Failure of Orgasm

Inability to reach the peak of sexual excitement

  • Can affect sexually active people of any age
  • Common in females; rare in males
  • Stress, alcohol, and the use of certain drugs are risk factors
  • Genetics is not a significant factor

Failure to reach orgasm, the peak of sexual excitement, is called anorgasmia. The causes are usually psychological. Anorgasmia is the most frequently reported sexual problem in women and affects up to half of all women at some time in their lives. Fewer than 1 in 10 men report failure to reach orgasm.

What are the causes?

Psychological factors that can inhibit orgasm include anxiety about sexual performance, fear of pregnancy, a previous unpleasant sexual experience, physical or mental abuse during childhood, and sexual inhibitions as a result of a strict upbringing regarding sex.

Poor sexual technique on the part of one or both partners may lead to failure of orgasm. Most often, insufficient time is allowed for the woman to become fully aroused. Poor sexual technique is common between new partners who know little about each other’s sexual responses. The problem may also be due to inexperience or a lack of communication between partners.

Some long-term disorders that result in damage to nerves, including diabetes mellitus, may lead to failure of orgasm. Certain drugs, such as particular antidepressants and some antihypertensive drugs, including beta-blockers, can cause a decreased sex drive that may result in anorgasmia. Heavy drinking may also cause failure of orgasm.

What might be done?

If you or your partner repeatedly fail to reach orgasm, it is important to discuss the matter together (see Communicating your sexual needs). Your doctor should be consulted if the situation does not improve. If the problem is psychological or due to poor sexual technique, you will probably be referred to a sex therapist (see Sex therapy). If the problem is caused by drug treatment, the doctor may change your medication. However, if you have nerve damage, the problem is usually permanent and cannot be treated.

Sex therapy is effective in most cases, but, if you or your partner have deep-rooted problems such as difficulties due to abuse in childhood, some form of psychological therapy may be needed. Failure of orgasm can be treated successfully in many people.

From the 2010 revision of the Complete Home Medical Guide © Dorling Kindersley Limited.

The subjects, conditions and treatments covered in this encyclopaedia are for information only and may not be covered by your insurance product should you make a claim.

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