The most popular type of sex that women have with men doesn't tend be conducive to female orgasm.
Penis-in-vagina intercourse isn't likely to make a woman come. The real secret to how to cum lies in the clitoris.
Here's everything you need to know and a bunch of techniques to try.
How to make yourself cum
Get into the right mindset
As counterintuitive as it might sound, the first step to having an orgasm is trying to not think too hard about having one.
If you put an inordinate amount of pressure on yourself to come, you won't be able to access the relaxed frame of mind that is often necessary to send you over the edge.
Get to know your body
When trying to figure out how to orgasm, sexologist Shamyra Howard, LCSW, recommends that you get to know your body well: "I recommend that you first become familiar with your body and what brings you pleasure outside of sex," she says. "Have you ever looked at your vulva? Get a mirror and look at it. Do this often. Touch it and pay attention to the different textures and temperatures you feel as you apply different types of pressure. Figure out what's erotic to you. Do you know how your body responds when you're sexually turned on?"
Use this knowledge as a base to build on once you begin to masturbate.
Experiment with different types of touch
Try a wide variety of ways of stimulating your clitoris to see what works for you. Some ideas:
- Use circular motions with the pads of your fingers with varying pressures (i.e., start extremely lightly so that you're barely brushing over yourself and slowly increase the pressure until you find what feels best).
- Try tapping or flicking motions.
- Curl your fingers toward your body and use the flat of your knuckles to nudge up against your clitoris.
- Lie on your stomach with your hand or a vibrator under your clit and grind into it.
When in doubt, remember to alternate the two Ps: pressure and position.
Engage your whole body
Having an orgasm can be a full-body experience, so getting to that point should also be one too. Don't focus entirely on your clit.
Play with your nipples, stroke or pull your hair, touch your inner thighs and your ass. Run your fingers over your neck and shoulders.
Basically, imagine the kinds of touch that a lover would do for you and recreate them yourself. You could even use nipple clamps or a butt plug to ramp up the sensations.
AASECT-certified sex therapist Madeline Cooper, LCSW, says, "I tell my clients to think of what arouses them using their five senses—do you feel aroused watching or reading erotica? Do you like fantasies? Are there certain smells that are erotic, like candles or oils? Do you like listening to moaning or other kinds of noises?"
Don't be afraid of sex toys
Vibrators are an orgasm's best friend. Many people swear by wand-style vibrators for guaranteed orgasms.
They provide a deep and intense rumbling sensation, which can be overwhelming at first. A top tip is to try it over your underwear first and then build up to using it against your body.
Many people also swear by air-pressure sex toys, which use air to stimulate the clitoris and can be a good alternative if direct vibrations are off-putting for you.
You could also use a dildo inside of yourself while you touch your clit for a double hit of orgasm-inducing bliss.
Lube, lube, and more lube
Lube is one of the most underrated additions to masturbation. Even if you have no problems getting and staying wet, lube can still feel amazing and intensify sensations.
Don't be ashamed to reach for it when you're playing solo. Reducing the amount of irritating friction while you masturbate can make you more comfortable in general and therefore more relaxed and therefore—you guessed it—more likely to reach orgasm.
Try one of these 17 all-natural lubes.
Listen to an erotic podcast, audiobook, or songs to get you in the mood before or during your masturbation session.
Watch porn or look at images you find arousing. Hell, you can even write your own erotica! (If you're stuck, try to recreate a particularly hot previous sexual encounter or fantasy in words.)
Take your time
Sometimes having an orgasm is a marathon and not a sprint. Lock your door, pull down the blinds, and put your phone on airplane mode so you have specific time put aside for your self-love.
Don't try to quickly rub one out before work or going to meet your friends for lunch. You need to give yourself space to not feel stressed or under pressure.
Practice mindful breathing
Use the power of the breath to aid your masturbation sessions and get in touch with your body.
"I encourage women to practice mindful masturbation, where they are focused on their breath as well as the physical pleasure they are experiencing during their touching," says Cooper.
By focusing on deep, mindful breaths, you can access a deeper state of relaxation, which can facilitate an easier path to orgasm.
In tantric sex practices, breathing is also used as a tool to make your orgasm last longer and even to have multiple orgasms because it can help distribute orgasmic feelings through the body instead of moving toward a big "release" of the energy.
Once you're a pro, you can use these tips on how to make your orgasms even stronger.
How to cum faster during sex with a partner
Communication is key
To have orgasms during sex, your partner needs to know what works for you—which means that, yes, you'll have to tell them directly what to do. Don't assume they'll just magically hit the right buttons for you!
Once you know what you like through coming by yourself, bring that information to your partner.
It can be helpful to frame things in a positive manner; for example, you can say, "I really enjoy it when you XYZ. Could you spend longer on it next time we have sex?" instead of "You always stop doing XYZ too soon when we have sex."
Stand in front of the mirror and practice telling your partner what you like and how you want it.
