Female Orgasmic Disorder. Anorgasmia. Pre-orgasmia. Depending on whom you ask about it, your answers will vary like the range of orgasms themselves. The pharmaceutical companies, notably those who are currently testing compounds promising to have every woman horny on cue, will say that Female Orgasmic Disorder is a common and harrowing reality. Feminists will say it is an invention to make women feel inadequate about normal sexual responses to relationship and personal challenges. Many other explanations fall in between these versions, while the research jury is still out.
Women who orgasmically under-achieve, for want of a delicate term, are unable to reach orgasm even though they are sufficiently sexually aroused. Not reaching orgasm on occasion is not considered a disorder, but rather when this is the normal pattern of sexual behaviour.
Sometimes orgasmic disorder is confused with arousal problems. A woman might be capable of orgasm, with a little or great efforts, but may not be emotionally or mentally stimulated enough. In this case she needs to work on desire – a whole separate element of sexual behaviour. This could mean looking into issues such as her relationship, her attitude toward sex, her current interest in sex and so on.
Reaching orgasm is a function of desire, arousal and perseverance until enough stimulation brings the body and mind to its peak. It is only when arousal is high and, still, no orgasm results that it is considered an orgasm disorder.
For some women lack of orgasm potentially lasts their whole lives, for others it passes at a certain age, and for others yet, it appears after they have been orgasmic in the past – this is known as secondary orgasmic disorder.
Orgasmic problems are more common in younger women. We do not know if it is because as they grow older they have more sexual experience or because with age they develop confidence and a healthier body image. But for a lot of sexually active women, their orgasm will turn up in their 30’s or even later, even if they have spent years trying to find it and not managing.
This can be physiological or not, but there is usually some psychological component. Physiological reasons include nerve problems or medication, especially anti-depression pills.
Psychological reasons include guilt, shame, abuse, self-consciousness, relationship worries and the inability to let go. Other characteristics that differentiate orgasmic and pre-orgasmic women include dependency, self-esteem and anxiety. These may be difficult traits to change, but with therapy or self-awareness training, they can definitely be improved over time.
The so-called experts argue about how wide spread the problem of pre-orgasmia is. From the infamous finding by Laumann (1999) that 43% of women suffer from sexual dysfunction, to much more modest evaluations, we know with a bit more certainty that many women will never overcome sexual problems because they will not turn to anyone for advice or help. Of those who seek help, there are a small number of women, perhaps as many as 5%, for whom orgasmic treatments used today do not seem to be successful. This does not mean that they need to accept this fact, just that they experts they have turned to have not yet figured out what is stalling their orgasm.
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