To acquire wisdom, one must observe

SSIS advice column

Welcome back to the SSIS column, where we answer any and all of Brandeis students’ questions about sex, sexuality, identity and relationships. If you have a question you’d like answered in our next column, email ssis@brandeis.edu or leave a question in the Google Form link on the Student Sexuality Information Service Facebook page. Any and all questions are welcome: there are no bad, stupid or weird questions! 

(Note: These answers are good-faith attempts by SSIS to be helpful to the Brandeis community, and are by no means exhaustive or to be taken as universal. If these answers don’t resonate with you, either pay them no mind or reach out to us with suggestions for improvement!)

How do I bring up the topic of masturbation with my friends? 

Thanks so much for asking this question! Talking about masturbation may be hard for some people, as it is not necessarily commonplace for everyone, depending on various backgrounds and comfort levels. In terms of bridging a conversation between yourself and someone who may not be as comfortable with the topic, it would be important to start the conversation by discussing both parties’ boundaries, making sure everyone feels comfortable.

Once all parties are on the same page about the conversation, this conversation might look different for everyone and be very dependent on what you are hoping to accomplish by having the conversation. If you feel at a loss of how to begin, you could start by talking about the health benefits of masturbation, which for penis owners includes a healthier prostate and for vulva owners can entail helping to increase the strength of pelvic floor muscles. In addition to just figuring out what you like and what feels good, masturbation can help to combat menstrual cramps. Masturbation can also have benefits to community health in the face of the pandemic, as masturbating can reduce the risk of transmission for the coronavirus as it is a solo practice. Keeping community safety in mind while also experiencing sexual pleasure can go hand in hand!  

When talking about masturbation with a friend, remember that everyone’s comfort levels are different, but that masturbation does not need to be something that is “weird” to talk about. It can benefit everyone!

I’m a girl and I just started having sex. I haven’t been able to orgasm or even get close to climax during penetrative or oral sex. Does this mean that there is something wrong with me or that I’ll never be able to achieve this?

First of all, we appreciate you reaching out to SSIS with your concerns and we want to validate that not being able to have an experience that you desire is understandably frustrating. In fact, the concerns you’re experiencing are actually not uncommon and many women or vulva owners report not being able to orgasm or climax during penetrative sex and often oral sex. With this said, there are still a lot of factors that can be at play and just because you aren’t able to have these experiences now, certainly does not mean that you will never be able to have them in the future. 

Even though sex is often thought of as purely physical, there are actually a lot of mental and emotional influences going on internally. Sometimes if we don’t feel completely emotionally safe or comfortable, our bodies will demonstrate that disconnect through physical expression. For example, we might be unknowingly holding on to tension or nerves that are preventing our body from relaxing in the ways necessary to achieve orgasm. You could try thinking about what sex is like for you and your partner and if there is anything that is keeping you from feeling completely safe, comfortable or like you are able to relax. If you do think of something, it could be worth bringing the discussion up with your partner to try and work through those barriers so that sex can be a time free from feelings of anxiety or any other unwanted discomfort.

Another contributing factor to why many women or vulva owners find difficulty achieving orgasm is because, in order for many vulva owners to achieve orgasm, they require stimulation of the clitoris in addition to penetration or oral stimulation. The clitoris is a bundle of nerve endings at the top of the vulva above the vaginal opening and the urethra. For many vulva owners, stimulation of the clitoris through rubbing or other forms of touch can feel good and can contribute to the ability to reach climax. That said, others may find that they don’t like stimulation of the clitoris, and of course, this is completely fine as well! Everyone has their own personal preferences.  

Another thing you could consider is playing around with masturbation and self-pleasure in order to find out what feels good to you. You can do this either with or without toys like a vibrator or dildo. Different things feel good to different people and sometimes playing around with our bodies on our own time can help us find what feels best to us (and what doesn’t feel so good). You can then take what you’ve learned about your own pleasure and bring it into conversation with your partner or partners. Being open and communicative with your partner or partners about what feels good and what doesn’t is also really helpful in making sure that you’re feeling what’s desirable during sex. Your partner won’t know what you like unless you tell them!

Lastly, it’s important to note that because sex is often thought of in terms of achieving orgasm or climax, this can unintentionally put a lot of pressure on us to feel as though we need to have certain experiences; then, when we aren’t having those experiences we feel more pressure which makes it harder to have those experiences and it’s all just mutually reinforcing. But it’s important to remember that sex doesn’t always have to be about orgasm or reaching a destination. If you try and refocus your energy on the process and just experiencing/giving pleasure in general, you might find that you have a better time overall. But as always, it is completely up to personal preference. 

Get Our Stories Sent To Your Inbox

Skip to content