Saturday, July 04, 2009


(may be a bit explicit)...)

The reasons for this post are threefold: To share my experiences both with anorgasmia (the inability to achieve orgasm/climax) and intercourse before I began taking antidepressants, and to express my current experience with SSRI induced anorgasmia. I want others to see and understand they are not alone, to encourage others to not give up on the chance for a great sex life.

I am sure others have difficulty with not being able to orgasm, or help their partners orgasm, during sex and/or intercourse. These difficulties may be caused by you or your partner taking antidepressants, or maybe you never learned, or are uncomfortable talking about, how to help your partner or yourself achieve orgasm during intercourse, it may also be that you have some kind of medical condition that contributes to your difficulty, or maybe inability to orgasm. I hope some of my disclosures can show you it is possible to get help, or help yourself, if you approach your difficulties orgasming with an open mind.

What is an orgasm? It's hard to believe, in a world where sex is promoted and flaunted everywhere 24/7 that some people have never experienced an orgasm. Wikipedia says, "About 15% of women report difficulties with orgasm, and as many as 10% of women in the United States have never climaxed. Even women who orgasm regularly only climax about 50-70% of the time." What is with that?

The Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines an orgasm the following way:

The crisis of sexual excitement in either humans or animals".

Those of you who have never had is much more enjoyable than what MW makes it sound like. I had to laugh when I read the definition of orgasm in the dictionary. My entire life I have never considered an orgasm a "crisis". In fact I experienced orgasms as what I thought was the opposite, as an intensely pleasurable release, or often a relief from external crisises. It feels like for a few moments everything is beyond perfect; as though the body has achieved momentary Nirvana.

Curious at the MW definition I looked up crisis in the dictionary...thinking a crisis was something unsettling. I was sort of right, but so was my dictionary...

an unstable or crucial time or state of affairs in which a decisive change is impending..." Yes, I suppose an orgasm is that, or at least this definition describes a state of being seconds before an orgasm.

There was more to the Merriam-Webster's definition of orgasm, a sentence that made my current experiences with orgasms, (or rather my NOT having any orgasms) SSRI induced anorgasmia, fit more with the definition:

an unstable or crucial time or state of affairs in which a decisive change is impending;
especially : one with the distinct possibility of a highly undesirable outcome".

I have have never had difficulty with orgasming with masturbation/mutual masturbation/oral sex/toys etc. Orgasming during intercourse has been a different story. I did not have an orgasm during intercourse until I was in my mid-thirties. It was then I recognized I needed love and trust to reach climax during intercourse. I needed to let go, feel safe and free, and feel it was okay to focus on me and my needs. Most times, on top of this I also needed to use a vibrator to help me along.

No one ever told me this little secret. In my mid-thirties, 8 or 9 years into my relationship, was also a time when I felt okay about using vibrators and other toys during intercourse as opposed to using them only during foreplay. Toys can be a girl's (or boy's) best friend if you have difficulty orgasming during sex.

Sure I had sex ed, but sex education in school falls down in a huge way. The educators always describe male sex organs as the penis, and female sex organs as the vagina and leave out the fact that the clitoris is our primary sex organ when it come to pleasure.

Some men never learn that lesson. Sadly some women never do either. Why is that? I have a friend who, in their forties asked me, "Why is it women don't have orgasms, or have difficulty orgasming during sex (intercourse). I was baffled that at 40 they did not know why. It wasn't because they did not want to know. It wasn't because they weren't very sexually active. It was because no one had ever explained how the clitoris and vagina work. In all those years of having both and they couldn't explain why they were having difficulty orgasming. Strange, but I am sure, not uncommon.

For myself, and I understand many women, most positions during intercourse do not allow for both penetration and the direct stimulation of the clitoris. Vibrators and various other sex toys can allow and facilitate both experiences in almost any position. While for some people there are strong taboos, or beliefs about the use of "toys". If you are having difficulty achieving orgasm during sex (intercourse or otherwise) toys really can help.

Besides the strange location of the body's clitoris (why the hell is it way out there, so far away from the vagina?), something that frequently interrupts our body's ability to orgasm is some of our medications. This is what I am trying to deal with right now.

