March 14, 2007

Q&A: Change in Ease of Reaching Female Orgasm, Vaginal Sensitivity

A female reader asks about having difficulty reaching orgasm when she never used to in the past. What could have caused her change in sensitivity?

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Question: I am a 22 year-old female and have been having trouble reaching orgasm. My boyfriend and I have been having sex for over 3 years and I used to come quickly and regularly, especially with direct clitoral stimulation. We still have sex often, but I have not had an orgasm in over a year. I can get right to the brink of orgasm every time, but then my body just locks up and my vagina gets extremely sensitive. Is this normal? Is there anything else I can do?

Although many young women do experience difficulty having orgasms, once women learn to have orgasms, it typically does become easier to continue having them.

The book Becoming Orgasmic is well regarded as a useful tool to help women learn to have their first orgasm but it is still potentially useful for women like you who used to have orgasms and no longer do, or now find it difficult to do so.

Trying Too Hard

For example, it is often the case that when women try very hard to have an orgasm, the stress or pressure of trying so hard actually makes it more difficult to do so (orgasm is often made easier by feeling relaxed). Becoming Orgasmic provides examples and various relaxation and body awareness techniques that may be helpful to you.

It would also be a good idea to discuss this change in orgasmic ease with your healthcare provider. Some medications (such as anti-depressants and hormonal contraception) can affect women’s sexual desire, arousal, lubrication and orgasm.

Other times, issues related to nerves or sensitivity may be associated with sexual difficulties. If you have had any trauma or injury (including surgery) to your genital or pelvic area, it would be useful to mention this to your healthcare provider as well.

Try Sex Therapy

Many women who find it difficult to have an orgasm decide to make an appointment with a sex therapist (visit to find one near you). Although you can meet one-on-one with a sex therapist, many therapists will suggest that your partner be included in sex therapy sessions two since you are tackling an issue that affects, and is likely shaped by, the two of you.

Focus on Pleasure and Enjoyment, Not Orgasm

Finally, I’d like to encourage you and your boyfriend to explore your sexuality without trying to have an orgasm. Perhaps the next time that you have sex, decide outright that you will not attempt an orgasm but you will instead focus on pleasure and enjoyment.

Consider touching and stimulating each other’s bodies in ways that feel good to you both. You might even think back to your early dating days and what you used to do that felt so good. Did you spend more time in foreplay, maybe even clothes foreplay (e.g., rubbing over each other’s clothes, kissing for longer amounts of time, etc)?

Many times as couples stay together longer, they get into a routine and they may feel pressure to have that routing “work” or produce orgasm every single time.

Although this may not be the cause of your difficulty with orgasm, it may simply be fun and pleasurable to play around a little bit with sex and make it less goal-oriented and focused on that elusive orgasm, and more focused on the joy of it all.