Movies, porn, social media, and countless other platforms make it appear as if orgasm with each sexual encounter is simple, quick, and occurs every time. On the contrary, evidence shows that 5 to 10 percent of vulva owners will experience anorgasmia at some point. This can lead to a surplus of shame, self-doubt, and low self-esteem, thus interfering with your relationships and impacting your sexual health. Knowledge is power, so let’s try to bust the common myths and take some power back.
What is Anorgasmia?
Let’s start with the basics and first begin with the question: What is an orgasm? An orgasm is a feeling of intense sexual arousal and release of tension, accompanied by involuntary, rhythmic contractions of the pelvic floor muscles. This sensation can look and feel different among all vulva owners. Anorgasmia is the opposite of an orgasm.
According to the Mayo Clinic, anorgasmia is a type of sexual dysfunction that results in regular difficulty reaching orgasm after ample sexual stimulation. In addition, anorgasmia can be classified under different categories: primary, secondary, and situational.
- Primary anorgasmia is otherwise known as lifelong anorgasmia. This term is used with vulva owners who report never having orgasm, despite continuous sexual desire and stimulation. This may be more prevalent in folks who have grown up in sexually repressive environments.
- Secondary anorgasmia occurs when a vulva owner previously was able to climax, but now has difficulty reaching orgasm. This may be common in vulva owners who are going through menopause or have experienced sexual trauma(s).
- Situational anorgasmia occurs when one can only orgasm due to certain places, positions, or people. For example, the vulva owner may only reach orgasm as the result of masturbation, with a specific partner, or with oral or penetrative sexual activities.
Something to remember, is that inability to achieve orgasm is not defined as a problem unless it gives you reason to be concerned. Many vulva owners have satisfactory sex lives without orgasming 100% of the time. That being said, there are countless reasons as to why you could be experiencing difficulty reaching orgasm, which may involve a complex understanding.
For example, some medical conditions, side effects due to medications such as selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), alcohol or drug use/abuse, having undergone surgery, or psychological factors such as low self-esteem or negative body image are some examples of why one may have difficulty achieving orgasm.
4 Ways to Improve Intimacy
Do not lose hope in yourself. There are ways to close the orgasm gap, increase your sexual satisfaction, and overall enhance your sex life in healthy and positive ways. Due to its complexity, the inability to orgasm can be positively addressed with any combination of the following suggestions. Some of these include:
- Be in tune with your own turn on and turn offs; that way, you are able to healthily communicate your likes/dislikes to your partner. After all, if you don’t know what you like, how do you expect your partner to know?
- Seek out professional support. We may not be aware of our unconscious decisions, thoughts, or the reason why we do what we do. Working with a sex therapist can be a beneficial tool to share your own experience and become aware of evidenced-based information from a non-biased third party who can offer appropriate treatment options.
- Ensure you’re getting enough stimulation.This can be done through solo masturbation or with a partner. It is often the case that many vulva owners need not only penetration, but clitoral stimulation in order to achieve orgasm. This can also be done with toys, oils, or lubricants (talk to your health provider prior to picking out which option or brand is best for you).
- Be intentional about using the love language of physical touch. Utilizing your senses not only helps to ground you in the present moment, but aids in maintaining connection within your own body as well as your partner’s. Try running your hands along their lower back as you pass by them, or holding hands when you take a walk. Touch doesn’t always just have to be done in the bedroom.
Something to also be mindful of, is to just be intentional in your actions. The brain is the biggest erogenous zone of the body, and even something such as scheduling a date night, knowing it will end in sexual intimacy, is enough to plant that seed. A form of foreplay, so to speak.
You Are Not Broken
Don’t believe all of the hype – More often than not, the type of orgasms that you may see in the movies or in porn, do not depict how orgasms occur in real life. It just doesn’t work that way. As previously stated, there is not a one size fits all approach.
Vulvas are like fingerprints; they are unique to the individual and completely your own. In fact, many women are not properly educated about their own body, and may not know about their sexual organs. Take the time to learn about your own vulva, the inner and outer workings, and how and where you like to be touched.
Orgasms do not have to be the deciding factor on classifying that sexual encounter as a positive experience. An orgasmic disorder is treatable. The way that we talk about sex, pleasure, and orgasm matters. After all, how can we treat or work with something that we cannot talk about?
You are not broken. You are a perfectly normal sexually functioning human being. Don’t let the stigma of talking about sex keep you from seeking out your own pleasure. One way to fight this stigma is to have honest and proactive discussions about sex. It starts with you. You are not as alone in this matter as you might think.