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difficulties reaching orgasm

The main blocks to orgasm are physical, emotional and psychological; in other words, everything that a woman is can prevent her from enjoying sex fully.  What causes the difficulties many women face specifically in regard to orgasm?

Severe trauma, such as incest, rape, or other sexual abuse, will almost certainly prevent a woman relaxing easily into the sex act.  A woman with this background, whether in the distant or recent past, may not even be able to climax from masturbation, may not be able to be penetrated at all and may even become asexual, that is, have no sexual feelings.

Fear is also an immobilising factor in sexual behaviour.  If anxiety, from whatever cause, is severe enough, the body literally seizes up and prevents normal sexual activity.

relationship problems
If a woman does not feel comfortable in the relationship she has with her partner, particularly if there is mistrust or negative criticism, it would be very difficult for her to reach orgasm.  If she is a highly-sexed person, she may be able to switch off the emotional pressures and enjoy the physical pleasures of sex, including orgasm, but this would place severe limitations on the relationship in the long term.  Previous hurts and emotional scars play a large part in this also.

A fear of vulnerability and intimacy can operate on a number of levels to prevent orgasm.  A woman may be afraid to be possessed, to be 'owned' by her partner, especially if he is dominating or prone to power games.  Sex may be the last stronghold against being taken over completely.

If a woman has more than usual difficulty in climaxing, her partner may develop feelings of inadequacy and inferiority.  This can lead to infidelity if his ego becomes sufficiently dented.  No matter how much a woman reassures her partner that he's a good lover and that her inability or slowness to climax is not his fault, he's going to feel somehow that it is, unless he's exceptionally secure.  In this way, sexuality becomes tangled up with ego and self-esteem.

The important factor here is for both partners to remember that orgasm, while a gift to share, is enjoyed by each individual separately, and for that reason, should be 'selfish'.  Many women who have difficulty with orgasms claim that their partners make them feel like failures.  The desire not to disappoint becomes just another pressure.  The 'was it good for you?' or 'did you come?' approach is not helpful to improving relaxation and allowing orgasm to happen naturally.

Another pressure is time restriction.  'Quickies' are fun and have their place in a sexual relationship but real love-making takes time and patience, particularly in new relationships which have yet to develop trust and relaxation.

emotional and personal factors
We are not machines and cannot be expected to perform on demand. Therefore, even the most sexually free of us will have days when we just can't 'get there'.  Just as men can experience impotence for reasons of health, stress, fatigue, medical or psychological factors, so too can both men and women fail to reach orgasm at different times.  The important thing is not to develop anxiety over this.

Again, factors of upbringing, family attitudes, education (or the lack of) and beliefs/values will affect orgasm.  Many women are socialised to believe that they should not enjoy sex and therefore have inbuilt controls which prevent them reaching orgasm.  If they do, they often feel unreasonable guilt afterwards.  One of my listeners only had orgasms in her sleep, through her dreams, when her defences were down and she could allow herself the pleasure of release.  How sad it is that we often hurt ourselves far more than others hurt us, and deny ourselves the many free gifts that are available to us, including orgasm.

orgasm fixation
When young girls first learn to masturbate, they often reach orgasm by the same method each time.  This can develop an 'orgasm fixation' which is very hard to break in adult life.  Most women masturbate using the hand or fingers on the clitoris, rubbing with a circular or up-and-down motion, pressing harder and faster as the climax draws closer.  But what of women whose partners want them to reach orgasm only during vaginal intercourse in the missionary position?  It might be years before they can achieve this or make it clear to their partners that they're unable to do it.  Many men are threatened by their partners getting satisfaction in ways other than intercourse because they feel redundant.

Some women use more specific ways to reach orgasm, such as rubbing themselves on a pillow, or a balled-up towel or blanket.  Some place their clitoris under a running tap or a water jet.  Some require vibrators or other sex aids before they can climax.  Others rub themselves on their partner's leg or pubic bone.

There's nothing wrong with any of these ways as it is both the journey and the destination which are enjoyable — but it's never healthy to become attached to only one way of doing things.  Variety is both necessary and desirable in sexual activities.  Also, in relationships, black and white attitudes are very limiting and prevent open lines of communication and exploration.

Only being able to climax in one way also means that the removal of this method for any reason prevents orgasm occurring altogether.  This may not be true in actuality but if it's true in the person's mind, then it's the same thing.  The power of the mind can never be overestimated in sexual behaviour.  If there are mental blocks to orgasm, or other activities with unpleasant associations or restrictions, the person's body will follow accordingly.  So, a woman who believes she cannot climax will simply not do so.  If she tells herself she does not like oral sex, she will be unlikely ever to enjoy it, no matter how skilled the partner.  If she believes she is incapable of multiple orgasms, she will be, and so on.

lack of foreplay
Before I move on, I need to emphasise the importance of foreplay, as without it, any type and intensity of orgasm would be difficult to achieve for the average woman.

Foreplay can take many forms.  Here are a few pleasurable suggestions — kissing, touching, massaging, stroking, caressing and sucking the breasts, sex talk, use of sex toys, rubbing the clitoris or penis, fingering the vagina or anus, oral sex, mutual masturbation.

This part of love-making is important not only as a prelude to satisfying sex but also as the most intimate and enjoyable part of the whole process.  Through eye contact, touch and talk, a couple can share a true closeness, which sometimes lessens as the power of sexual passion takes over.

For new or casual couples, foreplay can be a tool for getting to know each other, having fun, finding out what each likes in bed.  Even in a one-night stand, foreplay is necessary to ensure mutual satisfaction.  Only the most selfish of sexual partners satisfies him or herself to the exclusion of the other person.  This sometimes happens out of inexperience and ignorance rather than insensitivity and inconsideration.

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