What Is Anorgasmia? What Should You Do If You Have It?

If you're having trouble climaxing, there could be a real (medical) reason why.

Women's Health

If there are two things in life that, in my opinion, warrant the same response, it's when it comes to the questions, "How do you know when you're in love with someone?" and "How do you know when you've had an orgasm?". To me, both of those inquiries garner the answers, "If you have to ask, you probably haven't" followed by an almost immediate, "I dunno. You just know". When it comes to being in love with someone, we'll tackle that at another time. For now, let's look into what reaching the promised land, in the form of an orgasm, is all about.

As far as actually experiencing one, there are some physical signs that most women can relate to—intense-yet-quite-enjoyable muscle spasms (or contractions), warm tingles, flushed skin, accelerated breathing and heart rate and unexplainable pleasure, accompanied by unbelievable calm and contentment. How long does this sexual roller coaster of sorts last? Anywhere between 20 seconds and two minutes. And just how can you have one? Well, there are about 12 different types of orgasms that you can experience with a partner; then there are the ones that come via masturbation. Either way, orgasms are one of life's greatest treasures; something that is truly unmatched and very hard to miss, when it actually does come your way.

Now here's the thing. If you just read all of that and you're like, "Yeah, I can't relate" and you're at your wit's end trying to figure out what the "problem" is, it very well could be that you are dealing with a bout of what is known as anorgasmia. It's very real. So real, in fact, that reportedly 10-15 percent of women struggle with it. And just what does anorgasmia entail? Give me a few minutes and I'll break it down as best as I can.

What Exactly Is Anorgasmia?


I know it might be weird to word it this way, but if there's one thing that I "like" about anorgasmia, it's that it validates a very important point. What point is that? Even if 70 percent of women have trouble experiencing a vaginal orgasm, it's not necessarily because anything is "wrong" with them nor does it mean that they never will (you can check out a woman's personal journey with anorgasmia here). It could very well be that anorgasmia has affected them, possibly without them even knowing it.

So, just what is anorgasmia? In a nutshell, it's what happens when women (or men) are unable to experience an orgasm, even after a sufficient amount of sexual stimulation. Another term for it is orgasmic dysfunction.

While I've already touched on the fact that 10-15 percent of women have an ongoing issue with anorgasmia, some studies indicate that between 11-41 percent of women have seasons when they experience it. That makes sense since there are actual "levels" to this particular condition.

  • Primary anorgasmia is when you've never had an orgasm before.
  • Secondary anorgasmia is when you used to have them, but lately, it's virtually impossible.
  • Situational anorgasmia is when you're only able to climax under certain circumstances like maybe oral sex or masturbation.
  • General anorgasmia is when you're unable to orgasm at all.

Now that you see the breakdown, I'm thinking it makes sense how close to half of all women deal with a bout of anorgasmia at some point in their lives. And what is the cause of this sexual challenge? It depends, but some of the leading factors include age, medical conditions (or medication), depression, the abuse of drugs or alcohol, anxiety and stress. However, when it comes to primary or situational anorgasmia, some other things to consider include shyness, low self-image, pinned up religious or cultural beliefs, wacked out childhood sex education (or lack thereof), relationship problems, the fear of getting pregnant (if you're not ready to have a child or you've experienced an undesired pregnancy before), or even sexual trauma. It can even be a combination of some of the things that I just mentioned.

How Is Anorgasmia Treated?


Now that you know that anorgasmia (or orgasmic dysfunction) is a very real—and common—issue, you're probably wondering what can be done about it. Good question. Again, because there are levels to it, the first thing I would recommend doing is breaking out a journal to do some sex journaling in, just to get clear on if your issue is situational or not. If it is centered around your relationship (for instance, a breach in trust or some sort of emotional disconnect), talk it over with your partner. Or, if you're only able to via oral sex or masturbation, it could be because you are receiving more clitoral stimulation that way or you feel less self-conscious in those settings. But even realizing that could help to put you on the path to having orgasms through intercourse (like trying a blended orgasm, perhaps).

However, if you feel like you more accurately fall under the primary, secondary or general categories, it's important that you make an appointment to see your doctor as soon as possible. It could be that your hormone levels are off or that there is an underlying health issue that you are unaware of. Once you are given a thorough examination, your physician may refer you to a gynecologist (if you didn't automatically go to one) or even a reputable counselor or therapist who specializes in sexual dysfunction.

Or, they may prescribe some form of estrogen therapy or an antidepressant. They might even recommend using something along the lines of Zestra; it's a type of oil that warms your clitoris so that your genitalia can increase in sexual stimulation.

For now, the main thing to keep in mind is if you've never had an orgasm before or, it's been a while since you've had one, the right kind of treatment could have you well on your way. On the other hand, if you are diagnosed with being incapable of having one (which, for the record, is less common than all of the other types of anorgasmia), there are plenty of people who can vouch for the fact that sex can still be good without an orgasm. Whatever the case may be, just know that you're not alone. Anorgasmia is something a lot of people deal with—and get through. That's a promise.

Want more stories like this? Sign up for our newsletter here and check out the related reads below:

Why You Should Stop Faking Orgasms ASAP

6 Tips For Dealing With A Sexually Incompatible Spouse

My Sex Drive Has Become Super Low & I'm Here For It

10 Things You Didn't Know About The Male And Female Orgasm

Featured image by Giphy

This article is in partnership with Xfinity.

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