What is Anorgasmia?


Anorgasmia is the inability to reach or achieve orgasm even when properly sexually stimulated. This condition is most commonly associated with females though can occur in males as well. The association with women rather than men is also because it occurs more often in women than men.


There are numerous different causes for anorgasmia, and these causes can be psychological or physiological in nature. Psychological reasons for anorgasmia can include stress, depression, neuroticism, anxiety disorders, past sexual abuse, posttraumatic stress disorder, and feelings of guilt or embarrassment. Unrealistic expectations can also be a reason that a person is unable to reach orgasm and can stem from pornographic images and videos and pop culture references like music, television, and film.

Physical causes can be an illness, vaginal dryness, alcohol, drugs, medications, sexually transmitted diseases, and other reproductive organ infections like yeast or bacterial infections. If a person is going through cancer treatment or other major medical treatments, these medications and treatments can cause a lack of sexual drive and therefore anorgasmia.

What are the Symptoms of Anorgasmia?

The primary symptom is a persistent inability to achieve orgasm even with sufficient sexual stimulation.

Other symptoms include

Secondary symptoms that can occur as a result of this condition can include a lack of sexual desire, embarrassment, stress, anxiety, and even depression. This, of course, can cause relationship strain and overall frustration.

Anorgasmia Causes

Medical conditions are sometimes to blame for anorgasmia. Diabetes and neurological diseases such as MS (multiple sclerosis) are known to affect the sexual response cycle and could prevent orgasms.

Sometimes it is gynecological issues which are to blame. Some women may struggle to achieve orgasm after having a hysterectomy or cancer surgeries. In other instances, painful or uncomfortable intercourse caused by conditions such as vaginismus might make it difficult to reach orgasm.

Some medications, particularly SSRIs (a type of antidepressant), antihistamines and blood pressure medications are known to interfere with libido and ability to orgasm. It is also known that smoking, which inhibits normal blood flow throughout the body, can reduce sensitivity and therefore make it harder to reach orgasm.

Similarly, blood flow tends to reduce as we get older and this, along with natural changes to hormone levels and the neurological system, particularly during menopause, can cause anorgasmia.

Sometimes it is psychological issues rather than physical ones which are to blame for anorgasmia. Anxiety, depression and stress may make it difficult to take pleasure from sex, as can issues with self-esteem and body image. In some cases it is past emotional or sexual trauma that is responsible for anorgasmia.

How is Anorgasmia Treated?

The treatment for anorgasmia depends on its cause. Psychological causes can be addressed through therapy (like counseling or cognitive-behavioral therapy) as well as couples counseling, if necessary. If the person with anorgasmia suffers from anxiety or depression, a combination of therapy and medication could help to resolve the problem.

When anorgasmia is caused by an infection like a yeast infection or a sexually transmitted disease, treatment for those conditions and a return to normal health can help a person to get their body back on track.  Physical sexual dysfunction can be treated medically with prescription drugs or in some cases, through surgery if the problem has to do with a structural abnormality.

Anorgasmia Prevention

It may be possible to prevent anorgasmia by avoiding medications which are known to cause it, particularly for those who may have a history of sexual dysfunction or low libido.

Those who have been diagnosed with a medical condition such as MS or a gynecological condition such as vaginismus may benefit from meeting with a sex therapist, who may be able to advise on techniques that could prevent anorgasmia. Similarly, those with past emotional trauma who struggle to enjoy sex might find that therapy can help them to find ways to cope with the trauma and overcome barriers which might be preventing them from fully enjoying intercourse.

Women who are worried that they may experience anorgasmia due to getting older could discuss the possibility of hormone replacement therapy (HRT) with their doctor. This might help them to maintain their libido and sexual pleasure while they go through menopause.

Last Reviewed:
September 12, 2016
Last Updated:
November 08, 2017