Orgasm is often considered the ultimate goal of sex.
And it is, of course, an extremely enjoyable component, but it’s not everything. Other kinds of stimulation, as well as the intimacy and closeness that comes along with sex, hold a lot of importance. For women with anorgasmia, these things are even more crucial, because they are medically unable to achieve orgasm.
The Mayo Clinic defines anorgasmia as:
“The medical term for regular difficulty reaching orgasm after ample sexual stimulation, causing you personal distress.”
The condition can be attributed to pelvic trauma, taking certain medications, or even sexual abuse.
It’s much more common than one might think, affecting 10 to 15 percent of women, but is only just starting to get widespread visibility.
— Sophie Saint Thomas (@TheBowieCat) March 13, 2017
Refinery29‘s recent interview with an anonymous sufferer of anorgasmia shed some more light on this little-recognised condition.
This woman, “Stefani”, claims her anorgasmia is due to the SSRIs (selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors) she has been taking for her depression and anxiety since age 11.
Despite years of masturbating and sexual relationships, Stefani has never been able to orgasm. And because of her condition, her partners are often unwilling to pleasure her, or even worse, “don’t see the point.”
She describes one particularly upsetting incident:
“One episode that was really upsetting was when a guy was going down on me, asked me if I was close, I said no and explained the situation, and he literally just got out of bed and put his clothes back on. That was pretty devastating.”
It should go without saying that women like Stefani deserve pleasure, whether they are able to orgasm or not—but women generally are often not given permission to explore this part of themselves.
"Boys are encouraged to explore themselves and their turn-ons," she explained. "It's not quite the same with girls, or at least the age we discuss things is older."
Ward claims that media—including films such as Fifty Shades of Grey—can be dangerous to women because it teaches them to "view sex as a performance…where they don’t demand pleasure for themselves."
If women are given the space to explore their bodies independently of sexual relationships, perhaps these long-held expectations can finally be broken. And better awareness of the many different conditions that may affect women's bodies is a big part of that.
Do you have anorgasmia? What has your experience been like?
This post originally appeared on Spring St, the happy place for smart women, and has been republished with full permission.