Dec 01, 2020
It’s often said that one of the most important sexual organs is the brain. A person’s sexual experience can be shaped by their thoughts, feelings, and levels of concentration. Sometimes, just the slightest shift in focus can make a sexual encounter less satisfying.
For some women, these factors get in the way of orgasm. Women might become distracted by their environment or anxious about their own sexual performance and the pleasure of their partner. They might have negative feelings about sex in general, or be reminded of past abuse. No matter what the reason, it can be difficult to stay in the moment.
Can such thoughts lead to ongoing orgasm difficulties? It’s possible. In the fall of 2020, the Journal of Sexual Medicine published a study that investigated this topic.
Researchers compared the experiences of 250 women with orgasm difficulties to those of another 250 women who had no problems reaching orgasm. The women ranged in age from 18 to 72, but they were mostly on the younger side, with an average age of 26 years.
The women filled out several questionnaires to assess their orgasm experiences. They described what kind of stimulation and sexual activities were likely to bring them to orgasm, their sexual inhibitions, related emotions, sexual beliefs, and thoughts that might occur to them during sex (such as concerns about their partner, relationship, body image, etc.).
How were the two groups of women different? The women with orgasm difficulties were more likely to have sexual inhibitions, negative thoughts during sex, and fewer erotic thoughts when compared to the women who reached orgasm easily.
The results could help healthcare providers design treatment plans for women struggling with orgasm, the authors said.
They acknowledged several limitations to their research. For example, the women they worked with were, for the most part, young and highly educated. They might not represent all female populations. They were all from Portugal, and cultural factors might have played a role in the study results. And they were all heterosexual. Lesbian and bisexual women might have different experiences.
Where can women go from here?
If you’re struggling with orgasm, it’s okay to talk about it. For many people, satisfying sex is a key to good relationships and good overall health. So seeking help is a positive step.
Sometimes, it’s awkward to discuss sexual subjects with your partner or a healthcare professional. Before you start your conversation, think about what you want to say and how your partner or doctor might respond. You might try role-playing it in your mind first. Or you could jot down your thoughts in a list to guide you.
Then, just take a deep breath and take the plunge. You’ll likely find that the discussion gets easier once you get rolling. And it’s possible that these issues have been on your partner’s mind, too. They might be glad you brought the subject up.
Your discussion might take you down paths like these:
- Make more time to talk about sex. If you’re feeling insecure about sex or if you have trouble concentrating “in the moment,” let your partner know. They may reassure you or help you focus. They should feel open to discuss their concerns as well.
- Consider couples therapy. If you and your partner have trouble talking about sex, try seeing a couples counselor. A professional can assess your communication style and teach you new strategies for staying connected.
- Think about sex therapy. A sex therapist can help you work through any past sexual trauma and reset beliefs about sex that aren’t working for you. You may choose to see a sex therapist with your partner or alone. Your doctor can make a referral. You might also ask for recommendations from friends.
Learn more about women’s orgasm with these links:
Other links related to orgasm:
Learn more about sex therapy and mindfulness:
The Journal of Sexual Medicine
Moura, Catarina V., MSc, et al.
“Cognitive-Affective Factors and Female Orgasm: A Comparative Study on Women With and Without Orgasm Difficulties”
(Full-text. Published: September 5, 2020)