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Friday, Jan. 17, 2014

My Ability to Have an Orgasm Changes with My Partners

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I’m a woman who has sex with men. I had sex with one person and it didn’t feel good (I didn’t have an orgasm). I had sex with another person in the same position, and I achieved an orgasm quickly. Since the position was the same each time, what’s the difference?

This question illustrates how complex our sexuality is—pleasure and orgasm are far, far more than a collection of positions and techniques, no matter what Cosmo and a million “mind-blowing” sex guides would have us believe.

How we feel about our sexual partners can profoundly impact our ability to experience pleasure. If you felt nervous, uncomfortable or pressured by the first partner you described, you would probably be much less likely to have an orgasm, since our mental state impacts our level of arousal. Conversely, if you and the second partner you describe shared trust and good communication, you might be more likely to have an orgasm. The level of attraction we have towards a particular person can affect our sexual response as well; maybe you had more “chemistry” with one person than with the other.

If all things are equal with your sexual partners, your own state of being can also impact your ability to have an orgasm. If you are stressed about deadlines, distracted by roommates or family members elsewhere in your house, or depressed by the short, cold days of winter, you may find it more difficult to enjoy sex, even if you and your partner are doing something that you really liked in the past.

There are all kinds of other factors that come into play as well—where you are in your menstrual cycle, using hormonal contraception, drinking alcohol, and taking anti-depressants are just a few of the things that can change our sexual responses (the last two often dampen sexual response for some people).

There’s no easy solution to your sex experiment; in fact, there are so many possible variables that it might be hard to pinpoint one particular thing that is responsible for the different experiences you had. The most important thing to keep in mind for future sexual escapades is that your mind, emotions and relationships are involved as well as your body, and that these factors are just as important as your genitals when it comes to orgasm and pleasure.

Laura Anne Stuart owns the Tool Shed, an erotic boutique on Milwaukee’s East Side. She has a master’s degree in public health and has worked as a sexuality educator for more than fifteen years. Want Laura to answer your questions in SEXPress? Send them to laura@shepex.com. Not all questions received will be answered in the column, and Laura cannot provide personal answers to questions that do not appear here. Questions sent to this address may be reproduced in this column, both in print and online, and may be edited for clarity and content.