Orgasm Disorders in Women: Causes

Women vary with regard to the age in which they first have an orgasm, how consistently they have orgasms and how much value they put on them.

Did you know …?

  • There is no universally accepted definition of orgasm in women.

  • The way women feel during orgasm, as well as the physiological changes that happen during orgasm, varies between women.

The female orgasm can appear elusive, especially to those women who have not had one. A number of factors can add to this.

  • Sexuality researchers and clinicians have not found evidence that orgasms can be distinguished by type, e.g. vaginal or clitoral.

  • Women show variability in the type and intensity of stimulation that induces orgasm.

  • It has been found that both genital stimulation and imagery can produce an orgasm.

  • There is no evidence that women achieve orgasm more easily by themselves than during partner activities.

reasons for female orgasm disorders

How Common Are Female Orgasm Problems?

Orgasm problems usually occur as a delay or absence of orgasm in women. It is difficult to determine the prevalence of female orgasm problems.

  • It is estimated that between 3-35% of women have orgasm problems in the United States.

  • It has also been found that the prevalence of the “inability to orgasm” ranged in self-report from 17.7% in Northern Europe and 41.2% in Southeast Asia.

There are standard diagnostic criteria for determining an orgasm disorder in women, but few studies assess the presence of distress or the presence of other nonsexual mental disorders that co-occur.

In addition, studies rarely include an assessment of whether a woman has had adequate sexual stimulation, which varies across women. The absence of this type of data makes it difficult to understand how prevalent orgasm problems in women are.

Although orgasm difficulties are the second most common presenting sexual complaint (low sexual desire being the first), it has been found that only 50% of women who are unable to reach orgasm are distressed by it.

causes of orgasm disorders in women

Women also differ on how important orgasm is to overall sexual satisfaction. In the United States, only 29.1% of women ages 22-65 reported orgasm to be “extremely important”. More older women have orgasm difficulties; 34% of women ages 57-85 reported anorgasmia.

Women with orgasm problems present less frequently in a medical setting now than when sex therapy was introduced in the 1970’s. There are a number of factors that influence a woman’s ability to have an orgasm:

  • Poor physical and mental health

  • Relationship and partner variables:

    • Too little foreplay

    • Poor communication

    • Partner has higher sexual desire

    • Mismatched techniques

    • Sexual needs that a woman doesn’t want to satisfy

    • Partner unattractiveness

    • Partner has erection difficulties or premature ejaculation

  • Female orgasm disorder is more likely when a woman experiences problems with sexual arousal, vaginal dryness, and sexual desire.

In our next post, we will dive into how orgasm disorders in women are treated. In the meantime, feel free to check out our other blog posts and discover other answers to common questions.