Is it necessary to have an orgasm to enjoy sex?

It's possible to enjoy sex without having an orgasm. However, not being able to reach an orgasm can be a problem for some people and their partners. If you find having an orgasm difficult and you are worried about it, talk to your GP.

Difficulties with orgasms

Some people find it difficult to reach an orgasm through intercourse alone but can easily climax through masturbation. Some people find it difficult to orgasm at all.

Difficulty having an orgasm could have a number of causes, such as worries or lack of knowledge about sex, being unable to relax, not being stimulated enough, relationship problems, feeling depressed or a previous traumatic sexual experience.

If you’re worried about not having an orgasm

If you’re concerned about not having orgasms, your GP can help you find out if there’s a physical reason. If the cause is not physical, they may refer you to a sex therapist.

Sex therapy involves exploring your feelings about sex, your relationship and yourself and can help women overcome orgasm problems.

Enjoying sex

Orgasms are pleasurable, but intimacy, love and feeling aroused and sensual can be just as pleasurable. For some people, these things are more satisfying than always having an orgasm.

Enjoy all the feelings of arousal you share with your partner, not just the orgasm. Take time to be more sensual, for example by:

  • exploring each other’s bodies
  • taking a bath together
  • massaging
  • kissing
  • touching each other’s skin
  • undressing each other
  • telling each other what you like
  • listening to your partner’s breathing

Many people give each other oral sex or masturbate together as a healthy and enjoyable part of their sex life.  

Read the answers to more questions about sexual health.

Further information:

Female sexual dysfunction

A psychosexual therapist explains the different types of female sexual dysfunction and the medical and psychological issues that may be involved.

Media last reviewed: 18/04/2013

Next review due: 18/04/2015

Page last reviewed: 06/11/2013

Next review due: 05/11/2015