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Monday, Dec. 17, 2012

Could Nerve Issues Affect Orgasm?

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My wife and I have been married for 6 years, and yet sex is still a mystery to us. It may be partly due to the fact that we always do it the same – I rub her clit with my fingers while moving my penis in and out of her. She is really hard to get to climax, and her pleasure spot on her clit seems to move around during sex. She does have some nerve issues and pressure points throughout her body are often inactive; could this be an issue? I want her to enjoy sex as much as myself. What can I do?

It is possible that nerve damage can make it difficult or impossible to have an orgasm. However, what you’re describing is very common, and people without nerve damage frequently ask me similar questions. If there are genital symptoms like pain, tingling or numbness, do not be afraid to talk to a health care provider about nerve damage and orgasm; if not, some of the ideas below may be helpful.

It’s not uncommon for couples in long-term relationships to get into a sexual routine that becomes quick and familiar but less exciting over time. If both partners are willing to talk about this issue and explore new things, this can be easily remedied. Try reading erotica together and telling each other what sounds hot. Get a sex position book or sex deck and test out some new positions. There are lots of good books and instructional DVDs about improving your sex life; check some out. You might not like every new thing you try, but experimenting can be fun and help you learn a lot about each other.

It’s also not uncommon for women to take longer than men to have an orgasm. Clitoral stimulation is key to orgasm for most women, so it’s great that you are already using this as part of your sexual repertoire. You might want to try stimulating the clit before penetration occurs, perhaps through oral sex if both of you like that, or adding some other type of sex play that your wife likes (full-body massage, nipple play, spanking – whatever gets her turned on!). Taking the time she needs to become aroused is key to orgasm. You can also try adding more powerful forms of stimulation, like vibrators, either before or during vaginal penetration.

It’s also great that you noticed that the most sensitive area of the clit seems to move around during sex. This is not an illusion! As a woman becomes aroused, the head of the clitoris can retreat back into the body under the clitoral hood (fold of skin that covers the clit), and then come back out again. This is normal. Some women also experience an increase in sensitivity when they become aroused that makes the clitoris almost too sensitive to touch, so that indirect stimulation feels better at certain times.

In short, take your time, try some new positions or sex techniques, and experiment with increased or more extended types of clitoral stimulation. We are taught that sex is supposed to happen “naturally” and that “real sex” only includes penile-vaginal penetration, but unfortunately these things aren’t true – satisfying sex takes communication and experimentation.

Laura Anne Stuart owns the Tool Shed, an erotic boutique on Milwaukee’s East Side. She has a master’s degree in public health and has worked as a sexuality educator for more than fifteen years. Want Laura to answer your questions in SEXpress? Send them to laura@shepex.com. Not all questions received will be answered in the column, and Laura cannot provide personal answers to questions that do not appear here. Questions sent to this address may be reproduced in this column, both in print and online, and may be edited for clarity and content.