What is Female Orgasmic Disorder?

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Do you orgasm every time? 

Many women don’t. According to research from the International Academy of Sex Research, only 65% of women have an orgasm during sexual activities. This means, not everyone has an orgasm every time they enjoy sexual activities. In fact, 10% of women have never had an orgasm. 


Orgasm Killers

There are usually a few common factors that can keep a person from reaching orgasm. In-depth research published in the U.S. National Library of Medicine listed several components playing a role in climaxing, such as the personal importance of orgasms, sexual desire, masturbation, clitoral and vaginal stimulation, sexual self-esteem, communication with partner, and a partner’s sexual techniques.


This research concluded that increasing sexual experience or experimenting with different partners did not lead to more frequent orgasms. 


Most medical organizations believe women have difficulty reaching orgasm due to physical, emotional or psychological factors. Other contributing factors may include age, medication, and medical conditions, such as diabetes. 


Take a moment and consider these circumstances and how they may affect your orgasmic possibilities:


  • The sexual position
  • Your stress level
  • Not drinking enough water
  • Uncomfortable with your body
  • Self-conscious about being vocal during sex
  • Not feeling sexy
  • Feeling insecure
  • Being afraid to lose control—or your heart
  • Experiencing pain
  • Not fantasizing
  • Avoiding masturbation
  • Not having enough natural lubrication
  • Afraid to tell your partner what you want sexually
  • Feeling like you may urinate during sex
  • Medication is reducing your sex drive
  • Your mind isn’t focusing on sex
  • You’re too focused on the end result
  • Worry about your sexual performance
  • Feeling depressed
  • Problems in your relationship
  • Trust issues
  • Not sufficiently stimulated
  • Physical health is an issue
  • Hormonal changes
  • Health conditions
  • Previous sexual trauma


While this list is quite lengthy, it most likely does not include every factor that women deal with when it comes to experiencing, or not experiencing, orgasms. 


Culture, religion, and upbringing can all play into your current sexual feelings, even if subconsciously, and should also be taken into account. Often medication, or lack thereof, can affect sexual responses. Certain hormonal birth control can dampen sexual responses as well and is something to keep in mind.


What is Female Orgasmic Disorder?

Anorgasmia is the medical term for regular difficulty reaching orgasm after ample sexual stimulation.

And you are not alone. There are others who are in the same situation with studies suggesting that female orgasmic dysfunction affects 11-41% of women worldwide at some point in their lives. 

There are several terms that are used interchangeably—Female Orgasmic Disorder, Female Orgasmic Dysfunction or Anorgasmia. 


Just as preferences change and sex drives ebb and flow, women may experience short periods of anorgasmia. For others, it can be a long-term situation.


4 Types of Orgasmic Dysfunction

Primary Anorgasmia: When a person has never had an orgasm.

Secondary Anorgasmia: Difficulty reaching orgasm, even though an orgasm has been previously experienced.

Situational Anorgasmia: When a person can only orgasm during specific situations. This is the most common type of orgasmic dysfunction. 

General Anorgasmia: The inability to achieve orgasm under any circumstances.


Orgasmic dysfunction is most often diagnosed by your physician, who can provide a plan of action depending on underlying medication, medical conditions, or therapy/counseling needed.  


What other options can be tried? 

Here are 6 options that can be considered when experiencing difficulty reaching orgasm. 


1. Clitoral Stimulation

For many women, the clitoris is the most sensitive area for sexual stimulation and can play a central role in elevating feelings of arousal. The clitoris is part of the clitoral network—an expansive network of erectile tissues, glands, and nerves.


According to research from the Center for Sexual Health Promotion at Indiana University, 36.6% of women need clitoral stimulation to reach orgasm, while additional research published in the U.S. National Library of Medicine states approximately 90% of women report orgasm from some form of sexual stimulation, most women do not routinely (and some never) experience orgasm solely from sexual intercourse. This same study found 100% of men routinely experience orgasm solely from sexual intercourse, which may be why it’s expected for women to do the same. 


In addition to adding clitoral stimulation to sexual activities, there are additional options which can be tried. 


2. Muscle Tension

While a lot of women try to relax during sexual activities, medical research has found that muscle tension (myotonia) may help females reach orgasm. Contracting the lower pelvis may engage the Kegel muscles and increase blood flow to this area, thereby boosting chances of climax. 


3. Engage Your Brain

Your brain is your largest sexual organ. So, it’s important to use your mind as a part of sexual activities. 


Focus on sensations, stimulation, and how pleasurable sexual activities feel. Free your mind of anything that may interfere with your pleasure. 


4. Rock Your Pelvis

Rocking your pelvis is more than just meeting your partner thrusts. Lifting ones’ pelvis over and over engages and energizes all the pelvic floor muscles and can help women have more orgasms.


5. Wear Socks

According to research by Dr Gert Holstege, of the Centre for Uro Neurology at the University of Groningen, a comfortable climate can be important for orgasms. His research discovered 80% of subjects were able to reach orgasm while wearing socks. 


6. Make Your Orgasm Important

One shared factor among almost all the previously mentioned research participants was that women valued their partner’s orgasm more than their own. 


Value your own pleasure within sexual experiences and allow yourself to be selfish with your desire to have orgasms. 


Practice Patience!

The human sexual response cycle is a four-stage model of physiological responses to sexual stimulation which was first formulated by researchers William H. Masters and Virginia E. Johnson. The first phase is the excitement phase where arousal ramps up, leading to the plateau phase, which increases muscle tension and elevates breathing. These may be considered the foreplay phases.


It’s important to know that in females, this initial pre-orgasm period can last from several minutes to several hours as the body prepares itself for sex. 


According to research, it can take a minimum of 20 minutes for the female body to be responsive and ready for sexual intercourse. 


So, don’t be discouraged after a short period of time. 


Give Yourself Permission to Explore 

Please be gentle with yourself and find ways to include clitoral stimulation, both manually and via pleasure products, in your sex life. 


Explore different types of sexual stimulation. There are several pleasure products that offer suction, air pulse, flickering tongues, warmth, and other options to experiment with. 


Take time to learn more about your body and its preferences. And consider speaking with a physician, therapist, or counselor about ways to become more orgasmic. 


Have you ever had difficulty experiencing orgasm? Is there something that helps you reach climax? Please send me your questions and comments. I’m always here to help you.

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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.