Orgasms are always framed as the only goal in sex. They are always shown in pop culture as the end of sex. Once you have achieved an orgasm (what we always see on screen is ejaculation), sex is officially over.
We never think beyond the idea of having an orgasm being the goal. Why are we only aiming for one thing? Why is there such immense pressure to achieve one thing for sex to be seen a successful?
If you or your sexual partners don’t achieve an orgasm, then it is seen as a failure. This is not how we should think about sex. If we go into sex with the idea that we need to reach a climax, then we are setting ourselves up for unnecessary pressure, disappointment, and a very closed-minded view of what sex is and should be.
Let’s unpack orgasms, and why solely focusing on them is limiting your sexual experiences.
Firstly, what is an orgasm?
An orgasm is the feeling of intense pleasure that happens during sexual activity, whether it is by yourself, with others, with toys, with your mind, etc. It is also referred to as coming or climaxing.
The phenomenon of making sex orgasm focused is quite common in heterosexual relationships and is especially pronounced because of the orgasm gap.
An orgasm gap refers to men having more orgasms than women within heterosexual sex.
Research has found that heterosexual cis women report having 30% fewer orgasms during sex compared to men. It has also been found that a woman’s likelihood to orgasm has been found to vary based on their sexual orientation, with queer women experiencing orgasms more often.
It should also be noted that there are different types of orgasms and this can affect whether a person with a vulva comes during sex. Heterosexual sex can emphasize penetration and most women cannot orgasm through penetrative sex alone. Only around 30 per of women can orgasm through penetration alone. Most people with vulvas need clitoral stimulation to orgasm. The clitoris is the only organ in the body that’s purpose is only for pleasure so it needs to be paid attention to during sex.
While the orgasm gap is important, we need to ensure the main focus of sex is a pleasure not striving for an orgasm. The pressure to come takes away from the intimate experience and means you can’t enjoy the moment you are in. The more in your head you get about it, the less likely you are going to be able to come. It creates a mental block that starts a cycle of worrying about coming, then not orgasming, and then going into your next sexual experience worried that you won’t climax because it didn’t happen the last time.
Also, the more likely you are solely focused on making sure both you and your partner climax, it can lead to more disappointment if someone doesn’t come. Then there is the unrealistic ideal of the mutual orgasm happening at the same time (which despite what pop culture has shown, is quite rare). Orgasms aren’t the ultimate achievement in sex or the ultimate sign of pleasure. Around 10-15% of women never orgasm at all (i.e. during sex, masturbation, and/or with sex toys), but that does not mean they don’t experience pleasure or don’t have a great time during sex. Some people have sexual trauma that may be linked to orgasms so that part of sex may be triggering and would be avoided to ensure the experience is positive.
People often link the accomplishment of “being good in bed” to making people orgasm but good sex is about the experience as a whole.
We need to lack a specific goal when having sex. We shouldn’t be trying to achieve one thing. It’s all about the journey. The building of sexual tension, the foreplay, the sensual touching. The aim is to feel pleasure with ourselves or with others. We can be excited about new things that we find pleasurable and relish in new things we experience and try with partners.
You need to redefine what sex means to you, and that it doesn’t have to have a specific goal. Frame each sexual experience, regardless of whether it is with yourself or with others, as a new opportunity to feel and give pleasure.
Here are some things explore in your journey of changing your goal in sex:
Like I mentioned before, mental blocks are common in sex and sex is so dependent on your mental space. It’s important to be present and enjoy the moment, being mindful during sex helps you do that. Having mindful sex is focusing on what is happening in the present moment, making sure your body and mind are all the same place. Practicing mindful sex helps avoid your mind wandering during sex and makes you actively shift focus from worrying about your body or your performance during sex.
Now, this is not something that you will naturally start doing, no issue, no habits creeping back. You need to continue to work at being mindful. To start or continue this practice, you can:
The best way to start this practice is when you are by yourself and then try being more mindful during partnered sex.
Sex can be an exploration of your own body. Finding out what touch you enjoy. Whether it is with your hands, someone else’s hand, or toys/equipment. Different sensations can enhance a sexual experience and help build a sense of intimacy. Exploring different erogenous zones can help expand your mind to what you find pleasurable. Touch is such a simple thing but is quite powerful.
I want to encourage anyone who reads this to assess what types of sex you enjoy and look into different things that excite you (even if you are a bit apprehensive to try it). Exploring new types of sex doesn’t have to be an extreme change for you, you don’t have to try anything and everything. Having a more open mindset can expand your knowledge about what you enjoy and reveal new things that you find pleasurable.
Trying out toys by yourself or with a partner is a fun way to explore sex. It’s exciting to discover new things with a partner. It is particularly exciting experiencing pleasure with a new partner and learning what they like and what you can try out together. With the amount and variety of sex toys, costumes, and equipment you can bring to the bedroom nowadays, there is always bound to be new things to test out and feel a new sensation.
Mutual masturbation is a good way to explore new ways of being intimate with a partner. This act can help you experience pleasure with a partner. Nobody knows what you like and what feels good to you better than yourself. It also taps into a new sense of connection during a sexual experience even though you are physically more separate.
Exploration is exciting. It builds intimacy and connection as every sexual experience is a test of trust. Remember that sex should not be about checking things off of a to-do list, so remember exploration is all about what you are comfortable doing, is consensual, and excites you.
Just remember you can and should still enjoy sex even if you don’t orgasm. There is so much pressure on the climax, that we have begun to forget about all the fun things that happened throughout the journey. Let’s stop thinking of orgasms as the only goal of sex, and pay more attention to what you and your partners find pleasure in. Focus on what was achieved: a pleasurable experience for everyone involved and that means you always achieve your goal.
Cover photo by Pexels