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What Is Female Orgasmic Disorder?

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  • Originally Written By: Kim Denise Walton
  • Revised By: C. Mitchell
  • Edited By: A. Joseph
  • Last Modified Date: 12 September 2016
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Female orgasmic disorder is a type of sexual dysfunction that makes it difficult if not impossible for a woman to reach sexual climax. Sometimes the condition presents more or less universally, meaning that affected women can’t achieve orgasm ever, but it’s not always this extreme; for some, orgasm is only impossible sometimes, or with some partners. According to most studies, not all women achieve climax with every sexual encounter. The main thing that distinguishes the disorder from more occasional orgasmic absence is its persistence and pattern. Researchers aren’t entirely sure what causes the problem, but it’s usually thought to be psychological. Treatment usually combines therapy with physical exercises and stretches. It isn’t always curable, but most women who seek treatment are able to see at least some improvement with time.

Understanding Orgasms Generally

When a woman is sexually aroused, the blood vessels in her pelvic area expand and become engorged with blood. As the blood flow increases, so does the tension until it is released. This release, called an orgasm, is a pleasurable, rhythmic series of contractions in the uterus and vagina. Difficulty or inability to reach an orgasm after sexual stimulation and arousal can cause disappointment, anger, or frustration, and when prolonged often leads to relationship problems and resentment.

It’s much more common for men to reach climax during sex than women, and many women say they don’t actually need to orgasm in order to find the experience pleasurable. Simply not achieving climax isn’t in and of itself problematic, at least not from a medical standpoint. When it does become problematic is when a woman physically can’t get there, and nothing she seems to do can change that result.

Distinguishing Features of a True Disorder

The absence of orgasm alone is not usually classified as a disorder. In most cases, female orgasmic disorder is a chronic sexual dysfunction that renders a woman unable to have an orgasm or able to achieve orgasm only with extreme difficulty. This condition might result from traumatic experience but also can develop because of problems within a relationship.

For some, this disorder lasts a lifetime, but others might experience it only in specific situational settings or with particular partners. The disorder tends to be most prevalent in younger women, though it can impact women of any age of level of sexual experience.

Diagnosis and Conditional Markers

There are a couple of different ways to make a diagnosis, but in general it encompasses both a thorough psychological and medical history, including a history of the circumstances under which orgasms fails to occur. Accurate diagnosis can be difficult in many cases because a number of other problems have similar symptoms. General sexual dysfunction is one example. Things like damage to blood vessels in the pelvic region, nerve damage, and side effects of certain medications also cause general sexual dysfunction, often thought of as a sluggishness of the sexual arousal process. Dysfunction can be problematic, but isn’t usually thought of as a disorder.

Similarly, a lack of sufficient foreplay or sexual stimulation might also cause failure to climax, but this isn’t usually considered to be a disorder, either. Most of the time, true disorders have a psychological cause at their root. Things like environment, partner, or circumstance can influence it, but don’t usually cause it.

Common Treatment Options

There are usually a couple of different treatment options, most of which use a combination of traditional sex therapy and psychotherapy with exercises that will decrease inhibitions and increase stimulation. Other treatments include sex therapy for couples. The sex therapist might even assign “homework” that includes the use of relaxation techniques or Kegel exercises that improve the tone and strength of the muscles in the genital area.

If female orgasmic disorder stems from relationship problems, psychotherapy might help resolve tension. Holistic practitioners might recommend herbal remedies to increase arousal, and physicians might suggest prescription medications that increase blood flow to the genitals.

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