Here’s Help for Women Who Can’t Reach Orgasm

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Anorgasmia is the medical term for regular difficulty reaching orgasm after ample sexual stimulation and according to research affects 10 to 15 percent of women worldwide.

Also known as orgasmic disorder, inhibited female orgasm, orgasmic dysfunction, or delayed orgasm, anorgasmia can affect people in different ways. With some women, they have never experienced an orgasm. This is classified as primary anorgasmia. Other women have had orgasms in their past, but their ability has vanished. This is categorized as secondary anorgasmia. Research shows that primary anorgasmia is less common than the secondary version. 

Most often when the ability to orgasm disappears, it is due to medication or a physical or psychological situation. 

I have found with many of my own patients that painful sex, being self-conscious, or not knowing intimate information that can help reach orgasm, are all factors. 

Let’s explore more reasons why anorgasmia can affect a person.

Anorgasmia Origins

Our brains are our largest sexual organs because this is where our sex drive originates. Research published by the U.S. National Institute of Health found a direct correlation between anorgasmia and psychological factors. 

This same research found orgasmic dysfunction was more prevalent in younger, less sexually experienced women. And that almost two-thirds of women have concerns about their sexual relationships with lack of interest in sex, inability to achieve orgasm, and difficulty lubricating causing top tensions. 

This study identified many factors affecting overall orgasmic function, such as age, sexual education, lifestyle, taboos, religious beliefs, medication, gynecological surgery, and psychological disorders. 

According to additional studies, there is a direct relationship between a person’s attitude and anorgasmia. The rate of anxiety in the anorgasmic group was higher than in the unaffected orgasm group and they did not enjoy sexual intercourse as much as the unaffected orgasm group. 

Psychological factors may influence orgasm and anxiety is one of the most common determinants.


Identify Possible Causes  

When seeking the possible source(s) for anorgasmia, medication is the first place to start. 


Medications used to treat high blood pressure, antidepressants, and hormone replacement therapy can all hamper sexual function by affecting desire, arousal response, delaying orgasm or causing pain during penetration. 


I recommend speaking to your primary care physician if you suspect medication or medical treatments are affecting your sex life. 


Additional factors can be varied, but as noted with research above, psychological elements should be considered. Anxiety, depression, anxiety, stress, concern with sexual performance, and fear of intimate release may subconsciously interfere with how a body responds to sex. Even if we consciously feel like we want to enjoy an orgasmic release, our mind can cause our body to contract, tighten, and dismiss sexual feelings. 


If you suspect there is a psychological issue that is hindering your sexual enjoyment, I encourage you to speak with a therapist, psychologist or psychiatrist to learn what can be done to accept and empower your own sexuality and the pleasure you are seeking. 


Here’s Help - Possible Solutions 

Anorgasmia has not been found to be a permanent state. The Oxford Handbook of Psychiatry addressed causes of orgasmic dysfunction and found sexual behavior counseling and education may be the most effective treatment for sexual dysfunction. 


Women should understand their bodies and their sexuality. Sexuality itself is natural, even if it’s often inhibited by cultural and religious beliefs. Learning more about sex, sensory focusing exercises, and types of stimulation may improve a bodies response to intimate stimuli. 

I recommend learning more about female anatomy and taking time to explore your bodies responses to touch, vibration, and textural stimulation. The more you know about what feels good to you, the better you can share your preferences with your partner and bring the appropriate stimulation into your sex play. 

Start by exploring your body gradually and gently. Do not put any expectations on yourself. Slowly build your own sexual confidence and learn to enjoy the pleasure that your body can provide you. 

Remember This – Add Clitoral Stimulation

Most women think simple insertion is meant to be fulfilling sex. Many female patients I speak with think something is wrong with them if they can’t orgasm via penetrative vaginal sex. If you look at many movie sex scenes, every orgasm is simultaneous and achieved by insertion. And sadly, for a lot of people this is their sexual education. So, it’s important to let you know that reaching orgasm every time and via penetrative sex is not common. 

According to a 2015 survey published in the Journal of Sex & Marital Therapy, approximately 75 percent of all women never reach orgasm from intercourse alone. Perhaps the most important finding of this survey was that 36.6% of women ages 18 to 94 reported clitoral stimulation was necessary for orgasm during intercourse, and an additional 36% indicated that, while clitoral stimulation was not needed, their orgasms feel better if their clitoris is stimulated during intercourse. 

This means adding clitoral stimulation to sex play greatly increases chances of reaching orgasm. 

The survey also included what type of clitoral touch had the best orgasmic response, with over 66 percent of women stating their preference was being touched directly on their clitoris with an up and down rubbing action using medium pressure. Intimate toys for women can also be explored. The clitoris contains approximately 8,000 sensory nerve fibers that could explain why it needs direct stimulation for an orgasm to occur. 

In addition to clitoral stimulation, the majority of women surveyed said foreplay, having a partner who knew what they liked, and emotional intimacy were elements that increased their chances of reaching orgasm. 

Permission to Explore

I feel like it is important to be as informed as possible when it comes to sex education because then you can take better control of your own pleasure. Waiting around for your partner to discover your clitoris or what turns you on can be frustrating. Most sexual partners appreciate actively committed lovers and welcome pointers when it comes to pleasure. 

Seek advice, take time to explore personal sexual pleasure, and share preferences with your partner. Each of these are steps that can help you better reach orgasm. 

Do you have difficulty reaching orgasm? Are there particular tips and tricks that work for you? I would love to hear from you! Have a question about sex or sex toys? Let me know! I am here to help.

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Dr. Sunny Rodgers is a clinician, author, and speaker who has worked in the wellness industry since 2000. She holds a Ph.D. in Human Sexuality, a Master of Arts in Clinical Sexology, and is an accredited Sexual Health Educator. She is the Founder of The Institute of Intimate Health, an Ambassador for the American Sexual Health Association, regular lecturer for the UCLA David Geffen School of Medicine, Sexual Confidence Coach for the Marigold App, and a professional Sex Toy Concierge™. Rodgers hosted a popular weekly show on Playboy Radio, has been an expert guest on several TV and radio programs, and is a regular contributor to HuffPost, Men's Health, Cosmo, Bustle, and many more publications.