What Are Orgasm Disorders? - Definition, Causes & Treatment

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  • 0:05 Sexual Disorders
  • 1:04 Orgasmic Disorder
  • 3:47 Premature Ejaculation
  • 5:39 Lesson Summary
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Instructor: Natalie Boyd

Natalie is a teacher and holds an MA in English Education and is in progress on her PhD in psychology.

Some people aren't able to reach orgasm, or they reach orgasm too quickly. What causes these things, and how are they treated? In this lesson, we'll look at the symptoms, causes, and treatment of orgasm disorders.

Sexual Disorders

Kristen has a problem: She has never had an orgasm in her entire life. No matter what she or her partner does, she just can't find that release. Everything else is fine. She can feel herself getting aroused and she can feel the tension building, but she never reaches climax. Nothing major is wrong with her physically, and she doesn't use drugs, so she just doesn't understand why she can't manage to reach orgasm.

Kristen is suffering from a sexual disorder known as female orgasmic disorder. Female orgasmic disorder is one of several types of orgasm disorders defined by the American Psychiatric Association. Orgasm disorders are disorders that either prevent a person from reaching orgasm or a disorder that causes an orgasm too early. There are two major orgasm disorders: orgasmic disorder and premature ejaculation. Let's look closer at each of these and their causes and treatments.

Orgasmic Disorder

An orgasmic disorder is one in which a person does not reach orgasm. It is often divided into two types: female orgasmic disorder and male orgasmic disorder; however, female orgasmic disorder is much more common than male orgasmic disorder.

Remember Kristen? She fits the criteria for female orgasmic disorder because she doesn't reach orgasm. The condition is causing distress and it can't be explained by another psychological or physical ailment or drug use. Of course, if Kristen was Kris, the disorder would be male orgasmic disorder, but the criteria would remain the same.

As her psychologist, you need to diagnose her with either primary or secondary female orgasmic disorder. Primary female orgasmic disorder is when a woman has never had an orgasm, whereas secondary female orgasmic disorder is when a woman is unable to reach an orgasm following a trauma. In other words, a person with secondary orgasmic disorder might have had an orgasm before, but has lost that ability due to something bad happening, such as rape.

There are several physical ailments that can lead to orgasmic disorder. Damage to blood vessels or nerves in the pelvic region, side effects of certain medications and female circumcision are all examples of physical issues that can lead to a problem in reaching orgasm.

However, it's more common for orgasmic disorder to be psychological in nature. A common psychological issue that can lead to orgasmic disorder is some kind of trauma or abuse. This could be rape or sexual assault, or it could be emotional abuse. Usually, these types of psychological issues lead to secondary type orgasmic disorder.

Women in particular also might suffer from anxiety about the repercussions of sex. Fear of becoming pregnant and fear of being seen as sexually promiscuous are two common anxieties that can cause orgasmic disorder. If, for example, Kristen is scared that her partner will think she's a loose woman, it might be keeping her from being able to orgasm.

Society can also put pressures on patients that can lead to orgasmic disorders. Self-image issues and guilt about sex are both common causes of orgasmic disorder that are directly related to sociocultural pressures. For example, if Kristen is from a religious community that sees sex as bad, she might feel too shameful to be able to reach orgasm.

Because the orgasmic disorder is so heavily influenced by psychological issues, therapy is the main treatment. As Kristen's psychologist, you can work with her to help her overcome her hang-ups and fears around sex, in the hopes that it will allow her to be free to experience orgasm.

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