On the Edge

Friday, January 21, 2005


I have been having sex for four years and have yet to have an orgasm. I am really sexually frustrated and hoping you can suggest a good first vibrator for me. Hopefully, it will fix my problem!


I'm not sure that a vibrator is the first thing you should try if you want to be able to come. A partner is not going to be able to duplicate the intense and rapid stimulation of a vibrator. It's easier to learn how to come with a partner if you are more familiar with the kind of feelings that a hand or tongue can give you.

Masturbation is the way that most men and women learn how to have an orgasm. Do you masturbate at all now? If not, start by using a little bit of lube and your fingers. You can watch your progress in a mirror and observe the way that your vulva reddens and becomes more swollen and sensitive as you get excited. (Use of the mirror will help to desensitize you to the way your body changes with arousal, and help you to be less self-conscious with a partner.)

Pay attention to your breathing as well. Many women have a tendency to hold their breath when they get excited. Or they breathe in quick, shallow pants. This is a natural response, but it can really help to open up your pelvis and bring the sexual energy down to the root of your spine if you slow down, and take deep and slow breaths, allowing your stomach to rise and fall. Holding your breath will interrupt an orgasm, and it will also probably give you a pretty bad headache, which makes sex a lot less fun.

Losing control is part of having a climax. Do you find it difficult to lose control in other areas of your life? Take a look at what it means to you to let go. What are you holding onto in your body and your spirit? What do you need to release? Sometimes there's a fear of not being attractive or sexually experienced enough, a fear of being abandoned, anger about past abuse, envy of a partner's pleasure, or a sense of shame about needing sex. You don't have to get rid of all of these negative things in order to have great sex, but it doesn't hurt, either.

If you've tried several times to have an orgasm by stroking yourself, and it's not getting you over the top, then it's time to try the vibrator. There are so many different kinds that it's hard for me to know which type will work best for you. A lot of women like the Hitachi Magic Wand, which is a strong vibrator with two speeds, and a round head that can be used to apply pressure to the external genitals. If you want a more focused type of vibration, try something like the Conair, which has several different heads. If these vibrators seem too strong, battery-operated toys are available that can give you just the right amount of shiver.

You can also modify the way a vibrator feels by using it over your clothing or by placing a towel between your body and the toy. Some women find that using the vibrator for a long time makes their genitals go numb, so they use it for brief periods of time, turn it off, fantasize, use their fingers or other toys, then turn it back on. Just be sure you DO NOT take the vibrator into your bathtub or shower unless it is SPECIFICALLY certified to be safe around water.

Try the vibrator alone first. Don't be shy about using porn if you like it. The more intense your fantasies are, the more likely it is that you'll be able to make yourself come. In the beginning, your orgasms may be fairly small. That's okay; repeated experimentation will build up the tone of your pelvic muscles. As you get more information about what pattern of stimulation works the best for you, your orgasms will be more intense.

Don't forget that this toy can be shared with a partner! It's a great idea for couples to masturbate together. This is a good way to share sensuality if, for example, one partner is very horny and the other is too tired for lovemaking. It's also a lovely way to get more information about how the other person likes to be handled. Show your partner how you like the vibrator to be used, let him or her experiment as well, but reserve the right to get yourself off so you know you can come, even though circumstances are unfamiliar. Keep the vibrator around during partnered sex so you can have a reliable orgasm after enjoying your lover's attentions. At some point, you'll start having orgasms while your partner is stimulating you, because knowing that you can have an orgasm whenever you need one will help you to relax during sex and focus on how things feel in the moment, without anxiety or frustration.

I have one more suggestion. If you have tried clitoral stimulation and can't come, you may be the rare sort of woman whose primary erogenous zone is the vagina or anus. Thanks to the feminist movement to promote women's health, we've had a lot of sex education about the importance of the clitoris. And I certainly agree that this organ is usually the focal point of a woman's orgasm. But I have also met women who don't come unless they have some form of penetration. I've met women who come from vaginal penetration alone, women who prefer anal sex, and women who need to combine clitoral stimulation with some form of penetration.