Why Can’t I Cum? Common Orgasm Issues and What to do About Them

By Isabelle Uren / January 02, 2023

Orgasm problems can happen to anyone of any gender, genitals, or age. While orgasm isn’t the only goal of sex, not being able to orgasm can be distressing and leave you wondering, ‘why can’t I cum?’

Almost everyone will experience not being able to orgasm at some point or another, and that usually isn’t anything to worry about.

However, when it becomes a recurring problem, it shouldn’t be overlooked as a lack of orgasm can indicate an underlying medical condition or that something needs to change in your sex life.

Plus, once you have determined the cause, there are many ways to get back on the path to pleasure, from reducing stress to investing in a great vibrator!

Why can’t I cum? The quick version

For those that want the cliff notes version, here are some common reasons you can’t cum. We’ll go over each point in detail below, together with suggestions for how to work on each issue:

  • You have a medical condition or are taking medication that impacts your ability to orgasm
  • You aren’t getting the right type or intensity of stimulation
  • Stress, performance anxiety, or low self-confidence is interfering with your pleasure
  • You aren’t mentally aroused
  • You aren’t getting enough foreplay
  • There are problems in your relationship that are making you feel disconnected
  • You need to incorporate different types of sexual activity

Why Can’t I Cum? And how to get back on the road to O town!

This section will cover reasons you might not be able to orgasm alone or with a partner. Looking specifically for advice for partnered sex? Jump ahead to find out why you can’t cum with a partner!

The first step in figuring why you can’t cum, should be speaking to your doctor to rule out any underlying medical condition that could be interfering with your sex life.

Here are some common medical issues that can impact your ability to orgasm. These need to be assessed with a doctor so they can help you devise a treatment plan:

  • Chronic illnesses
  • Hormone imbalances
  • Nerve damage
  • Gynaecological surgery
  • Some medications, such as SSRIs, hormonal birth control, blood pressure medication, and more.
  • Mental health conditions, such as stress, depression, anxiety, and trauma

Once you’ve ruled out any medical conditions, there are plenty of things you can try at home to discover or rediscover how to orgasm! Here are my some common barriers to orgasm and how to get to past them.

Work through your sex and intimacy hang ups

Get sexy and self-confident with Beducated’s Sexual Confidence course

Whether it’s internalised feelings of shame, low self esteem, or struggling with your gender or sexual orientation, there are plenty of hang ups that can get in the way of a satisfying sex life. These hang ups distract us from the physical sensations of pleasure and the emotional connection of sex.

Online courses are a great way to equip yourself with knew knowledge to break down old patterns of thinking and build new ones that serve you.

In Beducated’s Sexual Confidence course you will unpack how shame and low self-esteem get in the way of your sex life and learn techniques to build your sexual confidence! They also have a great course exploring sexual orientation and how to navigate coming out.

Learn more about your anatomy and self pleasure

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For a lot of us, sex education centered around how not to get pregnant or catch an STD. While that’s important information, it doesn’t help us when it comes to actually enjoying sex and masturbation.

Learning about your anatomy, which bits are most sensitive, and how to touch yourself can be a real game changer when it comes to having your first orgasm!

Every body is different, so it’s important to explore yours to figure out what feels good for you! However, taking a course can fill in the gaps of knowledge and arm you with different techniques to try!

Beducated’s intimate touch course covers anatomy and techniques for both penis owners and vulva owners to equip with the knowledge you need to unlock pleasure!

For unlocking vulva-focused pleasure, you really can’t beat OMGYES! Not only are their techniques based on research from real women, but their videos feature tasteful demonstrations of each technique! These courses are a real aha moment for discovering self pleasure!

Get out of your head and into your body

Discover techniques to get out of your head and into your body with Beducated’s Self Pleasure Journey

A lot of us tend to be very in our heads, which can be pretty detrimental to our sex lives. When our attention is consumed with thinking about work or our ever growing to do list, it can numb us to the experience of sex and make it difficult to orgasm.

Not to mention, when we are concerned about a lack of orgasm, this can actually make the problem worse by making us overly focussed on the problem instead of pleasure — pretty unfair paradox, right!

Mindful meditation is an amazing tool for becoming more present and connected to your body and the moment, allowing you to feel more of all the good stuff! Beducated’s Self Pleasure course is full of mindful masturbation techniques that anyone can try, including how to use breath, sound, and movement to be feel more connected to your body.

Try different types of stimulation with sex toys

Lovense Exomoon & Kendra Lust Fleshlight

Every body is different in terms of what type and intensity of stimulation it needs to reach orgasm. Some need a very gentle touch while others require a lot of power to get them over the finish line!

Adding sex toys into your masturbation and sex life can help give you explore different types and intensities of stimulation to find out what works for you!

If you are a vulva owner, exploring clitoral stimulation with a bullet vibrator, wand vibrator or clit sucker can be a great place to start. You might also find it easier to have a blended orgasm from the dual clitoral and internal stimulation of a rabbit vibrator!

If you are penis owner, male sex toys, like a textured pocket pussy or vibrating masturbator, can provide more intense stimulation and unique sensations!