It is very annoying and depressing to go from very easily achieving orgasm, to either not being able to climax at all, to being able to climax a tiny bit if I use toys and focus only on achieving climax for a very excruciatingly long, drawn out period of time with intense direct stimulation; most often leaving me still anorgasmic and "overstimulated" . Even with direct stimulation I'd say I orgasm (maybe) 10% of the time.

I am really struggling with this problem, because while Prozac seemed to help my mood somewhat, and sometimes, it made it next to impossible to orgasm. I spoke openly with Dr. X about this and went of Prozac and am now trying Cymbalta, which is supposed to be less prone to blocking orgasms than some other antidepressants.

The problem is that for me, (remember this may not happen to you if you try this med), the Cymbalta is neither helping my mood, or any better at allowing my body to orgasm. I struggle with the idea that I have to choose between an increase in mood, or an ability to orgasm. Are orgasms worth being depressed over? Am I crazy for wanting to both heal and orgasm? I don't think so. For me a healthy and robust sex life is part of a meaningful life. For me a meaningful life is my only hope for long term wellness. So I guess for me orgasms are a must.

If you are struggling with this issue there are things that can help. Some antidepressants do not seem to cause this anorgasmia problem (Wellbutrin and Remeron are two I have read about). Unfortunately, I have tried both. I am trying to let go and enjoy sex without orgasms right now until I can get back on track.

Contrary to what many might think or experience, intercourse without an orgasm, is a highly enjoyable experience if you are with the right partner. I am taking this time to learn new ways to become stimulated with the hopes I will be able to increase my odds of orgasming. My boyfriend and I have been sharing late nights in bed looking at sex magazines together. The pictures stimulate both of us and it almost always leads to sex. I have been dressing sexy for my boyfriend. It makes me feel sexy and contributes to my eagerness to have sex, and to enjoy it regardless of the outcome. I have spoken in depth with my boyfriend about why I am having difficulties orgasming,so he doesn't think it's him, or think that because I don't orgasm I don't want sex, or that I will never orgasm.

This last point, talking to the belle or beau, is probably the most important thing I have done and you can do to help your sex life. Nothing kills a sex life faster than miscommunication, or no communication, about sex.

Get out there and work to enjoy the experience of sex with or without the orgasmic outcome. This is not to suggest you and your pdoc and your partner shouldn't work towards helping you discover, uncover, or recover your ability to orgasm...that is an important part of being a sexual being; of being human. Please talk openly about this with your psychiatrist, there are things they may be able to help you with. They know this happens.

Rather I am suggesting, for now, you work with and enhance what you do have available to you. What you can do. The more you put yourself out there, (no pun intended) the more you have sex, talk openly about sex, get involved in sex with your partner/s the more you will enjoy it regardless of the orgasm


Harriet said...

Great post! Women should be more open about talking about orgasms. I just wrote a post about this too - I went out with some friends and we got to talking about masturbation/orgasms and 2 of the 4 women there have never masturbated. They are almost 50 years old. I was really surprised!

Good luck in getting the meds worked out. Wellbutrin made me horny as hell, and I had the best orgasms of my life on it. But it had side effects too, so I'm off of it now.

mysadalterego said...

I also had sex troubles on Prozac. It wasn't total anorgasmia, but it took a LONG time and was weaker than a normal orgasm.

But it's part of the general SSRI blunting of strong feelings, I think.

Strangely, the tricyclics that were so good for me until I had to stop taking them seemed to make me also more horny - but I realized that that really, that was a normal 30 year old sex drive, not pounded down by depression! (Just like on them, I finally had no sleep troubles, a normal appetite like everyone else, not to mention the normal mood and life.)

Wellbutrin now has made me, not horny as hell, but certainly more sexually aware. I come a little too fast for my taste with it too.

Harriet - what side effects? It gives me panic attacks but I don't care because I'd rather not be depressed.

I don't use a vibrator, though I'd probably like one...but have to touch myself during sex...I really didn't know if this was normal until I talked to my friends.

Harriet said...

mysadalterego - side effects from Wellbutrin were that my head buzzed all the time, I had terrible insomnia, and my hands shook like crazy. But it definitely had good effects also.

Dr Shock said...

Great post, hope a lot of women will read this, kind regards Dr Shock

Anonymous said...

Thank you for mentioning Remeron. When I get really depressed, only Cymbalta seems to get me out of it. And unfortunately Cymbalta completely takes away my libido. I'll have to talk to my pdoc about Remeron.

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