What is Female Orgasmic Disorder (FOD)

Tv, movies, porn, magazine articles… tend give the message that orgasms are the pinnacle of sexual excitement, and that unless you climax you’re not having great sex. Well I call bullshit! Orgasms are unique and individual: One person may climax from the touch of their nipples, another might need a lot of time and clitoral play and one person may struggle to orgasm at all.  In this piece I want to focus on those who struggle with orgasms. This is called Female Orgasmic Disorder (FOD) and research shows that 43% of women report some degree of difficulty reaching orgasm. This can often lead to feelings of isolation, frustration and distress.

What is happening when you can’t orgasm?

FOD falls into two categories; primary and secondary. Primary FOD describes women who have never experienced orgasms ever, whereas secondary FOD is when a woman may have once have been orgasmic struggles to in certain situations or in frequency. For example; have be able to reach orgasm through masturbation alone, but not with a partner or perhaps was able to climax in a previous relationship but not in the new one.

So why does it happen?

There are many reasons as to why orgasms may be difficult to achieve. Firstly, chemical changes in a woman’s body can affect the possibility of reaching orgasms. This is primarily seen during menopause. Alongside this some medications can cause a side-effect in regards to reaching orgasm, especially anti-depressants. Trouble achieving orgasms can also be due to surgery or injuries. If this sounds like something you are experiencing, talk to your GP about changes that could be made to assist you.

Other common factors are stress and anxiety. Stress and anxiety are two huge interferences in not only a woman’s sex drive but also the ability to reach orgasm since it makes it harder to concentrate on sensation and relax during sex.  It’s not only in the inability to ‘switch off’ but there is actually a chemical reasoning behind it: Stress causes you to produce fewer sex hormones (like oestrogen and testosterone), and more cortisol (stress hormones). Working on your stress levels and relaxation is key to assist not only your sex life but your overall wellbeing.

How can this be tackled?

The great news is that; It is possible to learn to be orgasmic!

First things first, as mentioned above, book in an appointment with a GP. I always encourage people to go the GP for a full check-up. As much as you can try techniques to help you climax. It’s important to rule out physiological components.

Secondly, have a think about what is going on for you in your life. Are you stressed, worried or preoccupied? Then ask yourself this simple question: “Do I feel relaxed when I am having sex?” If not, this could be the main indicator as to why you are not experiencing orgasms. For most women feeling comfortable and at ease is paramount to reaching climax. If you find that your mind wanders during sex, try to pick one of your senses and focus on that. That should help bring you back into the room.

Another thing to try is muscle tensing! The type of tension that helps women reach orgasm is muscle tension (myotonia). As much as relaxation is fabulous in order to enjoy sex, lying back and waiting for it to happen, just won’t cut it. Unfortunately, women have got to work it! Tensing muscles in your pelvic region increases blood flow through the genital area and can create the ability to become more aroused. Kegel exercises are a great way to practice before you hit the bedroom….or couch…or floor!

Another way of assisting yourself is by mindful masturbation. Attempting to understand and explore your body, how it feels with certain touches, becoming comfortable with the sensations can also greatly assist. It is important to understand what brings pleasure in the pursuit of sexual happiness. It massively helps to know your body and what you enjoy so that you can tell your partner. Masturbation is a skill. It has to be learned. It all starts with taking time for yourself and your sexual pleasure.

Finally, there can also be deep-rooted reasons as to why you are struggling to climax, specifically around areas such as sex education, messages about, damaging relationships, a history of abuse and many more challenges that you may have faced. You do not need to face this alone, there is support out there. Psychosexual therapists like myself are out there and willing to listen. You can find most of us through the COSRT website. You are entitled to an orgasm and we are here to help.

Photo by Jake Noren on Unsplash

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