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I'm a woman who cannot feel pleasurable sensations during intercourse
Originally Published: October 08, 2004 ~ Last Updated / Reviewed on: October 17, 2008
Hello Alice,

My name is Cindy and I am 28 years old. I've had a problem for years now; well, I had this problem all my life and I was too ashamed to seek help. Here it goes: during sexual intercourse, I never feel any sensation or tingling feelings, I feel nothing. I can feel the penis, but that is all. This has been with every guy I've been with and I've been with about 15 guys. I'm currently dating this guy for five years. I love him, but during sex, I feel nothing. He turns me on, and I get aroused, but when it comes to actually having sex, I feel NOTHING. It's like I have a disjunction in my vagina. Does it have something to do with my clitoris? I don't know. What is wrong with me? Please, can you tell me? I will eventually see a doctor, but I just want to know, what is the problem with me? Please, I would really appreciate it, I've kinda learned to live with it. Sad, right? :)



Dear Cindy,

You're experiencing a situation shared by many women: a sense of frustration from their inability to feel sensation, pleasure, or sexual pleasure from vaginal-penile intercourse. Many women feel closeness, and fullness, but not the intensity they believe that they "should" be feeling. Actually, this lack of feeling is understandable when people learn that the vaginal walls contain relatively few nerve endings, making intense sexual stimulation, pleasure, and orgasm from vaginal-only penetration unlikely. In fact, it's generally only the lower third of the vagina that has enough nerve endings to feel any stimulation at all from a penis, finger, toy, or other penetrative object.

As you mentioned in your question, a woman's sexual pleasure, and ultimately orgasm, are much more likely to occur from stimulation to the clitoris. The clitoris is highly sensitive and full of nerve endings. In fact, there are as many nerve endings in the tip of the clitoris as there are in a man's penis. Many of these nerve endings are subterranean, or "hiding" below the surface. The visible part of the clitoris is just the tip of the iceberg in terms of nerve endings; the clitoris actually extends from underneath the clitoral hood, beneath the labia (vaginal "lips"), and on towards the anus. These nerve endings, in the clitoris and through the vulva, are sensitive and responsible for a lot of potential pleasure.

You and your partner can try a few things that might help you have a more pleasurable, intense sexual experience. The next time you find yourself in the mood when you are with him, ask him to touch, rub, caress, and/or press your clitoris with his fingers. You can show him where and how by placing your fingers and/or hand over his fingers or hand, and pressing the spots you like the way you like. Adding a few drops of lube can reduce friction and give a more sensual feel.

Receiving oral sex is highly pleasurable to many women because of its direct focus on the clitoris. Women describe intense orgasms through oral sex. Check out Ian Kerner's book, She Comes First: The Thinking Man's Guide to Pleasuring a Woman, and Rebecca Chalker's book, The Clitoral Truth: The Secret World at Your Fingertips, for more information. During intercourse, many women touch their clitoris with fingers, or even a vibrator, to give themselves the stimulation they need to orgasm.

Some women (and men) are unable to experience orgasm from any type of stimulation, which could be a sign of sexual dysfuncion. Are you able to have an orgasm through clitoral stimulation? If so, you're likely wired like many other women who orgasm solely through clitoral stimulation. If you cannot orgasm at all, and have concerns about this, you could speak with a health care provider or a counselor. Check out the Related Q&A below for more information on orgasmic difficulties.

If you are generally satisfied with your sexual activity, there is no need to be dismayed by your lack of vaginal sensation or feel pressured to feel pleasure or orgasm during intercourse. Instead, if you wish, you can view and use sex play as an opportunity for you and your partner to experiment with and learn from your bodies. Through exploration, you can find ways to have and enjoy sex and experience various types of pleasure, intimacy, and even ecstasy.


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