Never had a climax during sex? Here's why and what to do to avoid having to fake it

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Illustration by Getty Images
Illustration by Getty Images

  • Amy Carelse is a 24-year-old woman who has been having sex for several years and has had multiple partners but has never been able to orgasm.
  • "I get these mini 'wavesas I like to call it, but it doesn’t leave me feeling satisfiedwith a partner or solo masturbation, says Amy.
  • An expert tells us her experience is not unique.

Amy Carelse, 24, has never had an orgasm, instead she gets mini "waves" which don't leave her satisfied.

Masturbation hasn't helped either as she cannot reach orgasm this way either.

Amy's experience is not rare.

"In [our] practice, we do come across women of many ages who are anorgasmic. It is much more common than one would think," says Dr Heather Blaylock, a medical doctor with a special interest in sexual health.

She is a fellow of the European Committee of Sexual Medicine and is also a part of My Sexual Health (MSH) which is a platform that provides access to some of the most qualified sexual health professionals in South Africa.

READ MORE | Faking an orgasm is a bad idea, don't do it - sexologist shares why

Many women are anorgasmic

In fact, according to PleasureBetter.com, up to 10% of women have never orgasmed, 59% have faked an orgasm and nearly 82% cannot reach orgasm by penetration alone.

For many, achieving orgasm is seen as the end goal and failing at this can create unwanted anxiety, says Blaylock.

"Being intimate is so much more than intercourse and genitals. Learning different erotic areas, and different pleasurable sensations [is also important]," she adds.

Anxiety in the bedroom can hurt

Many of Amy's partners have tried to bring her to orgasm once they hear she's never had one, but that often defeats the purpose.

Blaylock continues: "Anxiety is inhibitory to the sexual response cycle and so the more the partner tries, the more anxiety it provokes the less likely she is going to be orgasmic."

Amy has had the most intense "waves" when she's masturbated on her own in a certain position and recognises clitoral stimulation is a big part of that.

READ MORE | How to have orgasmic sex and why men are often more sexually satisfied

Finding the right position can help

Blaylock advises: "The majority of orgasms are due to clitoral stimulation and also the right type of stimulation. The C.A.T. [coital alignment technique] where the male partner lies on top but more forwards so there is clitoral stimulation while thrusting works very well, or the female partner on top allows for her to have more control for positioning and stimulation.

"Incorporating toys with other positions also can work. What is important is that there has been enough arousal time, and the clitoris becomes engorged and more sensitive. Foreplay is very important and does not need to be focused on the genitals," she says.

Learn to love yourself

Blaylock suggests Amy and other anorgasmic women get to know their own bodies and what they like.

"What does she look like? What feels good and where? With what kind of touch?"

Blaylock says toys are great tools to use if you enjoy those sensations but often you just need "a safe private space, [your] hand and possibly some lube and the right head space".

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Blaylock suggests using websites like OMGyes, which teaches women about exploring self-pleasure but is also great for couples.

"Sensate Focus [a sex therapy technique] is another very useful tool, where the focus is taken away from the orgasm and genitals and takes the couple on a journey of touch exploration of each other’s bodies," she says.

Blaylock also recognises our insecurities could be what's stopping us from full enjoyment in the bedroom.

"I speak to patients about self-love, to love their own bodies and themselves. Insecurities can be hindering in the bedroom. Intimacy requires being able to be free and to let go. Speaking to a therapist is helpful if there are underlying anxieties or relationship concerns," she says.

Mixed messages around sex

Amy also says she received mixed messages about sex growing up and this could also be contributing to her inability to orgasm.

"I was caught masturbating when I was quite young and punished for doing so and told it was wrong, but when I was a bit older, my stepmom was less conservative, and she told me I should love my body and I can masturbate if I want to and have sex with whomever I want to. So, I have both these competing thoughts in my head."

READ MORE | When it comes to intercourse with men, why are women still not speaking up for their orgasms?

Blaylock says our brains can often be the problem when we're struggling to enjoy sexual pleasure as it's our biggest sex organ and can sometimes stop us from being completely present at the moment.

"It is likely that the mixed messages Amy received are confusing for her and highly likely preventing her from being fully in the moment during intimacy/ masturbation.

"She is able to get aroused and experience waves but something switches off so she is anorgasmic and from the brief history, I could surmise that her brain suddenly says, 'this is bad, sex is bad, you are bad'," says Blaylock.

There’s nothing wrong with you

When someone visits a sexual health professional, she says taking a good history is crucial and a safe space needs to be created.

She also recommends a general physical examination as anorgasmia can be a sign of an underlying medical problem or a side effect of medication.

Patients should be reassured that the inability to orgasm during sex is not abnormal; we are unique in how we experience touch and pleasure.

You can visit mysexualhealth.co.za and get in contact with registered, well-trained medical doctors, therapists, counsellors and physiotherapists.

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