Why Don’t My Orgasms Feel Very Good?

by | Nov 2, 2020 | Making Sex Feel Good | 12 comments

Arousal Non-Concordance and why Orgasm May Not Feel Great

“When I orgasm, it’s okay, but it’s not amazing or anything.”

I’ve heard that from many women in the comments this month, and Keith and I talked about one such reader question on the podcast last Thursday.

I was actually going to launch a new series today on emotional maturity, but I’ve decided to push that back until tomorrow so that I can wrap up the Orgasm Series today. And it’s honestly the best, most comprehensive course we’ve ever made. If orgasm is a struggle, you need to check it out!

We’ve been focusing all month on the problem of women NOT orgasming, but I’d like to grapple with this one before we end.

What if women ARE orgasming, but it’s not that great?

The standard answer may be “well, maybe she only THINKS she’s orgasming,” and there may be something to that. But from the comments that have come in, and the reader questions, it’s pretty clear that women do know what an orgasm feels like and that it is happening. So I’m going to assume that’s not problem.

Why would an orgasm not feel amazing?

I’d like to run down the argument we made in the podcast. Perhaps you all have already listened to it, but I’m worried that some haven’t, and so I want this in writing so that I can point people back to it later.

So let’s go back to first principles.

Orgasms have two components: Physical arousal and mental desire.

Your mind should feel in the mood for sex, should want sex, should desire sex, should be thinking, “woohoo! It’s sexy time!”

And your body should be responding, too, by showing the signs of arousal. 

That’s ideally how it should work.

But sometimes we can have arousal non-concordance, where the physical and the mental don’t match up.

The classic example, and the one I always want to stress whenever we’re talking about this, is the case of sexual assault.

There is little in life more traumatic and terrifying than sexual assault and sexual abuse.

But what compounds the shame for many victims is that, even though they are being assaulted, they may still feel aroused and even reach orgasm. Because of that, they assume that at some level they must have wanted it.

Nothing can be further from the truth. 

During assault or abuse, your responses are heightened. You’re in fight/flight/freeze mode. Different areas of your brain are activated. And that means that you may physically respond because your senses are heightened even if your brain doesn’t want this at all. It’s quite a common phenomenon, actually, and we should talk about it more so that assault victims understand you did not ask for this. You did not want this. This is not your fault. 

Physical arousal is not a sign that you actually consented or that you wanted something.

But even at other times, our physical arousal may not match up with our mental arousal.

It is possible to force physical response through sheer will or intense stimulation without the mental desire being there.

When we frequently think about the problem with orgasm, we assume the issue is that the body won’t orgasm, so it must have a body problem. Usually, however, it’s not a body problem but instead a problem with the mental desire component. That’s why we spend three of the five modules in The Orgasm Course talking about elements of getting yourself in a sexy headspace and getting rid of the things that take away the sexy headspace! It’s only in Modules 4 and 5 that we actually get to physical technique (about how to orgasm in general and how to orgasm during intercourse specifically).

But what if there isn’t a body problem, but there still is this mental block where you don’t feel all “sexy sex?” Then orgasms aren’t going to feel that wonderful, because it’s the mental desire part that makes everything stupendous.

Your body is responding, but it’s not responding in context. It’s more like instinct.

Here are two examples of comments or stories from readers where I think that arousal non-concordance is the real story:

Hey Sheila, love your podcasts, youtubes, and books. We been married for almost 40 years and sex has never been great for my wife. I’ve come to terms with it then become frustrated and the cycle continues. Yesterday we had a heart to heart about why she does not enjoy sex. She says that her orgasms don’t feel good to her. I have no answer for that. She can have them as quickly as 3 minutes or take as long as 30 minutes. I rarely can bring her to orgasm by hand. She needs a toy to hep her. My question is why would an orgasm not feel good? She just does not know why either. Can you help.

I have to be on top leaning forward and get contact on my clitoris that way or just use a hand/toy whatever during sex. It’s just another way to get friction and tbh having a penis inside detracts for me.

