Ask the Doctors: How Can I Have an Orgasm?

I’m writing to ask for some help.

I am a native San Franciscan who is 26 and only had one orgasm in my life when I was 17 and not really sure how it happened. I am in a wonderful, loving, committed relationship with a man and we’ve been together for 3 years.  I have been trying to work with this issue for years and haven’t had any real progress.  In fact lately, its manifested itself into a lack of desire for sex.  I am currently trying to find a therapist (somatic or someone who specializes in womens sexual issues) to help with this.  I also have been doing network spinal analysis (energy healing) for the past 2-3 years which has immensely helped my anxiety and relationship with myself, but it isn’t enough and I’m seeking extra help.  I know that Good Vibrations sometimes hold female masturbation/self love classes and/or orgasm classes, but I didn’t see any on the schedule.  Is there anyone else that you can recommend I talk to?  I went to a workshop with these women: at Esalen last year and loved it, but they are in Hawaii and my vacation time and finances doesn’t allow for me to go to one of their week long programs.

Any direction or person you can point me in would be great.  This is a painful topic in my life and I know it shouldn’t be – it should be one of the best things I can experience!

That sounds like a really frustrating experience. But you’ve come to the right place- there are definitely some options I can offer.

First off, you’re not alone. A lot of women have difficulty having orgasms or having them consistently. And it certainly makes sense that after trying for as long as you have, it could end up making you not want to have sex at all. It sounds like you’re feeling a fair amount of pressure, whether that’s from yourself, your partner, or both. Or, for that matter, the way that the media incessantly portrays orgasm.

Unfortunately, the more we pressure ourselves to perform, the harder it can be to experience pleasure and/or orgasm. And no, that’s not some sort of zen thing about needing to let go before you can get what you want. It’s actually because anxiety, whether it’s from a stressful day or performance fears interrupts the body’s ability to relax, which is an essential part of arousal. In men, this often shows up as erection difficulties, but it can also show up as arousal or orgasm difficulties in anyone. In that light, it makes sense to me that your desire to have sex has waned- it’s a common response in these sorts of situations.

Energy healing and somatic work can be really helpful. And so can some of the experiential classes that folks like the Divine Feminine Institute offer. Fortunately, there are a lot of teachers here in the Bay Area, so you don’t need to go to Hawaii. Although it certainly is a great place for a vacation. 🙂

Since you’re already interested in the energetic side of sexual arousal, we definitely do lots of workshops that might be useful. We just had a few on Tantra, so it’ll be a few months before they come around again, but keep an eye on our workshop calendar page so you don’t miss the next ones. I also just rebooked Discover the Beauty of Your Body: The “In’s AND Out’s” of Female Masturbation for July 21 at our Valencia St. store and it’ll get posted on the site in May.

Our two-hour workshops are a great way to get a taste of a topic or a teacher’s presentation style, but you sound like you’re looking for something a bit longer. So here are some of the folks we work with. I can definitely vouch for them. Some of them also offer workshops for couples, which might be a good choice since it would help the two of you explore new ways of being sexual together as part of this journey.

Evalena Rose offers amazing classes for individuals and couples. She also does intro evenings, so you can check her out before committing to a weekend.

Bast is in San Francisco and she’s received excellent reviews for her workshops at Good Vibrations.

Jan Robinson teaches some really sweet classes for women and couples. She’s offering Tantric Bliss in the Bedroom for Couples at our Valencia St. store on June 23.

You could also check out the calendar listing at for other possibilities.

Another option is to find a sexological bodyworker, folks who are somatic & erotic educators and who help people deepen their experience of embodiment. Their directory might be a good place to find someone you like.

Lastly, I need to mention a couple of really useful guides that we have on our shelves. Becoming Orgasmic was written for women who have orgasmic difficulties and it has helped a lot of women and their partners. There’s also I Love Female Orgasm, which is full of really excellent info, although less focused on this issue than Becoming Orgasmic. You also might like The Multi-Orgasmic Woman because it offers a really clear approach to working with and building sexual energy from a Taoist perspective, or Urban Tantra for its adaptation of Tantric practices to a modern lifestyle.


We’re dedicated to getting you the information you need about sex, pleasure and your health. If you have any questions, please email our staff experts, Dr. Carol Queen and Dr. Charlie Glickman, at! For product-related questions, please email or call our customer service staff at


Dr. Charlie Glickman

Charlie Glickman is the Education Program Manager at Good Vibrations. He also writes, blogs, teaches workshops and university courses, presents at conferences, and trains sexuality educators. He’s certified by the American Association of Sexuality Educators, Counselors, and Therapists, and loves geeking out about sex, relationships, sex-positivity, love and shame, communities of erotic affiliation, and sexual practices and techniques of all varieties. Follow him online, on Twitter at @charlieglickman, or on Facebook.

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