Author: English Thorn, who blogs here.
Just under three years ago I stopped orgasming. I didn’t stop trying, I didn’t stop having sex or masturbating, but one way or another I just didn’t come. At first I tried not to stress about it, knowing that if I worried about coming then I’d make the problem worse, but as the months went on I went through several phases of getting down about my anorgasmic state.
A year ago I decided that I’d develop my kinky side; I’d been interested in elements of BDSM since my early teens but had pretty limited experience. I started my blog to document my misadventures and thoughts, which inevitably covered my orgasm problems. Unexpectedly I found that D/s (Dominance and submission) could give me satisfaction to match an orgasm, and could also help me get closer to a climax.
A commenter on my blog responded that she’d seen an NHS sex therapist for her problems, which prompted me to consider putting more into overcoming my problems. I spoke to my doctor about getting a referral to the NHS psychosexual services; it’s been six months now and I’ve still heard nothing but I can wait. In the mean time my boyfriend has been very supportive. We balance big attempts with going-with-the-flow; he’s there to comfort me when I get emotional, we always talk things over when anything happens (or doesn’t happen) and thanks largely to him I have a much better understanding of what’s happening to stop me from coming. I seem to be riddled with strange anxieties that rational sensible me doesn’t have, but which creep out during sex.
The hardest thing about anorgasmia is choosing how to approach it – do I just shrug my shoulders and start seeing myself as someone who just doesn’t come, or do I see it as a problem that I want to fix? Either way sometimes are going to be difficult, but arguably it’s harder to try to fix things – every discussion of orgasms leaves me feeling a little deficient, a tiny bit of an outsider looking in, desperate to be a part of the club of which I used to be a regular member; every time I miss climax by a mile it feels like a step backwards.
So when I recently heard of a special technique which had a name that implied trouble-free orgasm I got very excited – maybe this would help with the breakthrough. Usually I’m fairly rational and skeptical, but in my enthusiasm I somewhat suspending disbelief. The instruction was in the form of a video which my boyfriend and I watched together; it was uneasy viewing but I put that down cultural differences between us and the target audience. My boyfriend, however, was deeply offended by the portrayal of men as inattentive and/or incompetent at pleasing women in even a basic, straightforward way; it didn’t take much discussion for me to agree.
Despite this I was still eager to give it all a go, my boyfriend less so. I discussed dropping the whole thing with him, but he reassured me he wanted to try it for me, but several weeks passed and nothing happened. At this point we watched the video again to remind ourselves of the technique details and it precipitated a pretty dramatic discovery. This time we became aware of the contradictions in the philosophy of the technique – being told to throw away all rules, and yet being given terrifyingly detailed instructions that must be followed for the technique was just all back to front, plus there were conflicting messages about the aim and likelihood of orgams. Further to this, some things just didn’t make sense; all the half-decent sex advice I’d seen so far in my life emphasised that individuals vary hugely in their erogenous zones and sexual preferences, yet the technique was very much one-size-fits-all, and that started to ring serious alarm bells.
In our deep unease we started to do a little research into the (for-profit) company that had formulated and marketed this technique – in my enthusiasm for finding a solution to my orgasm problems I’d ended up (very distantly) involved with a company that seems, on the evidence, to be a front for a cult! Like many cults they’re prone to litigation and what you might call forceful PR, so I am reluctant to name them. Suffice to say my boyfriend and I dropped any idea of attempting the technique, and any other possible “miracle cures” for my ongoing problems. It’s back to waiting for the NHS and occasionally having a go at working things out myself.
I did get one positive thing from my experience – the video reminded me of the importance of staying in the moment during sex, and that has helped when I’ve found my thoughts drifting in unhelpful directions. It’s a very common piece of advice for these kinds of problems, but something that can be hard to actually do. I’ve painted a somewhat gloomy picture of a life without orgasm, it’s not so bad really – I still get a lot of sexual pleasure and the lack of orgasm hasn’t hurt my self-esteem or relationships. As I said to one of my friends, I’m missing the icing but at least I still have the cake.
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Great post. I am doing without the whole cake at the moment. Am I missing it? I don’t know.
We all have such varied experiences, within our own lives and in comparison to each other.
I totally agree that anxiety just doesn’t help in any situation.
I meant the cake more broadly than sex, or even relationships, but life in general, which is pretty peachy, although it’s certainly true that my sex life and relationship constitute one hell of a delicious cake.
The female orgasm is such a weird thing, really. Sometimes I feel like it’s playing hide and seek, and I only have to do the right thing for it to happen. But, after nearly 20 years of having sex, I still have no idea what that right thing is. So difficult.
I totally hear you on this one . . I had a stretch of being scared to orgasm, where I’d get close then just stop. My therapist recommended being really silly around my lover so I could get over my fear of being vulnerable in front of him. I think that was pretty sound for me . . . & Even now as a single lady, when I play & have fun but don’t have an orgasm, I can’t help but feel a bit sad even with all the pleasure I’m having. So I get how it would be a nice treat on top of all the other fun you’re having. :) Nice to hear your BF is so reassuring, though! That’s always good.
Also, I just read a similar story to this one by Rachel Kramer Bussel, who edits tons of erotica anthologies, so we’re clearly not alone.
Quite funny story about the Drop the rules, Just Follow Ours experience.
Oh wow, thank you so much for that link. It’s great to hear other (female) sex writers who are open about orgasm problems.
It took me a while to notice the contradiction in the rules issue, especially because I don’t notice any rules in my sex life except communicate with and respect each other (and they shouldn’t count as rules), but when I did it was like a slap in the face.
In case anyone’s interested in an update, I’ve now had an appointment with an NHS psychosexual therapist – we’ll be working on Cognitive Behavioural Therapy to help me become orgasmic again! Who knows how long it will take, but I’m feeling really positive about it.