Get more mental stimulation

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Having an orgasm isn’t only about getting the right type of physical stimulation, you also need to be mentally aroused.

Mental arousal also helps prepare the body for stimulation by increasing blood flow to the genitals, making them more sensitive and causing the vagina to produce natural lubrication in vulva owners.

It can take some exploration to figure out what gets you going but once you do, you night find that the added mental arousal might be enough to take you over the edge! Here are some things to try out:

  • Fantasize about something that excites you

Use lube!

Use lubrication
Sliquid H2O Water-Based Lube & Sliquid Silver Silicone Lube

While this might be more of a problem for vulva owners, everyone can benefit from using a good lube for masturbation and partnered sex!

Lube allows your hand or sex toy to glide over your sensitive genital skin without any friction, which can be painful or cause damage. And it just makes everything feel A-MA-ZING!

There are lots of different lubes to choose from, but I recommend starting out with a good water-based lube. For more information on how to choose the right lube, check out our lube guide!

Why Can’t I Cum With a Partner?

Another type of orgasm problem is not being able to climax during partnered sex, even when you are able to get there when you masturbate. This is a pretty common problem, as bringing a whole other person into the mix makes things more complicated and gives you a lot more to think about.

Here are some reasons you might not be able to orgasm with your partner and how to start having orgasmic partnered sex!

You aren’t getting the type or intensity of stimulation you need


If you know what gets you there but you aren’t getting that type of stimulation during partnered sex, you might find it difficult to reach orgasm.

Getting comfortable guiding your partner in how to touch you is the foundation of great sex, as we can’t expect our partner’s to just automatically know what we need.

Think about what you do when you masturbate and ask your partner to do the same. If you find it difficult to explain, you can also guide their hand and show them exactly what you like.

Using sex toys with your partner can also help you get what you need! A couple’s vibrator, vibrating cock ring, or bullet vibrator make great additions to partnered sex!

There are other problems in the relationship

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If you and your partner have been arguing or you aren’t feeling very connected in other areas of your relationship, you might not feel connected sexually.

Taking some time to work on your issues and become more emotionally connected can also work wonders for your sex life.

Taking a course together, like Relationship Rebuilding from Beducated, can give you the tools you need to work through some of your problems and rebuild your connection. Not to mention, it’s a great way to show you are both still invested in the relationship.

You aren’t getting enough foreplay

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While this can impact both penis owners and vulva owners, it affects vulva owners more as they tend to need more to time to become fully aroused. That being said, everyone can benefit from foreplay!

If you don’t take the time to become fully aroused when having partnered sex, your body doesn’t have time to prepare for sex, making it really difficult to reach orgasm. It also helps you to get into the right headspace for sex and feel more connected to your partner!

There are tonnes of different ways to enjoy foreplay and get your partner extra aroused, from kissing, oral sex, fingering, handjobs, to giving them a sexual massage or exploring sensation play toys. Whatever tickles your fancy!

There’s too pressure to have an orgasm


We can feel like we need to have an orgasm or give our partner an orgasm to prove the sex was good. Or, maybe your partner takes it personally when you don’t orgasm. Both situations can create unnecessary stress and lead to performance anxiety, which actually make it more difficult to orgasm!

Yes, it’s ok to want to have an orgasm, but feeling like you have to to prove a point can make the problem worse.

Instead, try to focus on all of the pleasurable sensations and emotions you feel when having sex with your partner. Paying attention to these rather than being occupied worrying about having an orgasm will allow you to feel more and increase your chance of actually having one!

You’ve become over-reliant on a certain technique

Beducated Female Orgasm
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Knowing what get’s you off is great, as it means you can enjoy regular orgasms.

However, it is possible to become too reliant on specific type or intensity of stimulation to the point where nothing else will get you to the big O, which can make having an orgasm with a partner difficult or impossible.

Exploring different types of stimulation and switching up your masturbation habits can help you break out of these more rigid pleasure pathways.

Try different ways to jerk off, different positions, or try a different type of stimulation and focus on feeling pleasure, even if you don’t manage to have an orgasm. It might take some time for your brain and body to adjust so be patient!

You need to expand what you think of as sex

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Society has given us the rather misleading idea that sex = penetration. However, that is only one sexual activity and there are many others to explore! Not to mention, the majority of vulva owners don’t orgasm from penetrative sex alone and need clitoral stimulation.

Our bodies are covered in erogenous zones and we can orgasm from a whole range of things and only sticking to penetrative sex limits our access to orgasms and pleasure.

Spending more time exploring other pleasurable areas of the body can unlock new ways to have an orgasm. The prostate gland in penis owners is incredibly sensitive and even has it’s own orgasm. Oral sex can be a great way for vulva owners to get the clitoral stimulation they need!

One last thing to finish off!

So I hope I’ve answered the question ‘why can’t I cum’ and given you some new ideas and techniques to explore. I just want to finish off by saying that no matter the issue, it’s important that you are gentle and patient with yourself on your journey to becoming orgasmic!