If you find it intimidating to be demanding and clear about your desires, then repeating it to yourself will help the words flow more easily out of you when it's time to talk to your partner.
Show and tell
To go along with the verbal communication, you should practice showing your partner precisely how you want them to touch you by using your own hands.
Sari Cooper, LCSW, AASECT-certified sex therapist and director of the Center for Love and Sex in NYC, suggests lying down in front of them and demonstrating how you touch yourself so they can get an idea of what gets you aroused.
You can explain what you're doing as you go along. This is not only instructional but can be super hot as well.
"Showing a partner what feels good can be super sexy for you and them," she says. "Take their hand under yours so they can begin to feel the pace, the choreography, and the pressure that feels delicious."
As mentioned previously, most women cannot come from penetration alone. "Over 80% of people with vulvas need direct clitoral stimulation in order to reach orgasm, and it can happen with or without vaginal penetration," Howard says. "While penetrative sex can add to a woman's arousal, paying attention to the clitoris is the way to a woman's orgasm."
Try having sex in which your partner doesn't penetrate you at all and focus on oral, clitoral, and nipple stimulation and massage so you're extremely relaxed.
Ditch the sexual scripts
Sometimes variety and surprises can be sexy and can lead you up the orgasm path. Instead of following the expected route of kissing to oral to intercourse, try shaking it up entirely.
You can also play with where you have sex: If you're used to always doing it in the bedroom, then try doing it in the living room or in the garden.
Don't fake it, and come clean
Do not any under circumstances be tempted to fake an orgasm in order to soothe your partner's ego. This does both you and your partner a disservice.
They won't know how to really please you, and you won't...be pleased. It may feel easier in the short term, but by denying your partner the information you need to get off, you're eroding the trust that is meant to exist between you.
Be honest and direct about what you need. Use masturbation as the opportunity to discover what kind of touch, pressure, speed, etc., you require, and then give your partner this know-how.
If you have been faking it in the past and need to tell your partner, then it can be useful to have the conversation when you're not actually in bed, i.e., when you're just on the couch watching TV or something, so your partner isn't in a current state of naked vulnerability when they receive the information.
Your orgasm, your responsibility
"When having partnered sex, it's important to know that your orgasm is your responsibility," says Howard. "However, being able to communicate your needs to your partner can help them commit to your pleasure. And if they're not willing to learn about you, from you, it's time to let that partner go!"
View your orgasm not as something your partner can give you but as something you both need to work together to achieve.
Use sex toys
They're not just for masturbation! "Due to the various positioning of partnered sex, it can be more difficult to achieve much-needed direct clitoral stimulation," Howard says.
She suggests that bringing vibrators into partnered sex can be a great way to make sure you're getting off. Involve your partner in picking out a toy that feels good for both of you.
For instance, a vibrating cock ring can be something that gives pleasure for both parties as the vibrations will hit your clitoris when they penetrate you.
Say goodbye to shame
Most importantly when it comes to receiving the pleasure necessary to orgasm: "Take the judgment and body shame thoughts and put them aside and replace them with feelings of worthiness, patience, and entitlement to pleasure," Sari Cooper says.
An orgasm is something you are worthy of, not something to feel ashamed of or guilty for pursuing.
Advocating for yourself and your needs and desires is a source of power.
What makes women cum
Despite what pretty much every heterosexual sex scene on-screen has led us to believe, the vast majority of women require much more than a few thrusts of penis-in-vagina intercourse to be able to reach orgasm.
Namely, the key to getting off for most women is the holy grail of clitoral stimulation.
According to groundbreaking research done by Shere Hite in 1976, in which she gathered data from over 3,000 American women about their sex lives, only around one-third of women are able to have an orgasm from penetration alone.
However, researchers point to something called the "orgasm gap" as evidence that women are not getting their needs met. The orgasm gap refers to the phenomenon whereby men achieve orgasm during sex at much more frequent rates than women. Or to be clear, heterosexual women achieve orgasm much less often than their male counterparts.
Lesbian women on the other hand said that they orgasmed a solid 86% of the time. Clearly, the problem here is not inherent to women but rather to the men having sex with them and the focus on their pleasure alone.
As the orgasm gap between lesbian and heterosexual women demonstrates, there is no physiological reason women should orgasm at deeply and consistently lower rates than men.
The secret to achieving orgasm isn't tied up in biology. Rather it lies in the sociocultural and interpersonal realms.
In order to come, most women need to feel relaxed, safe, and free from anxiety or shame—all conditions that can sometimes be a tall order in a patriarchal sexual context that attempts to coerce and control women's sexuality.
Kesiena Boom, M.S., is a sociologist, writer, and poet. She has a bachelor’s degree in Sociology from the University of Manchester and a master’s degree in Gender Studies from Lund University. Her work has been featured at Slate, Buzzfeed, Vice, Autostraddle, and elsewhere. Her writing focuses on sex, pleasure, queer experience and community, feminist theory and practice, and race and anti-racism.