How One Woman Had an Orgasm Breakthrough after 16 Years

by | Feb 7, 2024 | Sex | 34 comments

Orgasm Breakthrough after 16 years of marriage

Sheila here!

As we’ve been talking this week about new research showing that for many women, sex is like ChefBoyardee ravioli out of a can, I thought I could give you some hope that women can experience Nonna’s ravioli too!

I receieved this from a reader, and I thought it was too important not to share. I love stories like these!

Sheila Gregoire

Your book and podcast have changed my life, and I wanted to share my story with you.

My husband and I both grew up in conservative Christian circles, well trained by the Bible and godly teachers, but of course both at least tangentially affected by purity culture. We enjoyed each others’ bodies with exercised restraint when we were dating and were both virgins when we got married (and are glad for that). I had been forewarned by a friend that sex hurts at first, so I prepared myself for the worst. It wasn’t great but also wasn’t awful, and as I was absolutely in love, we happily engaged in intercourse even multiple times a day during our honeymoon. When my husband reached climax throughout that first week with such ease, we both were a little confused that I didn’t.

But again, we had heard that sex can be hard for women, so we both just accepted that this was how things would be for us.

During my annual gynecologist appointment later that first year, I shyly asked about orgasm for women and if there was anything physically wrong with me. The female doctor looked uncomfortable and said, “Just make sure you have plenty of lube and foreplay, and you’ll be good!” So we took our time during lovemaking, used scents and music and lube, and genuinely both felt great love and desire for the other.

But it still didn’t happen for me.

We went to a bookstore, and I scoured some less-than-holy magazines (LOL) looking for tips and tricks. Either they were not explicit enough or I was just so naive that I couldn’t understand what they were saying, but either way, nothing helped. I read most of the Christian books and resigned myself to the feeling of closeness as my “climax.” Truly, I was not bitter. I just figured my body would work itself out someday. 

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Four years later, we entered the family season of life

For the next seven years, I was in and out of pregnancy and nursing, feeling exhausted but dutifully giving myself to my husband with varying degrees of passion. After Baby #1, I had tremendous pain during intercourse (my husband was sympathetic and kind to my condition, not demanding in any way), but after Baby #2, it was soooo much more enjoyable. (My midwife after suggested it was related to a bad stitching job after Birth #1.)

I had a true desire for my husband, and he had a true desire for me. I never felt used by him. We just didn’t know what we didn’t know. I remembered reading in one Christian sex book that the author had once counseled a woman who hadn’t reached orgasm in 15 years of marriage. “Isn’t that sad?” was the message I heard. So I knew that was the goal—reach orgasm before then. 

As my body changed through childbearing and as my husband’s love for me never wavered, I grew more confident in myself and more desirous of him. But The Big O still never came. I knew it wasn’t an issue of libido, but I found myself growing weary of trying—trying to be more in the moment, trying to feel something (anything!), trying to not feel like a failure or make him feel like a failure. Sex had become an emotional act for me and a physical act for him. And I had come to mostly accept that. We would reach the end of intercourse with his climax, and on the harder days, I would think with disappointment and confusion, “Is this really all there is for me?”

As we neared that 15 year mark, I re-read the books with no success.

Really, their only outcome was to make me feel ashamed for not being able to orgasm—they told me that I was mentally lazy and didn’t want it bad enough (which was pretty humiliating) and that even if I did get there, it would never be a regular thing anyway. I listened to Christian sex podcasts that were mildly helpful but still didn’t change anything for me. I tried to will myself to orgasm, but apparently that’s not how it works either;) I confided in my husband that I was ready to get serious about this. I could tell that my body was wanting an ending, a resolution after building up such intense sexual tension; I was beginning to feel sexually frustrated (more with myself and God’s whole system than with my husband).

And then a friend introduced me to The Great Sex Rescue. I read it and wept. Other Christian books had normalized female anorgasmia; yours did not. Yours said that most women should be able to be sexually satisfied and that most female bodies are not the problem. You refuted most of the books I had read, and I suddenly understood why they had not helped. They weren’t written to help women have great sex; they were written to help women help men have great sex. I felt relieved and validated and reinvigorated, though I still did not know what to do to get myself there.

