What Is Orgasmic Dysfunction?
Orgasmic dysfunction is a condition that occurs when someone has difficulty reaching orgasm, even when they’re sexually aroused and there’s sufficient sexual stimulation. When this condition occurs in women, it’s known as female orgasmic dysfunction. Men can also experience orgasmic dysfunction, but this is much less common.
Orgasms are intense feelings of release during sexual stimulation. They can vary in intensity, duration, and frequency. Orgasms can occur with little sexual stimulation, but sometimes much more stimulation is needed.
Many women have difficulty reaching orgasm with a partner, even after ample sexual stimulation. In fact, orgasmic dysfunction affects approximately one in three women.
Orgasmic dysfunction is also known as anorgasmia or female orgasmic disorder.
What Causes Orgasmic Dysfunction?
It can be difficult to determine the underlying cause of orgasmic dysfunction. Women may have difficulty reaching orgasm due to physical, emotional, or psychological factors. Contributing factors might include:
- older age
- medical conditions, such as diabetes
- a history of gynecological surgeries, such as a hysterectomy
- the use of certain medications, particularly selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) for depression
- cultural or religious beliefs
- embarrassment or shyness
- guilt about enjoying sexual activity
- history of sexual abuse
- mental health conditions, such as depression or anxiety
- poor self-esteem
- relationship issues, such as unresolved conflicts or lack of trust
Sometimes, a combination of these factors can make achieving an orgasm difficult. The inability to orgasm can lead to distress, which may make it even harder to achieve orgasm in the future.
What Are the Symptoms of Orgasmic Dysfunction?
The main symptom of orgasmic dysfunction is the inability to achieve sexual climax. Having unsatisfying orgasms or taking longer than normal to reach climax are also symptoms. Women with orgasmic dysfunction may have difficulty achieving orgasm during either sexual intercourse or masturbation.
There are four types of orgasmic dysfunction:
- Primary anorgasmia is a condition in which you’ve never had an orgasm.
- Secondary anorgasmia is a condition in which you have difficulty reaching orgasm, even though you’ve had one before.
- Situational anorgasmia is the most common type of orgasmic dysfunction. It occurs when you can only orgasm during specific situations, such as during oral sex or masturbation.
- General anorgasmia is a condition in which you can’t achieve orgasm under any circumstances, even when you’re highly aroused and sexual stimulation is sufficient.
How Is Orgasmic Dysfunction Diagnosed?
You should schedule an appointment with us, if you think you have orgasmic dysfunction. Your doctor will be able to diagnose your condition and provide a proper treatment plan. Getting help from your doctor is the best way to ensure that you can fully enjoy sexual activity again.
During your appointment, your doctor will ask questions about your sexual history and perform a physical examination. This can reveal any underlying causes of orgasmic dysfunction and can help identify other factors that may be contributing to your condition.
Your doctor may refer you to a gynecologist for a follow-up exam. A gynecologist specializes in women’s health and can recommend further treatments for orgasmic dysfunction.
How Is Orgasmic Dysfunction Treated?
Treatment for orgasmic dysfunction depends on the cause of the condition. You may need to:
- treat any underlying medical conditions
- switch antidepressant medications
- have cognitive behavioral therapy or sex therapy
- increase clitoral stimulation during masturbation and sexual intercourse
Couples counseling is another popular treatment option. A counselor will help you and your partner work through disagreements or conflicts you may be having. This can resolve the issues that are occurring both in the relationship and in the bedroom.
Make sure you speak with your doctor before using any products or medications. They may cause an allergic reaction or interfere with other medications you’re taking.
Important goals when treating problems with orgasms are:
- A healthy attitude toward sex, and education about sexual stimulation and response
- Learning to clearly communicate sexual needs and desires, verbally or non-verbally
How to make sex better:
- Get plenty of rest and eat well. Limit alcohol, drugs, and smoking. Feel your best. This helps with feeling better about sex.
- Do Kegel exercises. Tighten and relax the pelvic muscles.
- Focus on other sexual activities, not just intercourse.
- Use birth control that works for both you and your partner. Discuss this ahead of time so you aren’t worried about an unwanted pregnancy.
- If other sexual problems, such as lack of interest and pain during intercourse, are happening at the same time, these need to be addressed as part of the treatment plan.
Discuss the following with your health care provider:
- Medical problems, such as diabetes or multiple sclerosis
- New medications
- Menopausal symptoms
The role of taking female hormone supplements in treating orgasmic dysfunction is unproven and the long-term risks remain unclear.
Treatment can involve education and learning to reach orgasm by focusing on pleasurable stimulation, and directed masturbation.
- Most women require clitoral stimulation to reach an orgasm. Including clitoral stimulation in sexual activity may be all that is necessary.
- If this does not solve the problem, then teaching the woman to masturbate may help her understand what she needs to become sexually excited.
Treatment may include sexual counseling to learn series of couples exercises to:
- Learn and practice communication
- Learn more effective stimulation and playfulness