Question

Orgasm

How does sex therapy treat orgasm problems in women?

A Answers (1)

  • AJan Shifren, MD, Obstetrics & Gynecology, answered
    Sex therapy is very effective in helping treat orgasm problems in women. The therapist will first ask whether you've ever been able to have an orgasm -- either through masturbation or with a partner.

    If you've never had an orgasm, the therapist will explore issues in your past such as sexual abuse or negative messages and attitudes about sex or masturbation. The therapist will also encourage you to become more familiar with your body and what pleases you sexually. Books and videos are often helpful; the therapist may suggest that you buy a vibrator and experiment with using it to stimulate yourself, eventually in front of your partner if you're comfortable doing so. This technique is often successful in helping a woman learn to have orgasms. The orgasm rate is somewhat lower when these women have intercourse with their partners, but most report that after therapy, they enjoy sex more and have a more relaxed attitude about it.

    In some cases, women enter sex therapy with the ability to have orgasms through masturbation, but not with a partner. The therapist will approach this situation by exploring how the couple stimulate each other. He or she will also delve into emotional issues that may be getting in the way, such as how you and your partner relate to each other and what your orgasms mean to both of you. Another important element of treatment is sensate focus exercises. If difficulty communicating your sexual needs is at the root of the problem, these exercises can help the two of you develop these skills. By placing the emphasis on enjoyment rather than reaching orgasm, a woman can relax and focus on her own pleasure.

    Sex therapy underscores that orgasmic responses vary. At one extreme are the rare reports of women having orgasms from fantasy alone or just from having their breasts caressed. Somewhere in the middle are women who can, in one position or another, reach orgasm during intercourse. However, still more women find they need direct clitoral stimulation. A good therapist will reassure couples that there is no one right way to experience sexual pleasure and encourage them to adapt their lovemaking style to best suit their needs.
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