Young man ignoring woman in bed

I always tense up during sex. Especially when I’m ready to orgasm, This makes it really hard and frustrating for my husband to climax. What can I do to relax in bed?


  • Michael Castleman says:

    It sounds to me like you have a conditioned reflex. You tense up during sex. So you EXPECT to tense up—and then you do, especially as you approach orgasm. Conditioned reflexes can be changed, but it often takes time. I suggest you use the following suggestions consistently for several months:

    • Make dates for lovemaking in advance. That allows both of you to take steps to relax in advance.
    • About an hour before sex dates, do any or all of the following to relax: meditate for 20 minutes (or as long as you can up to 20), do yoga, or exercise some other way (stretch, walk, garden, bike, etc.). Do this for around 30 minutes. All these activities are relaxing, especially over time as they become pre-sex habits and rituals.
    • Shortly before sex dates, take a hot bath or shower. Also very relaxing.
    • During lovemaking, breath slowly and deeply. Focus on extended exhalations. Very relaxing.
    • During lovemaking, you and your husband should provide non-genital touch/massage for each other for at least 20 minutes before reaching between each other’s legs. (If you make love with music playing, that’s 5-6 typical songs.) Whole-body massage is very relaxing.

    In addition, have you and your husband ever masturbated to orgasm for/with each other? Many couples consider self-sexing very private and don’t feel comfortable self-pleasuring in the presence of anyone else. But in your case, since you tense up as orgasm approaches, this might be a way to learn to relax more at that crucial moment. If you do this, take your time, take turns showing each other how you get yourself off, have fun, joke and laugh about it. It’s for a very good cause—your mutual pleasure.

    You say your tensing up pre-orgasm makes it hard for your husband to climax. Sounds to me like the two of you have intercourse, that you tense up and don’t come, and that this makes him tense up and not come. If my guess is anywhere close to what’s been happening, I would urge you to do two things: Uncouple your orgasms. And stop expecting intercourse to trigger yours.

    By “uncoupling your orgasms” I mean that very few couples have mutual simultaneous orgasms during intercourse. Hoping for that is stressful and tension-provoking, and may contribute to your situation. Sex therapists almost universally recommend serial orgasms. One lover totally receives pleasure and works up to orgasm with the other’s help. Then you switch places. That way, when it’s your turn to receive pleasure, all you have to do is relax, breathe deeply, fantasize anything erotic, and let pleasure carry you to orgasm. You don’t have to focus on how your partner is doing or how close your partner is to coming. That’s also relaxing.

    Meanwhile, are you aware of the fact that only a small fraction of women have orgasms consistently during intercourse? The large majority of women come from extended caresses of the clitoris, which typically gets little stimulation during intercourse. The best way to excite the clit is with hand jobs, oral sex (cunnilingus) or a vibrator. There is NOTHING WRONG with women who rarely or never come during intercourse. The large majority of women are in that situation.

    For more on all of this, you might obtain a copy of my book, Sizzling Sex for Life. It elaborates on all of the above. Sizzling Sex carries a money-back guarantee, so it’s risk-free. Check it out.

    If my suggestions and book don’t resolve things, then I’d suggest a brief course of sex coaching or therapy. If you’re unfamiliar with sex coaching or therapy, sex coaches are sexologically trained counselors who can help singles and couples who have sexual issues not complicated by significant relationship problems. Sex therapists are psychotherapists with extra training in sexual issues, who can provide relationship therapy as well as insights about sex. Sex coaches and therapists do NOT have sex with you and do NOT watch you have sex. Both rely on face-to-face conversations. They impart sexual information and insights, and often assign erotic “homework.” Sex coaching may be brief—several sessions over a few months. Sex therapy may last longer, depending on the relationship issues involved. Costs vary, but expect $200-300/hour. Some providers discount fees for those who can’t afford standard rates. For more, read my the chapter on sex coaching and therapy in Sizzling Sex for Life, and/or see the film, “Hope Springs” with Meryl Streep and Tommy Lee Jones. To find a sex coach near you, visit the World Association of Sex Coaches. To find a sex therapist near you, visit the American Association of Sex Educators, Counselors, and Therapists, the Society for Sex Therapy and Research, or the American Board of Sexology.

    If your partner won’t accompany you, I urge you to go by yourself. That’s suboptimal, of course, but the therapist may still be able to offer helpful suggestions.

    I wish you sizzling sex for life.

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