Orgasmic dysfunction: Everything you need to know

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Jenna Fletcher   
by Janet Brito, PhD, LCSW, CST
is orgasmic dysfunction? | Symptoms | Causes | Diagnosis | Treatment | Summary
Orgasmic dysfunction is when a
person has trouble reaching an orgasm despite sexual arousal and stimulation.
In this article, learn about
the causes and symptoms of orgasmic dysfunction and how to treat it.
is orgasmic dysfunction?

Orgasms are the intensely
pleasurable feelings of release and involuntary pelvic floor contractions that
occur at the height of sexual arousal. Orgasmic dysfunction is also known as
There are several different
types of orgasmic dysfunction, including:

  • Primary orgasmic dysfunction,
    when a person has never had an orgasm.
  • Secondary orgasmic
    dysfunction, when a person has had an orgasm but then has difficulty
    experiencing one.
  • General orgasmic dysfunction,
    when a person cannot reach orgasm in any situation despite adequate arousal and
  • Situational orgasmic
    dysfunction, when a person cannot orgasm in certain situations or with certain
    kinds of stimulation. This type of orgasmic dysfunction is the most common.
Orgasmic dysfunction can
affect both males and females but is more common in females. Researchers
estimate that female orgasmic disorder, which is recurrent orgasmic
dysfunction, may affect between 11 to 41 percent of women.
The North American Menopause
Society report that 5 percent of all women have difficulty achieving orgasm.
Research from 2018 found that
18.4 percent of women could reach an orgasm through intercourse alone. However,
the same study indicated another 36.6 percent of women needed clitoral
stimulation to reach orgasm during intercourse.
Orgasmic dysfunction can
affect the quality of people’s relationships, as well as a person’s self-esteem
and mental health.
Orgasmic dysfunction is when
someone has difficulty or the inability to reach an orgasm. For some people,
reaching a climax can take longer than normal or be unsatisfying.
The way an orgasm feels or how
long it takes to have an orgasm can vary widely. When someone has orgasmic
dysfunction, climax can take a long time to reach, be unsatisfying, or be
Scientists are not sure what
causes orgasmic dysfunction, but believe the following factors may contribute
to the problem:

  • relationship issues
  • certain medical conditions,
    such as diabetes
  • a history of gynecological
  • some medications, including
  • a history of sexual abuse
  • religious and cultural beliefs
    about sex and sexuality
  • depression
  • anxiety
  • stress
  • low self-esteem
Also, women over 45 years of
age are more likely to have trouble orgasming than women under this age. This
may be due to menopause-related hormonal shifts and vaginal changes.
Once someone experiences
difficulty reaching an orgasm, they may experience increased stress in sexual
situations. Stress and anxiety during sex can make it even more difficult to
reach an orgasm.
Before diagnosing orgasmic
dysfunction, a doctor will likely ask about a person’s symptoms and how long
they have existed.
The doctor will also note any
factors that could contribute to orgasmic dysfunction, such as underlying
health conditions or the medications a person is taking.
A doctor may do a physical
examination as well. In some cases, they may refer a person to a sexual
medicine specialist or a gynecologist.
Treatment for orgasmic
dysfunction varies, depending on the underlying cause. A doctor may recommend
treating any other conditions or adjusting any medications that may contribute
to sexual health problems.
In many cases, a doctor may
recommend a person who has orgasmic dysfunction try sex therapy or couples
A certified sex therapist can
offer psychotherapy that focuses on concerns related to sexual function,
feelings, or dysfunctions. Sex therapy can be done on an individual basis or
with a partner.
Couples counseling focuses on
relationship issues that may be affecting an individual’s sexual function and
their ability to orgasm.
In some cases, a doctor or
therapist may suggest a person try other forms of sexual stimulation to reach
orgasm, such as masturbation or increased clitoral stimulation during
intercourse. For others, they may recommend over-the-counter oils and warming
Hormone therapy may be
effective for some females, particularly if the inability to orgasm coincided
with the start of menopause.
In these cases, a doctor may
suggest the woman tries an estrogen cream, patch, or pill. The estrogen may
alleviate some menopause symptoms and improve sexual response.
Orgasmic dysfunction is the
medical name for the inability to reach orgasm. Some people may experience
orgasmic dysfunction when it takes too long to reach orgasm or when their
orgasm does not feel satisfying.
Many factors can contribute to
orgasmic dysfunction. To remedy orgasmic dysfunction, a person can speak to a
doctor, a certified sex therapist, and other medical professionals to find the
People can take steps to treat
orgasmic dysfunction and improve their sexual health once they know the cause.
Kayode Ojo
Kayode Emmanuel Ojo is the Co-Founder and Managing Director at SHEFFA Limited. He is presently studying Computer Science at the National Open University, Victoria Island, Lagos.