June 16, 2022 at 1:37pm PM EDT
Cheryl Burke Katie Jones/WWD
Our sex lives are deeply personal things and no two people have the same experiences. That’s a given. But by nature of sex being deeply taboo for so long it’s really easy to feel like the things that happen to you and in your body during sex are somehow weird or wrong or just different if you’re not told otherwise. In a recent episode of her podcast, Burke in the Game, Cheryl Burke shared a bit of her own experience navigating that stigma when she revealed she hasn’t been able to orgasm via intercourse and unpacked why she believes that’s been her experience.
“I’ve never really, I guess, had an orgasm before when it comes to intercourse,” she said in Tuesday’s episode. “This doesn’t reflect on any partner I’ve been with. It only reflects on me.”
It’s important to start with how not weird and not abnormal her experience is. As Alice Little previously wrote for SheKnows “Not only is it normal, it’s very common. According to a study published in The Journal of Sex Marital Therapy in 2017, only 8 percent of women said that vaginal penetration alone was enough to make them come.” For some people, the pressure to orgasm actually makes it harder to get to the headspace where you can achieve it. And, from there, just as a disclaimer and eternal reminder: The ability to orgasm isn’t synonymous with pleasure or having a good time during sex — you can have all sorts of pleasurable encounters that are still great sex that don’t end or begin with orgasm.
But Burke’s story is a little more unique. She noted that her partners weren’t the cause of her lack of orgasms but that she thinks her own experience is connected to her experiences as a survivor of child abuse. Burke had previously shared in the 2015 documentary Breaking the Silence for TLC that she was a survivor of sexual abuse when she was younger when an elderly neighbor who helped take care of her began molesting her.
“I think the reason I didn’t want to say it [at the time] was because I didn’t want to hurt anyone,” she added. “But that has nothing to do with the person, it has everything to do with me and my shame and my child abuse and my vulnerability.”
And Burke, who recently filed for divorce from husband Matthew Lawrence in February, also said while promoting the new episode on Instagram that it’s been a minute since she’s had partnered sex anyway and that it got her thinking about her relationship with the act — what actually makes her feel good vs what she felt she was “supposed” to want to feel validated sexually.
After sharing that she hasn’t had sex with another person since 2021, she said it really felt good to know she wasn’t alone in having a dry spell: “It feels so good knowing I’m not alone,” she shared. “Some of you guys have gone literally years without it and because ultimately everyone is saying is there just hasn’t been the right one yet and I think in society today, we kinda judge the fact that we have to have sex every week just to feel like we’re enough — and actually, don’t agree… I used to have to want that and I think that was because I didn’t think I was enough and validated myself through engaging in physical activity like that.”
Everyone’s journey to finding the sexual dynamics that suit them, their bodies and their stories is a lifelong one with all kinds of twists and turns — but it certainly helps to know that you’re not alone if you’re not having the kind of sex life you think you’re supposed to have.
If you or someone you know has been the victim of sexual assault, harassment or violence, you can get help. To speak with someone who is trained to help with these situations, call the National Sexual Assault Hotline at 800.656.HOPE (4673) or chat online at online.rainn.org.
Before you go, learn more about the different kind of orgasms you can have: