Sex may permeate our popular culture, but conversations about it are still associated with stigma and shame in Indian households. As a result, most individuals dealing with sexual health issues or trying to find information about sex often resort to unverified online sources or follow the unscientific advice of their friends.
To address the widespread misinformation about sex, News18.com is running this weekly sex column, titled ‘Let’s Talk Sex’, every Friday. We hope to initiate conversations about sex through this column and address sexual health issues with scientific insight and nuance.
The column is being written by Sexologist Prof (Dr) Saransh Jain. In today’s column, Dr Jain explains Anorgasmia, including its symptoms, causes and available treatments.
Every woman, at some point or other, has had difficulty in reaching orgasm. Most of the time, they’re simply inexperienced and assume that if something is going to happen, it will. But if you have tried different methods and orgasms still escape you, you could have a condition known as Anorgasmia.
Orgasms are an intense feeling of release during sexual stimulation. They can vary in intensity, duration and frequency. Anorgasmia is the medical term for difficulty in regularly reaching orgasm despite ample sexual stimulation.
Anorgasmia can be caused by multiple factors; therefore, the treatment varies on case-to-case basis. However, research has shown that many women with Anorgasmia go on to have successful sex lives after treatment.
What are the Symptoms of Anorgasmia?
The main symptom of Anorgasmia is the inability to achieve sexual climax. Other symptoms include unsatisfying orgasms and taking longer than normal to reach climax. Women with Anorgasmia may also have difficulty in achieving orgasm during masturbation.
Anorgasmia is classified under four types:
• Primary Anorgasmia: A condition in which you’ve never had an orgasm.
• Secondary Anorgasmia: Difficulty reaching orgasm, even though you’ve had one before.
• Situational Anorgasmia: The most common type of Anorgasmia, it occurs when you can have an orgasm only during specific situations, such as oral sex or masturbation.
• General Anorgasmia: An inability to achieve orgasm under any circumstance, even when you’re highly aroused and sexual stimulation is sufficient.
What are the Causes of Anorgasmia?
It can be difficult to determine the underlying cause of Anorgasmia. Women may have difficulty reaching orgasm due to physical, emotional or psychological factors. Sometimes, a combination of these factors can be the cause. The inability to have an orgasm can lead to distress, which may make it even harder to achieve orgasm in the future.
Psychological factors play a role in your ability to have an orgasm, which includes:
• Mental health problems, such as anxiety or depression
• Poor body image
• Poor communication of sexual needs and preferences
• Stress and financial pressures
• Guilty about enjoying sex
• Past sexual or emotional abuse
• Lack of connection with your partner
Illnesses, physical changes and medication can also interfere with your orgasm.
• Older age: As you age, normal changes in your anatomy, hormones, neurological system and circulatory system can affect your ability to have an orgasm.
• Health conditions: There are many medical conditions that can cause anorgasmia, such as diabetes, hypertension, meningitis, vascular disease, chronic pain etc.
• Medication: Many prescriptive and over-the-counter medications can inhibit orgasm, including blood pressure medications, antipsychotic drugs, antihistamines and antidepressants.
• Gynaecological issues: Surgeries such as hysterectomy or cancer surgeries can affect reaching an orgasm.
• Smoking and alcohol: Too much alcohol can hamper your ability to climax. Smoking can limit blood flow to your sexual organs.
How is Anorgasmia Diagnosed?
If you think you have Anorgasmia, you should schedule an appointment with your doctor. Your doctor will be able to diagnose your condition and recommend a treatment plan appropriate for you. They will ask you a few questions about your sexual history and perform a physical examination. Your answers and exam results can reveal underlying causes or factors for Anorgasmia.
How is Anorgasmia Treated?
Anorgasmia is best managed by a sexual therapist, who is a specialist in managing sexual dysfunction, and would initially confirm the diagnosis with several tests. Treatment for Anorgasmia depends on the cause of the condition. It can be treated with:
• Changes in lifestyle and sexual practices
• Minimising stress and anxiety
• Trying different techniques of sexual stimulation
• Kegel exercises
• Use of devices like vacuum pumps and vibrators
• Cognitive therapy, a form of behavioural therapy that promotes changes in a person’s ideas and attitude towards sexual activity
• Counselling for couples to allow them to address any issues in the relationship, at home and in the bedroom
• Women may be given hormonal therapy, in order to address any hormonal imbalances. Estrogen therapy has been shown to increase blood flow to the genital area, allowing it to become more sensitive. This can be in the form of pills or a patch. Testosterone therapy may also be considered.
Some over-the-counter (OTC) products such as arousal oils and nutritional supplements may also help with Anorgasmia. However, speak with your doctor before using any OTC products or medications. They may cause an allergic reaction or interfere with other medications you’re taking.
If you’re happy with the climax of your sexual activities, there is no need for concern. However, if you’re bothered by the lack of orgasm or the intensity of your orgasm, talk to your doctor about Anorgasmia.