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Thursday, Aug. 22, 2013

Help—I Can’t Have an Orgasm Anymore

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I was married for 14 years, and much of the time, I had crazy good orgasms with my husband. But later, as time passed, menopause, lack of sex drive, weight gain and other marital problems occurred, and the orgasms were nearly impossible to achieve. Now I’m divorced, and I have a fabulous, caring, sexy, hot boyfriend. We’ve tried oral sex, vibrators, etc. I’m hugely turned on by him, but still no orgasm. Any suggestions?

Our bodies, and our sexual functioning, continue to change throughout our lives. This is true for people of all genders. It isn’t uncommon for erections, vaginal lubrication, sexual desire and orgasm to become more difficult to achieve, as we get older. This doesn’t mean the end of our sex lives, though—just that we have to learn to adapt to these changes, and that what once worked well for us sexually might need to be set aside in favor of something new.

You mention three separate things that caused you difficulty in having orgasms: menopause (which can lead to lower levels of sexual desire and vaginal dryness), weight gain and relationship problems. Weight gain itself does not necessarily affect sexual functioning; people of all sizes can have glorious sex lives. However, our society’s shaming of people who are viewed as “overweight” and the fact that most sexual/sexy images feature people who are thin can have a profound effect on our sexual self-image.  Relationship difficulties can also hugely impact our ability to feel sexual pleasure; so much of our sexuality is connected to our emotional and mental states.

It sounds like you’re now in a great relationship, but the menopause-related issues may remain. If you haven’t done so already, you may wish to consult a women’s health care provider about your sexual functioning to see if he or she has any suggestions. Sometimes, changes in hormone levels following menopause can have a profound effect on sexual response.

I don’t know what vibrators you’ve tried to date, but I’d suggest getting a more powerful one, unless you’re already using the legendary Original Magic Wand (vibes don’t really get more powerful than that!). Some women find that as they get older, they need a stronger vibrator in order to get enough stimulation to have an orgasm. Try plug-in or rechargeable (rather than battery-operated) vibes, and see if a deeper, “rumbly” vibration level works better than a higher, “buzzy” vibe. This is like moving on from the cheap, watery beer you drank in college to expensive, fine wines with more depth. Your grown-up clitoris needs higher-quality toys.

Finally, our emotional and psychological histories can have a big impact on our ability to experience sexual pleasure. It might be worth exploring some of the issues in your past marriage to see if they may be inhibiting your ability to have an orgasm now. Talking these through with your boyfriend or a counselor could help. Also, ironically, stress about having orgasms or feeling like you “should” have them a certain way can almost chase them away and make orgasm much more difficult to achieve. If you broaden your definition of a satisfying sexual encounter to include pleasures other than orgasm, this may ease some of your current frustration.

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.