There are so many ways that we engage with sex everyday, from that cheeky porn session in bed before you get up in the morning to the steamy love scenes you watch on the TV every evening. From funny to raunchy, sex is packaged up for us in various different forms – but one aspect is always the same: the ending.

We are taught from early on that sex ends with that big O-Moment: the orgasm. We’re told that, not only does it end with an orgasm, sex is incomplete without an orgasm. Climax is, apparently, the number one goal for intercourse, the shining star of intimacy. But should it be?

The difficulties of orgasms

According to sex therapist Tanya Koens, only 65% of straight women always have an orgasm during sex.

We all orgasm from different sensations and stimulation. People with penises will often come the most from penetrative sex because it stimulates their entire penis, whereas 80% of people with vaginas will often need some other form of stimulation, such as clitoral stimulation. Even these broad strokes are not true for everyone. Some people with vaginas can come from penetrative sex as well, and vice versa. That’s why it’s so important to experiment with what works for you.

Even these broad strokes are not true for everyone. Some people with vaginas can come from penetrative sex as well, and vice versa. That’s why it’s so important to experiment with what works for you.

It’s also why we should all remember that, because everyone has different preferences, not everyone will come easily with another person. For some people, what makes them climax is something specific, hard to communicate, and maybe even impossible for another person to replicate. It might be hard to replicate outside of masturbation. There are a whole number of factors that could mean it’s tricky for them to climax from penetrative sex – or any kind of sex. In fact, up to 50% of women don’t orgasm during sex, even if the majority of them do while masturbating alone. And that’s completely OK.

Pleasure outside of orgasms

Let’s stop putting orgasms up on this golden pedestal and look at what we actually get from sex. Hint: it’s not all about the orgasm.

Emotional intimacy

If you’re having sex with someone you care about, then it often becomes about much more than the ‘final climax’. It’s about connecting with someone on an intimate level, being vulnerable and open with them.

Physical human contact boosts oxytocin, a powerful chemical that helps form social attachments, and lowers your heart rate, so even just having skin-on-skin contact with your partner will likely leave you feeling more connected and close to them than ever, even without an orgasm.

Sexual satisfaction – without orgasm

Can you really say that until you reach orgasm, sex isn’t fun for you? Most people experience climaxing in ebbs and flows, with the pleasure climbing higher and higher until you reach (you guessed it) the climax itself. These peaks and troughs on the way there are pleasurable enough in themselves, if you let yourself get wrapped up in them.

You can make the most of these spikes in pleasure by practising edging, or bringing yourself or a partner close to orgasm, abruptly stopping stimulation, and then slowly beginning the process again. The sensation will build and build, until eventually often giving some of the most powerful orgasms ever. It’s all in the build-up.

Sexy experimentation

If you stop getting so caught up on orgasming, you’ll find space to explore brand new areas of sex. Is there a new position that you’ve been wanting to try? Maybe you want to branch out into roleplay, or kink? Whatever it is, the first few times you try something new, you might not be the best at it yet. Forget the pressure for something new to result in an orgasm. Relax and enjoy the exploration for what it is.

Many sexual adventurers give up on new things because they couldn’t reach orgasm from it – but what if it’s pleasurable in other ways? Let yourself feel new experiences fully and maybe you’ll find some new hidden pleasure in them, something equally as rewarding as the Big O.

Sensual pleasure

Think of the post-coital cuddles, your partner running their hand down your spine, accidental touches that result in almost-electric sparks of excitement. All of these little pleasures are enjoyable in their own right. Focusing on the pleasure of touching another person and being touched by them takes the pressure of the orgasm and means you can enjoy every second of sex, not just the final few moments.

Try and experiment with sensual toys in bed, like feathers, soft blankets, or even ice cubes. All of these extra accessories can help you find pleasure in the small touches, opening you up to a more holistic approach to sexual pleasure.

Step away from the orgasm

With all of these elements out there for discovery, why are we still focusing so much on the orgasm? Putting too much pressure on the climax can actually mean it never comes along at all, plus putting extra effort into one or more of the areas above will probably get you close to climaxing faster.

For more relaxed and infinitely more pleasurable sex, stop putting so much pressure on your own and your partner(s)’ orgasms. In the end, you’ll thank yourself for it.