“Anorgasmia is the medical term for regular difficulty reaching orgasm after ample sexual stimulation, causing you personal distress. Anorgasmia is a common occurrence, affecting a significant number of females.”
If you’ve spent any time around a romance novel or romantic movie, chances are you already have a pretty Hollywood-fied idea about what an organism should look like. Everything seems so easy and filled with fireworks in fiction and film. The truth is, organisms are much more intricate than that and what works for one female (or even what works one time for one female) may not work a second time. What happens if you fail to achieve orgasm or if it’s not as easy as predicted? They never explain that one in the sexual fantasy. If you have a hard time achieving orgasm or if you cannot achieve orgasm at all, don’t feel like you are alone. You’re not. Anorgasmia, the medical term for having trouble reach orgasm after ample sexual stimulation, is very real and very common, now that more people are talking about this issue, the more that can be done.
Orgasms themselves vary in intensity from female to female. You may notice that what triggers an orgasm one time, is not the same thing that triggers one the next time you have sex. Most females do not orgasm from vaginal penetration alone. They need extra stimulation. Clitoral stimulation. Ones ability to achieve orgasm also depends on a lot of outside factors including age, medical issues, and medications being taken. It’s not as simple and straightforward as in the movies. Nothing ever is.
If you feel you’re in the very common denomination of female suffering from anorgasmia, the first thing to do is talk to your doctor. You no longer have to suffer alone or feel as if sex is just a ‘duty’ instead of something you should enjoy to the fullest. Anorgasmia may be helped with a series of lifestyle changes and sex therapy.
Before we get into ‘how’ of treatment, let’s talk about the ‘what’. What exactly is an orgasm? An orgasm is a feeling of intense physical pleasure and release of tension during sexual intercourse. This release is accompanied by involuntary, rhythmic contractions of your pelvic floor muscles. Sometimes you might actually feel your muscles contract. Other times, you may feel ‘buzzy’ or ‘full of electricity’ after the release. Each female is different just like each orgasm is different.
By definition, the major symptoms of anorgasmia include the inability to experience orgasm or long delays in reaching orgasm. That sounds pretty simple and straightforward but, like everything else when it comes to the human body, it’s not. There are different types of anorgasmia. These include:
- Lifelong anorgasmia – you’ve never experienced an orgasm.
- Acquired anorgasmia – you used to have orgasms, but now have trouble reaching climax.
- Situational anorgasmia – your ability to orgasm depends on the circumstance such as you’re only able to reach climax during oral sex or masturbation.
- Generalized anorgasmia – you aren’t able to orgasm in any situation or with any partner or partner(s)
When To Talk To Your Doctor
If any of the above situations and symptoms of anorgasmia sounds familiar, make an appointment to talk to your doctor. Do not spend time thinking you are somehow different or that everyone else is achieving orgasm but you. You will be surprised to find out that, more times than not, your sexual experiences are normal. Sometimes just talking about something releases fear and anxiety associated with the situation. That alone paired with the knowledge that what you are going through is very common, may be enough to help you achieve orgasm. If you feel you are still having difficulty, your doctor may recommend some strategies to further reduce your anxiety and help you increase your sexual satisfaction. Talking to a sex therapist or sexologist is also a good option.
Achieving orgasm is far from simple. It is a complex reaction to a multitude of physical, emotional, and psychological factors going on at any given time. There are so many factors that affect ones ability to reach climax. Some of these factors include:
- Medical diseases – Any illness from a common cold to diabetes, migraines, multiple sclerosis, and more affects the human sexual response cycle. Let’s face it, when you’re sick, you don’t feel like getting ‘busy’ anyway.
- Gynecologic issues – Your ability to orgasm may be affected by cancer surgery, hysterectomy, ovarian cysts, and uterine wall abnormalities such as endometriosis. Painful intercourse also goes hand in hand with lack of orgasm. If you’re so focused on the pain, you can’t enjoy the experience.
- Medications – Prescription and over-the-counter medications may interfere with orgasm. The top three in ‘may cause sexual dysfunction’ category include blood pressure medications, antihistamines, and SSRI antidepressants. If you truly need these medications to improve your quality of life, do not stop taking them. Instead, talk to a sex therapist to work out other strategies to help with your anorgasmia.
- Alcohol and smoking– Alcohol cramps your ability to climax. Smoking limits blood flow which also reduces your orgasm success rate. You know limiting alcohol and smoking is good for your health, now you know it’s also good for your sex life too.
- The aging process – As you age, normal changes take place in your body that may limit blood flow to the vagina and clitoris that, in turn, may delay or stop orgasm. This is normal, though not altogether welcome
In addition to physical factors, common psychological factors play a role in ones ability to orgasm. These include:
- Mental health problems, such as anxiety or depression – couple this with taking anti-depressants and you are much more likely to suffer from anorgasmia.
- Poor body image and self-esteem – If you’re not happy with how you look, your sex drive will decrease. When you do engage in sexual intercourse, your opinion of your body may put a mental block on achieving climax.
- Stress and financial pressures – Stress can cause many physical and mental symptoms. Sexual dysfunction and anorgasmia are some of them. Once you find strategies to get out of your head and enjoy the experience, your ability to reach climax may improve.
- Cultural, spiritual and religious beliefs – Some cultures and religions view sexual pleasure as immoral or not something to be discussed or seek treatment for. If you fall into this category, know that you have a right to have a choice and say in how you experience your sexual life. It is not selfish to want to feel good about yourself or experiences.
- Relationship dynamics and self-esteem –
- Fear of pregnancy or sexually transmitted infections – A pregnancy scare and worrying about contracting STI’s can impact stress levels. It’s important to speak up and make sure your partner(s) is tested and you both have protection.
A key to resolving your anorgasmia is communication. Communicate with your doctor. Communicate with your sex therapist or sexologist. Communicate with you pelvic floor physiotherapist, and communication with your partner(s). Communication is key. Whether it’s radical acceptance of what is from both you and your partner(s) or working towards and potentially experiencing and orgasm. Once you feel confident enough to speak up for yourself and face this very real, common concern in women’s health, you’ll be having a better time in the bedroom. Don’t you think you deserve that?
Sexology International, like all of our work, is for people of all sexual preferences and all forms of gender expression, including people whose identity is something other than male or female. As such, we like to use gender-neutral pronouns. More recently accepted alternatives include words like “ze” and “hir” or the universal pronoun “they.” Throughout our work, we will be doing our best to use alternative pronouns, such as “they,” whenever gender or plurality is unimportant. In doing so we hope it helps everyone to feel included in the discussion and that it inspires you to think outside of traditional sex and gender binaries.