Anorgasmia - What is it? Why is Reaching Orgasm Harder for Some Women?

By Aleks Trkulja

Anorgasmia is the persistent inability to reach climax from adequate sexual stimulation. Sexual activities can still be highly enjoyable, but the physical pleasure that builds never reaches the threshold of release. Much like when you need to sneeze, but it escapes you at the last second!

Anorgasmia can be the feeling of climax slipping away at the last minute, or never really experiencing the build up to orgasm. Sometimes women take time to learn how to experience their first ever orgasm, other times, women lose the ability to orgasm. 

The types of Anorgasmia:

  1. Lifelong: means you’ve never experienced an orgasm, often known as primary Anorgasmia.
  2. Acquired: you used to be able to orgasm, but now experience difficulty, otherwise known as secondary Anorgasmia.
  3. Situational: you can orgasm during certain circumstances, like during oral sex, or with a certain partner or alone.
  4. Generalised: you aren’t able to orgasm in any situation or with any partner.


Influencing factors

Before jumping to the solutions, there are a few things that can influence ability to orgasm. 

Physical factors: Are there health reasons that could be interfering with your sex life? Are you injured? Are you ill? Is your partner's health OK?  All of these things can influence your ability to relax and be able to tip over into an orgasm. Physically, women's bodies need to warm up properly and get blood flowing into the genital region. This can be done by spending time masturbating, slowly warming yourself up, or making sure you engage in sufficient foreplay. These physical factors are addressed in a previous blog by Tanya, Sex: What’s the Rush? - which emphasised the importance of warming up.

Psychological factors: How busy is your brain? Is your head filled with anxious thoughts? Your thoughts have more of an influence on your orgasm than you think. It is important to feel safe and confident in order to relax enough to tip over and reach orgasm.  If you are constantly worrying, your body will tense and your brain will take you to the imagined disaster of "not" having an orgasm.  It's not much fun!

Emotional factors: Questions to ask yourself: Do you trust the person you’re with? Are you feeling vulnerable and nervous? If you're not feeling safe and confident, then no wonder your body isn't prepared to lose control for the split second it takes to reach orgasm!

Medical factors: Chronic pain is a major thief of your mojo, seeking therapeutic relief for pain is one option, using particular positions that reduce pain is another. Medications like antidepressants also kill libido, but that doesn’t necessarily mean your sex life is doomed. It may mean finding different ways to enjoy sex than you’re commonly used to.

Gynaecological factors: Surgeries like hysterectomies change the physical construct of your body. This may mean that the way you used to reach orgasm no longer works. It could be that scar tissue is causing pain.  Address your body's need to heal.  Explore gently what IS possible.  Learn to incorporate different forms of stimulation in your sex play.

Is it painful to be touched? If you experience pain on the outside of the vagina (on your labia, or the lips of your vagina) there are ways to help this if you seek professional help. 

Is it painful internally? Experiencing craps in the pelvis could be due to Vaginismis. This dysfunction is not commonly spoken about, but should be. Tanya’s blog entry on Vaginismis has more information on what it is and how to manage it.

Natural factors: Aging leads to changes in the body. This includes hormonal and neural changes that occur around the time of menopause. Research has shown that menopausal and post-menopausal women who continue regular sexual activity are less likely to suffer from painful sex . 


It’s common to be anxious about sex, sometimes our daily lives get in the way of our pursuits for pleasure. The trick is to try and be aware of the situation when you are anxious.  Anxious thought in our brains actually takes us into the future, where the ‘what ifs’ occur.

‘What if I don’t orgasm?’

‘What if it’s really awkward and I don't know what to say or do?’

‘What if I smell weird while they're down there?’

So instead of being present and enjoying the sensations in your body - like the feeling of fingertips, lips or a tongue running along your skin - your brain can take you to the future and let you experience the emotions that you are worrying about.

Try to remain present in this moment - where you are having fun! Have a little chat with yourself in your head. Think about what is happening, like your own sex narrator. What do you like? Does it feel good? Does your partner look good? What parts of them do you want to touch next? By focusing on sensation and feeling, you pull yourself back into the present. 

Another tip, is to make sex less goal driven. This means that when you engage with your partner, don’t set the standard of having to reach an orgasm that is the end result of why you engage in sex. If what you are doing feels good, and you like it, then it's ok! That actually qualifies as good sex! Taking the pressure off both men and women to orgasm is a perfectly acceptable thing to do.

And finally, before you jump into some Kama Sutra, or porn inspired sexual escapade, go back to basics. If you’re having trouble orgasming in basic sexual positions, orgasming during complicated or un-familiar positions will be very hard. You have to work up to it. Communication is key here. No one is a mind reader, no matter how long you've been together. Whenever you can, give feedback or encouragement. Practice and patience is key!

Female orgasms: What you need to know

Every female is uniquely wired and experiences pleasure at different intensities and frequencies. It is important to know that stimulation that you might find successful with one partner, may not be the case for other partners.

There is a pervasive myth that women should be able to orgasm purely from vaginal penetration or stimulation. This means only penis-in-vagina contact. Research has found that the majority of women cannot actually orgasm based purely on vaginal stimulation.  Naomi Woolf writes in her book, Vagina, that women all have different neural pathways and are all wired differently for orgasm.  Some need clitoral stimulation, some vaginal, some prefer anal, and some perennial.  We all differ in our preferences.