If most movies and books were to be believed, you would think that all women climax within minutes of having sex, and sometimes, simultaneously with their partners. Unfortunately, this is only a romantic, made-for-television scenario and it is far from reality.
The truth is that as many as 50% of women do not have orgasms while having sex.1 In fact, some women may have never had an orgasm in their life and some may have been able to achieve it before, but cannot anymore. If you can’t have an orgasm even with enough sexual stimulation, it’s because of an orgasmic dysfunction.
What Is Orgasmic Dysfunction?
Orgasmic dysfunction is a condition in which one finds it difficult to reach orgasm even when they are sexually aroused and have sufficient sexual stimulation. It is most commonly found among women. In fact, it affects as many as one in three women. About 10% to 15% of women have never had an orgasm. Orgasmic dysfunction is also known as anorgasmia or female orgasmic disorder.2
Factors That Could Prevent You From Achieving Orgasm
1. You Aren’t Having Enough Foreplay
Clitoral stimulation is often the missing link for achieving an orgasm.
Women need foreplay. This can include undressing, hugging, fondling, kissing, and performing oral sex. Any action that gets your partner turned on will only increase the pleasure that both of you receive from the lovemaking experience. In order to reach a state of complete arousal, many women need prolonged stimulation which can be achieved with sufficient foreplay. Each woman’s body is different and their requirements vary as well. You could try out different methods of foreplay with your partner to figure out what excites you and them. Self-exploration or masturbation also helps in figuring out your body for yourself and how to achieve an orgasm.
2. You Lack Self-Confidence
Body-shaming, unfortunately, has become a cultural norm in our society. Most women tend to grow up with internalized feelings of shame when it comes to their bodies. These internalized feelings may show up as critical inner voices that distract them while having sex. The natural increase of sexual excitement becomes interrupted with thoughts like “Can he see my cellulite?” and “Are my breasts too small?”. Negative thoughts make it difficult to reach the excitement needed to achieve an orgasm.
3. You Don’t Trust Your Partner Completely
Some women cannot achieve an orgasm because they don’t completely trust their partners. Without trust, it’s almost impossible to let go and enjoy sex. Sex is an intimate action, and orgasm is even more so. If you feel blocked while engaging in sexual activity, it may be a sign from your body that it is not ready for an orgasm with that person. It may take more time to get to know and trust a partner before you can let yourself enjoy sex with him/her and thus let yourself have an orgasm.
4. You Have A Previous Traumatic Sexual Experience
One in four women has experienced sexual abuse at some point in their lives. Negative sexual experiences in the past tend to fester and affect people long after they have experienced it. Once you have experienced any sort of trauma, it may be difficult to let yourself experience pleasure as it may trigger unwanted memories. A lot of times, sex becomes guilt-provoking and cause emotional distress as well. This could be the mental block stopping you from achieving an orgasm.
5. You Fear Losing Control
When you are used to being in charge all the time, not having complete control can be anxiety-inducing. But having an orgasm doesn’t mean you lose complete control of your body. When you start to psyche yourself out with the thought “what will happen”, remember that you are not going to do something completely out of character when you climax. Besides, learning to embrace not being in control is one of the best things about having an orgasm.
6. You Are Easily Distracted
Our brains are so used to being in overdrive mode because we tend to multitask all the hours that we are awake. From eating while watching television to using Facebook while talking to a friend, we hardly ever do one task at a time. That is why you may find it difficult to be in the moment while having sex. If you can’t be present in the moment while having sex, it will be very difficult to achieve an orgasm.
Practicing meditation may just be what you need to focus your concentration. Every time your mind starts to wander, take slow, deep breaths, which will help you relax and feel more connected to your body. This way you will become more aware of the sensations you’re feeling in your body and think less about the blockage.
7. You Have A Lot Of Stress In Your Life
From an evolutionary standpoint, stress would generally be caused by a perceived lack of safety. In order to achieve the “high” orgasm provides, a feeling of safety is vital. For a woman to be aroused, she has to be relaxed. Women who are under a lot of stress and emotional distress not only find it difficult to enjoy sex but also to achieve an orgasm. The sympathetic nervous system kicks in when a woman feels threatened or unsafe. The “fight or flight” response is triggered, releasing adrenaline and catecholamines in the brain. The body directs all available blood to the heart, where it is most needed to fight or run, thereby closing down non-essential systems such as sexual response.
8. You May Have Physical Issues
Medical conditions (such as diabetes), changes in the level of hormones (for example during menopause or after childbirth), and vaginal dryness can affect a woman’s sexual response. Also, as you age, men and women will find changes in the sexual response cycle. However, this does not necessarily negatively affect the quality of your sex life. For women, these changes may include inadequate lubrication, less vasocongestion (genital swelling due to arousal), less expansion of the vagina, arousal taking longer, and less frequent orgasms.
These natural changes do not mean that you cannot enjoy a pleasurable sex life at an older age. As you age, it becomes even more important to maintain a healthy lifestyle and a healthy diet. Regular exercise will increase energy in your daily life (including for sex). You must also exercise the body parts involved in sexual arousal to stay sexually active. For example, Kegel Exercises increase the strength of the pelvic floor muscles (which are needed to bring blood to the genitals and activate the contractions of orgasm). Yoga is also an excellent exercise to strengthen the pelvic muscles, maintain the body’s flexibility and to strengthen it as well.
9. Your Medication Or Alcohol Consumption Could Be Interfering
One of the side effects of taking antidepressants for women is the reduced desire for sex. Antidepressants affect the production of the serotonin levels in the body (the hormone which affects mood, appetite, sleep, and sexual desire among others). It can cause delayed lubrication as well as stop you from achieving orgasm. Talk to your doctor about switching your medication if the problem persists.
Consuming alcohol in large quantities reduces sexual response in women. Vasocongestion (genital swelling due to arousal) and lubrication reduces, which can lead to painful sex. It may also take a longer time to achieve orgasm, and the intensity may be reduced as well.
10. You Are Not Comfortable With The Setting
Much like the body reacting to stress, not having an environment where you are comfortable, can make it more difficult for the body to have enjoyable sex, and thus achieve an orgasm.
Getting The Right Treatment
In several cases, reaching an orgasm through sex is a skill that can be learned. But if it is happening even after you tried everything, it’s time to see a doctor. Once your doctor diagnoses your underlying issue, he/she will suggest you try something different in bed or even a treatment plan which can include any of the following:
- Treat any underlying medical conditions.
- Change any medication that you may be taking, which could be the reason behind your blockage.
- You might need cognitive behavioral therapy or sex therapy. Therapy can also help you identify (and work on) deep lying issues such as why you have issues with self-confidence or why you have trouble losing control. Couples counseling could help you and your partner work through any issues.
- Your doctor could prescribe nutritional supplements, certain medications and even estrogen hormone therapy in certain cases.
Difficulty in achieving orgasm over a long period of time can become exasperating for you and your partner. Just remember that you are not alone, and there are many women in your same situation. There are plenty of treatments available now, and just because it is difficult right now doesn’t mean that it won’t get better with proper treatment and counseling.