Hello Ms. Engle,

Hopefully contacting you about a question I have is alright.

I am a 22 year old male, and I cannot ejaculate anytime other than during intercourse with my girlfriend. It is killing my relationship. I know I’m young and there is more to life, but every time things get physical but no actual sex occurs, tears happen because I won’t finish. Seeing her so upset every time breaks my heart., It really seems to be damaging to her self-esteem and confidence. She is a beautiful girl and I am very attracted to her. But when I do not finish, she sees that as me thinking she is unattractive or not good enough. Please advise? Any input is greatly appreciated and google was never any help…



Hey M,

I have a few ideas about what might be going on here. It sounds like there are several contributing factors that may be involved in your concern, so read carefully and consider what’s going on with you.

Firstly, there is nothing abnormal about your situation. Please know that you’re healthy and your girlfriend’s skills have nothing to do with whether or not you orgasm. Most women only come during oral sex or manual external stimulation, not intercourse. I know this might sound strange, but the external clitoris is not always close enough to the vaginal opening to come during sex. Bodies are all extremely unique.

Secondly, it sounds like you’ve found yourself in a vicious cycle of performance anxiety. You can’t orgasm without intercourse, your girlfriend becomes distressed when you can’t orgasm, this makes you anxious about orgasming, which only makes orgasm more difficult.

Of course, this sounds like it was an issue beforehand — but the distress and anxiety is only complicating things further. I would encourage you to have an honest conversation with your girlfriend. This is not an uncommon thing. Many men can’t orgasm from stimulus other than sex. Some men can only have orgasms through their hands or through oral sex. Everyone is different and every body is different, as I’ve said.

All of this considered, I can understand her being upset. Sexuality, especially for women, is complicated. When we can’t please our partners, it makes us feel inadequate and self-conscious. Men have these same issues. When we say “please” we most often mean “make orgasm.”

We consider the terms synonymous in sex. Which is messed up. We place so much pressure on orgasm being the big finish of sex that if it doesn’t happen, it feels like the end of the world. Adding this kind of pressure to an already pressure-filled situation doesn’t exactly elicit earth shattering orgasms, does it? Like, who is going to come if they think they HAVE to come to make someone happy? Uh, no one?

If a certain stimuli doesn’t bring you to orgasm, that doesn’t mean it isn’t pleasurable. I know it’s easier said than done, but continue to encourage her. Tell her how sexy she is and use verbal affirmations whenever possible. Reinforce her confidence by telling her how good whatever she’s doing feels for you.

If you need to move into sex to orgasm and want to do that, go ahead. But, understand that orgasm is not the end-all-be-all of sex. The sooner we stop putting so much pressure on ourselves and our partners, the sooner we’ll stop having so much performance anxiety. This, in turn, will lead to more orgasms. It’s a sexual Catch-22 from the depths of hell.

Also, I’d love to chat a bit about some of the more logistical reasons for your lack of orgasm during sexual play.

Just wanted to spitball about your ~life~ because it might be affecting your IRL situation. I am wondering what your porn habits/masturbation habits might be. There is a new wave amongst younger guys (and all guys, really) where porn is causing issues with their real sex lives. Porn is often so highly stimulating and theatrical, and is so readily available for free on the internet, that it’s the easier choice to trying to get laid.

Now, there is nothing wrong with porn in moderation. As long as you’re aware of how it might be affecting you and are monitoring your consumption, you’re probably alright. I bring it up because of the ejaculatory concerns. You see, your hand is more taught than a vagina or a mouth. When you get super used to one kind of stimulation, anything less intense or forceful can feel underwhelming. If this is an issue you think is relevant, I would suggest taking a step back from porn and masturbation altogether.

Masturbation is a very healthy and normal part of sexuality, but if you’ve become desensitized, you want to take a step back. There is no such thing as being “addicted” to masturbation or porn — but you can develop compulsions. Keep these things in mind.

Take some time to focus on your girlfriend’s pleasure. It sounds like she could use some TLC. Set aside some time in your week to spend an evening completely devoted to her. Taking the pressure off of her to perform will lighten the mood. Oral, oral, oral SEX!

You have to bring down the general anxiety. No one is going to come during a blow job if the result of not coming is going to be crying.

Hope this helps!



Gigi Engle is a feminist writer, sex educator, and speaker. A book with St. Martins Press is forthcoming.

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