Can orgasm really be “forced”?

Let me tell you a story. When my daughters were teenagers, they were both lifeguards and swim instructors at the YMCA. It was a running joke among the instructors about how you had to be careful with the little girls and the jets. Girls would position themselves so that the jets hit their vulvas, because it felt good. Rebecca and Katie were constantly being asked by the male swim teachers to come and take a little girl (we’re talking 4-7 years old, typically) away from the jets.

Now, these girls were not thinking “sexy sex.” They weren’t thinking sex at all! It was simply something that feels good, in the way that I am in raptures when I put a Q-tip in my ear. That’s also why we shouldn’t freak out if a young child touches herself or himself, by the way. Touching your genitals because it feels good is not the same as masturbating, which is about sexual intent.

As adults, we can do the same thing. We can apply such intense stimulation with a vibrator that we do actually reach orgasm–but that orgasm just feels “meh”. It’s not stupendous or anything. Or we can concentrate so hard on our bodies that we can almost “will” ourselves to orgasm, even if the mental part isn’t there.

It’s the mental desire that really makes sex feel passionate and intimate

The physical is the culmination of the mental part for most women. Without the mental, it doesn’t feel like much.

And so you can be having sex, and you can still be wondering what all the fuss is about, even after orgasm.

For most women, the problem is learning how to make the body physically respond.

And often it’s the mental desire piece that’s missing. There’s something that’s stopping you from being able to become aroused, or that’s holding you back once you are aroused, and you can only get so far. So unlocking all the mental pieces is crucially important.

But even if you are reaching orgasm, if it doesn’t feel that wonderful, and if you’re spending the entire time almost “willing” yourself to orgasm, rather than being present and just enjoying your husband, you still may be missing an important piece.

Without your body wanting the “sexy sex”, so to speak, then sex doesn’t feel that wonderful. So learning more about mind/body connection, and uncovering how you really feel about sex, and going back to the beginning and figuring out that arousal piece just by making out again, and taking away the expectations of orgasm and just learning to explore–well, those are all things that may open up real sexual pleasure for you.

Orgasms are meant to feel amazing.

Yes, they can be of different intensities, but if they always, always leave you feeling, “meh”, then I’d ask yourself:

  • Was I excited before I orgasmed? Did I enjoy the stimulation?
  • Did I feel arousal in different parts of my body, like some parts wanted to be touched?
  • Was I responding to my husband at all, or was it just to a toy/my mind?
  • Was I hurrying to get to the end, or was I able to be present in the moment?

And if you are struggling, please check out The Orgasm Course! Going through those first three modules can help you get the mental desire part back. And then working through Modules 4 & 5 can help you reach orgasm while enjoying being with your husband, rather than through sheer will.

The Orgasm Course is Here to Help You Experience Real Passion!

Figure out what’s holding you back. Open the floodgates to orgasm.

Arousal non-concordance is more common than we think.

And it shows up differently in different people! Some women will have the desire for sex but not the ability to orgasm; some will orgasm without the real mental desire yet.

But we can put those two pieces together. Don’t give up hope! We’re complex creatures, and we’re made that way to protect ourselves. But when we’re truly able to let go with our husbands, and get rid of all the protective parts and pretences, then sex can be passionate and wonderful!

So if you’re struggling, check out this course!

What do you think? Have you ever experienced arousal non-concordance? Let’s talk in the comments!

Written by

Sheila Wray Gregoire


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Sheila Wray Gregoire

Author at Bare Marriage

Sheila is determined to help Christians find biblical, healthy, evidence-based help for their marriages. And in doing so, she's turning the evangelical world on its head, challenging many of the toxic teachings, especially in her newest book The Great Sex Rescue. She’s an award-winning author of 8 books and a sought-after speaker. With her humorous, no-nonsense approach, Sheila works with her husband Keith and daughter Rebecca to create podcasts and courses to help couples find true intimacy. Plus she knits. All the time. ENTJ, straight 8

