Is it necessary to have an orgasm to enjoy sex?

There are lots of ways to enjoy sex without having an orgasm. But, not being able to have an orgasm at all can be a problem for some people and their partners. If you find having an orgasm difficult and you're worried about it, talk to a GP.

Difficulties with orgasms

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

Difficulty having an orgasm can be caused by a number of things, such as:

  • worries or lack of knowledge about sex
  • being unable to relax
  • not being stimulated or aroused enough
  • relationship problems
  • feeling depressed or stressed
  • previous traumatic sexual experience

If you're worried about not having an orgasm

If you're worried about not having orgasms, a GP can help you find out if there's a physical reason. If the cause isn't physical, they may refer you to a sex therapist. Sex therapy involves exploring your feelings about yourself, sex and your relationship, and can help you overcome sexual problems.

Enjoying sex

Intimacy, love and feeling aroused and sensual can be just as pleasurable as having an orgasm. 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. You might want to take time to be 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

Page last reviewed: 14/08/2018
Next review due: 14/08/2021