I’ve never had an orgasm. I’ve also never had intercourse. I’ve had men use their fingers on my clit, but I always get to a point where it’s too much and sometimes painful. When I try to use a vibrator, it’s the same result. And using my own fingers does nothing. Part of the problem is that stimulating my clit doesn’t feel good. It feels extremely intense, but not pleasurable. I take Paxil, and I know that has sexual side effects. Is there anything I can try, or am I just weird beyond all help? – O No
While it can be possible to use a vibrator past the point of pleasure and still have an orgasm, I don’t necessarily recommend it. Some people are sensitive to direct touch, and this can be exacerbated if you’re not sufficiently aroused beforehand. Sure, you’ve read and heard that clitoral stimulation is the focal point of your orgasm, but if your own body’s evidence contradicts that, listen to your body. Some people are not primarily responsive to clitoral stimulation, and you may be one of them.
Try exploring clitoral sensation slowly, with lubricant, privacy, and access to erotic material. Partner sex can be sexy and arousing, but it can also be overwhelming and distracting. It’s common for women’s first sexual experiences—even our first few years of experiences—to involve less-than-optimal arousal and no orgasm. If your previous experiences involved dry fingers on your un-aroused clit, your response isn’t weird. It’s normal. It might help to know that some people like indirect clitoral stimulation even if they hate direct clitoral touch; they may even use vibrators—just not right on the clitoris. If you want to try a vibrator again, you can try positioning it to the side or below the clit, cushioning with the outer labia, or diffusing the sensation with fabric. Others prefer vaginal, G-spot, or even anal stimulation over direct clitoral touch. Experiment and see what works for you.
In general, antidepressants are known for their sexual side effects. If you’ve been on Paxil since you were a teen, it’s possible that you haven’t had any sexual experience, solo or otherwise, that was unaffected by it. The Mayo Clinic cites orgasm issues and “problems with arousal, comfort, and satisfaction” as common problems for those who take SSRIs. (You might consider speaking to your doctor about the possibility of changing meds.) Depression can also cause sexual side effects, which is so unfair! Dancing, yoga, walking, and other kinds of exercise that offer pelvic movement can help arousal, while problematic sexual experiences can leave after-effects that might include physical discomfort with direct touch. Sex educator Crista Anne has been writing about her issues with anti-depressants and orgasm online, and you can Google #OrgasmQuest for more info. Dorian Solot and Marshall Miller’s book I Love Female Orgasm can also be helpful. And my guide The Sex & Pleasure Book has waaay more to say about clit stimulation as well.
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Carol Queen’s latest book (written with Shar Rednour) is The Sex & Pleasure Book: Good Vibrations Guide to Great Sex for Everyone