Help! I've never had an orgasm

Dear Dr. Patti:

I am 21 years old and have been sexually active on and off for around five years now. My problem is that I have never had an orgasm. Sex and foreplay feel very good, but I never reach the point of orgasm. This has really been bothering me lately, because I am in a serious relationship right now with a great guy.

We are very open with each other and communicate about sex. He feels like he is doing something wrong or I am not turned on by him because I do not have an orgasm. This isn't true at all. I was wondering if you could help me understand why this happens. --L


Dear L,

You are so insightful for your age. Go, girl! Okay, here's the scoop. First, I suggest that you get your hands on a terrific guidebook available at any major bookstore, Sex for One, by Dr. Betty Dodson, sexological pioneer and teacher supreme about the components of getting to the big "O."

As for how you get "there," the key is to stop focusing on wanting an orgasm. Surprised? Most people are, when they learn this notion. Also, the foundation for becoming orgasmic is masturbation, or self-stimulation. Once you learn your own, natural patterns for arousing yourself and achieving the release you seek, then you can translate that process into shared activities with your sweetie.

Use direct and indirect clitoral touch, think about sexually arousing images, words or actions (including looking at your handsome mate), and relax into the pleasure you feel. If you are worrying about not getting to the climax, you are literally stopping your own flow.

Once you master your own response pattern, alone, then you can teach him what your body needs to create, maintain and maybe even transcend orgasmic sensations. I suggest that you ask yourself if you are holding back from letting go with him, or anyone else. Orgasm can feel like a scary ride without guardrails, if you are a highly energetic lover. If that's true for you, then go slowly, taking time to build trust. Be sure to breathe, feel the pleasurable sensations that abound and give yourself the permission to fly!