How to Do It

I Have the Same Problem Every Time I Have Sex With My Husband. Does This Happen to All Women?

A man and woman in bed
Photo illustration by Slate. Photo by Motortion/iStock/Getty Images Plus.

How to Do It is Slate’s sex advice column. Have a question? Send it to Stoya and Rich here. It’s anonymous!

Every week, the crew responds to a bonus question in chat form.

Dear How to Do It,

I’m a 28-year-old woman who’s been married to my husband for five years now. He is the only sexual partner I’ve ever had (for penetrative sex at least), and I generally enjoy what we do a lot. I just have one issue—an issue I’ve always had, now that I think about it. I hear about women having multiple orgasms, but I find it difficult (and sometimes painful) to continue sexual activity after I’ve had an orgasm. Whether it’s masturbation, digital stimulation from a partner, or regular sex, once I finish, I’m out. I manage to continue until my husband finishes, but it’s quite frustrating. I don’t really want to be this sore after just one orgasm, and sometimes really want to continue. Is this normal? And what can I do about it?

—Down for the Count

Stoya: We’re missing one very important data point, which is how long after orgasm it takes to return to baseline or be ready for another one.

Rich: Right, the refractory period’s length.

Stoya: If it’s five minutes, switch to oral on the husband for a bit, and then return to stimulation on her.

Rich: I read a Women’s Health article on this subject, in which sexologist Dawn Michael recommended much the same:

As soon as the most intense part of the initial orgasm is over, Cass recommends gently touching yourself—or asking your partner to—to keep the pleasurable sensations going. You can even wait a few moments for the arousal to slightly subside and then get back to touching if that feels good to you. Allow yourself to mentally relax and talk to your partner without focusing on trying to have another orgasm—but be sure to let your him or her know that you want to try for another, either by saying it directly or placing his hand on your vagina to maintain body contact.

Stoya: The pain aspect is relevant. If it hurts, obviously don’t do it.

Rich: It sounds like she’s having a reaction similar to what most men experience, where upon orgasm, the penis (especially its head) is so sensitive that even the slightest touch registers as discomfort or pain. Sometimes you don’t even get to take the dick out of your mouth before they start wincing.

Stoya: Yes!

Rich: Is it possible that some women just can’t experience multiple orgasms?

Stoya: That feels completely possible. Some women never orgasm at all. I’m also wondering what the definition of multiple orgasms really is. I’ve always thought of it as multiple orgasms in a session of sex, but some have a narrower definition of one right after the other.

Rich: Right—I think sometimes what people refer to as multiple orgasms occur so closely to each other that another person could refer to that as one big orgasm with contours (peaks and valleys).

Stoya: The latter is how I interpret it.

Rich: I’d urge her to look into breathing/tantric techniques as well as making sure that she’s doing Kegels so as to optimize the strength of her orgasms. If the biggest concern here is that she is having a hard time continuing sex so that her partner can climax, can she work on timing? Perhaps hold off until he’s closer?

Stoya: Or bring him to orgasm with her hands or mouth.

Rich: Yeah, that’s good too.

Stoya: I agree, I don’t like that she’s continuing with something she finds difficult or even painful.

Rich: Right. She wonders if it’s normal, and in my reading, it is common for women to feel sensitive after coming. Especially the clit.

Stoya: Definitely.

Rich: And just to swing back around to what you mentioned at the beginning of this chat, it’s great that she’s orgasmic at all. Many women aren’t and it’s a source of great frustration. So many people who write in are frustrated because they aren’t perfect but nobody is because perfection doesn’t exist.

Stoya: She can orgasm at all; she can orgasm with her partner. She’s got some pussy privilege.

More How to Do It

My husband “Matt” and I have been married for just more than eight months. We recently took a weekend trip with a group of college friends for another wedding. After one too many drinks, a friend began to reminisce about how Matt and his best friend “Will” (who is gay) would get drunk and have regular sexual encounters—both during and for years after college.