I am a 40-year-old married man and I don't have orgasms. What's wrong with me?

Published February 20, 2003 8:30PM (EST)

Dear Cary,

I'm a 40-year-old straight, married male. My problem is, I do not have an orgasm when I come. This is not to say I do not enjoy sex; I do! It always feels good when I come: I get that sensation of impending release, and then bang, I come, but it's not an orgasm. I know it's not an orgasm because I've had two in my life: once, the first time I successfully jerked off as a kid, and the second, with a girl who gave me the world's greatest hand job. But that's it.

I've had a fair number of lovers, but aside from that one hand job, I've never had an orgasm with any of them (again, it felt good, but not orgasmically good). I am now married to a woman I find beautiful and sexy, and who loves to give oral sex as well as have intercourse. Our sex life is fine. I'm in good health, fit, and my doctor says my plumbing checks out OK. So, why can't I orgasm?

If you can help me out here, I'll be immensely, unbelievably, earth-shatteringly grateful.

So Near, Yet So Far

Dear So Near,

For heaven's sake, man, I'm a writer, not a doctor! I really must plead bafflement, perturbation, weariness, consternation, a terrible fearsome blankness. It sounds as if you are saying, I breathe, but I do not really take a breath; I eat, but I do not really eat.

I really have no idea. I also have no diploma. I think this may be one for the professionals who have diplomas. But if you will indulge me, I will try to offer some suggestions.

Chief among them must be that you yourself first endeavor to better define your problem. I get the general gist of it, but there must be more to this "bang, I come, but it's not an orgasm." Granted, perhaps you are not happy with the phenomenon, but to me, and I guess to most of the male population, it's like, duh, dude, you are having an orgasm. And yet you are saying something happened to you twice in your life that was so qualitatively different that it alone stands to define the word "orgasm," to the exclusion of all these other minor events that are -- what? -- the orgasmless comings and goings of mildly interested sperm, barely roused from torpor by a vague sensation of friction and the sense that it's too warm in the apartment, to trudge wearily toward some dubious promise of minor diversion, like critics filing into a screening room?

If your orgasms are anything like critics filing into a screening room, God help you, my man.

Seriously, I say two things: One, it may help to consider the matter of semantics, and to consider your experiences as along a scale of intensity, rather than to say that there are orgasms and not orgasms. And, two, I really think you should consult an expert in the vast lore of sexual response, perhaps a professional surrogate. That might work. They know things that the rest of us don't.

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Want more advice from Cary? Read yesterday's column.

By Cary Tennis

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