How Important Is An Orgasm, Really?

If you have trouble having an orgasm, it can feel like the end of the world. No matter your gender, your experience level, your sexual history— we often feel like an orgasm is the be all and end all of sex. But way more people have trouble orgasming than we like to talk about. The orgasm-centric obsession we have when talking about sex makes people shy about discussing their difficulties— so many people feel like the only one who is struggling. It’s a horrible cycle and one that we really need to start breaking out of.

Because while for some people, probably most, orgasms are a huge part of sex, that doesn’t mean that people can’t have amazing, even satisfying sex lives without an orgasm at all. If you feel frustrated and unfulfilled that’s one thing, but we need to acknowledge that some people don’t need to end with a climax. Anorgasmia— or the inability to orgasm without sexual stimulation— doesn’t stop some people having a great time getting down. Why do we need to belittle or minimize their experience just because it doesn’t end with an orgasm? Because, let’s be honest, there are so many great things about sex that happen way before the big O.

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“Honestly, all my experiences were fine,” Nancy, who hasn’t had an orgasm, told Bustle. “Sex wasn’t disgusting or upsetting or painful to me; it was pretty neutral. I just didn’t crave it physically at all, and during sex I felt like I was missing some key part of the experience. There were elements of the experience I liked though — I liked feeling desired; I liked making my partner feel good; I liked the silliness of flopping around naked with someone. Eventually I fell in love with someone and also came to deeply appreciate and look forward to sex with him because of the intimacy and emotional connection it provided. Overall, I’d say that I enjoy sex for all the same reasons that other people do — with the one exception of the physical pleasure. Which isn’t to say that sex doesn’t feel good for me — it’s vaguely nice — but I get the sense that it’s not the type of thing that other people are feeling. But there are a lot of other reasons to love having sex.” Intimacy, release, closeness, bonding, and even the sensations are all their to someone who doesn’t have an orgasm. And they are all such important parts of the sexual experience.

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It’s important to start admitting that we all have a different relationship to orgasms. Some people find them easy, some people don’t— but need to have them for a satisfying sexual experience, some people just want to experiment, and some might not have them ever. But it should only be considered important if it’s important to you. If you want to chase as many orgasms as possible, go for it. If you’re fine without them, that’s OK too. Whatever you want is totally up to you— and something that your partner should respect. Because sex should only resolve around orgasms if you want them to and, no matter what you feel, there shouldn’t be any shame. Sex is different for everyone— and orgasms are too.