A reader asks: I’m able to orgasm when I masturbate, but not when I make love to my wife. Am I normal?

This is a reality for many men.

It’s called “pre-orgasmia”. It’s the same as what happens to many women – they are unable to be orgasmic with penetration or partner sex. Preorgasmia occurs as a result of a man getting used to his own masturbation technique. It may be that a man has spent most of his sexual time masturbating, so the sensations of penetration are just not arousing or firm enough for him to climax.

It can only become a problem if you embrace the very rigid societal idea of what makes “normal” sex, which is “orgasm with partner sex”. It doesn’t have to be this narrow. As long as your wife knows not to take it personally, and you both make sure she’s satisfied, then enjoy the kind of sex you are having.

– Marlene Wasserman, sex therapist, clinical sexologist and author of Pillowbook – A Sensual Lifestyle.