What is Orgasmic dysfunction in women?
Prior to 1970, this term was described as frigidity. It was a general term used to describe women who were totally uninterested in sex, and who had never experience orgasm.
- Primary orgasmic dysfunction, anorgasmia, is defined as a condition where a women has never obtained an orgasm under any circumstances.
- Situational orgasmic dysfunction is where a women has achieved orgasm in some manner other than intercourse, through masturbation or mutual stimulation by her partner.
- Secondary orgasmic dysfunction describes women who have been regularly orgasmic in the past, but no longer are.
Statistics vary widely regarding how many women have never experienced orgasm. Kinsey reports that approximately 10% of all married women have never experienced orgasm. Realistically, the range is anywhere from 5-17% of married women who have not achieved orgasm.
There are many physical conditions that can cause anorgasmia including spinal cord tumors, trauma, Lou Gehrig’s disease, nutritional deficiencies, diabetes, and decrease in vaginal circulation, although these are quite rare. Endocrine disorders can also play a part, such as hypothyroidism or hyperthyroidism.
I would like to think that “the times they are a’changin’” to quote an old Bob Dylan song. Women growing up in the 1940’s or 1950’s were basically taught to be “good girls” and were halted in exploring their own sexuality, and encouraged to postpone these sexual feelings until after marriage. Childhood exposure to a rigid home environment, religious or otherwise, clearly has contributed to negative attitudes towards nudity and sexuality. Traumatic experiences, rape and sexual abuse, definitely plays a role in orgasmic dysfunction. A man who measures his own libido and sexual prowess on frequency and intensity of his partner’s orgasm definitely can contribute to his partner’s anorgasmic. One of the number one causes of anorgasmia is depression, and in many instances, it is ineffective communication and hostility towards the partner, as well as distrust of the partner, which can lead to anorgasmia.
It has been stated that if a woman is unsure whether or not she has had an orgasm, then she probably has not had one. That is not necessarily the case at all. Many women aren’t sure if they have had an orgasm, and very well may have. An orgasm is defined by the rhythmic, pulsating contractions of the vagina, and a general sense of relaxation and a tension release. There are many myths about what to expect with orgasm, that it will be an earth-shattering event, almost convulsive-like, and they may not realize what an orgasm actually is.
One thing that is fairy certain: If a women has not been orgasmic with self-stimulation, or has never attempted masturbation, it is more likely that there is an attitudinal problem that does exist that requires therapeutic attention. Therapy literally can consist of trying to teach the woman to think of herself as a sexual being, in effect, basically giving her permission to be sexual. For the most part, women have been taught that men have a greater sexual capacity, and actually in a physiological sense, the reverse is true. An individual’s views on masturbation, that it is dirty, needs to be targeted and explored. Again, education should be employed including a thorough explanation of sexual anatomy and physiology. Anxiety reduction is key. Sensate focus is extremely helpful, in slowly building up to a crescendo. Vibrators are highly contraindicated in dysfunctional sexual relationships. Usually they are not helpful in the beginning stages of any relationship, especially where anorgasmia is present. The woman may perceive the use of a vibrator as unnatural. It may have a direct distancing effect on the couple. There can be psychological and physical dependence on this, and it will not be healthy in the long run. There is a place for a vibrator in a healthy relationship. That will be discussed later.
Therapy for anorgasmic women can be extremely effective and when teaching manual stimulation as part of sensate focus, over time and with open communication, women usually do achieve orgasm. Learning different sexual positions is also extremely helpful. During the education process, it is important that both parties be present so they can both learn open communication, and what to do during the act of sexual intercourse.