News flash: Your orgasm is not on a timer. It takes, well, as long as it takes to happen. Some people may only require a handful of penetrative thrusts, and others may need quite a bit of time, coupled with stimulation at a number of different points. Few of us will reach orgasm the same way in the same amount of time, yet thanks in large part to pop-culture imagery, many of us are inclined to feel like something’s amiss if we don’t orgasm simultaneously with a partner—and fast.
The research on how long vulva-owners need in order to get from point A to point O is (mostly) MIA, but some science offers helpful hints: “The best data we have suggests it takes about 11 to 21 minutes for people with vulvas to reach full arousal and potential orgasm,” says certified sex therapist and K-Y partner Holly Richmond, PhD.
But, adds sexologist and podcast host Jessica O’Reilly, PhD, ‘how long does it take to have an orgasm’ isn’t the question we should be asking in order to maximize our sexual experience. Compare this average-orgasm-time question to the idea of how long it takes to run a marathon: “Even if you tell me the average time is four hours, it might still take me two days,” Dr. O’Reilly says, highlighting the reality that averages don’t really matter in the scope of your own real personal experience. Furthermore, let’s not forget that trusty old fable about the tortoise and the hare, because even with orgasms, faster doesn’t always mean better.
Let’s not forget that trusty old fable about the tortoise and the hare, because even with orgasms, faster doesn’t always mean better.
Beyond the slow-and-steady case for being happy to take your eyes off the clock, there are a number of reasons you might not be experiencing a Go-to-O situation. Since the brain is a sexual organ, to reach orgasm optimally, it’s best for your mind and body to be in agreement. “To experience sexual pleasure, the mind needs to be present and be able to focus on the physical sensations taking place,” says Dr. Richmond. That’s why factors like high stress levels, feelings of anger or disappointment with your partner, a preoccupation with reaching your orgasm, or being otherwise distracted can make climaxing more difficult.
Clearly, there’s wisdom to glean from separating the factor of time elapsed from the event of climaxing, but it’s also worth mentioning that, media references aside, it’s reasonable to want to snag a quick orgasm. (We all have places to go and people to see—and all of that’s more enjoyable if you’ve had a recent fruitful romp.) And if you can’t seem to access that expeditious O, it’s easy to grow impatient with your body. So, below, experts offer their top tips for squeezing in an orgasm without worrying about the time it takes.
Below, learn 8 steps for how to orgasm faster without stressing about the clock
1. Ask your partner to relax
“Pressure is the antithesis to pleasure,” says Dr. O’Reilly, so if your partner is guilty of this, even if unintentionally, ask them them to quit it. Explain that knowing there’s no rush helps you to better relax and get out of your own head.
If that chat doesn’t do the trick? Reconsider your partner’s place in your life as your partner. “Partners who take your orgasm personally or make you self-conscious about your orgasm likely aren’t the right partner for you,” says sexologist Jill McDevitt, PhD.
2. Practice mindfulness
Practicing mindfulness in some way every day can benefit you mentally, physically, and sexually by providing you with the necessary tools to tune out stress and tune into your body. According to Dr. McDevitt, there’s no wrong way to practice mindfulness in order to reap bedroom benefits: meditation apps, mindful workouts, tantric masturbation, and this five-minute meditation for better sex are all great options.
If you’re not clear on how you like to be touched, how can you expect a partner to know? So, take the time to explore. Some suggestions: Rub your clitoris clockwise and then counterclockwise, diagonally and then side-to-side. Pinch and pull your nipples. Penetrate yourself using a finger or a toy. Try finding your G-spot and your A-spot. Touch your own butt.
Dr. McDevitt also recommends experimenting with edging, aka prolonging an orgasm. Edging entails “building yourself up to orgasm, but backing off before the actual orgasm,” she says. Not only can this lead to longer, stronger orgasms when you do let them happen, but it also “teaches you to focus on the hot sensation of the buildup and allows you to be okay with the ‘goal’ being prolonged.”
4. Communicate with your partner
Now that you know what you like, don’t force your partner to guess. Start the conversation about what you like when you’re outside the bedroom, before you’ve started engaging in the act.
“Most partners find enormous pleasure in the pleasure of their partner, and they willingly and readily accept this guidance,” says Dr. Richmond. Plus, open communication may lead your partner to share what they like in bed, too. So, goodbye guessing games; hello, mutual satisfaction!
And, pro tip: Don’t hesitate to reignite the conversation while you’re experimenting with dirty talk.
5. Try a vibrator
“Vibrators are simply able to move at constant speed and intensity in a way that a hand, finger, or finger is not,” says Dr. McDevitt. She says a toy like the The Miracle Massager is a great first vibrator (though, personally, I recommend the Le Wand Point).
And, before you ask: No, you can’t get addicted to a vibrator. And no, a vibrator won’t desensitize your clitoris. Those are myths!
6. Be a bit selfish in the bedroom
One study shows that women consistently value their partner’s orgasm over their own, which is why Dr. O’Reilly really wants you to be more selfish in bed. That means asking for more of what you want, leaving when you feel pressured, speaking up when you don’t enjoy something, and even asking them to consider delaying their own orgasm or learning to last longer so that you two are on the same page.
7. Try a grounding exercise
A grounding exercise can be helpful if you’re in the middle of a partnered or solo session and just aren’t feeling it. To try it, Dr. Richmond says to stop (or ask your partner(s) to pause), then sit or lay with your eyes open in a comfortable position. Take five full inhales and exhales, then name five things you can see, four things you can touch, three things you can hear., two things you can smell, and one thing you can taste. (Note: These don’t have to be sex-related features, but they can be).
“This will help bring you into the present moment and interrupt any thoughts you’re having about how long it’s taken you to orgasm in the past, or anxious feelings you’re having about how long it might take you now,” says Dr. Richmond.
8. Meet with a sex therapist or coach
“There are people who are well-trained to help,” says Dr. McDevitt. So if you’re continuing to feel self-conscious about any aspect of your orgasm, or it’s affecting your relationship with yourself or your partner, why not invest in a qualified sex coach or therapist? It’s a win-win all-around.