"A groundbreaking look into what true, sacred biblical sexuality is intended to be. A must-read." - Rachael Denhollander

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What if the messages that you've been taught have messed things up--and what if there's a way to escape these toxic teachings?

It's time for a Great Sex Rescue.

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Then I started listening to your podcast and found the episode on orgasm.

You talked about how the movements during intercourse are exactly what the penis needs to reach climax and insinuated that the physical movement required for the clitoris is different than that. I’m embarrassed at how ignorant I was, but I just did not know this! I had been taught that masturbation was bad, so I’d never explored for myself. And my husband had no idea what to do with a body that was not designed like his. But I was getting excited and for the first time was beginning to feel strange things in my body during lovemaking.

It was a little scary at first, honestly, because I am a very in-control, Type A personality. But I knew this was only good and was how God intended it to be–pleasurable. So I ventured out of my comfort zone and tried to figure out my own body myself. Guys! After 16 years of being sexually active, I finally reached orgasm! And then I did it with my husband!

I have tears in my eyes as I type this, maybe in part because it was almost so easy–it didn’t take me 40 minutes or really hard focus or anything dreadful.

I’m actually able to climax pretty easily. I (we) just didn’t know how to do it.

In fact, I think some of these tears are because I feel angry. I was cheated out of SIXTEEN FREAKING YEARS OF SEXUAL PLEASURE. Because I was told:

It will be hard for you because you can’t stop thinking about the dishes or the baby and it’s so difficult to get mentally into it but it’s still something important for him so just keep doing it. 

I so, so wish I had your resources when I first got married. I feel like I was robbed of so much. I so wish I hadn’t been scared of just exploring my own body. I so wish we could have gotten there earlier.

But I’m so glad we’re there now!

Wow! I can’t tell you how happy that email made me when I received it. I’m so glad The Great Sex Rescue could help her!

But at the same time–holy cow. Sixteen years?!? This should never be our story.

And what’s so interesting too is that her husband was not a bad guy. It’s not that he didn’t want to give her pleasure. He just didn’t know what to do, and the books had all taught them that this was normal. 

That’s also why we created The Orgasm Course! And it’s helped thousands of couples too!

Sheila Gregoire

We need to do make it NORMAL to expect her to orgasm, and if she’s not? We need couples to figure it out, rather than just assuming she’s the problem.

Our books The Good Guy’s Guide to Great Sex and The Good Girl’s Guide to Great Sex were written to do just that. Please please please make them your bridal shower gifts, so that no other couples will be in this situation!

And if you are having difficulty reaching orgasm–please check out The Orgasm Course. You’re not broken. Truly. There is help, and you can get there!

Finally reaching orgasm after 16 years of marriage

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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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34 Comments

  1. Jo R

    “Is this really all there is for me?”

    Yes, because women aren’t really people the way men are, and that’s by God’s design. 🙄 🤬

    “[Most of the books I read] weren’t written to help women have great sex; they were written to help women help men have great sex.”

    And women should bear false witness about how great the men are in bed to boot!

    “my husband had no idea what to do with a body that was not designed like his.”

    Also by design, because men are instead taught that women “take too long”; that women “typically have a need that men don’t have,” to wit, some form of stimulation beside PIV; that PIV is really all that’s required in marriage, because that’s all the MAN needs (except when he really, really needs a hand job or blow job).

    “I feel like I was robbed of so much.”

    The only error here is starting the sentence with “I feel,” as it’s demonstrably true that she (and millions of women just like her) has been cheated out of WAY more orgasms than any husband has ever had to miss (due to pregnancy, etc.), because most women can have multiples per session.

