You've huffed. You've puffed. And dammit, you still can't get yourself off.
Well, screw that -- literally. If an orgasm is proving to be too elusive for your liking, it might be time to buckle down, call in sick, turn off the phone, and try your hand (or vibrator) at these "Big O" tips provided by Clare Cavanah, sex educator and co-founder of adult toy shop Babeland.com
Ladies, start your engines ...
Getting in the Zone
With women, an orgasm often hinges on what's going on in our heads. Of course, what gets one woman into that preferred mental space may not work for another gal, so it's best to figure out what you need to feel your sexiest.
"Knowing what turns you on and keeps you turned on helps a lot," Cavanah says. "A good fantasy can play into what's happening in reality. Sexy talk, even just talking about what you are doing, can add a layer of hotness.
"Put your phone away -- far, far away. Also, banish all your stressful thoughts as much as possible. Be as fully present in the moment as you can be, and see what happens."Talking to Your Lover About Orgasms
Oh, sure, you could fake your way through those sex sessions, but what fun is that? Great sex -- with mind-blowing orgasms -- calls for open and honest communication with your partner.
"It's always best to be honest and gentle about how your sex life is and to build on what really feels good, and avoid what has unsexy effects," says Cavanah. "Faking it will leave you feeling lonely!"
She suggests practicing your conversation beforehand and lots of positive feedback. Focus on what you like and want more of, and work with your lover to find the things that really make your toes curl.
For gals who have trouble feeling comfortable during sex or letting yourself go, some one-on-one lovin' can help you boost your comfort level and better explore what turns you on, at your own pace.
"Masturbation is deep, pleasurable research into what you like and what really turns you on," Cavanah says. "Plus, you don't have to worry about someone else's feelings or needs while you're figuring out your own.
Cavanah also recommends trying out a vibrator
during masturbation, using it to increase blood flow to your clitoris. And don't feel like a weirdo for busting out the Rabbit; plenty of women use sex toys.
Now lie back, think of something sexy, and let your fingers wander ...
Many women respond to having their partner go down on them, although for novices feeling at ease during oral sex may not come easily (no pun intended).
"Some women feel uncomfortable receiving oral sex because they've been fed a lot of bad messages about their genitals, mainly about how they smell and taste," Cavanah says.
If you're the one giving oral pleasure, Cavanah suggests showing your partner just how into it you are by touching her genitals and smelling or kissing your finger. You should also communicate with your lover to figure out what sort of rhythm (slow and gentle? fast and intense?) works best for her. And inserting your finger inside her as she builds that sexual tension can help send her into overdrive.
If you're the one on the receiving end, the best things you can do are: A) understand that your lover is definitely attracted to you, and B) communicate what's working. If you like something, moan appreciatively or ask for more. If something doesn't work, be gentle and say something along the lines of "I love it when you X," or "Go back to what you were doing before -- it drives me wild."
Finally, think about the kind of setting that helps you get off when you masturbate. For example, perhaps you prefer it with the lights off and the music switched off. Work with your lover to create your ideal environment so that you feel comfortable and ready to come.
Can't come during intercourse? Join the club. Assorted studies have found that around 70 percent of women are unable to orgasm through intercourse alone. If you're determined to beat the odds, however, Cavanah says to try a position that either rubs against the clitoris, or leaves ample space for your lover to attend to the clit manually or with a sex toy.
Two contenders: Doggy-style, and good ol' missionary, particularly if the woman is on top and grinds against her lover's pelvis.
Cavanah also suggests accessorizing with a vibrating cock ring for a buzz that can help deliver a penetrative orgasm. Oh, and make sure your guy has some patience.
Says Cavanah, "Women often take longer than men to come, so she should be well on her way to orgasm before they start doing anything that's likely to make him come."
"Anal stimulation has a real 'waking up the neighborhood' effect for some women," Cavanah says. "When performed with care and patience and lube, it sends shockwaves of pleasure and exhilaration far beyond the relatively tiny little parcel of real estate that is the anus."
Of course, anal isn't for everyone
, though our sexpert says that a lubed finger up the rear during oral sex can be well-received.
But whatever you're doing, make sure the clitoris is the star of the show.
"For most women,"Cavanah says, "as long as their clit is getting some attention -- whatever else is happening -- they have a good chance of coming."
Do you have trouble reaching the Big O? What works for you?