The inability to have an orgasm remains one of the top sexual concerns for a number of women across the world. And there is a term for it: orgasm anxiety, which can be described as a condition in which you're overthinking your orgasm so much, that you can't relax and just enjoy the sexual process.
Here are five things you need to know about orgasm anxiety.
1. Mainly women are affected
It all starts with anxiety about sex first and, later, the pleasure sex can bring, intimacy coach Tracy Jacobs previously told HuffPost.
"We just don't talk openly about it, and that adds to the suspense and later anxiety for many women," she said. She does admit, however, that orgasm anxiety in particular can be caused by many complex reasons.
2. Men are affected, too
The anxiety presents itself in both genders, albeit differently. Men, for example, can feel a lot of pressure to ejaculate to "end off" sex, leading to ideas that if he doesn't orgasm then the sex is incomplete. It's this preoccupation with coming, coming too soon or taking too long can make a man anxious, with very little to no possibility of the "end" in sight. Performance anxiety can also cause no orgasm.
3. 'I've never had an orgasm'
Most women with orgasm anxiety approach sex with thoughts such as "is it gonna happen tonight?", "why hasn't it happened?", "what if I take too long?" or "at this rate, will it ever happen?". So, instead of approaching sex with an open mind and in a relaxed state, worrying thoughts choke the experience.
Some people also have anorgasmia, a type of sexual dysfunction in which a person cannot achieve orgasm either alone by masturbating, or with a partner. Anorgasmia can often cause sexual frustration and anxiety in relationships.
4. It's not simply 'all in the brain'
There are a number of physiological factors that can inhibit both a man and a woman's sexual desire, knowingly or unknowingly, and cause orgasm anxiety. For example, a hormone imbalance, low testosterone, medications such as anti-depressants, critical thoughts about one's body, viewing sex as a bad or immoral thing, and issues such as insufficient knowledge of the female body.
5. Fake orgasms
Women who suffer from orgasm anxiety report faking a ton of orgasms. "Mostly, this was because my partners would become increasingly frustrated at my inability to have one. Even though I was having a great time sans orgasm, most of them felt pressure to get me there and this pressure leaked all over me, making me even more riddled with anxiety. And then I faked a zillion orgasms, which only took me further from the real deal," a reader wrote for xoJane.
Who said the end goal of sex is climaxing?
How to deal with orgasm anxiety
1. Talk about it
To be on the same page with your partner, have an open dialogue. Be honest about how you get into your head during sex and if you know what brings this about, communicate this as well. Awareness by both parties can result in understanding, which can lead to patience — a key ingredient in sexual discovery, especially in the early stages.
2. Don't put pressure on yourself
This may be easier said than done, but the source of the anxiety is most likely the pressure we put on ourselves of achieving an orgasm during sex. "Who said the end goal of sex is climaxing? Why can't couples engage in sex for pure bond-building and increasing intimacy in the relationship?" asked Jacobs. She is of the opinion that orgasm-free sex can help explore what feels good, without the pressure.
3. Speak up during sex
If you don't like something, or feel pain or simply feel bored, speak up. Bearing all these things for the sake of your partner can easily get into your mind during sex, adding to the anxiety. "Asking to take a break or saying something is not working is not shameful; it can actually help the relationship," said Jacobs.
Know your own pleasure before you give pleasure.
4. Solo investigation
"Know your own pleasure before you give pleasure," said Jacobs. Know about the organs in your body that exist to give you pleasure. This may require some self-exploration, and that's okay. Being aware of your "pleasure centres" can help eliminate the anxiety you feel going into sex. It can also help you relax and focus on the sensations, which is important for climaxing, added Jacobs.
5. Seek professional help
There is no shame in seeking the help of a professional, such as a psychologist, sexologist or intimacy coach. This is because the anxiety may stem from other issues from your past that have never been addressed or dealt with properly, and a professional can help with this.