Yep, there's such a thing as bad orgasms—here's what that means.

By Maggie O'Neill
October 22, 2019

Bad sex you're probably (sorry to say) familiar with. You know the kind, when you're too tired or stressed, or you're not 100% physically attracted to the person in your bed.

But now, researchers have identified what they're calling "bad" orgasms. In a new study published in Archives of Sexual Behavior, they've come up with a description of what a bad orgasm entails, plus some of the reasons people experience them.

So what qualifies as a bad orgasm? These are big Os that are not enjoyable, perhaps even unpleasant, and can have “negative impacts on relationships, sexuality, and/or psychological health” per the study, which focused on data collected from 726 participants.

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As for the reasons for bad orgasms, let’s first make this clear: We’re talking about orgasms that occur during consensual sex. The authors of the new report did look at what happens when a person has an orgasm during coerced sex, but we’re focusing on the reasons for not enjoying climax during consensual sex.

That said, one reason the study authors cited is having sex out of avoidance. For example, you don’t want to fight about not having sex—so you agree to do it, but the O that follows doesn't make you feel good because you weren't really into doing it in the first place.

Another reason: you feel obligated to orgasm. “Research has shown that feeling pressured to orgasm can also elicit stress and/or other negative affect,” researchers wrote. “For example, women and men have often stated that they feel obligated to orgasm during consensual sexual activities to ensure that sex feels fair and equal between partners.” In other words, when the pressure is on to cross that finish line, the end result might not make you feel all that positive.

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Other reasons for bad orgasms include health issues that interfere with sexual pleasure. One participant told the researchers: “[The orgasm was] less pleasurable. It felt like the physiology of an orgasm without the emotional/spiritual component. It was also painful, like I didn’t have any adrenaline to buffer the physical sensation.”

Sometimes an O is bad because the sex didn't involve a mental connection. “Orgasm was the natural ending [to a sexual encounter] so the faster I could get there the sooner it could be over," one participant told study authors. "[But the orgasm] was not as pleasurable because I wasn’t mentally engaged in the encounter.”

The bottom line here is that a lot of factors influence whether or not an orgasm is “good,” and just because you or your partner have an orgasm doesn’t mean you, or they, actually enjoyed it.

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