I can’t seem to have orgasms. Could this be related to vaginismus?
Vaginismus may impede orgasm in some cases.
Intercourse is not necessary to achieve orgasms. The key to most orgasms for women is clitoral stimulation. However, for some women with vaginismus, the arousal process is interrupted when the intercourse attempt becomes uncomfortable or painful. If a woman’s body reacts to stimulation by triggering the vaginismus response, the tightened pelvic floor may abruptly end the arousal process.
Vaginismus can interrupt the arousal process by blocking penetrative intercourse or by causing pain during insertion or thrusting. The ability to achieve orgasm manually may also be disrupted. Also, any emotional issues contributing to the vaginismus response may impair a woman’s ability to relax and allow the arousal cycle to proceed or buildup to orgasm. For example, some women have anxieties related to being naked or vulnerable, and this may impair their ability to become aroused to the point of orgasm. Note that orgasm difficulties are not universal. Many women with vaginismus have no trouble achieving orgasms.
Finding Solutions to Achieve Orgasm
A systematic approach to problems with orgasm is helpful, as there are many reasons why orgasm difficulty could be taking place. Women are encouraged to try to determine the nature of the difficulty with orgasm, if it is related to any emotions, anxiety, physical pain, or medication use. The self-help sexual history inventory in Step 2 of the vaginismus program may be helpful to identify any specific sexual fears or emotions that could be contributing to the problem.
Most women with vaginismus (whether or not penetration is possible) are still able to have manual or non-penetrative orgasms, while they continue working to overcome vaginismus. Later, when pain-free intercourse becomes a reality, transition time for practice and experimentation may be necessary to achieve intercourse accompanied with orgasm. After pain-free intercourse is proceeding, some women may continue to prefer to have orgasms during other phases of lovemaking, separate from penetrative intercourse. Not all women are able to have orgasms during intercourse even when vaginismus is not present—approximately one-third of women experience orgasm routinely during intercourse.
Developing Intimacy Through Pleasure
Finally, if the problem is unrelated to vaginismus, couples may find it helpful to read up on the subject to learn better techniques at lovemaking. There are many books on sex and intimacy that discuss orgasm issues and methods to help achieve orgasm.
For more information about female orgasm issues see the helpful article “Female Orgasms Myths & Facts” at www.sogc.org.