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Bad Orgasms: when orgasms aren’t pleasurable

An orgasm is an orgasm, right? But what happens when your orgasm just doesn’t end up making you feel good? Introducing bad orgasms.

By Giada | 10 October 2021
Donna seduta su un divano a fiori

Whether you get to experience it with a partner, a tongue, fingers, a vibrator or a showerhead, an orgasm is an orgasm, right? But what happens when what is commonly thought of as the most pleasurable experience known to man isn’t pleasurable (at all)? Is there really such a thing as a pleasureless orgasm? Introducing bad orgasms.

Climaxing without experiencing pleasure is often described as an example of non-positive experience that might occur during consensual sex. A bittersweet experience that is quite unlike things we think we know about orgasming.

Bad orgasms, what are they even about?

Although it might sound like a contradiction in terms, a bad orgasm is an orgasm that:

  • is associated with negative sensations;
  • might occur during a tense sexual encounter ridden with pressure and/or strong and mixed emotions;
  • can have negative effects on our mental health or our relationship.

We must remember every sensation is both unique and personal. Especially when it comes to human interactions. We can never know what the other person is going through and the way we feel might not reflect the way they themselves are feeling. This is of prime importance since our mental and emotional state often has a direct influence on sex and relationships.

Can anyone experience it?

Absolutely, and it is a lot more common than we might think.

According to a study by The Kinsey Institute for Research in Sex, Gender, and Reproduction, which involved 726 participants of diverse gender identities and sexual orientations of an average age of 28, 48.1% reported experiencing a bad orgasm during ” during a consensual encounter in which they either felt pressured into sex, pressured into having an orgasm, or had otherwise agreed to sex that was unwanted (such as being really tired, but saying yes anyway)”.

So, how do you get to experience bad orgasms?

1. If your answer to “how was it for you?” is a mere “meh”.

We know it (all too well): when we are dealing with someone and sex is on the cards, things might go sour if we aren’t quite on the same wavelength; one of the things that might go wrong is orgasm. It might be that, during sex, we feel or end up feeling uncomfortable for a number of reasons, or experience tiredness or lack of motivation; this doesn’t necessarily mean we will stop as we might be trying to “get it over with”.

Why might this happen? When sex gets awkward, orgasms might feel uncomfortable and they might end up feeling bittersweet as mentioned previously. We might be going through the motions anyway to “make the other person happy” even though we might end up never seeing them again.

2. When “make love not war” just doesn’t cut it.

According to the aforementioned study, one of the potential scenarios is when we agree to sex so as to avoid arguing about it. Rather than stand our ground and potentially cause conflict, we choose to compromise and have what we sometimes refer to as “courtesy sex“.

The outcome seems inevitable: whatever orgasm might come of it will seldom end up making us feel any better.

3. When orgasm feels “mandatory”.

Orgasm is often described in our collective discourse as the ultimate height of pleasure. It is therefore thought of as the most positive feeling someone might experience during or as a result of sex.

This understanding of orgasm as the goal of sex, a belief that is highly spread by the way pleasure is portrayed in mainstream pornography as well as in mass media, is highly detrimental. For us to approach pleasure from an orgasm-centric mindset is highly limiting and creates unnecessary pressure as a result of its absence.

Orgasmic pressure might make us feel as though sex without orgasm is a failure and we might therefore work hard to achieve one, albeit in a much less pleasurable way than if we had done so without effort or anxiety.

Orgasms, deconstructed.

No orgasm is ever like the other and there isn’t a “wrong” way to experience it. The modalities and intensity can vary throughout the years and for everyone of us. Sexual satisfaction might stem from a number of factors that go beyond the realm of our bodies. Mental and emotional health is. of prime importance, as is our attachment style and the way we interact with our partners and even our own selves.

One of the best things we can do for our orgasms and more importantly our pleasure is to keep experimenting with masturbation; mindful masturbation might offer us a number of great tools and means of exploration.

As suggested by Betty Dodson, one of the major sexologists of our times, all throughout her books and workshops: our most important sexual organ is the one that sits right between our ears, beyond what happens between our legs.

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