8 Reasons Women Can't Orgasm (and When to be Concerned)
Contrary to what porn might have you believe, not everyone has an orgasm every time they have sex. Depending on who you ask, somewhere between half and two-thirds of women can’t come from penetrative sex, while one survey found that 24% of women have difficulty orgasming from any type of sexual contact, and between 5 and 10 percent of women have never had an orgasm at all.
The medical term for this is anorgasmia, but if you’re happy with your sex life, it’s not necessarily a problem. If you’re not, though, it’s probably worth looking at why you can’t climax. Here’s our guide to some of the most common reasons—and how to deal.
If your mind starts to check off your to-do list in the middle of sex, or you’re worried your roommates might hear you, it’s going to be difficult to have an orgasm at the same time. If you want to keep trying, take some breaths, focus on your partner, and if necessary, encourage them to touch you in a more attention-grabbing way.
Lack of communication
While make-up sex is real, it’s not a cure-all. If there are problems in your relationship, you’ll need to address them so you can let go and trust your partner again. If you’re sleeping with someone new, on the other hand, you might have to be more assertive in letting them know what gets you off.
Lack of stimulation
A large-scale study published in the Journal of Sexual Medicine found that the more different sex acts women participate in during a single session, the more likely they are to orgasm. That means oral sex, mutual masturbation, and whatever else turns you on. But don’t mix it up too much: if you’re having penetrative sex and keep changing positions, you won’t build up enough momentum.
Expecting vaginal orgasms
Whether you can come from penis-in-vagina (or dildo-in-vagina) sex depends on your body and seems to be linked to how close your clitoris is to your vagina. Just remember there isn’t one “true” type of orgasm—all are equally valid.
If you’ve had vaginal surgery, or have a condition that makes sex painful you might find experiencing orgasm more challenging.
Chronic illnesses like diabetes and multiple sclerosis can interfere with nerve pathways, making them less sensitive or providing less blood to the vagina, which will also make it harder to have an orgasm, but not impossible.
Go slowly, listen to your body, try positions where you can control the pace (i.e. being on top), and don’t forget the lube.
Depression and anxiety
If you’re constantly anxious or experiencing the loss of interest in daily activities that depression can bring, you’re less likely to be primed for sexual ecstasy. Seeing a therapist or joining a support group and tackling the underlying causes should help.
Blood pressure medication can delay your orgasmic response while SSRI (selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor) antidepressants like Prozac and Paxil often inhibit orgasm. A change in meds might help, but don’t stop taking anything without talking to your doctor.
Alcohol and smoking
Smoking limits blood flow, including to the vagina, making it less sensitive. Alcohol can put you in the mood for love, but also makes your body less responsive. Luckily, the solution is simple: stub out your cigs and sober up.
Above all, remember that whether you have regular orgasms or not, you can still enjoy sex and masturbation. If you don’t, and that bothers you, you should see your GP, gyno, or local Planned Parenthood to rule out any underlying physical causes, and consider counselling or sex therapy if you think you might have emotional hang-ups that are holding you back.
If you’ve never had an orgasm or it’s been a long time and you’re feeling frustrated, take heart: your chances don’t decrease the more time that passes. In fact, author and specialist in human sexuality Dr Emily Nagoski rejects the term anorgasmic, preferring “pre-orgasmic,” because there’s always the possibility that you could come. You just need to keep trying, alone or with a partner. Hey, there are worse ways to spend your time, right?