The Real Reason You’re Not Climaxing

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Can’t seem to quiet your mind during sex? A new study published in the journal Sexologies says that may hurt your ability to orgasm.

Researchers asked 251 women to fill out questionnaires about their emotions, behaviors, and thoughts during both sex and masturbation. The result: Women who were regularly getting off during sex focused heavily on their bodily sensations, and let their minds drift to erotic thoughts during intercourse.

The researchers hypothesize that if your mind wanders to topics during sex that are not erotic—i.e. stressing about work versus focusing on how sexy your partner looks mid-romp—this can prohibit your ability to climax.

The good news: You can learn to quiet the chaos in your head. “Start trying to be mindful during daily life,” says Debby Herbenick, Ph.D., research scientist at Indiana University and author of Sex Made Easy. For example, you might literally stop and smell the roses on your walk to work or while on a run. Or perhaps you focus on eating your food slowly to notice the tastes or scent, Herbenick explains.

The goal is to apply this same practice in the bedroom. “During sex, try slowing down, taking a breath, and really notice your partner's presence,” says Herbenick. Focus on how his hair smells, how it feels to hold and be held, or how his skin feels against yours.

“We often get so focused on our orgasm and trying to ‘get there’ that we forget to just enjoy the feelings associated with being together,” says Herbenick. Just keep in mind that mindfulness is considered a "practice," meaning that is it is more effective if you—well—practice regularly (inside and outside the bedroom).

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