    “I could tell that my body was wanting an ending, a resolution after building up such intense sexual tension; I was beginning to feel sexually frustrated”

    To any of the guys reading, just imagine SIXTEEN YEARS of your wife stopping your stimulation before you reach your point of no return. How many times a week—and for how many years, turning into decades—would you care to repeat that experience, knowing you will NEVER get a chance to finish, because YOUR outcome doesn’t matter AT ALL?

    The “Christian” marriage and sex teachers have a lot to answer for. They have taught blatant misinformation as truth. They have ignored every “one another” verse, the golden rule, and the “came to serve, not be served” attitude of Jesus.

    They make me sick. 🤮

    Reply
  2. Connie

    Do most people realize that doctors have been taught to put in that extra ‘husband stitch’ when they do up an episiotomy? When I asked the doctor about it, he said, “You just don’t love your husband”. I had it done twice. I used to sit in a tub of hot water and try to rip myself so we could even do sex. Then I insisted on getting it fixed. After that, only midwives. And no, one doesn’t get loose after a bunch of babies.

    Reply
    • Megan

      the “husband stitch” isn’t a taught thing anymore. If you talk to any gyno who exited medical school in this millennium they will tell you they are not taught to do that. The problem potentially lies with either older docs or just the weird cultural idea that the husband stitch is a thing. I will say that scar tissue is a problem, it doesn’t stretch well and is uncomfortable to push on and if you have torn or had an episiotomy you will have scar tissue. I went to pelvic floor PT and she gave me exercises specially targeted to work on the scar tissue so it would stretch better. There could also be the possibility that during the stitching up, it was just done poorly or jaggedly, not because they were trying to get it to be tighter but just because the tear was complicated so putting the pieces back together was not straightforward. TL:dr there are reasons that the vaginal opening are tight and uncomfortable post-baby that are due to being stitched up but not due to the doctor purposely trying to make you smaller to please your husband.

      Reply
      • Connie

        Well the gyno who fixed it agreed that was the issue, and it never happened with the 5 midwife deliveries. That was quite a long time ago, though.

        Reply
        • Megan

          I am sorry that this happened. I hope moving forward we can completely eradicate this aweful practice that doesn’t even work anyway because that isn’t how vaginas work.

          Reply
          • Andrea

            I remember hearing about Masters and Johnson research that said a vagina can squeeze so tightly it can accommodate even the smallest of penises. I love that phrasing. The gynecologist Jen Gunter (author of Vagina Bible, Menopause Manifesto, and more recently Blood) says she’s had husbands say to her with a wink “Sew her up real tight, doc,” and she responds with, “OK, drop your pants so I can see just how small I need to make that hole.”

      • Lisa Johns

        It may not be taught any more, but there are an awful lot of women who end up with one, even now. And any doctor who can’t stitch up a jagged tear needs to get someone in there who CAN. That is not an excuse — this is a very intimate part of your body and they need to take the time to care for it properly! And yes, those tears need a little extra care, and yes, they can be stitched well.

        Reply
    • S

      I have to agree with Megan, the husband stitch is not something taught now or recently. Doctors and nurses usually don’t think its funny at all when a man asks for such a thing and will ask them to leave the room after dressing them down for such a disgusting request. I had scar tissue after my daughters birth, I didn’t have a terrible tear but it was uncomfortable for a while and my doctor is the one who explained to us at my post partum check up that it might be uncomfortable but should not be painful and to come back in if it was. He gave us some tips on position and told my husband to be slow and careful and to pay attention his wife and that no one died waiting more than 6 weeks, I thought that was hysterical.

      Reply
    • Anonymous

      Connie, I did not hear it specifically called such by my Obstetrician but was told she would stitch me back up “nice and tight” and I have heard that before from other moms in conservative circles. Perhaps it depends on the timing of the doctor’s schooling, the age of the mom (some of us aren’t exactly spring chicks here), and the ruralness of where the doctor studied. I would rather not have been stitched quite so tightly.

      Reply
    • Lisa Johns

      The “husband stitch” is a form of female genital mutilation, and yes, it is still done today, and not always by older doctors. Many (maybe most, and I hope this is true) doctors and nurses will refuse to do it, but those who will still place it ought to lose their medical licenses. It is barbaric.

