Sex can involve lots of different combinations of body parts, acts, toys, and people. It can involve penetration or not, oral or not, more than one person or not, using your hands or not. Sex also usually involves at least one person trying to have an orgasm, at some point. While it’s common to view orgasms as a central focus of sex, it’s far less common to talk about what happens if you can’t have one.
Anorgasmia is the regular inability to experience orgasm after plenty of sexual stimulation, accompanied by a feeling of distress, according to the Mayo Clinic. Anyone of any gender can experience anorgasmia, but it’s more common in women, and less common in young men (to use the researchers’ language around gender).
Anorgasmia can also take a few different forms. Preorgasmia is when someone has not yet experienced an orgasm. Some people with anorgasmia used to experience orgasms, but currently don’t (“acquired” or “secondary” anorgasmia), others can have orgasms in some situations but not others (“situational” anorgasmia), and still others can’t orgasm with a partner but can alone.
What Causes Anorgasmia?
Anorgasmia can be a little bit mental and a little bit physical. According to the authors of a 2018 study in the Journal of Sex & Marital Therapy, some of the more common reasons respondents gave for difficulty having orgasms included stress and anxiety, not being aroused enough, and feeling rushed during sex.
Body image, pain during sex, inadequate lubrication, and medication-related issues were mentioned by respondents, but less often. If any of these reasons resonate with you, it might be worth checking in with a healthcare provider.
"I want to have an orgasm. What can I do about that?"
Sex should never be just about having orgasms — and if it is, you might find it harder to have them. Everyone has orgasms in different ways, and at different times, and that’s totally normal. But if you, personally, want to have orgasms and aren’t experiencing them right now, there are a few things you can explore. Preorgasmia or anorgasmia is not forever.
Researchers found that how interested someone was in sex, how much time they felt they had for it, what they thought of their partner, or how stressed they were all impacted women (to use their language) who were concerned about not having orgasms differently compared to those who weren’t. Making changes in those areas can help with orgasms.
Sexual desire and sexual interest work in a few different ways. Get familiar with the types of sexual desire to find new ways to approach yours. Make sure to prioritize pleasure and that the sex you’re having is good enough to keep you coming back for more. Scheduling sex can be a great way to make sure you have dedicated erotic time with a partner and don’t feel rushed.
When you can make time to relax and destress beforehand, this also helps you be present and in the right headspace to experience pleasure. If you’re dealing with ongoing issues with your relationship, consider couples’ therapy as a way to address them so you can get back to your erotic life together.
If you need help with figuring out where to start, download the Lover app to explore expert-designed courses that can help you overcome anorgasmia. Check out “Orgasm 101,” “Climaxing Consistently,” and “Orgasms with a Partner” to discover more.