If you are a Sex and The City fan, you might remember the episode where Samantha, known for her high sex drive, tells the other women that she has ‘lost’ her orgasm.
Although it sounds like a peculiar statement, the concept is not as far-fetched as you might think.
Sam, who was distraught at the thought of never enjoying the big O again, thought that the reason for her lack of climax was simply because she’d used them all up.
This is not a thing – you do not get a certain amount of orgasms per lifetime.
However, it is possible to find it harder to reach orgasm or not have one at all, even if you previously could.
To find out more about why this happens and what you can do to ‘get your orgasm back’, we talk to sex experts and a psychologist.
Why do some people lose their orgasm?
First things first: orgasms are not the only reason to have sex and not everyone is able to have one – and there is no shame in that.
‘We’re constantly told that orgasm is the ultimate goal when embarking on sexual pleasure, whether it is by ourselves or with another,’ Ness Cooper, a qualified sex educator, tells us.
‘This isn’t true and there are no set rules to achieving sexual pleasure and many can feel enjoyment from exploring other methods.
‘At times we may have struggles with reaching orgasm and days when we just can’t get there, and this is totally normal and OK.
‘For many these will be short-lived experiencing of anorgasmia, which can be frustrating but luckily aren’t lifelong.’
Anorgasmia, the medical term for not being able to reach orgasm, is far more common among women than men, according to research.
But this is perhaps no surprise, when we consider the orgasm gap.
Findings from the International Academy of Sex Research revealed that 95% of heterosexual men usually or always orgasm during sex, compared to only 65% of heterosexual women.
The orgasm gap is often is due to women requiring stimulation beyond penetration (especially of the clitoris) – which can take longer to achieve than the time spent on your average quickie.
There is also a lack of sexual education around female pleasure.
Anorgasmia can be due to physical or psychological issues – or both, in some cases.
‘People can have a lot of emotional blocks and distractions that get in the way of sexual pleasure and orgasms,’ Dr Becky, psychologist and founder of The Private Therapy Clinic, tells us.
‘For instance if someone is particularly stressed they will often be distracted so they can’t relax enough and be in the moment, which can affect the ability to have pleasure in the bedroom and orgasm.
‘Also, performance anxiety for both men and women, where they are putting a lot of pressure on themselves over not being able to have an orgasm, relax and receive pleasure.
‘For most people this is just a short-lived temporary block and it might be because they have a lot of their mind and they know it will return to “normal” over time.
‘But for others, this can be a vicious cycle that they start to worry will happen every time.’
Essentially, the more you focus on the lack of orgasm, the more stress it could bring you – and voilà, no climax.
Interestingly, the time of day could also play a part.
Ness adds: ‘Even the time of day may affect our ability to be aroused, a study found that there was a difference to the ability to feel greater sexual arousal varied from person to person, and that when someone engaged in erotic play that the experience was more satisfying when done at their preferred times.
‘This means that sometimes when our routine changes, so can our ability to orgasm.’
Additionally, if you are experiencing problems in your relationship or are having sex a new partner, this too could impact how you feel in the bedroom – and your body will inevitably respond to what is going on in your mind.
Sex expert Calandra Balfour explains that physical factors should also be considered, such as changes in nutrition or lifestyle, as well as age and any medications that you are taking.
As an example, a common side effect among antidepressants is that these can inhibit libido for some people or lessen sensitivity of the genitals.
Menopausal changes and erectile dysfunction are also both known to impact sexual performance.
OK, so we know why orgasms might vanish – let’s find out what you can do about it.
How to get your orgasm back
If you suspect that the issue is physical, as mentioned above re age, medication or health concerns, speak to your GP.
They will be able to do tests, determine what the likely cause is and tweak dosage or change brands for the meds you’re on.
Calandra says: ‘Definitely don’t suffer in silence, if normally you orgasm and now you’re not, something is going on – if it’s not just a heavy weekend – and go and see a doctor, there might be an underlying health issue.
‘Your doctor can help you with nutrition and lifestyle concerns as well.’
If, however, it’s likely psychological, here are some tips on techniques to help your body along.
The most important aspect is to not put too much pressure on yourself. If the orgasm doesn’t happen, then it doesn’t happen.
Calandra says: ‘The key is to make your love-making less orgasm-orientated: it’s not about the finish line, it’s about the journey, so make sure you are enjoying the journey more.
‘Even, counter-intuitively, edge play – making the goal of sex not to come.
‘Slowing down your session can make a real difference, increase foreplay time, using plenty of lubricant, and the addition of sex toys can all help you reach that sweet spot, as well adding novelty.’
If you feel like there simply isn’t enough time for sex or masturbation, you might find it helpful to schedule in a session of pleasure in your diary.
And explore sexual fantasies, too.
‘If it’s not possible to schedule in some sexual play, taking a moment to explore fantasies and mindfulness may even help make your body forget that its routine has changed,’ says Ness.
‘Role playing out what you use to do at a new time, may be able to set the mood and make you sink into a deep mind-body connection that leads to an orgasmic explosion of pleasure.
‘It may not be that you’ve lost your orgasm, but rather that you could be giving your body too little time to get aroused. ‘
Other tips include spicing up your environment; get some new sheets that feel amazing on your body, light some candles with scents you like or anything else that stimulates you personally.
And avoid alcohol, as this is unlikely to help.
Ness adds: ‘Factors like drinking the night before, can also slow down your orgasm, making it hard to get aroused.
‘If you had a night drinking before, grab something to hydrate you and some good food, and if you’re mega horny and want to come, make sure you give yourself more time!’
Get inventive, too.
Try new masturbation or sex positions – who knows, maybe lying upside down on a chair (carefully, please) or having sex outdoors will be what sets you off.
Or heck, do like Sam did and spend an afternoon with yourself, trying out a range of sex toys.
As a final tip, Ness says: ‘Try faking it until you make it. Clenching your pelvic floor muscles rhythmically can help turn your body on more and help lead to an orgasm by helping blood flow to your genitals.
‘Eventually you may even become a pro at it, and be able to experience a hands-free orgasm.
‘Gyrate your pelvis, and tilt it. I have found over years of teaching people how to orgasm that sometimes we’re just in the wrong position.
‘Tilting your pelvis can sometimes help set your body into a natural position for your body to be comfortable in to climax.
‘You can even help produce more stimulation by placing a sex toy on your clitoris and rocking against it.’
Orgasm or no orgasm, don’t forget to have fun.
Great sex and masturbation is about more than just climax.
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