The frequency of orgasms differs from person to person. Some people climax every time they have sex, others struggle to climax at all. There are multiple reasons why, in the absence of an orgasm, someone might fake it.
The misconception that an orgasm is the logical progression of sexual stimulation is one of the reasons that orgasm-oriented sex can take precedence over pleasure. While achieving orgasm may seem to be the logical and preferred end-goal of a sexual encounter, the pressure to do so can be counterproductive.
An orgasm is a series of rhythmic contractions of muscles—in the vagina, uterus, and pelvic floor in women; in the penis, prostate gland, pelvic floor, and anus in men—caused by the continuous stimulation of one or more pleasure centres. Endorphins are released into the bloodstream, causing a sensation of euphoria and relaxation.
The male orgasm has reproductive function: male ejaculate contains sperm cells that have an essential role in creating offspring. The female orgasm has no known reproductive function.
Faking orgasms is more common than you might expect. It isn’t something people like to discuss, likely because many of us have an idea about what should happen that is a bit different from what usually happens. Is difficulty reaching orgasm abnormal, a sign of dysfunction? No. In fact it’s quite common, especially when we worry about it. ‘Faking it’ can feel like projecting an image of sexual health, when in fact sexual health has much more to do with knowing your body and being at ease with your partner in a sexual context than it does with ticking performance boxes.
The reasons for faking an orgasm are usually multi-layered, stemming from social, psychological, or physical issues—or from some combination of the three.
Understanding your own sexuality is a process, often hindered by the various stigmas and taboos surrounding sex. Since many women need to feel comfortable psychologically to reach orgasm, they are particular affected by this. In many places, social roles still dictate that it’s a woman’s duty to make her partner feel good, even at the expense of her own pleasure.
Men, on the other hand, have to contend with the myth that real men are always ready for sex. This creates unnecessary pressure to have sex (and therefore to have orgasms), and makes it harder for men to have a healthy understanding of their sexuality, but doesn’t affect their ability to climax nearly as much.
Having an orgasm signals to your partner that you are satisfied. You may feel as though your partner will lose interest if you don't have an orgasm or are difficult to please. In order not to bruise their ego, faking it may seem like a good way of maintaining the impression of a healthy sex life—something many perceive as a necessary part of a ‘successful’ relationship.
Past sexual trauma, living in a community that stigmatises sex and problems in relation to sex, having been shamed for one’s sexuality—experiences like these have lasting negative repercussions that make it difficult to form positive associations with sex. Thinking there’s something wrong with you is a great way to kill the mood.
Even when everything seems perfect, it can be frustratingly difficult to reach orgasm. Underlying mental stressors can be a formidable obstacle. Not everyone has the luxury of being comfortable enough with themselves to be able to cum at all, much less as often as they’d like.
Mental health conditions can have an impact on ability to orgasm—depression, anxiety, PTSD, body dysmorphia, HSDD, to name a few.
You may like you owe it to your partner to have an orgasm to make them feel like they're doing a good job, to reward them for their efforts, or just to take away the pressure to achieve. Faking an orgasm also has to do with the expectations you have of yourself—the sexual prowess you are developing. In other words, faking it until you make it.
Sexual boredom is another common reason for faking it—to enhance the overall excitement of the interaction, potentially leading to more pleasure.
Faking an orgasm can be an efficient way to signal the end of a sexual act. Maybe you just want to be finished or you aren’t quite in the mood after all. Some people choose a fake orgasm at the 'right' time—together with their partner—over having a genuine orgasm at the 'wrong' time—earlier or later during intercourse.
Sadly, some people feel that it’s the only way to get out of a situation they’d rather not be in. Women have been known to fake orgasms during rape in order to end the abuse more quickly.
If your mind can get in the way of your orgasms, so can your body. Simple, everyday things can out a damper on a romantic evening. For example, if you’re feeling tired, your body might actually prioritise rest over pleasure.
Discomfort due to irritation, inflammation, or infection is another reason someone might fake an orgasm. Vaginal sprays, soaps, and douches often contain chemicals that upset the balance of the vaginal flora. Both men and women can have allergic reactions to contraceptives or suffer from STIs.
It is alarmingly common for women to report pain as part of intercourse. Maybe a partner is too rough and it feels too difficult or embarrassing to talk about, or maybe it’s a physical condition such as vaginismus or pelvic inflammatory disease (PID). When someone fakes an orgasm to hurry the process along, it could be because they are in substantial pain. Too many of us stay silent about these issues. We don’t want to cause problems where (for our partners) there previously were none.
Some medical conditions, especially a past gynaecological surgery such as a hysterectomy, and some medications can cause different types of anorgasmia—the inability to orgasm. Anorgasmia is far more common in women than in men, but it can affect both genders.
Faking an orgasm can serve as a short-term solution, but doing so consistently can have long-term repercussions, especially if you keep your reasons to yourself.
In the context of an established relationship, regularly faking orgasms can mean that your partner will never learn how to actually bring you pleasure. If they think they’re doing a good job, they have no reason to change what they’re doing. While faking ‘the big O’ might save your partner from having a bruised ego or save you from feelings of inadequacy, it also means you don't trust them enough to say what you are actually feeling, physically and emotionally.
Even in short term relationships or one-night stands, faking it can cause problems by painting a false picture of what to expect. So not only is the encounter unrewarding for you, but likely also for the next person.
If you've gotten into the habit of faking an orgasm during sex, it can be hard to stop. You may have spent so much time enacting pleasure that you’ve forgotten how to genuinely enjoy yourself. You might feel like you’re in too deep, and admitting you’ve been faking it can feel awkward or intimidating, but it’s never too late to be honest and it’s never too late to start learning.
You may have heard that learning to climax is like learning to ride a bicycle: once you do it for the first time, you’ll never forget how. Nevertheless, getting to that first orgasm can be challenging. Here are a few helpful pointers for getting there, either on your own or together with someone.
Make sure that you’re comfortable. Create an environment that puts you at ease, block out any concerns and distractions. Close the door, dim the lights, put one some ambient background music. Place a glass of water within reach and find whatever towers or tissues you might need ahead of time.
Relax, and don’t rush. Being a little nervous is okay but worrying too much can spoil the fun. An orgasm is as much a mental endeavour as a physical one. Focusing on it too much can puts both you and your partner under unnecessary pressure, dampening the joy of sex or masturbation in its own right.
Take your time with foreplay! Women usually need more physical preparation than men, especially when it comes to intercourse, but foreplay can also enhance your experience by delaying gratification. The key is to be present and let yourself enjoy the sensations that you are experiencing.
Listen and communicate. Be honest with yourself about what you are feeling. Feeling like you should want something doesn’t mean you actually want it, and it is of utmost importance that you can tell the difference. Learn to listen to your body—it will send you clear signals about what feels right and what feels wrong.
It’s just as important to be honest with your partner. If you want to take it fast or slow, or suddenly want to stop just as things are getting steamy, let them know what is going through your mind! By doing this, you can discover a rhythm that is right for and teach your partner how to bring you pleasure and where your boundaries are. Feeling heard and respected is essential for building mutual trust.
Don’t be afraid to explore. A large part of achieving sexual satisfaction is knowing what you like. This may take some trial and error but experiencing things for the first time is part of the fun. Some things might be difficult to put into words, but you don’t necessarily have to wait for your partner to make you feel what you want to feel. You are an active participant and can touch yourself whereever you like.
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