I hope what I have to say will be useful for you. The fact is, the majority of women do not orgasm during intercourse (frequently, or ever)—about 70%. Some women do have better luck with oral sex, or partner play with fingers and toys. But your situation isn’t very unusual, to say the least. There are a variety of reasons why it might be hard to orgasm at all during any kind of partner sex:
*For some of us, it can just be difficult to relax enough. We might feel self-conscious body-wise; worry about when it means to have sex with this person; there might be kids in the other room so we can’t let go; there are many variations on this.
*Related to that is a specific issue: We stay up in our heads, which blocks our ability to feel it to a certain extent. Sex therapists call this “spectatoring,” and often it has to do with us worrying about whether we will come or how we’re performing. This kills our ability to orgasm!
*Having a history of difficult sexual experience (nonconsensual sex, abuse…) can be connected to this problem—but is not always.
*Not getting aroused enough, which can be related to all of the above, getting through sex too fast and not taking the time you need to build up to climax, and having a partner that doesn’t do the things you respond to most.
*Sometimes we don’t even know what we would respond to most strongly. If there are things you fantasize about but have never tried, that might be a clue.
*If someone has been brought up in an atmosphere of shame about sex, if can affect them throughout adulthood unless they look for ways to deal with that and change the script.
*There are hormonal and pharmacological things that might affect ability to orgasm, from perimenopause to birth control pills and anti-depressants.
*A little “party atmosphere” (a drink, etc.) may seem to help get you in the mood. Too much affects your ability to orgasm! So does a diet heavy in fatty foods, and too little exercise. Also: cigarettes. They affect blood flow and hamper arousal.
I don’t know whether any of those things will ring a bell for you, but if any do, you might have part of the reason for your lack of orgasms in partner sex. Also—partner sex is distracting! It can be fun and sexy and wonderful, but it is not the same experience as focusing on our own sensations as we would during masturbation. And you mention that masturbation doesn’t always work for you, which might reinforce the idea that one of the above issues is impacting your sexual response.
The possibility that a vibrator would be a plus is definitely one to explore, for a couple of reasons. I assume you sometimes do respond to vibration. Having clitoral contact and vaginal penetration all at once (assuming you are turned on and lubricated enough for the latter to feel good) is a terrific way to boost response and potentially give you what the sex therapists call a “blended orgasm”—two erogenous zones working together. And it might be a plus if you’re on top; if you generally like that position, it can be helpful because it lets you move. Movement and thrusting your hips rather than lying still can build arousal.
Here are more things that might be useful to try or think about:
*Touch your own clitoris during intercourse.
*Make sure you’re warmed up enough before vaginal or clitoral contact starts.
*Talk to your partner about times you have gotten the most close; there may be clues there re: what you like and respond to. Communicate in the moment if you want him to do something different, or to say “don’t stop” or whatever.
*Erotic talk, porn if you like it, and similar “extras” can help boost arousal.
*Enough time to respond with an orgasm is key! If it takes you 20-30 minutes to come, and sex goes on for 10-15, you won’t come. So think about whether that is happening and if there are ways to extend the pleasure. It need not just be intercourse. Oral, caressing, and toys can all play their roles.