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
Featured image by Giphy
- How Can I Tell If I've Had An Orgasm - xoNecole: Women's Interest, Love, Wellness, Beauty ›
- Clitoris Facts: Things To Know About Your Clit - xoNecole: Women's Interest, Love, Wellness, Beauty ›
- How To Have Different Types Of Orgasms - xoNecole: Women's Interest, Love, Wellness, Beauty ›
- Common Masturbation Questions Answered, Expert - xoNecole: Women's Interest, Love, Wellness, Beauty ›
- 11 Different Types Of Orgasms Women Can Have - xoNecole: Women's Interest, Love, Wellness, Beauty ›
After being a regular contributor for about four years and being (eh hem) MIA in 2022, Shellie is back penning for the platform (did you miss her? LOL).
In some ways, nothing has changed and in others, everything has. For now, she'll just say that she's working on the 20th anniversary edition of her first book, she's in school to take life coaching to another level and she's putting together a platform that supports and encourages Black men because she loves them from head to toe.
Other than that, she still works with couples, she's still a doula, she's still not on social media and her email contact (firstname.lastname@example.org) still hasn't changed (neither has her request to contact her ONLY for personal reasons; pitch to the platform if you have story ideas).
Life is a funny thing but if you stay calm, moments can come full circle and this is one of them. No doubt about it.
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From Monogamy To Polyamory: 'I'm In An Asexual Poly Marriage With My Husband Of 7 Years'
Have you ever wondered what it's like to be asexual and in an open marriage? Relationship Coach Mikki Bey shared her first-hand experience with us as well as answered some of our burning questions.
Like a lot of people, Mikki met her now husband, Raheem Ali, online. As soon as they met, they instantly fell in love and got engaged on their first date. Just 90 days after they met, the couple tied the knot and have now been married for seven years. Raheem and Mikki aren’t your typical married couple, and despite being married for almost a decade, their marriage is anything but traditional. Mikki and Raheem have what she calls an "asexual polyamorous marriage."
Defining Her Sexuality
It wasn't until last summer that Mikki found the language to define her sexuality. "I didn't have the language for it until last summer," she explained to xoNecole. "Looking back, I just thought sex wasn't my thing. It was never enjoyable for me, and I'd go years without even noticing.”
Mikki always thought she was broken because she had no interest in sex. Mikki noticed after her friends came to visit and started discussing their sexual fantasies that she realized something was different about her. “At that point, I knew something was definitely different about me since I do not have sexual fantasies at all. It was truly news to me that people are at work thinking about sex! That was not my experience.” This led to Mikki researching asexuality, which she soon realized fit her to a T. “It felt like breathing new air when I was able to call it by name," said Mikki.
"Looking back, I just thought sex wasn't my thing. It was never enjoyable for me, and I'd go years without even noticing it."
Asexuality refers to people who experience little or no sexual attraction, experience attraction without acting on it sexually, or experience sexual attraction differently based on other factors. Like most things, asexuality falls on a spectrum and encompasses many other identities. It's important to remember, however, that attraction and action are not always synonymous: some asexuals may reject the idea of sexual contact, but others may be sex-neutral and engage in sexual activity.
It's possible that some asexuals will have sex with someone else despite not having a libido or masturbating, but others will have sex with a partner because it brings a sense of connection.
From a Traditional Marriage to Kitchen Table Polyamory
Although Mikki never really had a high sex drive, it wasn’t until after the birth of her son, that she noticed her sex drive took a real nosedive. “I never had a high sex drive, but about a year after my son was born, I realized I had zero desire. My husband has a high sex drive, and I knew that it would not be sustainable to not have sex in our marriage at that time.”
She was determined to find an alternative to divorce and stumbled upon a polyamory conversation on Clubhouse. Upon doing her own research, she brought up the idea to their husband, who was receptive. “It’s so interesting to me that people weigh sex so heavily in relationships when even if you are having a ton of sex, it’s still a very small percentage of the relationship activity," Mikki shared.
They chose polyamory because Mikki still wanted to be married, but she also wanted to make sure that Raheem was getting his individual needs and desires met, even if that meant meeting them with someone else. “I think that we have been programmed to think that our spouses need to be our 'everything.' We do not operate like that. There is no one way that fits all when it comes to relationships, despite what society may try to tell you. Their path to doing this thing called life together may be different from yours, but they found what works for them. We have chosen to design a marriage that works for us,” Mikki explained.
"We have chosen to design a marriage that works for us. We both consent to each of us having everything from casual sex partners to lifetime partners if it should go there. We believe love is abundant and do not limit ourselves or each other on how we express it."
She continued, “We both consent to each of us having everything from casual sexual partners to lifetime partners if it should get there. We believe love is abundant and do not limit ourselves or each other on how we express it. Our dynamic is parallel with kitchen table poly aspirations.”
Kitchen table polyamory (KTP) is a polyamorous relationship in which all participants are on friendly terms enough to share a meal at the kitchen table. Basically, it means you have some form of relationship with your partner’s other partner, whether as a group or individually. A lot of times, KTP relationships are highly personal and rooted in mutual respect, communication, and friendship.
Intimacy in an Asexual Polyamorous Marriage
Mikki says she and her husband, Raheem, still share intimate moments despite being in a polyamorous marriage. “Our intimacy is emotional, intellectual, spiritual, and physical, although non-sexual. We are intentional about date nights weekly, surprising and delighting each other daily, and most of all, we communicate our needs regularly. In my opinion, our intimacy is top-tier! I give my husband full-body massages, mani-pedis and make sure I am giving him small physical touches/kisses throughout the day. He is also very intentional about showing me his love and affection.”
Raheem and Mikki now use their lives as examples for others. On their website, thepolycouplenextdoor.com, they coach people interested in learning how to be consensually non-monogamous. “We are both relationship coaches. I specialized in emotional regulation, and Raheem specializes in communication and conflict resolution. The same tools we use in our marriage help our clients succeed in polyamory."
Mikki advises people who may be asexual or seeking non-monogamy to communicate their needs openly and to consider seeking sex therapy or intimacy coaching. Building a strong relationship with a non-sexual partner requires both empathy and compassion.
For more of Mikki, follow her on Instagram @getmikkibey. Follow the couple's platform on Instagram @thepolycouplenextdoor.
Featured image by skynesher/Getty Images