How to Have an Orgasm (and Why You Should Never, Ever Fake It Again!)

Ask for what you want.

By Lauren Zielinski, MSN, CNM
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“All the world’s a stage, and all the men and women merely players”—William Shakespeare. Most of us are guilty of faking an orgasm at least once in our lives. In fact, a 2010 study from The Journal of Sex Research reports that67% of heterosexual women admitted to occasionally faking orgasm.” Some of us are serial perpetrators, faking orgasms left and right (or should I say day and night), right down to every Oscar worthy, toe-curling, sheet-grabbing detail. Why do we do it? Instead of having to pose an explanation or make a big deal of our lack of climax, we ahhhh, ahhhh, OHHH yeahh it away. Your partner feels like a rockstar, and you feel…. well how do you feel?! Therein lies the problem.

It’s not only unfair to you when you fake an orgasm, but it’s also unfair to your partner and your relationship. It’s an avoidant behavior that misses the entire point of sex. You deserve to feel good too. You deserve communication and good sex. You deserve to not feel resentful and unsatisfied while your partner sleeps like a baby next to you in an oxytocin-induced sex coma. You deserve that sex coma baby! Even if you feel like you’re far too deep in the fake orgasm hole and fear you’ll never be able to climb out, don’t worry, you’re not! I’ll give you a few great reasons you should consider never ever faking an orgasm again–and some tried and true tricks for actually having orgasms.

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Soooo, why are women faking orgasms? 

There are plenty of reasons why we fake orgasms. In the context of hetero relationships, much of the issue stems, in my professional opinion, from deep-rooted societal norms around politeness, satisfying our partners, and how women are expected to act in the world—that and sheer convenience! You can find articles all over the internet hypothesizing different reasons that women fake the big O during sex. The truth is likely somewhere in the mix of all of these theories due to the fact that each person’s experience with sex is super unique, of course! I’d like to introduce the following ideas as a general starting point to frame questions to yourself about why you might be regularly, or from time to time, faking orgasms.

  1. Women have been socialized to believe male orgasm is more important than their own
  2. We have been taught in America that talking about sex is inappropriate or uncomfortable
  3. Women have been brought up to believe that asking for things or standing up for themselves is considered less attractive than a woman who agrees with or goes along with the norm 
  4. It’s easier to fake an orgasm than to speak up
  5. You’re tired of having sex or aren’t in the mood
  6. You want your partner to feel validated despite how you feel 
  7. You’re embarrassed/think something is wrong because you can never orgasm during penetrative sex

In general, women report fewer orgasms during sex than men

Next, I want to normalize how common it is for women to have a hard time achieving orgasm in general so perhaps we might all understand that if you can’t, or don’t regularly there’s nothing wrong with you. Yes, you’re normal. I’d like to also say that while it is normal, that doesn’t mean we need to accept it, but it is well understood. Over and over again in sexual health research, the data is clear—male-female penetrative sex does not equal an orgasm for most women.

In a 2019 article posted by The Kinsey Institute (a leading research group on sex and sexuality), when asked about orgasm, 22% of women reported that they had never orgasmed during penetrative sex and only 31-40% reported they regularly reached orgasm during sex. That leaves the majority of women not orgasming during sex. So, what are those 31-40% of women doing differently than the majority? Through a great deal of research (it’s interesting how we love to write, research and learn more about sex isn’t it?!), we understand the determinants of orgasm have less to do with how sexual we are or how often we masturbate and more to do with how our relationships are doing and how we communicate.

Of course, it all boils down to communication! This quote from a 2016 online article published in the journal of Socioaffective Neuroscience Psychology goes into detail:

“The keys to more frequent orgasms lay in mental and relationship factors. These factors and capacities included orgasm importance, sexual desire, sexual self-esteem, and openness of sexual communication with partners. Women valued their partner’s orgasm more than their own. In addition, positive determinants were the ability to concentrate, mutual sexual initiations, and partner’s good sexual techniques. A relationship that felt good and worked well emotionally, and where sex was approached openly and appreciatively, promoted orgasms.”

Now that we understand faking an orgasm is pretty common amongst women and achieving orgasm for many women is not so common, I’ll walk you through why faking an orgasm isn’t helping anyone and give you some tips on how to move forward into more orgasmic sex. Let’s go girls!

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Why you should stop faking orgasms

It breaks down communication in your relationship

Communication comes in many forms. We communicate and connect through words, touch, nonverbal cues, and through sex. Sex is one of the deepest and most personal forms of communication between you and your partner. When you essentially lie about orgasming you’re breaking down communication in your intimate relationship when it could be used as an opportunity to strengthen communication. It may not feel like a big deal, but turn the tables for a moment. What if you found out that five of the last 10 times you had sex with your partner they were faking their orgasms? How would it feel? Would it cause you to trust them less? Would you appreciate it?

The thought of lying about something as intimate as sex creates an immediate disconnect between you and your partner. Communicating about what works for you, what feels good, and what doesn’t is an opportunity for you and your partner to grow together and to work towards a common goal: mutual satisfaction. Even if you’re in a casual relationship or a one-night stand it matters (see #2 for details on that!)

