Anorgasmia is the inability to have an orgasm, or taking a long time to reach orgasm after ample sexual stimulation, which causes distress. It affects both men and women, although it is more common in women. This is the type that this article focuses on. The condition is also known as female orgasmic dysfunction and female orgasmic disorder. According to PubMed Central, it affects between 11-41% of women in their lifetime.
How women experience anorgasmia varies. Some have never had an orgasm in their lives, whilst others have either lost or diminished that ability later in life. Some women are able to have orgasms only in certain situations. For example, when masturbating but not with a partner, or only with one partner, or through oral, but not penetrative, sex. Anorgasmia can often be experienced as part of dyspareunia, or painful sex.
There are a number of possible physical causes for anorgasmia. These can include certain diseases, such as cancer; surgical procedures, such as a hysterectomy, and certain common medications, such as blood pressure tablets and anti-depressants. Lifestyle choices, such as drinking alcohol and smoking cigarettes, can also play a part in reducing orgasmic capacity by reducing the amount of blood flowing to the genitals. In some women, aging can cause a reduction in estrogen levels, followed by a drop in sexual desire and ability to orgasm.
If you suspect any of the above could be true for you, it is recommended that you consult your GP. They may recommend switching medications to a different brand, or place you on hormone therapy to increase estrogen, and sometimes testosterone, levels. This can in some cases increase both the sexual desire, and the amount of blood flowing to the genitals, making it easier to reach orgasm.
A tantric therapy session can also help by releasing tension from the physical body, especially the pelvic area, through massage.
There are many psychological causes that can cause difficulties with orgasms. They include:
- Feeling shame or embarrassment. This is very common, and often comes from negative beliefs that we carry around about pleasure, sex or how our bodies look, sound or smell
- Not feeling safe in the body. This can be the outcome for any women who have experienced emotional, physical or sexual abuse in the past
- Relationship issues. Sometimes difficulties with orgasm can signal deeper underlying causes within a relationship. These can include unresolved conflicts or resentments towards the other, or a lack of trust
- Stress, anxiety and depression. Any emotional states that don’t feel good can make it more difficult to experience pleasure and arousal
- Cultural or religious beliefs. Our culture often carries messages that shame women for being too sexual, or not sexual enough. Certain religious cults teach members that masturbation is sinful and punishable by God. These beliefs can lead to guilt about enjoying sex or pleasure
Below can be addressed through a combination of talking therapy and bodywork. This can be with a sex therapist, a sexological bodyworker or tantric therapist.
- Find emotional blocks. Parts of us that experience pain from past experiences we have had can block pleasure and arousal in the body. Finding, healing and integrating these parts can open the way for more pleasure and joy to be felt
- Help the body to be a safe space again. Many women don’t feel safe in their bodies when it comes to sexuality, as many have had unwanted sexual experiences. Receiving nurturing touch at your own pace can help you to re-connect to your body again in a way that feels safe. This can pave the way to receiving more erotic touch, once the body is relaxed, helping you to feel safe whilst feeling aroused
- Understand your body better: find out what you do, and don’t like. This can enable you to ask for what you want, so you get more pleasure
- Improve communication of sexual needs and preferences, being able to say no to unwanted sexual experiences, and asking for what you do really want. Many of us engage in sex silently, hoping that our partners will know how to pleasure us. Learning to guide your partner can be both empowering and connecting
- Expand pleasure. This can be done by learning specific breathing techniques, as well as working with sound and movement
- Yoni massage. As part of a full body treatment, a Yoni massage can help to directly identify blocks to orgasm, and work through them
I offer sessions in Teesside, London and online to both individual women and couples. Partners can learn connection rituals, communication skills, and specific techniques for helping each other experience greater amounts of pleasure and arousal. The partner of the woman who has difficulty with orgasm can also learn Yoni massage, which can be greatly beneficial in enhancing relaxation and building trust.