There’s so much pressure to finish a bang with a big bang. But who says you have to orgasm, anyway?

Here’s a PSA: Not coming is only a problem if it’s causing you distress. Sex doesn’t have to be orgasm-focused, unless you want it to be!

There are a lot of possible reasons why someone might have trouble ejaculating — some more complex than others.

Sexual performance anxiety (SPA) is real, affecting anywhere from 9 to 25 percent of penis-having folks.

What does this have to do with the side effect in question?

SPA is kinda like stage fright. Instead of a fear of screwing up in front of a crowd and being booed, it stems from things like:

  • worrying that you’re no good in bed or won’t be able to satisfy your partner
  • unrealistic expectations of what sex is supposed to be like
  • hang-ups over penis size or other body image concerns

With all these worries and pressure, it’s easy to get psyched out and have trouble relaxing enough to climax (or even get hard at all).

What can you do to help address this?

For starters, the same thing we’re always encouraging vagina-toting peeps to do: Talk about it!

It’s not easy to talk about sex, especially if you’re grappling with insecurities, but talking about it is the best way to tackle it.

If you’re the one with the anxiety, talking about it can really help.

If you don’t feel like you’re ready to talk to your partner just yet, consider talking to a good friend, your doctor, or a sex therapist.

You can also get anonymous online support through the American Sexual Health Association’s online support community.

As the partner, the best thing you can do is not to hyper-react and shame, but instead help build their confidence in and out of the bedroom. Be ready to listen and be supportive… if they want to talk about it.

Not really feeling a certain technique is pretty normal. Some just feel better than others.

Sometimes, though, a person may literally not feel it because of what’s known as death grip syndrome.

What does this have to do with the side effect in question?

The gist is that if someone logs a lot of hours masturbating a certain way, coming any other way could be damn near impossible.

What can you do to help address this?

Unless a partner can replicate the technique using their hand/mouth/vag/butt, they don’t stand a chance unless the person with the penis resets their sensitivity level.

Research on this is pretty limited, but refraining from pleasuring yourself for a while may help. So can changing your technique and mixing up your stroke style with a gentler grip.

As a partner, patience is key. It could take some time, so in the meantime, enjoy experimenting with other moves without putting all the focus on their climax.

Stressing about stuff unrelated to sex can totally affect sex.

Work, finances, or something like, oh, I dunno, a freaking pandemic can take a physical and emotional toll in and out of the bedroom.

What does this have to do with the side effect in question?

If your mind is bogged down with stress, relaxing enough to climax isn’t easy.

The effects of stress are systemic and can mess with everything from your brain all the way down to your nether regions.

What can you do to help address this?

Ideally, try to find a way to eliminate the main source(s) of your stress.

Since that’s not always possible, finding ways to unwind and cope with your stress in a healthy way is a must.

If stress is creeping its way into your pants, try setting aside time to engage in proven stress-relieving activities, like physical exercise, yoga, or breathing exercises.

To help relieve some of the stress together, try these sexy stress busters:

Do this without stressing about coming. Instead focus on savoring all the feels.

Yep, certain medications can make it hard to come. This is especially the case with meds used to treat depression, anxiety, and high blood pressure.

What does this have to do with the side effect in question?

Certain chemicals can affect the nerves involved in ejaculation and make it hard for you to come, whether you’re having sex with a partner or playing solo.

Others can alter your moods or reduce blood flow to the penis.

(BTW: This goes for recreational substances, including booze, too.)

What can you do to help address this?

Have a candid chat with your doctor to find out whether your medication might be to blame.

Your doctor may suggest changing your dose or dosing schedule, or a different medication altogether.

If alcohol or other substances are the problem, you may consider cutting back for a bit to see whether that changes anything.

If you’re the partner of a person whose meds are affecting their ability to come, encourage them to get help and follow doctor’s orders.

Not being able to come can sometimes be a sign of medical or mental health condition.

What does this have to do with the side effect in question?

Mental health conditions and chronic conditions can make even simple activities a struggle.

If getting out of bed is difficult some days, getting off surely can’t be easy.

Mental health issues can mess with your libido, and certain conditions can cause pain and other symptoms that make sex anything but a good time.

And some conditions — even something like a UTI — can mess with your penis directly and stop you from coming.

What can you do to help address this?

No one chooses to get sick. It just happens.

Repeat after me: It’s not my fault!

Treating or managing the underlying condition will probably do the trick and get you coming again.

Talk to your doctor. It’s not always easy to discuss your junk or your sex life, but it’s necessary.

As a partner, the best thing you can do is encourage them to get medical care and support them.

Even though sex doesn’t have to center around an orgasm, we totally get why you want to come and how frustrating it must be not to be able to.

Here are some things worth keeping in mind if you’re struggling.

It’s normal!

It really is normal for penis-having folks to have trouble ejaculating from time to time.

It happens to just about everyone at some point in their lives. It’s not usually considered a problem unless it’s ongoing or is bothering you.

A partner who makes you feel bad about it isn’t worth your time

If your partner tries to make you feel bad about it, shut it down pronto. They don’t deserve your dick. ’Nuff said.

You could always try for another type of orgasm.

If you and your partner are up for some experimentation, prostate and nipple orgasms are some other types of O’s that are possible. You’re welcome.

There’s no shame in getting outside help

We turn to professionals to fix things that we’re not able to fix ourselves, and sexual health issues shouldn’t be any different.

Talk to your primary healthcare provider, or find a professional in your area using this online tool from the American Association of Sexuality Educators, Counselors and Therapists.

Just because your partner isn’t coming doesn’t mean there’s cause for alarm.

Here are some things to keep in mind if it’s troubling you.

Don’t take it personally

The persistent narrative that a penis ejaculating is the only acceptable outcome to any sex act makes it easy to worry that it’s your fault if it doesn’t happen for them. Not so.

This is their issue, not yours. Don’t make it about you. Seriously.

As frustrated as you might be, keep it to yourself

Not to downplay your feelings, but your partner not being able to come is probably far more frustrating for them. They are, after all, the one missing out on a toe-curling orgasm.

Venting your frustration will only make things worse.

Since it’s entirely possible that it’s not actually something they consider a problem, do you really want to make it one if the sex is otherwise awesome?

Ask what your partner needs from you

We should all be doing this anyway, because asking our partners what they need is the key to amazeballs sex and relationships.

Do they need more cuddle time or foreplay? Do they want to stop altogether? Don’t be afraid to ask.

That said, you don’t need to do anything you’re not comfortable with. Engaging in a sex act because you’ve been pressured or guilted into it is coercion, which is a type of sexual assault.

Orgasms are fun, but sex can be plenty satisfying even without them.

Not coming is only a problem if it’s happening on the regular or causing you some serious distress.

A healthcare provider or sexual health professional can help you get to the bottom of it if you decide you want help.

Adrienne Santos-Longhurst is a freelance writer and author who has written extensively on all things health and lifestyle for more than a decade. When she’s not holed up in her writing shed researching an article or off interviewing health professionals, she can be found frolicking around her beach town with husband and dogs in tow or splashing about the lake trying to master the stand-up paddle board.