It builds resentment

This unhealthy and unproductive feeling that is a side effect of not having your needs met or heard is unfortunately all too common when it comes to sex. If you’re lying next to your partner after sex wishing it was different, biting your tongue, unsure of how to approach the situation, it’s a really good idea to broach the topic sooner than later. Consistently not having your needs met sexually, whether you realize it or not, is a recipe for resentment in your relationship. Even if you tell yourself you don’t resent your partner for not meeting your needs, or don’t blame your partner for your lack of orgasm, the end result is the same. They are enjoying themselves, reaching climax and satisfaction and you are not.

In the long term, if resentment is slowly bubbling up under the surface of your relationship it could easily come out in ways you don’t expect. For example, feeling more irritable, short, or generally less connected and satisfied with your relationship. Our brains and bodies are smart, if you’re never satisfied in bed, it’s reasonable that over time sex will become less appealing to you in general.

Your sex won’t get better if you don’t voice your needs

If you never speak up, nothing will change. Your partner cannot read your mind, and probably doesn’t know what’s going on, especially if you’re faking it all the time or even sometimes! Each time we decide to fake an orgasm is an opportunity to grow closer and better understand one another and each person’s specific needs. The potential for growth as a couple is ripe here. The whole point of sex is to become closer, physically, mentally, and emotionally. Use sex that’s less than satisfying as an opportunity to grow, don’t like something? Just say so. Really love something else, make it obvious! Need something different, bring it up. 

How to take the first steps towards more orgasms.

1. Work on your sexual confidence

This is a complicated topic. There are some pretty deep-rooted and intense reasons some of us lack sexual confidence. Fear not, however! The amazing thing about being human is our potential for growth. I really love this article by the Go Love Yourself blog about how to increase sexual confidence. Check it out! 

2. Have the conversation and don’t be afraid to ask for what you need

Communication is so important and asking for what you need is beyond okay. If you’re nervous about how your partner might respond you can even tell them before you start. Admitting you are nervous or this is a hard conversation for you sets the tone for your partner to employ empathy and kindness. The timing of your conversation is also crucial. Finding a time when you have the time, you’re not in a hurry, and you’re both generally in a good mood is important. Definitely stray away from bringing something like this up during an argument or as a fighting point. I actually wrote an entire article about how to talk to your partner about sex. Check it out here!

3. Seek out sex, personal, or relationship therapy if needed

What is holding you back personally or in your relationship?! Identifying the issues and seeking out therapy to mediate them between you and your partner may be helpful. Or if it feels more personal, go to therapy on your own. I find it really effective in my own relationship to employ a two-step approach to problems that need solving. First, if either of us has something we think needs work, we bring it up to one another and try to work on it ourselves first through active listening, conversations, being really vulnerable, and being okay with compromise. If the issue becomes a repetitive concern for either of us or isn’t easy to solve just between one another, then we bring it to therapy and ask for help! I love these two sites for finding therapists locally. One of the benefits of dealing with COVID-19 is that therapists are increasingly accessible via online appointments! No need to drive and wait to see someone, just hop on zoom. I find zoom therapy so convenient and helpful to squish into a busy schedule! 

General Therapy Specific: 

Sex Therapy Specific:

Tips on acheiving orgasm more easily

Women require more time to warm up, more mental stimulation, and often times more emotional connection to orgasm during sex. Additionally, penetrative sex alone just doesn’t do it for most women because it doesn’t stimulate the clitoris. Instructions and tips on how to achieve an orgasm could honestly be an article itself—so I’ll just list a few hot tips here and link you to some good reading if this is your goal!

  • Try slowing down sex and increasing foreplay.
  • Don’t be afraid to use a vibrator during sex. Trying “doggy style” while you manually stimulate the clitoris with a vibrator can be game-changing.
  • Try kegeling during sex! Say whaaa? Yes! Kegels are good for everything. By clenching and unclenching the same muscles you use during a kegel exercise you actually increase blood flow and increase muscle tone to the clitoris making it more susceptible to orgasm. Check out this article for a better understanding. 
  • Try experimenting at home alone. Online ordering allows you to browse the many options of vibrators and dildos available. I really like body positive and friendly companies like Dame (woman-owned and operated) or Maude (same deal.)
  • Never had an orgasm? Confused about the clit? Let’s get you started: I really like this Guide to Clitoral sex, it details the ins and outs of how to orgasm by stimulating the clit. You or you and your partner could read this together and get to work! Look at it as a fun endeavor where you learn about each other’s bodies.
  • Water is your friend. 

In conclusion…

I hope this article has helped you understand on a deeper level the in’s and out’s of why faking an orgasm just isn’t worth it and you’ve learned a little bit about how to more easily achieve one! 

While it’s definitely more complicated than this, here’s a little motivation to demand what you desire from the ever bold Nicki Minaj….“I demand that I climax. I think women should demand that. I have a friend who’s never had an orgasm in her life—in her life! That hurts my heart.” —Nicki Minaj

Don’t hurt Nicki’s heart, ya’ll. Demand that orgasm, or at least start taking a few baby steps to boost your confidence and get closer to getting what you deserve babe. All good things come to those who ask for what they want!