|Dr. Suzy Hall M.D.|
you describe your sexual response as ‘fireworks’…‘a budding flame’…or
‘not much at all’? Despite our societal conditioning of the ‘typical’
female orgasmic response, not all women experience “fireworks” at climax
(like in the movies,)…possibly leaving those women with a ‘less than
typical’ response, left wondering…‘Is there something wrong with me?’
If you experience ‘fireworks’, that’s great! But not all women
experience ‘fireworks’ with climax (orgasm.) In fact, less than a third
of women even consistently experience orgasm with sex. Like
other sensory responses in our body, the frequency and quality of our
individual sexual response vary amongst women (and often vary amongst
experiences). Just like the ‘savor’ of chocolate cake, the ‘scent’ of
spicy perfume, the picturesque ‘vision’ of a floral garden bring
different sensations to different women, so does our experience of sex.
Women vary in type, intensity and duration of orgasm, as well as in our
level of satisfaction with the experience.
There is no ‘right’ answer for your response to sexual stimulation. A ‘less than typical’ response, is only a problem if you see it as one, and desire more from your experience.
women, our sexual response is a complex phenomenon, based on many
different psychological, social, and relationship factors …some of
Problems or dissatisfaction with our sexual experience may be due to
one or more of these factors, and should be evaluated from the
perspective of the individual, the relationship, and the related
psychological and social factors. In the office, when patients express
to me difficulties with libido or sexual response, I often start by
asking, “How is your relationship?” or “Tell me about your stressors.”
Women with concerns or doubts about their relationship often report more
problems with orgasm. We tend to have more sexually satisfying
experiences in trusting relationships, where we feel emotionally safe.
I often find myself reminding young mothers of the negative effects
of fatigue and stress on our overall interest in/response to sex.
(Remember those times when you’ve been so exhausted, you’d much rather
go to sleep, than to have sex!) To make the point, I may even add, “If
you had an expense-paid vacation with your husband, and your kids were
in safe hands, would you be looking forward to sex with your husband
during that trip?” Posing this question to them, in many cases, allows
them to see the negative effects of life’s everyday stressors on their
sexual relationships…lessening their concern for a ‘hormonal’ or
‘medical cause’ for their sexual disinterest or dissatisfaction.
Though medical conditions are typically a less likely cause for
female sexual dysfunction than psycho-social factors, some of the
medical causes are:
Substance induced conditions
Central nervous system depressants, like alcohol intoxication, may
inhibit orgasmic response. As well, the use the SSRI antidepressants
are commonly associated with delayed orgasmic response in both men and
women. Major mood disorders, such as depression and anxiety, may be
associated with a loss of interest in sex, leading to orgasmic
dysfunction. A short-term decline in orgasmic satisfaction may occur
after pelvic surgery or childbirth…though long-term functioning should
not be affected after routine pelvic surgery or childbirth.
‘Fireworks’ for some–or a ‘budding flame’ for others—Despite our societal conditioning, you should
be the judge of your own sexual responsiveness and sexual
satisfaction. Consider some of the psychological factors or social
upbringing that may be affecting your sexual response. Examine your
relationship, as well as your stressors. And also, Be kind with
yourself, and give yourself permission to explore and to grow.
If you have concerns about your sexual responsiveness, make time to visit/discuss your concerns with your health care provider.
Suzanne Hall, MD