      Reply
    • Teresa

      I was given a husband stitch after my second birth. I had the baby in the car (no one forcing me to hold my breath and push hard; I just went with my own body), and she came out easily. I was sure I didn’t need stitching but I couldn’t see my vagina to know what it looked like and the dr insisted I did need stitches (an older guy). It took a few weeks for me to realize what he had done because i wasn’t sure if the stinging and pain was just the normal healing. I had to tear it back open myself as well.
      The next two babies I had with midwives. With all my births I had some tearing and with the 1st and 3rd some stitches (just not extensive), so I’m sure there’s some scar tissue down there but it’s never bothered me.
      And yeah, my husband doesn’t think I have a loose vagina after 4 births.

      Unfortunately my sister had it much worse and was stitched so tight that intercourse wasn’t possible and it took many months to get things stretched back out (not sure if completely back to normal).

      Reply
      • Sheila Wray Gregoire

        That’s incredibly heartbreaking!

        Reply
  3. Laura

    I will be getting married in three months and going to get the orgasm course. When I was married to my ex during my 20s, I never experienced an orgasm. I didn’t know I should or could. I remember being told, “When he comes, it’s over.” No wonder I often felt empty after each sexual encounter. There were times when he asked me if I came. I didn’t know what that meant for me and what did my body do when it orgasmed. I thought it meant extreme wetness and just feeling good. I’m getting nervous thinking about it.

    I’ve had some friends tell me they think sex is overrated and they sleep in separate bedrooms from their spouses. I guess they were trying to reassure me during my sexual frustration as a long time single that I should be fine being single. Not very hopeful and I always knew deep down that since God was the one who created sex, it has to be amazing for both people. I also think you have to be in love with your partner and feel safe and connected with him. I sure feel that way with my fiance.

    Reply
    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      LAURA I’M SO EXCITED FOR YOU!!! Wow, congratulations on your engagement! Yay! I’ve watched your journey over the last few years, and that’s wonderful!

      Reply
  4. Rowena

    Fantastic article! 💜

    I wanted to let you know that it does include a slur—“jipped” is a word used to reference being cheated out of something, but is the verb form of “Gypsy”—a racial slur for Romani people.

    Reply
    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      Good catch! I’ll remove it.

      Reply
  5. Kathryn

    In certain areas of Asia (where ironically the birth rate is lower than 1.0) a “vaginal rejuvenation procedure” is quite common….where a laser is used to scar the inner lining of the vagina “to make you tight like teenager again!” This ‘service’ was pushed by a group of eager male doctors after the birth of one of my children there, and they assured me that alllll of their female patients take advantage of it. Thanks, but no thanks.

    Reply
    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      That’s so awful!

      Reply
    • Taylor

      Huh … I wonder how those doctors would respond to a suggestion that they cause external scar build-up on a man’s penis to make him larger for a tighter fit rather than causing internal scarring to the woman. How popular would that procedure be … (envisioning men running for the hills)

      Reply
  6. JoB

    This story encourages me and discourages me at the same time. This woman sounds intelligent. She has education. She has access to books (religious and secular), and got married during the internet age. She has healthcare, including access to a female doctor who specializes in women’s reproductive health. She actually has the courage to ask her doctor a difficult question. Emotionally, she is capable of deep love, is resilient and forgiving. She holds on to hope. Her husband loves her. There is no mention of fear, shame, abuse, bitterness or trauma in her story. AND IT STILL TOOK SIXTEEN YEARS!!!

    Why does it have to be so difficult for us? What were women supposed to do for the multiple millennia that all these resources didn’t exist? We are hearing multiple accounts of 20th century first world MEDICAL PROFESSIONALS specializing in WOMEN’S HEALTH who hurt women and caused them UNNECESSARY PHYSICAL PAIN, out of… ignorance?

    In an age where there is so much explicit content out there, the dearth of real knowledge and the prevalence of ignorance is just appalling. Please keep doing what you’re doing, it’s obviously needed!!

