Dear Ashley, a weekly sex column in which Sex Expert Ashley Cobb answers your most intimate questions. Nothing is off-limit! Have a sex question, Ashley, “Your Favorite Friend In Filth,” has an answer. For questions on sex, email Ashley at firstname.lastname@example.org
I’m trying to get more comfortable with my body and masturbate more often. At the age of 24, I’m a late bloomer. I’ve had sex with one person and that was like three years ago. I’m not quite comfortable with penetration, yet I tried fingering myself and it wasn’t really stimulating.
Most dildos look too big and I don’t want to hurt myself. I know my vagina is really tight since i haven’t had sex in so long. When I masturbate, I use a vibrator. I really like using it, but I feel like my orgasms are really short. I can have three orgasms back to back when using it, but I also feel like I want more. When I cum I get this really intense feeling and it feels so good, I wanna keep going.
I usually stop because it’s just so intense and my body can’t take it. Every time I masturbate, I try to see if I can ride it out but I can’t! I always chicken out. Do you have any tips on how I can push myself further to have that intense orgasm I really need to feel satisfied?
Dear Ms Too Scared To Cum,
First let me say, thank you for writing in. I don’t know if I would have had the courage to do so at 24. Secondly, you’re not a late bloomer. There isn’t a certain number of sexual partners you are supposed to have at 24. You are exactly where you should be. A lot of people think having a lot of sexual partners equates to being a veteran at sex. And that’s furtherest from the truth. I am willing to bet my next few paychecks that there are people reading this right now who have had more sexual partners and are still clueless on how to cum. Having orgasms isn’t about quantity but about the quality. I also think it’s pretty damn impressive that you are self aware enough to want to explore and understand how your body works sexually. Many women regardless of age don’t know how to do that. So kudos to you.
Last year during the pandemic, I took a class called Body Sex, founded by legendary sex educator Betty Dodson. Body Sex is a weekend long workshop that focuses on overcoming negative body image and pleasure anxiety. That was the first I’ve heard of the term pleasure anxiety. I didn’t know until that workshop this was a real issue that many women had. What you are describing is pleasure anxiety. Pleasure anxiety is an umbrella term used to describe any stress related to sexual climax. Your anxious thought about whether penetration will hurt or being able to make it all the way through an intense orgasm is creating stress. The extra stress and anxiety make it difficult for you to relax and be comfortable during sexual activity. Without relaxation, sex itself becomes awkward and difficult, making orgasm more difficult to reach.
How do you fix pleasure anxiety? By letting go of the idea that you need to cum. Having an orgasm is not neccesary to have good sex. The truth is, you can have enjoyable sex without an orgasm. Instead of focusing on “the orgasm,” focus on physical sensation. When you find yourself focusing on your orgasm anxiety monologue, stop and focus on the pleasure instead. Center your thoughts on how your body feels. Focusing on sensations opposed to the orgasm will take your mind away from anxiety and eventually help you to have the orgasm you desire. It’s not an easy switch, and you will have to yank yourself from anxious thoughts and into a sensation-focused mindset, but with practice it’ll become a natural. Before you know it you’ll find yourself having more and more intense orgasms.
Ashley Cobb is the millennial microphone that brings the conversation of Black women’s pleasure to the forefront. Creator of digital platform Sex With Ashley, her work and words have been featured in Cosmopolitan, Men’s Health, Shape Magazine, Business Insider, and Huffington Post. Follow her on Instagram and Twitter via @sexwithashley