Q: I’m 28 years old and I’ve never had an orgasm. I’ve been in several relationships, but none of my exes know that I was always faking. It’s too embarrassing to admit. Is there anything I can do to make it happen, or is this just the way I am?
A: You might have what’s known as primary orgasmic disorder. It’s a little more difficult to treat than the condition of women who were once orgasmic and have lost the ability, but treatment is certainly possible. First, get yourself evaluated by a physician to rule out any physical problems that could be affecting your ability to orgasm. Nerve damage or any trauma to the pelvic area from an accident or surgery can impair your ability to orgasm. Good blood flow is especially important for orgasms, so diabetes and other health conditions that affect blood flow might also be part of the problem.
However, I suspect your problems with orgasm are as much a product of your mind as your body. You should ask yourself some questions: What messages did you receive about sex when you were growing up? Were you made to feel comfortable with your sexuality, or ashamed and fearful? How did your parents and other authority figures deal with sex, especially once you entered adolescence? The answers to these questions will give you a sense of the attitudes you inherited about sex, and the mindset you bring to your sexual encounters. Many women with lifelong orgasm difficulties were taught as children that sex is bad or dirty.
As adults, they have a hard time quieting those negative voices and enjoying sex — even in the context of a loving relationship. If this description fits, it may be best to explore these issues with a licensed sex therapist. And I emphasize sex therapist, since many general therapists are not trained (or comfortable with) sex therapy. A sex therapist will help you unravel early negative messages and also educate you about your body and sexuality.
You should also learn to masturbate, both to become familiar with your body and to overcome any feelings of shame you associate with sexual activity. Exploring your body alone allows you to discover new sensations and retrains your mind to focus on pleasure rather than self-conscious or self-defeating thoughts. Masturbation is the best way to reach orgasm for a lot of women, not just those who struggle with orgasm ability. This may also be something to discuss with a therapist, if you’re not comfortable going through it on your own. You may wish to check out Betty Dodson’s book on the subject, Sex for One: The Joy of Selfloving. Though it may take some work, the odds are that you’re capable of having the orgasms you want.
Here are some other tips to help you reach orgasm:
Never fake it. Sometimes women (and even men!) fake orgasm because they don’t want to hurt their partner’s feelings. Though this deception comes from a place of love, it is still deception and it can still be destructive. Your partner won’t learn how to truly pleasure you and you will become resentful if you continually miss out on your sexual bliss.
Ask for what you want. Instead of faking orgasm, why not be up front and let your partner know what types of positions and touches you enjoy? Hate missionary? Go ahead and tell him! Or, hop on top and show him what you like.
Focus on your hot spots. Only 30 percent of women have an orgasm from intercourse alone, so rest assured that there is nothing abnormal about your inability to reach orgasm instantly during sex. Most women need a little extra stimulation, whether it’s manual stimulation of the clitoris during sex or oral stimulation before or after the act itself.
Lastly, just remember to relax and enjoy the ride. Orgasms won’t come if you are stressed or anxious, so take some deep breaths and stay in the moment. Good luck!
Last Updated: 10/31/2014. By Laura Berman, PhD
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