Why Can I Only Orgasm with My Vibrator?

A hand reaches out to another hand holding a vibrator.
PM Images/Getty Images

"Although I am able to have fantastic and, sometimes, multiple orgasms, using a vibrator, I have never been able to reach orgasm with my partner. We've been together 6 years, he is "the One" and we've always had amazing chemistry, and it is so disappointing for me, and, for him!"


Let's start with the good news, which is that if you can orgasm when you are having sex by yourself using a vibrator, you can almost certainly figure out a way to have orgasms when you have sex with your partner.

The other news (let's not call it bad) is that it may take time and creativity, and you can't expect to have the same orgasms. Sex with yourself is different than sex with a partner. But different in this case doesn't mean less enjoyable. Different orgasms are just different.

If either you or your partner feel bad about this, you shouldn't. You also shouldn't view it as a failure. Consider the fact that vibrators are an incredibly efficient way to have an orgasm. They are a mechanical device specifically constructed to provide the kind of strong and consistent stimulation that most people need to orgasm. 

On the other hand, because our culture is sex-shy and has a lot of shame about sex, many people don't learn how to engage in sex play that provides enough stimulation to produce an orgasm. Particularly if you are expecting to orgasm from intercourse alone.

If you want to change this, start by thinking about what might be getting in the way of you achieving orgasm with your partner.

Consider the following possibilities that may be affecting your ability to orgasm:

Not Enough or Not the Right Stimulation

The easiest problem to fix is if you aren't getting enough stimulation during sex with your partner. Vibrators provide more stimulation than any human possibly can. It's important to remember that.

So the question is: exactly how much stimulation do you need? You may be someone who needs a lot of stimulation because that's just the way your body works. There's no right or wrong here—there's only you and what you need to climax.

If you know this about yourself, I recommend talking to your partner about your needs. You may have to review a few techniques (e.g., learning how to use hands or other body parts to provide stimulation) but you should see this as an adventure. You may also have to tell your partner where you like to be stimulated. If you have a clitoris, it's likely that clitoral stimulation is important. But maybe not. Maybe there's another area that is more sensitive. 

Another thing many couples do is they use the vibrator with their partner present. This is not only educational but many couples find this to be a form of arousal. If you can orgasm with your partner in the room you're one step closer to your goal. Next, you could use the vibrator during sex play with your partner. If that works, you can try to let him hold the vibrator but give him some instructions first if he's never used one before.

Medication Issues

There are also medications that can make orgasm more difficult.

It's possible that with a vibrator you won't notice, but when you forego a vibrator achieving your goal is more obvious. If you are currently taking any medications that inhibit climaxing this is something you need to discuss with your doctor.

Relationship Issues

Sometimes when one person can't orgasm with a partner it's because other things are going on in the relationship. This isn't always the case but I've found it happens often enough it's worth taking the time to think through any hidden discomfort that might be going on. Relationship issues might be tied to money, work, where you live, or family. In other words, it may have nothing at all to do with your sex life, it's just manifesting itself in bed. Either way, you owe it to yourself to explore all the possibilities.

Previous Coercive Experiences or Unwanted Sex

Having an orgasm requires that we let go of ourselves.

We need to let our guard down and make ourselves vulnerable. Sometimes we're able to do this on our own but not with another person. This inhibition might be tied to a previous experience of coercion to have sex with someone.

Or, it might be related to an experience that wasn't forced sex but was nonetheless still very negative. If you have been able to orgasm with partners in the past, think about whether something has happened between then and now that may be preventing you from relaxing. Often, we defend against upsetting situations by filing them away somewhere deep inside us.

If this is the case, no amount of technique will change things. However, If you and your partner communicate well with each other, then you need to talk to your partner about this. Just getting it off your chest may solve the problem. If you don't want to talk to your partner then you need to talk with a counselor or trusted friend. After that, you can decide how to broach the subject with your partner.

Lack of Relaxation

It is also possible that there is no one reason for this situation. It may be that you are just having a hard time relaxing enough during sex to have an orgasm. Our sexual response is so suggestible and prone to habituation that it could be that the first few times you didn't orgasm you became self-conscious about it and now every time you have sex you're worrying it won't happen again. 

If you think this may be the issue there are many things you can try. It may sound simplistic but start with breathing. It's always the first thing people are told do if they're nervous, scared, upset, or panicked. That's because without realizing it, we actually forget to breathe, and become tenser. If everything else fails, it's probably time to talk to a sex therapist and that might be something you want to do alone or with your partner. You decide.

The most important thing I can share with you is that if you can orgasm on your own, you can learn to orgasm with your partner. Consider yourself lucky.

Many people go their entire lives without having an orgasm, with or without a partner.