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Anorgasmia: What is a Normal Orgasm?

Anorgasmia: What is a Normal Orgasm?

An orgasm is a feeling of intense physical pleasure and release of tension, accompanied by involuntary, rhythmic contractions of your pelvic floor muscles. Some women can actually feel the muscles contracting, others don’t. Some women describe fireworks all over their bodies, and others call the feeling a tingle.

The movies make it all look easy, but the truth about what’s normal when it comes to the female orgasm is more subtle and intricate. This peak experience is not a simple, sure thing, but the result of our body’s complex reactions to physical, emotional and psychological factors.

Regular difficulty with reaching orgasm that causes you personal distress is referred to as anorgasmia and is a very common occurrence. Orgasms are different for every woman: they vary in intensity, frequency and the amount or kind of stimulation needed to bring them on. Medical issues, medications you may be taking, and age also affects your ability to experience orgasm.

Types of Anorgasmia

By definition anorgasmia is the inability to experience orgasm, or experiencing long delays in reaching orgasm. However, there are different kinds of anorgasmia, including:

  • Primary anorgasmia—you've never experienced an orgasm.
  • Secondary anorgasmia—you used to have orgasms, but now experience difficulty reaching climax.
  • Situational anorgasmia—you’re able to orgasm only during certain circumstances, such as during oral sex or masturbation. This is very common in women. In fact, most women experience orgasm only from clitoral stimulation.
  • General anorgasmia—you’re unable to orgasm in any situation or with any partner.

If you are happy with the climax of your sexual activities, there is no need for any concern. If you are not happy, or experience a sudden or disconcerting change in the intensity or your ability to attain climax, talk with your AOA doctor. You may learn that your sexual experiences are completely normal and nothing to worry about. Your AOA doctor may recommend some strategies to reduce your anxiety and increase your satisfaction. In some cases, lifestyle changes, change in medications, or sex therapy may help.

Some of the physical causes of anorgasmia can include:

  • Medical diseases that affect the human sexual response cycle, such as diabetes, or neurological diseases such as multiple sclerosis.
  • Cancer surgeries or other gynecologic issues you may be having, such as painful intercourse.
  • Both prescription and over-the-counter medications, including blood pressure medications, antihistamines and anti-depressants.
  • Too much alcohol and drug use can impact your ability to climax.
  • Normal changes related to aging in your anatomy, hormones, neurological and circulatory systems

Some psychological causes can include:

  • Stress and anxiety
  • Mental health problems
  • Cultural or religious beliefs
  • Embarrassment
  • Guilt
  • Fear of pregnancy or disease

Relationship issues also can impact your ability to reach orgasm:

  • Unresolved conflicts
  • Lack of connection with your partner
  • Poor communication of needs and preferences
  • Infidelity, broken trust

Talking with Your AOA Doctor

Since this can be an area of embarrassment and discomfort, it is particularly important to prepare for the appointment, so that you and your doctor can work together to address your concerns. You will want to write down information in advance, to make the best use of your time together, including:

  • Your symptoms. Have you had an orgasm and under what circumstances?
  • Your sexual history. At what age did you become sexually active? Do you have any history of trauma or sexual abuse?
  • Your overall medical history. Include any conditions for which you’ve been diagnosed, including mental health conditions, as well as any prescribed or over-the-counter medications you’ve taken recently.

Not all sexual problems require medical attention, but if you are distressed by a problem, or it has persisted for more than a few weeks, do not be embarrassed or afraid to contact your AOA physician and make an appointment.

Learn more about anorgasmia:

Anorgasmia in Women
Women's Sexual Problems
Female Sexual Dysfunction