There are so many things components of sex that movies and television often glamorize, if not get dead wrong. Take, for instance, the situation of having perfect hair and makeup upon waking up the next day, and no one having a problem with morning breath. Also, anyone ever see a sex scene that starts with a lady peeling off her Spanx? Because I sure haven’t, and if movies mimicked reality, I sure would. That’s just scratching the surface of vignettes perpetuating what I feel to be an unrealistic sexual landscape—and another prominent example that comes to mind? Simultaneous orgasms. In the most PG version, it’s depicted by a a couple popping out from under the covers, panting from having both finished—together. (The R-rated version is simply more…detailed.)
But really, I need to know (and I’m sure I’m not the only curious soul around): How common are simultaneous orgasms in real life—and if they’re not, in fact, mythical unicorns of the sex world, how can couples give them a whirl?
The simple answer, according to the experts, isn’t actually so simple. It seems that while simultaneous orgasms are possible, they often take a concerted effort to achieve. And since in execution they kind of become a main focus of the entire event, prioritizing them for every encounter can unknowingly deemphasize other aspects of sex, which obviously isn’t ideal.
“The reality is that most couples don’t orgasm at the same time during a sexual encounter,” says Los Angeles-based sex therapist Erica Marchand, PhD. But, as sex therapist Hannah Noble of Central Oregon Sex Counseling points out, simultaneous orgasms are certainly achievable, but should be the exception, not the rule. You and your partner finishing at the same time can be “something to playfully dabble in every now and then rather than something to expect happening each time you enter a sexual experience,” she says.
How can you actually achieve simultaneous orgasms?
Wants to give simultaneous orgasms a try? First things first, pinpoint how, when, and what makes you orgasm. Noble recommends starting solo, because masturbating allows you to learn what makes you orgasm—and can help provide some hints for doing it with a partner. “What is often an easier route to orgasm simultaneously is to stimulate your clit during intercourse with your partner either via a vibrator or with your own hand,” she says.
And Dr. Marchand agrees. “Intercourse doesn’t provide the clitoral stimulation that most women need to have an orgasm, which is why we usually need to add that in if we’re going to come during intercourse,” she says
Furthermore, simultaneous orgasms don’t need to be limited to just penetrative sex. “A much easier way for many to reach simultaneous orgasms would be to do so manually or via mutual masturbation and then communicating about how close you are to coming, so you can time it to happen at the same time,” Noble says.
The nature of orgasms—simultaneous or otherwise
Even with these helpful hints and tools, reaching orgasm at the same time as your partner can remain something of a challenge. Simultaneous orgasms pose a number of mental and physical roadblocks because orgasms can be, well, finicky.
“[Orgasms are] a little bit like a reflex…but you can’t will or force them to happen. Focusing too hard on orgasm or ‘trying’ to have an orgasm often makes them more elusive.” —sex therapist Erica Marchand, PhD
“Let’s remember the nature of orgasms; they’re an involuntary release of sexual tension,” says Dr. Marchand. “They’re a little bit like a reflex…but you can’t will or force them to happen. Focusing too hard on orgasm or ‘trying’ to have an orgasm often makes them more elusive.”
Communication is key, no matter what
No matter what you want during sex—including trying to reach orgasm simultaneously—communication is a nonnegotiable. “Communication is essential because you have to be able to tell your partner what you need to have an orgasm,” says Dr. Marchand. “You have to be able to communicate what you do need, whether it’s oral sex, or manual stimulation, or a vibrator, or a longer amount of time…whatever it is.”
Once you know the mechanics of what helps you to reach orgasm, if you so choose, you can then work on your timing together. Also, attitude and disposition are both key for maintaining the stance that what you’re doing together caters to intimate desires, not some by-the-books homework assignment: “Is it approached with an attitude of playfulness and curiosity? Or is there a rigid expectation that this is what makes ‘sex ‘good’?” Noble asks. “Are both partners in agreement that this is a fun sexual experience?”
Actually discuss these questions with your partner because being in communication is what will make for better sex. After all, even if you don’t finish together, you’re still reaching the same goal.
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