    Reply
  7. Anonymous

    What about 45 years?

    Reply
    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      I’m so sorry. That’s heartbreaking. It isn’t necessarily too late! But you may really benefit from vaginal suppositories like those from Femallay to restore some of the tissues that can become thin or brittle after menopause, and can make pleasure more difficult. We do talk about these really long periods without orgasm in our orgasm course too of how to even just learn what one feels like.

      Reply
      • Anonypotamus

        38 years here, and my story is so similar to the author’s, except without the happy ending. Regarding the orgasm course Sheila, some of us are just too sure yet another book/plan/program will only end in yet another failure. I would like to read your latests books though. Is there a particular order they should be read in? Thank you!

        Reply
        • Sheila Wray Gregoire

          I would definitely do The Great Sex Rescue first. you may find it healing!

          Reply
          • Anonypotamus

            Thank you so much! I will start there…

  8. Deana Thaxton Samms

    I see a lot of this in my practice. Thankful for these resources. When I got married in the 70s, all we had were books like The Act of Marriage.

    Reply
  9. Jo R

    I’m trying to imagine a headline, blog post title, or book chapter title in an evangelical resource that says “How One MAN Had an Orgasm Breakthrough After 16 Years.”

    😑 (that’s me with my eyes shut to focus my imagination)

    Nope, can’t do it. Because if it was longer than sixteen DAYS, the man would be screaming his head off about how unfair it was, because “muh needs!”

    But if it’s “justa woman,” well, who cares?

    Reply
    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      I know. It’s so, so frustrating.

      Reply
  10. Lori R

    It’s awesome to see this being discussed. Would it be possible to get clarity on whether the orgasm was internal or external? I wasn’t able to fully get clear on that particular point. (I read the full article.) I could’ve unintentionally missed that point.

    Reply
  11. Perfect Number

    Good for her!

    Also wow this part is relatable: “Either they were not explicit enough or I was just so naive that I couldn’t understand what they were saying, but either way, nothing helped.” Also the advice that you should just have the right attitude and not worry about it and it will just work itself out… and also the idea that “well I guess this is just how it is for women, oh well”- all very real (and I’m glad to see this being called out because it’s a problem).

    And I’m glad she mentioned masturbation- I think this is really important! I would definitely advise people to masturbate to figure out what works on their own body, and then instruct their partner on how to do it. Personally, I am autistic and I’ve always been really sensitive about how people touch me- and since I was raised evangelical I made sure to not touch “down there” because there were so many warnings about how masturbation is bad- and then my husband didn’t have any idea how to do it in a way that felt good for me, and I also had no idea. If *I* don’t even know, then *another person* is DEFINITELY not going to be able to figure it out- I have to figure it out first and then instruct him.

    Reply
  12. Shannon

    Twenty years sexually active/married and I’ve tried masturbation, pills, creams, shots, suppositories, vibrators, oral, manual, counseling…no orgasm. All I wanted sexually was to orgasm with my husband…or at all. I cry typing this because I’ve read your books…and I’m angry at your books for giving me false hope, at God for making me this way, at the church and my friends and my family and my coworkers for not insinuating that sex is anything but an obligation to keep him happy and keep him from cheating. I know I shouldn’t be but I’m happy about a sexless marriage for the rest of my life. God just didn’t make me orgasmic and I’m trying to accept that and move on.

    Reply
    • L

      I’m so extremely sorry. for what it’s worth, I completely support your decision to stop all the effort and accept the situation. you tried so many things and I hope you can find peace in grieving this physical limitation. so sorry.

      Reply
  13. J

    Did your survey ask HOW women were reaching their orgasm? I would’ve answered the question “most of the time” I orgasm. But I had to use a vibrator to get there. Also, just because someone orgasms does not mean it was great sex or that intimacy is present in the relationship. 🙁

    Reply
    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      Yes, we did. Very few reached orgasm through intercourse alone.

      Reply

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