These Are The Factors Preventing You From Having An Orgasm, According To An OB-GYN

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As a women’s sexual health expert and longtime OB-GYN, I have worked with thousands of women—and their partners—to help them experience greater intimacy in their relationship. And even though I've been in this field for years, the statistic on female orgasm still surprise me: About 25 percent of women don’t climax during intercourse, and 10 to 15 percent never climax at all.

The good news is that it doesn't have to be this way, I’ve helped many women overcome the many barriers that frequently keep women from orgasm, enabling them to experience more orgasm and pleasure.

There there are a number of physical, mental, and environmental barriers that can greatly affect a woman’s desire, overall sexual satisfaction, and her ability to achieve orgasm. This is especially true as women age as our hormones and underlying health may start to work against us! There are also societal and cultural layers—such as inhibitions we adopted when we were very young—and so many life experiences at play. Did we have bad sexual experiences in our past? Have we suffered abuse or trauma?

On top of our complicated feelings toward and experiences with sex, these four barriers often keep women from truly feeling the degree of pleasure that we all deserve:

1. Not feeling emotionally safe.

We know that orgasm is also blocked by these things: fear, distress, a sense of guilt or shame, dislike, anger, trauma, and stress. Many of these are "libido-busters." Women need to be in a safe place emotionally and physically to experience pleasure and orgasm. We need to trust our partner, have privacy, and feel secure. We can’t feel timed or rushed, and we can’t be worried people will be barging in on us. So a major "threat" here is kids in the house. Does this sound familiar? It is important to create a safe environment and ambience. There's nothing like the kids going for a sleepover on date night; don’t underestimate the distraction factor of kids or even guests in the house!

2. Pain with sex.

Along with feeling safe and free of distractions, sex needs to actually feel good, right? If you have pain, irritation, or discharge—and the embarrassment and frustration that can come with them—you may start to have anxiety or make excuses to avoid sex. We may also suffer from self-esteem-related inhibitions and feel stress and fret, neither of which is very good for setting the mood.

Keep in mind that this can happen even in our 20s, as women naturally start seeing a decline in several key hormones, including DHEA (a major libido booster) during that decade. In perimenopause and menopause, women’s hormones continue to affect muscles and tissues around the pelvic area, vagina, uterus, rectum, and bladder. Vaginal dryness may worsen and pH may be affected—causing more infections. Pain during sexual intercourse may be more prevalent due to urethra thinning and further loss of vaginal tissue elasticity, becoming a significant barrier for a woman to enjoy intimacy.

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3. Weak pelvic floor muscles.

In my experience, most women start to have weakened pelvic muscles starting at age 40, which can also cause anxiety about leaking during sex. Being overweight can further exhaust pelvic floor muscles as the excess weight pushes down on the abdomen. Having diabetes, pre-diabetes, and other chronic diseases—even food intolerances or digestive issues—can also affect the muscles in this all-important region. The nerve damage seen in type 2 diabetes can lead to changes in bladder functions such as an overactive bladder. Nothing like having to pee during the moment!

So what’s a woman to do about the pain associated with vaginal dryness, urinary leakage, and hormone decline?

There are many things you can do to improve upon vaginal dryness. But my No. 1 piece of advice is to keep it natural—especially down there. That means no chemicals, parabens, and other irritating ingredients. Read the label for lubricants, or better, make your own from simple ingredients you likely already have in your cupboard at home! Pelvic floor exercises are also crucial to add to your wellness regimen, as they will strengthen all the muscles involved in orgasm.

Lastly, it's important to remember that women are simply not wired the same way sexually as men. The male orgasm is very goal-directed, very linear. Start, build, build some more, and bravo (or not!)! The goal is to climax, and there is a sense of performance about it. But with women, when we are intimate, intensity may build, and then fall; we may flow here and then there. And as we ebb and flow, many things can affect our ability to both bond with our mate as well as to achieve pleasure.

Here's what everyone should know about their pelvic floor muscles.

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