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

We all know what it is to love, be loved, or be in love – or at least we think we do. But what would you say if I were to tell you that so much of the love that you thought you’d been in was actually a little thing called limerence? No, it doesn’t sound as romantic – and it’s not – unless you’re into the whole Obsessed-type of love. But one might say at least one side of that dynamic might be…thrilling.

Keep reading...Show less
The daily empowerment fix you need.
Make things inbox official.

Idris Elba and Sabrina Dhowre Elba are gearing up for the second season of their podcast Coupledom where they interview partners in business and/or romance. The stunning couple has been married for three years but they have been together for a total of six years. During that time, they have developed many partnerships but quickly learned that working together isn’t all that it’s cracked up to be.

Keep reading...Show less

Before she was Amira Unplugged, rapper, singer, and a Becoming a Popstar contestant on MTV, she was Amira Daughtery, a twenty-five year-old Georgian, with aspirations of becoming a lawyer. “I thought my career path was going to lead me to law because that’s the way I thought I would help people,” Amira tells xoNecole. “[But] I always came back to music.”

A music lover since childhood, Amira grew up in an artistic household where passion for music was emphasized. “My dad has always been my huge inspiration for music because he’s a musician himself and is so passionate about the history of music.” Amira’s also dealt with deafness in one ear since she was a toddler, a condition which she says only makes her more “intentional” about the music she makes, to ensure that what she hears inside her head can translate the way she wants it to for audiences.

“The loss of hearing means a person can’t experience music in the conventional way,” she says. “I’ve always responded to bigger, bolder anthemic songs because I can feel them [the vibrations] in my body, and I want to be sure my music does this for deaf/HOH people and everyone.”

A Black woman wearing a black hijab and black and gold dress stands in between two men who are both wearing black pants and colorful jackets and necklaces

Amira Unplugged and other contestants on Becoming a Popstar

Amira Unplugged / MTV

In order to lift people’s spirits at the beginning of the pandemic, Amira began posting videos on TikTok of herself singing and using sign language so her music could reach her deaf fans as well. She was surprised by how quickly she was able to amass a large audience. It was through her videos that she caught the attention of a talent scout for MTV’s new music competition show for rising TikTok singers, Becoming a Popstar. After a three-month process, Amira was one of those picked to be a contestant on the show.

Becoming a Popstar, as Amira describes, is different from other music competition shows we’ve all come to know over the years. “Well, first of all, it’s all original music. There’s not a single cover,” she says. “We have to write these songs in like a day or two and then meet with our producers, meet with our directors. Every week, we are producing a full project for people to vote on and decide if they’d listen to it on the radio.”

To make sure her deaf/HOH audiences can feel her songs, she makes sure to “add more bass, guitar, and violin in unique patterns.” She also incorporates “higher pitch sounds with like chimes, bells, and piccolo,” because, she says, they’re easier to feel. “But it’s less about the kind of instrument and more about how I arrange the pattern of the song. Everything I do is to create an atmosphere, a sensation, to make my music a multi-sensory experience.”

She says that working alongside the judges–pop stars Joe Jonas and Becky G, and choreographer Sean Bankhead – has helped expand her artistry. “Joe was really more about the vocal quality and the timber and Becky was really about the passion of [the song] and being convinced this was something you believed in,” she says. “And what was really great about [our choreographer] Sean is that obviously he’s a choreographer to the stars – Lil Nas X, Normani – but he didn’t only focus on choreo, he focused on stage presence, he focused on the overall message of the song. And I think all those critiques week to week helped us hone in on what we wanted to be saying with our next song.”

As her star rises, it’s been both her Muslim faith and her friends, whom she calls “The Glasses Gang” (“because none of us can see!”), that continue to ground her. “The Muslim and the Muslima community have really gone hard [supporting me] and all these people have come together and I truly appreciate them,” Amira says. “I have just been flooded with DMs and emails and texts from [young muslim kids] people who have just been so inspired,” she says. “People who have said they have never seen anything like this, that I embody a lot of the style that they wanted to see and that the message hit them, which is really the most important thing to me.”

A Black woman wears a long, salmon pink hijab, black outfit and pink boots, smiling down at the camera with her arm outstretched to it.

Amira Unplugged

Amira Unplugged / MTV

Throughout the show’s production, she was able to continue to uphold her faith practices with the help of the crew, such as making sure her food was halal, having time to pray, dressing modestly, and working with female choreographers. “If people can accept this, can learn, and can grow, and bring more people into the fold of this industry, then I’m making a real difference,” she says.

Though she didn’t win the competition, this is only the beginning for Amira. Whether it’s on Becoming a Popstar or her videos online, Amira has made it clear she has no plans on going anywhere but up. “I’m so excited that I’ve gotten this opportunity because this is really, truly what I think I’m meant to do.”

Today is Malcolm X’s birthday. As an icon of Black liberation movements, his words are often rallying cries and guideposts in struggle. In 2020, after the officers who executed Breonna Taylor were not charged with her murder, my timeline was flooded with people reposting Malcolm’s famous quote: “The most disrespected person in America is the Black woman. The most unprotected person in America is the Black woman. The most neglected person in America is the Black woman.”

Keep reading...Show less

As her fame continues to rise, Tiffany Haddish has remained a positive light for her fans with her infectious smile and relatable story. Since Girls Trip, fans have witnessed the comedian become a modern-day Cinderella due to the many opportunities that have come her way and the recognition she began to receive.

Keep reading...Show less
Exclusive Interviews

Exclusive: Jay Ellis Shares ‘Full-Circle’ Moment With His Parents & His Self-Care Ritual

Staying grounded is one of the actor's biggest priorities.

Latest Posts