Research generally says 10-15% of women have never orgasmed before, which is roughly 1 in 10. It’s not to say that these folks will never orgasm or are physically unable to do so, but that’s a pretty big number! Naturally of course, I often get asked why this happens and what stops these women and vulva-owners from being able to orgasm, so let’s go.
First off, let’s make it clear that there’s usually not a sole reason why people can struggle to orgasm, it’s often a number of factors that are compounding on each other and create a kind of cycle. For this blog, we’re focusing solely on the individual and psychological level and one of the most common reasons I see is around struggling to rela due to anxiety or stress. It’s hard to be in the mood for sex or to orgasm when you’re concerned about how your body looks or your to-do list or whether or not you sent that email and it often then starts a spiral of being stressed about the stress which can be hard to get out of. Before we go any further, a side note: I recognise that the statistics refer to women who have never orgasmed before, but all these reasons also commonly pop up across genders.
Another common reason is often our beliefs around orgasms for example, how long they should take or how they should happen or what it should feel like and these ‘shoulds’ create big expectations in our minds about how sex should be. Add on the impact of porn that tells women and vulva-owners they should orgasm in 30 seconds through penetrative sex or that men and penis-owners should last hours, then add a collectively poor sex education and a society where women have historically struggled to take up space or have been shamed for their sexuality so there are these conflicting messages we’re all receiving and it’s not surprising people and especially women can find orgasms difficult to navigate.
Focusing on anyone who doesn’t fit into the cisgender heterosexual male mould for a hot second, another reason why women, trans, non-binary and gender diverse folks may struggle to orgasm is because they’re unsure of what they enjoy sexually or they’re unsure of how to communicate it to a partner. For one, there can be a lot of learned shame involved with exploring your sexuality and our bodies can often become minefields for self-hate, so a lot of folks are just flying blind. It can also be difficult to take the time and slow down enough to figure it out. For many, it's akin to learning how to ride a bike or trying a new recipe except there's no 10-step plan and rules to follow. Without having any sex-positive role models or conversations about pleasure, we're just magically expected to know what feels good and what gets us over that orgasm threshold.
When you lay it all out on the table, it’s not surprising why people can struggle to orgasm or have never orgasmed before. Our minds and bodies are so powerfully connected, so if one is off balance, the other always follows suit.