3 Obstacles to Orgasm

Dr. Jess     
A lack of physical stimulation (where it counts), relationship strife, hormonal shifts, mood, pelvic floor tone, and intrusive thoughts can all interfere with your ability to orgasm.

Having trouble reaching the big Ohhh? You're not alone. A lack of physical stimulation (where it counts), relationship strife, hormonal shifts, mood, pelvic floor tone, and intrusive thoughts can all interfere with your ability to orgasm, but this week I've seen half a dozen women who presented with similar challenges: Their orgasms are being impeded by a combination of performance pressure, "spectatoring" and stress.

Since their experience is so common, we've outlined more about these obstacles and how to overcome them below:

Performance Pressure

Performance Pressure is one of the biggest detractors from sexual pleasure. While men may feel pressure to last longer and be harder, women also feel pressure to “perform” in the bedroom. In my Rock His World workshops, I always remind women that my goal is to offer new ideas and inspire them to feel confident — as fun as it is to learn new sex moves (and practice on carrots!), being a great lover isn’t only about technique. In fact, technique pales in comparison to the ability to communicate and feel sexually confident in terms of sexual turn-ons.

If you find yourself feeling pressure to perform in the bedroom (and we all do at some point in time), it’s time to take a step back and learn to be a taker. Try giving your partner directions to refocus on your own pleasure. Research shows that performance pressure impedes orgasm, so if you want to embrace the big-O, you have to take steps to let yourself go and be a bit selfish in the sack.


Spectatoring refers to looking in on an experience from a third-person perspective as opposed to focusing on what you’re actually experiencing at the time. For example, instead of enjoying the sensations of riding your partner, you may be busy thinking about how your thighs look from his angle.

Not surprisingly, spectatoring often produces anxiety, which shuts down your arousal cycle. The brain is not programmed experience arousal and anxiety simultaneously, so it follows that orgasm becomes impeded. Since most of us have been conditioned to be self-conscious, we need to take an active role to recondition ourselves in and out of the bedroom. Building self-esteem, cultivating positive body image and developing comfort with our partners are foundational steps that can help nip spectatoring in the bud.


Stress kills sex. From financial concerns to personal conflicts, the research continues to confirm that stress wreaks havoc on the body and can shut down that sexual response cycle. By activating the flight-or-fight response, stress results in higher levels of cortisol, which can impact the blood flow to the genitals required for physical arousal. And women’s sex lives seem to be particularly impacted by stress.

The flip side of this is that sex can actually reduce stress. This, of course, isn’t particularly helpful if your body is already shutting down its sexual response, so try engaging in other activities to reduce stress. Exercise, cuddling, meditating, fantasizing and dancing top the list of stress-busting activities that are not only good for you, but may also help to reinvigorate your orgasmic response.

Have fun, and remember to always practice safer sex!

Dr. Jess

"An award-winning speaker, Jess has worked with thousands of couples from all corners of the globe to transform their relationships via her wildly successful Marriage As A Business program. From Prague and Istanbul to Albuquerque and New York City, her relationship retreats receive rave reviews from some of the most powerful couples in the world who are drawn to her enthusiastic, practical and no-nonsense approach to happily ever after. Jess's doctoral research focused on sexual health and relationship education and she is passionate about accessible, classroom-based education. When she isn't globetrotting for speaking engagements, she volunteers with students, teachers and social service organizations to empower young people to embrace healthy, happy relationships. As a global ambassador for several brands, Jess contributes regularly to the biggest names in international media. You'll find her advice weekly in the likes of Women's Health, Men's Fitness, Cosmopolitan, SELF, Showtime and The Movie Network. Her insights into couple' issues reaches millions of homes across America as the host of the hit reality series Swing, which just capped its fifth season on PlayboyTV. Canadian-born and Chinese-Jamaican and Irish by descent, Dr. Jess loves ultimate frisbee, crab, airplane turbulence, cheese and red wine. Makes perfect sense, right?"
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