or unconscious muscular strategy of clenching, squeezing and tightening to try and get towards orgasm. This was also my personal experience. I had learned, unintentionally, during pre-pubescence to clench up my body and squeeze into that ‘nice feeling’ between my legs. During adolescence, when I began to understand that the ‘nice feeling’ was an orgasm, and I started to explore masturbation, the clenching and contracting continued because I often felt hurried and secretive, and didn’t want to be ‘caught’. Having worked with hundreds and hundreds of women, I know that I wasn’t alone in this experience.
Practice relaxing tension
So, my second invitation to you is: allow yourself to unclench and relax your body when you are having sex with your partner. To learn how to relax those very ingrained and subconscious tension patterns, so that your genitals and your whole body can enjoy more relaxed arousal, you must first become aware of where the tension is stored, when it creeps in and what it feels like. So, here’s a practice to do on your own when you’re masturbating… Every 60 seconds or so, take a ‘scan’ through your body from head to toe and just notice what is going on – no ‘judgement’ or labelling parts or sensations as ‘good’ or ‘bad’ – just observing and feeling. The areas to be most curious about are the jaw, the diaphragm (the space at the the base of the ribs), the lower belly, the butt cheeks, and the thighs. As you scan your awareness through your body be curious about whether those areas are kind of bracing, holding or contracting, or can you relax them? Can you let them go? The more that you bring awareness to those unconscious tightenings and tension-ings, and the more that you can then start to learn how to interrupt them, the more that you will allow your body to move away from the tension-based approach to sex and arousal. Over time, and with practice, this will allow your body to open up a little bit more into a space of relaxation and softness.
Contract, relax and breathe...
Of course, it is absolutely possible to achieve orgasm through creating a lot of tension in your body. I know it works – it’s the way I got myself to orgasm for almost 15 years! But is it optimal? Well, clearly not because it didn’t work when I was with a partner. When you squeeze, tighten, clench up and hold your breath during masturbation you’re basically putting muscular pressure on the pudendal nerve, which innervates in the the head and shaft of the clitoris, through the pelvic floor muscles and lower abdominals. There’s a limit to how hard you can squeeze though, and how long you can sustain that contraction. This kind of pressure and tension is difficult to replicate or maintain when you’re with a partner. The eminent Sexologist, and my personal role model, Betty Dodson says (when referring to clients who are able to orgasm through masturbation but can’t translate that method or experience to partnered sex):
Many have carried the same pattern of childhood masturbation over into adulthood and it’s now the only way they can get off. As kids, the idea was to come fast to avoid getting caught. While Pressure and Tension orgasms are probably the most prevalent kind for a majority of people, they are limited in terms of bodily sensations – similar to a quick blip on the pleasure scale. You need to spend time practicing new masturbation techniques. It doesn’t happen over night or within an hour. When you are learning a new dance step or orgasm technique, you must be patient.
When you’re with your partner are you clenching and squeezing to try and replicate your successful masturbation method? What would happen if you slowed down, relaxed and expanded your bandwidth for pleasure and arousal, instead of squeezing into pressure and tension? When you intersperse contraction with intentional relaxation, you increase blood flow and the nerve stimulation in your clitoris and your genitals. Try a series of 10 quick fluttery ‘Kegel’ squeezes followed by a sense of almost bearing down and out, focussing on the relaxation after the contractions. Blend this with intentional breath and you’ll be giving your body far more variety in sensation. More variety equals more potential nerve activation, which ultimately means more pathways to orgasm.
Personally this was a big hurdle for me to overcome: my earliest memory of that ‘nice feeling’ was as a 6 or 7 year old, doing ‘toes to bar’ exercises as a gymnast. Literally the inception of my orgasmic pathways seems linked to abdominal and pelvic contractions. However, becoming aware of how my body braces and sneakily tenses up has allowed me to have far more choice around relaxation. Practicing, being willing to interrupt the habitual pathways and learning to slow down, have created huge change for me. As a result my orgasms with my partner (and on my own) are ‘slow motion’, deep valley versions of the tight, squeezed mini-explosions I used to have. I’ve also been able to experience orgasms beyond my clitoris: g-spot and squirting orgasms, anal orgasms, deep and long-lasting cervical orgasms that are often accompanied by healing and rejuvenating emotional release.
If you are curious about where your body is tightening, bracing, squeezing and contracting, and you want to bring more relaxation into your solo and partnered sex, a series of 3 x 1 hour virtual coaching sessions would be a great place to start exploring. Please feel free to get in touch with any questions, or to book an intake call on firstname.lastname@example.org