Exploring Anorgasmia, the Inability to Reach Orgasm

01.19.2021 Home & Motherhood
Dr. Habib Sadeghi
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“Maybe we’re not doing it right.”

“He said he’s never had a problem satisfying other women.”

“I feel like less of a woman.”

“He feels so bad he can’t satisfy me that it’s hurting our relationship.”

“What’s wrong with me?”

These are the thoughts that regularly go through the minds of the 10% of women who are anorgasmic or have never had an orgasm. Anorgasmia can lead to depression and isolation as women feel deprived of one of the most beautiful physical pleasures of what it means to be human. At the same time, relationships can suffer when women’s partners feel sexually inadequate no matter how much they’re reassured that their performance isn’t the problem.

What’s Normal?

Before we talk more about anorgasmia, it’s important to clear up a few things about female orgasm in general.

Only about 10% of women easily reach orgasm. Taken together with the 10% who have never had an orgasm; that means 80% of all women will require some work to reach climax or they may occasionally not have orgasm. This is completely normal.

In fact, within this normal range, women consistently reach orgasm only about 50% to 70% of the time. This is because the sexual response in women is relatively more complex than it is for men, and lots of other factors, some of which we’ll discuss later, can come into play to prevent a woman’s orgasm.

It’s also important to know that, in spite of what we see in Hollywood and adult films, 75% of women cannot reach orgasm through intercourse alone without the help of sex toys or oral/manual manipulation. This has far less to do with the skill of a partner or a woman’s health than it does with her physical anatomy. The closer a woman’s clitoris is to her vaginal opening, the more likely she is to be able to climax from intercourse alone. The ideal clitoris to vagina measurement or C-V distance is 2.5cm or about one inch. Any further separation will prevent the clitoris from receiving adequate stimulation during penetration. Many women needlessly worry because they’ve never had an orgasm through intercourse, but can easily reach one through masturbation. This, of course, is normal. Husbands and boyfriends should be educated about C-V distance so there’s no pressure that a woman’s orgasm has to come from the penis alone because it very rarely does.

In her book, The Case of the Female Orgasm, Elisabeth Lloyd, Professor of Biology at Indiana University, gives her theory as to why women don’t consistently reach orgasm from every sexual encounter and almost never do from intercourse alone. In contrast, 98% of men say they always reach orgasm during sex. According to Lloyd, the male orgasm is directly connected to ejaculation and therefore, essential to continuing the human species. So, the consistent male orgasm has been highly selected by evolution. Because the female orgasm isn’t central to propagating the human species, women overwhelmingly don’t orgasm during intercourse and sometimes may not reach climax at all. This is evidenced by the fact that a woman’s ability to orgasm has no effect on her fertility. In much the same way, nipples are highly sensitive in women as opposed to men because they are also crucial to carrying on life on earth.

So rest assured that if it takes you a bit of time to work up to an orgasm, have never had an orgasm from intercourse or don’t make it over the top once in a while, congratulations, you’re normal. The women we’re focusing on are those who cannot have an orgasm under any circumstances.

Anorgasmia or what some health professionals call female orgasmic disorder (FOD) is classified in two ways: primary anorgasmia, never having experienced an orgasm and secondary anorgasmia, having experienced an orgasm but never again after a certain time period. Because all women possess the proper anatomy to have an orgasm, there is no reason why those suffering from anorgasmia can’t eventually achieve one with relative consistency. First it requires understanding whether the cause of the condition is either physical or psychological and then moving forward with much patience and self-love to do the necessary healing work.

Abuse Issues

Many women discover that their anorgasmia is connected to some form of emotional, physical or sexual abuse from their past. Sex may be seen as dangerous causing women to hold back. They may feel it’s wrong to enjoy sex or low self-esteem may convince them that they don’t deserve the enjoyment. Negative body image issues may also come into play, as well as religious and social taboos. All this leads to a woman’s inability to remain present during sex, often being preoccupied with sudden feelings of fear, guilt, shame, anger and isolation. These women often report experiencing the build-up of sexual tension and then hitting a wall.

It’s important to remember that for women who have never experienced orgasm, memories of abuse may be subconscious and just beyond their immediate awareness. Every physical disorder or illness is an attempt by the subconscious to get our attention about a much deeper issue. Socrates said, “There is no illness of the body apart from the mind.” In these cases, psychotherapy is absolutely essential, as is a loving, patient partner. With courage and the right support, many women have overcome their past and achieved the joy of orgasm.

Lack of Intimacy

Physical touch is very important for building the momentum during sex, especially for women, but it has to be the right kind of touch. Most couples would admit that they already touch, hug and kiss during sex, but is intimacy involved? Is it loving? How long does it last? Is there real, extended eye contact? How a woman receives and perceives her touch makes a great deal of difference as to whether her body is primed for orgasm or not. This isn’t to imply that a man is solely responsible for a woman’s orgasm, but touch is where every sexual encounter begins.

Touch is a powerful form of communication that resonates in every cell of the body and needs no words to make its message known. When a woman feels loved, safe, adored and even worshipped by the kind of touch she’s experiencing, her mind will quiet, and her body will relax and open into a receptive state that’s primed for pleasure.

As we get older and hormone levels start to change, intimate touch becomes an invaluable tool to help us build up to an orgasm that we used to achieve in only minutes when we were in our 20’s. In fact, a study from the University of Chicago found that women in their 50s and older were nearly three times less likely to achieve orgasm when there was little or no intimate touching involved.

Another study found that the optimal amount of time for sexual intercourse was between 3 and 13 minutes, with the average being 7.3. Sadly, this amount of time accounts for the entire sexual encounter for some people, not just penetration. During the rest of the time you might want to consider slow or prolonged kissing, spooning, touching the face while keeping eye contact, kissing the forehead, kissing down the length of the arms, legs or torso, laying your head on your partner’s chest to hear the heartbeat or playing with their hair.

