I only get pleasure by squeezing my thighs together – will I ever enjoy sex?

Pamela Stephenson Connolly
Composite: Guardian Design/Getty

I am a 22-year-old woman and have been bothered by a sexual issue for a few years. I do not enjoy sex at all (not just penetrative sex ). Even oral sex or stimulating the clitoris does nothing for me. I have been masturbating by squeezing my thighs together since I was very young and, even today, it is the only way I can feel any pleasure sexually. I wonder if I am simply unable to adapt to other methods. Can you advise me?

You are probably correct about being hampered by your well-entrenched masturbation style. It is not unusual for a person to develop self-pleasuring methods that do not easily bridge to sex with a partner. This happens over time – sometimes in response to environmental pressures. For example, children learn that they must be secretive about their sexual feelings and start to find ways of stimulating themselves without even using their hands. But you can change this. Start by summoning sexual thoughts and feelings without any physical motion. Once your desire is strong, embark on systematic discovery efforts by connecting the erotic fantasies with different types of movement, touching and strokes, incrementally departing from your preferred method. Spend time exploring sexual feelings that emanate from stimulation of many different parts of your genitals and non-genital parts of your body. By enlivening nerve-endings in areas you did not previously consider erogenous zones, you will begin to create more diverse pathways to pleasure – and will eventually be able to share these discoveries with a partner.

If you would like advice from Pamela on sexual matters, send us a brief description of your concerns to private.lives@theguardian.com (please don’t send attachments). Submissions are subject to our terms and conditions: see gu.com/letters-terms.

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