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  1. Amelie

    Well this makes sense to me! I’m actually super orgasmic and will typically come 3 times or more during a “proper” sex session. But sometimes it really does just feel “meh” and I don’t get the full release I normally do. Usually it’s indeed cuz I’m super distracted thinking about other things. And I definetly don’t orgasm the same way with vibrators or even on my own. I’ll still get a release of sorts, but it’s not mind blowing like when hubby does the good stuff 🙂 We just use toys to switch things up a bit sometimes but I definetly prefer when it’s all him doing the work. But I am blessed with a husband who truly enjoys pleasing me so lovemaking is mostly about me (unless I turn the tables and make it about him, which I do often as well). But if I’m not into it, he’s not either.

    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      That sounds great, Amelie! I really have enjoyed hearing about all these wonderful husbands this month. Sometimes I’m overwhelmed with negative emails (and I’m not saying don’t send those to me!), but it is nice to hear the other side as well so I don’t get jaded.

  2. Emmy

    I wonder if there are men who have this arousal non-concordance thing. I’d almost say there are some.

  3. Emmy

    I wonder if there are MEN who have this arousal non-concordance thing. Would that be possible? I’d almost say there are some guys who have it. I wonder how that would look like and what the woman could do to help.

    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      Definitely! Both sexes can have it. It’s not a condition, exactly. It’s just what can happen sometimes when things in our heads are getting in the way.

  4. Anon

    Orgasms with a vibe absolutely feel the best! They were literally designed for my pleasure unlike my husband haha. I think what people are often saying is they have orgasms and they do feel great in the moment but they’ll never understand why men “need” them so much. Why some would rape, assault or mope for one.

  5. Joe

    Never had a mind blowing experience. Never been able to do it multiple times per day. Multiple times in a night? Ha! Takes a day to recover. When younger we had sessions where we went slow to build up, but it really ended up only being a build up for her. For me it came down to the few minutes to orgasm and then feel like it was such a waste of time. The actual orgasm if’s self feels OK, but nothing super. I’m 52 and don’t understand what all the fuss is about.

    • jess

      it’s the same for me. i can tell when I’m having an orgasm, it just isn’t very pleasurable and it feels like i could’ve been doing something better with my time. im starting to wonder if i have a condition because i just can’t get it to happen.

  6. Mare

    This is definitely something I’ve experienced. I just didn’t have a name or understanding of it.
    Thankfully, my relationship with my husband is healthy both emotionally and physically. He wants me to be happy, to the point where if I don’t climax he feels like he failed. Those (RARE) times when I’m just not into it, I have assured him I’m not dissatisfied, but I applaud his enthusiasm.
    On a recent trip, we had a hotel room all to ourselves where we didn’t have to worry about waking up kids across the hallway. Whoa. I didn’t even realize what had been missing. The mental energy involved in keeping things quiet had really prevented me from fully letting go.
    If someone reading this is experiencing less than exciting sex, it’s worth looking into what mental block may be holding you back.

    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      Great insight, Mare! Definitely mental blocks can be huge. That’s so great that you figured that out about yourself.

  7. Marie

    This is really helpful to read. I’ve been coming to understand that my biggest issue with not enjoying sex is missing the mental connection and emotional excitement about it. I can get an orgasm with masturbation but it’s just “nice.” Never had a mind-blowing experience…definitely not with my husband. And the sad thing is that most of the advice I’ve read over 17 years of marriage just doesn’t work. They say to take more time with foreplay. Well, at this point in my marriage, tbh, I really dislike the foreplay. It’s always the same thing and I often wish to just get to the sex and get it over with. When I first got married, I was super-excited about sex and tried to learn everything possible to make it good. I also knew it could take a long time, but after 15 years, I realized that something deeper was wrong. I’m trying to undo unhealthy relational habits, but it’s so hard and confusing. I’m just getting to where I feel hopeless about having a decent sex life.

    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      It sounds like you really need The Great Sex Rescue, too–our new book that’s coming out! It can help you identify those unhealthy messages you’ve gotten that are likely holding you back!


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