Too much emphasis can’t be placed on how important building intimacy in this way is to a woman’s orgasm. This means taking time and slowing things down, sometimes way down. Letting go of goal-oriented sex where orgasm is the prize greatly reduces sexual expectations and stress and allows the body to progress at its own pace. The reward will be a deepening of your relationship and the opportunity to have experiences that are in many ways, even more satisfying and longer lasting than a fleeting orgasm.

Inability to Balance Relaxation & Tension

As the body approaches orgasm, it requires the perfect balance between relaxation and tension, but how can we be relaxed and tense at the same time? In this case, the body must be in a state of tension while the mind is relaxed or silent. Because the male orgasm is highly selected for sex by evolution and the male thought process is generally linear in nature, it’s not very difficult for a man to get his mind into the orgasm zone during sex. Odds are very good that in the heat of the moment, he’s not thinking about that business proposal he has to present at the end of the week. Women, however, can have a bigger challenge keeping their mind in the moment.

To minimize distractions, give yourself enough time to have longer, more intimate sex. No more quickies. The time to have sex isn’t 30 minutes before you have to leave the house for an appointment. Make sure the kids are taken care of so you don’t even have to think about them. Even holding back during sex because you’re afraid the noise will wake them up is enough distraction to prevent orgasm. Meditation can be helpful in learning to quiet the mind as is visualizing an abstract concept like white light. If religious or sexual taboos are a distraction, counseling is essential. Regularly introducing new positions, toys and so on can be a good way to keep your mind in the moment and stop it from zoning out because sex has become routine.

While the mind relaxes, the body needs to be tense. For women, this means the buttocks, thighs and pelvic floor muscles, the ones you use to stop the flow of urine. Consciously tensing these muscles during oral or manual masturbation and even penetration helps increase physical tension, brings additional blood to engorge the genitals, increases sensitivity and assists the body in building to orgasm. A condition known as pelvic floor prolapse is a loosening of these muscles that support the pelvic organs and can be caused by pregnancy, childbirth, straining from constipation, chronic coughing or aging. If you leak a few drops of urine when you sneeze, laugh or cough, this might be an issue for you.

Kegel exercises help tone the pelvic floor muscles and are easy to do. Simply tense the muscles you use to stop urine flow, hold the contraction for five seconds and then release for five seconds. Repeat for a set of ten. Try to get three sets in during the day. Eventually, you’ll want to work your way up to contracting for ten seconds and releasing for ten. Remember, this is an internal exercise, so there should be no movement of the abdominals or any other visible muscles.

Medications & Surgery

Drugs for depression, anxiety, regulating blood pressure and sedatives all delay or impede orgasm by preventing the muscles around the vagina and clitoris from becoming adequately engorged with blood, which is necessary for sexual pleasure. Consult your physician as to the possibility of reducing your prescription or taking a trial period off the medication to see how your body responds. Sometimes switching to different medication can make a difference, as some of the drug companies are now promoting brands that they claim come with minimal or no sexual side effects. A clitoris vacuum pump which draws extra blood into the clitoris, used in conjunction with a medication change, can provide added support. 

Significant scarring from injuries or surgeries often blocks one or more of the energetic pathways in the body, called meridians. The result is a condition known as reverse polarity. When energy travels down a meridian and hits scar tissue, it either pools up and stagnates in this area or ricochets off this roadblock and flows down another meridian where it doesn’t belong. In either case, it can create physical problems in the vicinity of the scar or in remote areas of the body. For many women who used to have orgasms but can no longer achieve them, the culprit is often a scar from a c-section birth.

A procedure known as integrative neural therapy (INT) injects Procaine into the scar tissue. This generates a release of some of the rigidity and stagnate energy through the miasmatic process. Homeopathic agents are added to accelerate the release and reopen the pathway. Results are often immediate and dramatic. It sounds incredible, but many women have had sexual pleasure restored to their lives through INT, never suspecting that their c-section scar could have anything to do with the fact that they lost the ability to orgasm shortly after they had their babies. INT has also been effective in alleviating dyspareunia (painful intercourse) after c-section birth. Interestingly, the Japanese use a vertical incision for c-sections to avoid disrupting the energy meridians of the body.

Hormonal Imbalance

Testosterone is the hormone of desire, even in women, not estrogen. Although women only need a small amount of testosterone for sexual health, the slightest imbalance is enough to create a big problem such as lack of libido or inability to orgasm. If a larger chronic disease process isn’t an issue, hormone levels should be checked by a physician. Bio-identical testosterone is available in a number of different applications, and testosterone-based creams are available that may be applied directly to the clitoris to heighten sensitivity.

Letting the Body Lead

Understanding the causes of anorgasmia are essential to ending the false assumptions that surround it. Inability to orgasm doesn’t mean something is wrong with a relationship or that either partner is inadequate. The best prognosis for anorgasmia is to be in a deeply loving, intimate and patient relationship. Communicate with each other about what works and what doesn’t while being willing to try lots of new things. Healing from anorgasmia can also be achieved outside of a relationship and in some ways may be viewed as preferable because there’s no perceived pressure to perform. In either case, it’s important to remember that every woman is different and that orgasm isn’t always an earth-shattering experience. Let go of all your expectations. Better yet, just let go, and let your body reveal what orgasm is for you.

For more health insights from Dr. Sadeghi, please visit beingclarity.com to sign up for the monthly newsletter or check out his annual health and well-being journal, MegaZEN here. For daily messages of encouragement and humor, follow him on Instagram at @drhabibsadeghi.

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