Can being hyperfocused on orgasming actually delay it?

A sexuality coach sheds light on some fundamental components that can contribute to experiencing bigger, better orgasms.

20 November, 2023
Can being hyperfocused on orgasming actually delay it?

When it comes to sex, people tend to focus all their energy on climaxing and not on the journey that leads them to it. It's safe to that orgasms are pretty amazing and they deserve all the hype they get. Having said that, can orgasms solely be a reflection of sexual pleasure and sexual 'success' (what is that even?)

Talking about an act of intimacy in terms of success and failures, or measuring the pleasure from just the result, stems from perceiving sex as a performance. Ironically, the pressure to perform is one of the reasons why many people have trouble getting an orgasm. 

We know that being left wet and wanting after a good sesh of foreplay can be frustrating. A good orgasm makes the whole experience fulfilling, but being hyperfocused on it may make things more difficult.

Does the pressure of having an orgasm make it more difficult to achieve?

In order to get an orgasm, we must not think of it. Sounds paradoxical? We think so much about orgasms and the big Os, that it has led to an unhealthy obsession with achieving it. “In my practice, I work with women who say ‘I want to feel orgasm, I never experienced one’. Over time I have got them to move beyond it by asking questions such as, ‘Are you having a good time?’, ‘How are you feeling in your body’ and 'Are you present in the experience?’, and more. All this makes women realise that orgasms are important but the experience is much more than that" says sexuality coach Pallavi Barnwal.

Barnwal also clarifies that she is not taking anything away from what an orgasm represents. “I want to honour it. It’s an essential function in humans and I think pleasure and focus on orgasm is a matter of sexual liberation.”

It’s all in the brain

An orgasm is much more than a climactic response, it occurs in the brain and understanding the expanse of pleasure and arousal will make us feel more of it. Sex therapist, Dr Emily Nagoski, in her book, Cum As You Are, says that orgasm is a sudden, involuntary release of sexual tension. During a moment of orgasm, the excitation reaches a critical mass and cascades into enjoyment. Thus, that phase from excitation to enjoyment is a brain activity. It happens in response to any kind of stimulation—physical, emotional, or intellectual.

Since orgasm is not a genital response, ejaculation and squirting that can happen concurrently are not a mark of pleasure. “It’s sad that so many men reach out to me asking how to delay ejaculation and then we hear from women who want to learn how to ejaculate. It makes us think that we are broken or wrong or haven’t hit that optimal sexual status yet,” says Barnwal. 

And this is why a dialogue about an orgasm mainly revolves around ‘Is my pleasure good enough?’, ‘Good enough for whom?’ It becomes performative—am I giving you orgasms or am I having them? 

In the experiential realm, we should be asking: ‘How does this feel in my body? What does it allow me?’ It is a much gentler space to explore!

One of the primary reasons why people connect through sex and intimacy is the feeling of pleasure—physical pleasure and also release. This is where an orgasm helps us for it’s a really good function in the body to create an intense moment of release. That doesn’t mean climax. Climax is that high point of pleasure which orgasm is not, orgasm is a release.

Inputs by Pallavi Barnwal, Sexuality Coach and founder of