I've written about sexual pleasure before. Actually, I've written about pleasure quite a bit. But while the topic of female orgasm isn't exactly new, it is one that lots of people are still curious about. And it's hard not to be curious: Women's orgasms are the objects of scientific studies. Do women have orgasms? Where do they come from? Why do they have them? Is one better than the next? Is there a G-Spot? Can you see it in this 83-year-old female cadaver? (No joke.) Seriously, it's exhausting... and frustrating. I mean, it's not like we have the same conversations about male orgasms.
That being said, are there women who don't experience orgasm? Yes, there are some women who are anorgasmic (cannot have an orgasm even with sufficient sexual stimulation). However, many women don't have regular orgasms because they're so caught up in the "right" way to have an orgasm. But I believe that every woman should have the capacity for pleasure and hopefully find ways for intimacy to be emotionally and physically fulfilling. So consider this your guide to maximizing your sexual pleasure -- and yes, increasing your orgasmic potential.
But first things first. We are part of a culture that loves to pathologize. Everything is a problem and lots of things have pharmacological solutions. (Can you hear the sarcasm?) We toss around the term "sexual dysfunction" regularly, but for the sake of education, let's clear some things up:
- Primary anorgasmia: You have never had an orgasm (even when plenty of sexual stimulation is provided).
- Secondary anorgasmia: You were previously able to achieve orgasm, but have since lost the ability to climax.
- Situational anorgasmia: You are unable to achieve orgasm during certain sexual behaviors, but not others. For example, you can masturbate to orgasm but not climax during intercourse.
There are many causes for anorgasmia. It can be the result of injury or trauma including: pelvic trauma, diabetes, hysterectomy, spinal cord injury, multiple sclerosis, vaginal/genital surgery, trauma during pregnancy/delivery and emotional trauma or sexual assault. These may all affect a woman's sexual response and should be discussed with a doctor or sex therapist.
But the other reasons for anorgasmia have more to do with socialization and education, rather than preexisting conditions, and this is where I can be of more help.
Are there situations where orgasm comes easier for you? What makes you feel good? Do you climax from masturbation? Is there a certain position that works for you? Can you climax when you use a vibrator? What is it that not only gets you in the mood but also heightens your actual pleasure? We don't always discuss this with our partners, and if they don't know what works for us (or if we don't know ourselves), it is impossible to be a sexual mind reader.
Stress (of any kind), negative body image and relationship issues can all impact your ability to have an orgasm. The brain is the biggest sex organ we have (other than our skin), and if we can't tune everything out and be fully engaged, reaching orgasm is going to be difficult. (If you're exhausted, distracted, even if you've recently had an argument with your partner -- you're just not going to be in the mood.) Let go some of that anxiety and stress and increase your ability to achieve orgasm. And don't focus on the orgasm -- if you enjoy the journey you'll be more likely to get to the end. Focusing on a goal will surely psyche you out of reaching it.
Freud once said the an "immature" orgasm comes from the clitoris, but a "mature" orgasm comes from a penetration with a male partner. In case you were wondering, Freud was wrong and Freud didn't have a clitoris, so what could he possibly know, anyway? There is no best, worst, mature, immature or advanced way of having an orgasm. (For example, if I've had one, I'm not comparing it to the last one I had or one that I had two years ago.) There's absolutely nothing wrong with you if you can't climax from intercourse alone. That is quite a common experience, but if you'd like to increase your chance of climaxing during intercourse, try using a vibrator during partnered sex. (Lots of people do.)
Excessive alcohol use, smoking and recreational drug use can affect sexual satisfaction and sexual arousal in general. Smoking can restrict blood flow to your genitals. Alcohol use affects vaginal lubrication, delays orgasm or inhibits it altogether. Drugs, well, drugs also affect these aspects of our sex life, in addition to hindering our ability to make good sexual decisions. The fact is healthy living and regular exercise can positively impact your sex life. And this isn't about losing weight. Exercise improves blood flow to the genitals and makes you feel good about your body (physical and psychological benefits). If you want more pleasure, take care of yourself... you can start today.
Seriously, talk to them. They should be asking you about your sexual functioning and whether or not you are satisfied during sex. That being said, they don't always do that; for that matter, OBGYNS don't always do that, so it is your responsibility to bring it up. In addition to having any preexisting medical conditions, sexual response is affected by medications, too. Think about what's in your medicine cabinet. Are you taking prescription meds? Some drugs can impact sexual response including SSRIs, anti-hypertensives (for lowering blood pressure) and even antihistamines. If your sex life has changed since being on these meds, speak up! Hopefully there are other interventions you can try. But if you don't talk to your doctor, you'll never know.
But don't just take my word for it. Lots of women have lots to say about orgasms. If you want some terrific tips and more information about the female orgasm, check out Gasm. Yes, as in Or-Gasm. You'll thank me later.
Follow Dr. Logan Levkoff on Twitter: www.twitter.com/LoganLevkoff