To orgasm or not to orgasm: the option is yours!

Did you know that almost one-third of women are likely to have problems with orgasm (reaching the peak of sexual arousal). Some women are never able to orgasm, others can do so on rare occasions, some find they orgasm at some times and not others, while others feel frustrated because they used to be able to orgasm and now can?t. And more than two-thirds of women have difficulty experiencing an orgasm when engaged in sexual activity with a partner (in particular, during intercourse).

After twenty-five years working in private practice as a sexual therapist, I?ve seen many women with each of the above difficulties. Based on these experiences, I?ve now published a book on the topic, The Elusive Orgasm: A woman?s guide to why she can?t and how she can orgasm (Brightfire Press, 2004).

So, what causes orgasm difficulties? I hope you?re sitting down, because I?m about to tell you there are twenty-five reasons why women may have problems in this area. Of course, all twenty-five causes don?t apply to each woman. In my book I?ve divided up women with orgasm difficulties into three main types: those who never or rarely orgasm; those who used to be able to orgasm and now can?t; and those who can orgasm as some times and not others.

Each type of orgasm difficulty has its own set of causes. Let me give you some examples. If you?re a women who never or rarely has an orgasm, being a busy person may be the problem. So too may being goal-focused, needing to stay in control of your emotions, feeling guilty or using the wrong sexual fantasies.

If you used to orgasm and now don?t, the problem may be related to changes in your health, life becoming stressful or boring, or taking less time to become aroused. For those who orgasm at some times and not others, the difficulty may stem from feeling resentment towards a partner, trying too hard to please a partner, sexual abuse, or difficulty showing sexual passion.

There is such a variety of reasons why women don?t orgasm. Understanding what these are is the first step to having one. The next step is to look at what changes can be made that will help you climax. This may require shifts in your personal style of doing things or in your lifestyle. You may need to make changes to the way you relate to a partner. Some sexual practices may need to be altered and health factors and medications may need to be checked out. So you see, there?s plenty you can do – and some interesting programs to try as well.

One program I?ve outlined helps women who can?t orgasm with a partner because their masturbation style makes this difficult. For example, women who orgasm by pressing their legs together will find it hard to orgasm with a partner who wants her to open her legs. Women with this difficulty can increase their sexual repertoire by gradually replacing their old masturbation style with a new one. Once orgasm is possible on their own with the new style, they should then be able to transfer what they?ve learned to a couple situation.

Let me say, finally, that it?s also perfectly fine if you don?t want to orgasm. For women, the enjoyment of sexual arousal is often pleasure enough. While orgasm is the peak feeling of sexual pleasure, it?s not required to enjoy yourself sexually.

Dr Vivienne Cass is a clinical psychologist and sexual therapist in private practice. Her recent book, The Elusive Orgasm, was published in March 2004. Buy through the SheSaid bookshop and pay only $31.50 (RRP $35)