Friday, October 23, 2015


Dear Patrick: I am a 26-year old virgin. I bought my first vibrator and I use it a couple of times a week. I get super turned on with it, to the point where everything is extremely sensitive. But I don't know if I've ever had an orgasm, or how to exactly finish. I feel like I overthink it all. Any tips?


I’m not sure how long you have been trying to get results with your vibrator. Nor am I sure what type of vibrator you own. But I will give you a few ideas that might help no matter what. Much of this information is based on the work of sex therapist Lonnie Barbach, who wrote a revolutionary book (For Yourself) about treating a lack of orgasms in women by teaching them how to self-pleasure. If you have never had an orgasm, it can take a while to train the nerves and circulatory system to put it all together and build arousal to a point where the reflex of orgasm can take place. The fact that you get really excited and sensitive is good. It means you are getting closer to success. Paradoxically, an orgasm is kind of like a sneeze. It’s a reflex that you can’t control. All you can do is set up all the right circumstances and hope it takes place. So don’t get discouraged. Even folks who have been masturbating or making love for years can find themselves stranded, without satisfaction, asking themselves what went wrong.

Think about whether you might be feeling some performance anxiety. Many women find that it is difficult to have an orgasm because they are worried about losing control. Common fears include: I won’t look very attractive when I come, I won’t be able to stop, it’s wrong to do this, a partner will judge how I look if I have an orgasm with them, I might lose control over my bladder (even though this is extremely unlikely), etc. Guilt can be another inhibiting factor. We have all heard false and judgmental messages about how masturbation is immature, selfish, slutty, not for nice girls, or not very important to women. Even if you don’t agree with these messages, it can take practice to avoid being shut down by them. You need your own positive messages about self-care, relaxation, increasing your knowledge of your own body, being sexually self-sufficient, and other sex-positive ways valuing masturbation.

One thing that often helps is fantasy. Reading erotica or developing your own imaginary world of sensual action can keep you focused on how you feel, and shut out anything negative. If you do not fantasize, try music. Make sure you will not be interrupted. The fear of taking too long or being discovered by an unwanted visitor are not at all sexy!

If you have a battery-operated vibrator, it might not be strong enough. Try purchasing one that is rechargeable rather than battery operated.  If you have a choice between two vibrators, I usually recommend purchasing the ones that is stronger. This is also recommended by feminist sex educator Joani Blank, another wonderful author on the topic of women’s sexuality. You can tone a vibrator down by putting something (a towel, a T-shirt, underwear) between your body and the toy. But if you need that extra speed, it’s there to get you to the finish line. Just take care not to bruise yourself and use lots of lube to keep things slippery!

Finally, it’s possible that you need some stimulation combined with the vibrator. While the clitoris is the primary organ of female sexual response, women have other erogenous zones that may want to participate in masturbation. I have met women who did not orgasm until they combined vaginal or anal penetration with the use of a clitoral vibrator. One friend needed to feel her nipples being compressed before she could come. Just keep experimenting, and you will find out what you need. One woman I worked with on this issue needed to give herself permission to let her fantasies go wherever they needed to go, without censorship. And one other client told me that she had to cover herself with a blanket so she felt less shy about what she was doing.

I hope one of these suggestions does it for you. Just remember that your body is on your side. As you continue to experience arousal and effective stimulation, you are bound to have an orgasm. You won’t be able to help it. I can certainly empathize with the frustration of waiting to be satisfied, and hope the “Big O” will arrive sooner rather than later.