Your primary care provider or gynecologist will review your medical history and conduct a general medical exam and pelvic exam. These exams may identify physical conditions that contribute to problems having orgasms.
Your provider may ask you questions about your experiences with orgasms and other related issues. You may also receive a questionnaire to fill out that answers these questions. You may be asked about:
- Your recent and past sexual experiences
- Your partner or partners
- How you feel about your sexual experiences
- The types of stimulation or sexual activity you engage in
Your provider may want to talk with both you and your partner or meet with your partner separately.
Treatment for anorgasmia depends on what's contributing to the problem. Possible treatments include lifestyle changes, therapy and medication. If an underlying medical condition is contributing to anorgasmia, your provider will recommend appropriate treatment.
Lifestyle changes and therapy
Treatment for anorgasmia usually begins with one or more approaches to understand your body better, learn what works for you and change behaviors. These treatments may include:
- Education. Your provider will likely begin with a discussion of female sexual anatomy and how different parts of the anatomy respond to stimulation. This conversation can help you address any questions, clear up any misunderstandings and help you understand the purpose of other recommended treatments. Your provider also may recommend educational materials.
- Directed masturbation. This program of instruction and at-home exercises helps you become familiar with your own body and explore self-directed sexual stimulation. After you have learned to bring yourself to orgasm, the knowledge about what you have learned is practiced with your partner.
- Sensate focus. This approach for couples provides instruction and at-home exercises. It begins with non-erotic touch and gradually introduces more intimate touch and sexual stimulation. A goal is for each partner to understand the other person's needs and to learn how to communicate and direct each other in order to reach orgasms.
- Changes in sexual positions. Your provider may recommend changes in sexual positions that increase stimulation of the clitoris during vaginal sex.
- Sexual enhancement devices. Devices that enhance sexual stimulation may assist you in having an orgasm. These include vibrators and air-pulsating devices that stimulate the clitoris. Another device held over the clitoris creates mild suction to increase blood flow. Your provider may recommend using them alone to understand what works for you and then trying them with your partner.
- Cognitive-behavioral therapy. Individual or couples therapy may help you address your thinking about sex in general or with your partner. Therapy can help with behaviors that may promote good sexual relations, such as learning ways to talk with your partner about sex or communicate your needs during sex.
Although some medications have been tested for treating anorgasmia, there's not enough evidence to support their use. Hormone replacement therapies may have some benefit, but they have risks that require careful monitoring. These include:
- Estrogen therapy. If you are receiving treatment for menopausal symptoms, the treatment may also have some effect on improved sexual experience. Also, a low-dose estrogen therapy for the vagina, such as a cream or suppository, can improve blood flow to the genitals and improve lubrication of the vagina. Long-term use of estrogen pills is associated with a risk of breast cancer and cardiovascular disease.
- Testosterone therapy. For some postmenopausal women who have testosterone levels lower than what is considered typical for women, testosterone replacement may improve arousal and orgasms. Side effects may include acne, excess body hair, a decline in HDL or "good" cholesterol, and risks similar to estrogen replacement therapy.
Natural products, such as those made with L-arginine or Russian olive tree extract, are marketed for improving women's sex lives. They have been studied in very small trials using multiple herbal products or combined with other drugs or lifestyle management programs. There isn't enough data to know if they have any treatment effect.
Talk with your provider before trying natural therapies, which can cause side effects and interact with other medications.
Preparing for your appointment
If your lack of orgasm from sexual activity distresses you, make an appointment with your primary care provider or your gynecologist. Here's some information to help you prepare for your appointment.
What you can do
Make a list of the following items that are important to share with your provider:
- Your symptoms, when you first began having problems with orgasms and under what circumstances the problems occurred
- Your sexual history, including relationships and experiences since you became sexually active and any history of sexual trauma or abuse
- Medical conditions you have, including mental health conditions
- Medications, vitamins and other supplements you take, including doses
- Questions you have about sexual activities or healthy sexual relationships
What to expect from your doctor
In addition to the information you prepare, your health care provider will likely ask questions to understand your sexual experiences, your ability to reach orgasm and your thoughts about your sexual relationship. You might think about answers to the following questions:
- Are you sexually active now?
- How many partners do you have now?
- Does your partner identify as a man, woman or nonbinary?
- What kind of sexual activities do you engage in?
- Do you become sexually aroused during sexual interactions with your partner?
- How satisfied are you with your sexual relationship with your partner? Has your satisfaction changed over time?
- How satisfied were you with a previous partner?
- Have you been able to have orgasms in the past?
- Is difficulty having an orgasm only with certain activities?
- Are you able to have an orgasm with masturbation?
- Do you have pain with vaginal penetration or other sexual activity?
- Do you use protection during sex?
- Have you had a sexual transmitted disease?
- Are you currently trying to come pregnant or have concerns about becoming pregnant?
- Do you use birth control?
- Do you use alcohol or recreational drugs? How much?
- What messages about sex did you receive growing up?
- How satisfied are you overall with your current relationship?