What is orgasm anxiety and how do I overcome it?

If there’s one question that’s asked time and time again, it’s “Did you come?”. As much as this question shows your lover cares about you reaching climax, it has another, detrimental effect: it puts pressure on you. What is orgasm anxiety? A common and very un-fun consequence of this kind of pressure - as well as a range of other factors!

Orgasm anxiety is one of the most common sex problems experienced by women. So if you’ve ever laid on your back and wondered “What’s wrong with me?” - really, there’s nothing wrong with you. But sex should be pleasurable, and that’s why we’ve found 6 ways to ensure you never wonder how to overcome orgasm anxiety again.

Lesbian couple at home embracing

What is orgasm anxiety?

Otherwise called Pre-orgasmia, orgasm anxiety is experiencing stress and anxiety during sex that results in an inability to climax. It is similar to “performance anxiety”, typically associated with men. But anyone of any gender can experience orgasm anxiety.

As you probably guessed, orgasm anxiety is grounded on feelings of anxiety, stress, and worry. These can be about anything, but they are normally linked to fears of not being good enough in bed, not being attractive, specific worry about how our genitalia looks (tastes, smells…), and pressure to have an orgasm because your partner wants you to and because we’re taught to believe that sex should end this way.

It stops you from focusing on pleasure.

Orgasm and anxiety are both intense experiences, so it’s not surprising they sometimes go hand in hand. With all these worries rushing around, those who experience orgasm and anxiety become unable to focus on the pleasurable sensations their body should be experiencing. Instead of being in the moment, your brain feels pressured, trapped and panicked, and puts itself into fight or flight mode. It stops you from feeling relaxed and mentally focussed, both of which are essential for arousal, orgasm, and satisfying sex.

Why is it so common?

Once again, our society is to blame for lots of the issues that lead to orgasm anxiety. What is orgasm anxiety? It’s not exclusively a female problem, but it is entwined with many issues that women deal with daily. Our culture makes women overly self-conscious and critical of their bodies.

We’re also only at the beginning of a period where female sexuality and pleasure is openly talked about. This means that many women don’t know how to make themselves cum or don’t feel comfortable enough to talk about it.

Couple sleeping in bed

Faking it.

It’s undeniably good that there is, finally, focus on the female orgasm. But with this focus has brought pressure on women to orgasm, and not much understanding about the best ways to make that happen. This has led to another phenomenon: faking it. Why do women fake it? The pressure of feeling like they should orgasm to have “successful” sex and please their partner, but not being able to actually get there.

If you suffer from orgasm and anxiety, you’ve probably faked it a few times as well. Fortunately, we’ve got 5 tips to help you stop wondering how to overcome orgasm anxiety and start enjoying yourself.

How to overcome orgasm anxiety: 5 ways to quell those worries.

1. Masturbate.

This is always good advice - self-pleasure has a load of benefits. The next time you’re feeling fruity, focus on making your masturbation session about pleasure, not orgasm. This means taking it slow, exploring your body, figuring out what turns you on and what feels good. Taking the pressure off the end result will help you separate orgasm and anxiety, and do the same the next time you’re with a partner.

2. Love your body.

Yes, this is difficult, and a lifelong struggle for many of us. But disliking your body and worrying about the appearance of your vagina or your asymmetrical breasts makes you less able to feel good about being naked with somebody else - however much they love your body (which they do!).

Smiling woman by window in bra

A good way to do this is simply by being naked more! Casually on your own, with friends, with a lover - the more you’re around your naked self the more you will learn to appreciate the parts of you that you might judge as imperfect. Learn that those weird and unsymmetrical parts of your body are normal and beautiful!

Invest in something that makes you feel sexy as hell. Whether that means buying some kinky lingerie or taking a few sensual nudes, this will make you focus on the parts of your body that you love.

3. Communicate.

Communication is always a good idea and is essential to a healthy sex life. Talk about your anxieties with your partner. Tell them you feel pressure to come, that you want to take things slower, and that it’s actually okay if neither of you orgasm.

Talk during sex. If you’re worried about offending your partner by telling them they’re doing something wrong, phrase it differently. Simply directing them with “a bit lower” or “slightly to the left” is great. Tell or show them exactly what feels good and give them positive feedback where necessary: “It feels amazing there”, “I really love it when you do this.”

Woman meditating at home

4. Practice being present.

What is orgasm anxiety? It’s anxiety. And proven successful ways of dealing with anxiety are mindfulness and meditation.

If you’re feeling these anxious thoughts the first step is to accept, not fight them. Once you accept them, you can refocus your mind. Practicing meditation and other relaxation techniques outside the bedroom will make this easier when you’re in the moment with a partner. Slowly inhale and exhale, and focus on the small sensations happening in your body.

If you feel really overwhelmed during sex, nip to the toilet, sit down and do some meditative exercises there. And remember: you never have to stay.

5. Take it into your own hands.

If your orgasm anxiety is coming from your partner just not knowing how to pleasure you, and you feeling worried about offending them, take matters into your own hands. Start stimulating your clitoris or wherever else feels good.

It’s okay, in fact, it’s sexy, to pleasure yourself while your partner is doing their thing. It’ll show you’re super into it, and they’ll appreciate having to do a little less work. If you’ve discussed it beforehand, bringing a vibrator into the bedroom is also a guaranteed way of bringing more pleasure to you both.

Top view of lovers in bed

What is orgasm anxiety? Normal and solvable.

If there’s anything that makes anxiety worse, it’s being stressed about stress. Remember that it’s normal and that there are lots of ways to help with how to overcome orgasm anxiety. And if you want to try sex that is all about the journey, give tantric sex a go. You’ll replace orgasm anxiety with full-body pleasure in no time.